SEVEN DAY CYCLIST
CYCLING, BUT NOT USUALLY RACING
LATEST UPDATE: MAY 30th
PRO-VIZ LED 360 VEGA REAR LIGHT
The Pro Viz LED 360 Vega Rear Bike Light is a simple 2 mode model pumping out a maximum of 20lumens. A sensible output for city limits and still cuts it beyond the suburbs, although I found it a little tame for longer sections of pitch-black country roads.
Pros: Simple, two mode, reasonable outputs and run times.
Cons: 360 a little misleading, only two modes.
Now, some might click away upon discovering the PV optical technology projects a 220, rather than 360degree arc of light. However, we’re told it is a unique design that allows light to be pass through, producing an optimal balance of reflection and refraction.
This supposedly results in a more effective beam of light. It’s a similar narrative with the LED 360 technology, which is concerned with creating “the optimum balance of brightness and energy consumption.”
The Vega uses line light technology, rather than the now common or garden COB (Chips on Board). Line lighting is designed so the lighting intensity is produced in a linear form. The Vega employs diodes and is fed by a 180mAh 3.7 Volt lithium Ion cell.
The composite body though lightweight feel reasonably solid. The Y-shaped lens is made from PMMA (Polymethyl methacrylate) which is a tough, easy to shape plastic. One commonly employed in smartphone and similar applications. Weather resistance is IPX4 - adequate, rather than amazing,
but the micro USB charge port cover is a snug fit and I’ve had no issues, several wet weeks and hundreds of miles since.
This is an angular, rubberised affair that requires a single, though definite press to power up/down. There are only two modes - steady and flashing, 20lumens apiece. It defaults to steady and a second press engages the flashing, which is pulsing in my book. Either way, there’s no need for a memory function. Coming from top-mounted switches, it took a few rides before becoming intuitive. Not the easiest to find in full finger gloves but by no means the trickiest either.
This is partially integrated within the light body for simplicity and pared with the stretchy rubberised 3hole strap, makes for quick and easy mounting/removal when parking in the street. Reasonably compliant, it has proven compatible with post diameters between 25.4 and 31.8 - although was showing signs of indigestion at the top end of that.
Oh, and there’s a rubberised, self-adhesive shim for finish friendly, slip free tenure on the narrower diameters, which was perfect, since I’ve defaulted to my Univega’s right hand seat stay. Crucially, its user-friendly and secure. That said, the mount’s circular profile lends it better to solo bikes, rather than trailers, or tagalongs. Though the OEM strap didn’t have sufficient give, an O-ring type from the spares box meant it could cadge a lift on some helmets. However, there are better choices for helmets, frankly.
Output/Run times 3.25/5
20 lumens isn’t retina tickling but more than sufficient for town and beyond. Pulsing has been my default, it’s a surprisingly good tempo, so there’s no risk of stealth moments. Anecdotally, friends reckon they could pick it out from 180metres on very clear nights, 120 through town, given the competing illuminations. Peripheral prowess is also better than the tapered lens profile might suggest. It’s never left me feeling unduly uncomfortable, when joining the flow of traffic or tackling roundabouts.
There’s enough bite for semi-rural contexts, which is great if your commute encompasses changeable environments, or you fancy letting of some steam, further afield after work. Indeed, optics mean that numbers alone aren’t the only measure of effectiveness.
Traditionally, 30lumens plus was my benchmark for long steady miles along the backroads. Now, there are models, including Raveman TR30 Rear Light which have lower but surprisingly extrovert settings in these contexts.
At the other extreme, I certainly wouldn’t suggest these modes are powerful enough to cut it as a daylight running mode. Yes, I’ve been able to spot the pulsing option on overcast days but not in bright autumnal/winter sun.
From a full 2 hour charge, Pro-Viz cite 6 hours 30 minutes and I’ve hit this on a couple of occasions. There is a tiny blue charge indicator which is located at the base of the LED strips, these will all turn solid green when fully juiced and blue makes a return appearance when reserves are dwindling.
As a rough ‘n’ ready, bargain on 20minutes before the light powers down. While it’s not always practical, where possible, lithium Ion cells live longest, most productive lives when regularly charged, not run till they’re flat.
Steady is also good in terms of presence. 100 metres through town, 120 metres on a clear night, along unlit semi/rural roads. Though bright, it’s not painfully so at relatively close quarters. A reasonable option for shorter group rides (assuming you’re only using one rear light) and stop-go traffic. Run times are also reasonable - I’ve returned 3 hours 15 minutes from a full charge.
In some respects, £24.99 seems relatively high rent for the specification and when compared with models such as this Magicshine SeeMee100 (rrp £25.99), which has 7 modes, a braking function, ambient light sensor, assorted mounting options and conforms to IPX6. Oxford Ultratorch Slimline LED R50 Rear Light also has eight functions, a total output of 50 lumens and generous run times. If bulk wasn’t a major deal breaker, them the Light Rider Phase USB Rear Bike Light comes in a tenner less than the Pro-Viz Vega 360.
Output in lumens doesn’t rival that of those discussed and a beefier mount strap would be welcomed and 5hour charge times aren’t the most convenient but otherwise, good value.
However, Pro-Viz have seem a gap in the market and gone the less is more route. Afterall, we tend to default to a couple of favourite modes, rather than use the full compliment.
The Vega does these basics well and covers most commuting bases, save for the very darkest nights. There are models offering much more bang, for less buck but if you wanted a simple, yet effective rear light, it is worth a closer look.
Verdict: 3.25/5 Middling spec but decent performance for riders seeking a simple rear light.
PUBLISHED NOVEMBER 2020
BUILDER OF STEEL CYCLE FRAMES
Ryton On Dunsmore
Coventry CV8 3FH