RAVEMEN CL05 SENSORED REAR LIGHT
(30 lumens) 39g (inc bracket) £25.99
The Ravemen CL05 USB Rechargeable Lightweight Sensored Rear Light (30 lumens) is a rather unique model that, surprise, surprise delivers a maximum of 30 lumens. It’s a LOT brighter than the numbers suggest - I’ve found it more than adequate for the blackest nights and darkest lanes. It also has a very clever sensor that ups the tempo when it registers an approaching vehicle.
Pros: Impressive output in all settings, generous run times, user-friendly.
Cons: 30 lumens refer to the sensor only. Sensor not designed for daylight running.
This is impressive throughout. The circular lollipop shaped lens is made from “PC Engineering plastic”. It's refraction and designed in a way that could provide a larger lighting area, and therefore, visibility.
Behind live 24 diodes which are arranged over two rows and use the now standard, COB (Chips on Board) setup. Theory goes this arrangement creates the largest possible arc of light, thus eliminating blind spots and stealth moments.
There are 7 modes in total, two steady and a family of 5 flashing, which are powered by a rechargeable 2000mAh 3.7volt lithium polymer battery. Fully charged, run times range between 4.5 and 22 hours. There’s also an auto start stop function, which will save a bit of juice and indeed time, if you’re prone to hitting the snooze button.
Look closely and you’ll notice two buttons. The first is the power, the second dis/engages the auto sensor function. The sensor function detects approaching vehicle headlights and ramps up the power to 30lumens for 5 seconds.
However, it’s not intended for daytime duties, hence the “off” option. Besides, I’m of the opinion it's always nice to maintain some autonomy. Despite weighing a modest 39g the unit feels reassuringly solid and is both weatherproof to IPX6 and impact resistant to falls of 1 metre. The latter should cover most bike mounted contexts but not helmet, or some luggage scenarios. Not that I’ve had any issues in several weeks’ continuous use.
More than a number
More remarkable, especially in terms of output are the modes. In common with the CLO6, these sound quite impotent on paper and some of you may feel a bit cheated, but this really illustrates how important and, in this instance, clever the optics are.
Low: 4 lumens
Rapid flashing: 11 lumens
Pulse flashing: 5 lumens
High slow flashing: 10 lms
Low slow flashing: 4 lms
Warning flashing: 30 lms
Charging/Run Times 4/5
Ravemen have gone for the micro–USB C route, which has charged promptly and reliably in 90 minutes from the mains - add 15 minutes when sipping from laptop ports/similar third-party devices. The only minor downside to this being they’re less ubiquitous than the micro-USB type.
Run times are generally accurate these days and I’ve hit those cited, albeit with a few minutes either side. (High 4.5 hours, Low 12hours, Rapid Flashing 8hours, Pulse flashing 18hours, High slow flashing 17 hours, and low slow flashing, 22 hours) There’s also a charge level indicator, so unless you were unlucky enough to get a rogue unit, unexpected power downs are unlikely.
Now the sensor function will put a slight dent in run times and a it is bit tricky to say how big. Much will depend on your riding. In a mix of rural and suburban contexts, with some longish climbs for good measure, 10% or so. Stop-go inner-city traffic is likely to have bigger impact.
Aside from their different designated duties the on/off unit is firm, but not overly so and doesn’t feel overly remote, even wearing winter-weight, full-finger gloves. A single, sustained, .5 second press powers up/down, subsequent single prods scroll through the modes. I’m pleased to report there’s a memory function, so you can just switch on and get going.
With a bit of practice, I was able to switch modes from the saddle - with the light seat stay, or post-mounted. Accidental engagement, when it’s been holidaying in a pocket or luggage have been a moot point, and I’ve never missed a setting when scrolling through.
This is a considerable improvement over those found in the otherwise likeable Ravemen TR30 and its bigger sibling, the Ravemen TR50 Rear Light . Ravemen have kept the adjustability, but the bike mount is now a simple watch strap affair that achieves easy and solid tenure to a wealth of tubing diameters. No issues with seat posts (aero or standard) between 25.4 and 31.8mm. However, I’m pleased to report I’ve had no problems with thinner tubing - even pencil thin 531c seat stays, using the aero post bracket. Equally significant is the way in which it articulates, so can be angled for best impact.
This design will entertain helmets and clothing - courtesy of the light’s integral clothing clip. No issues with slope, let alone ejection, when cadging a lift on jersey pockets and jacket loops. Some luggage loops proved more of a lottery, depending on manufacturer, but this is my experience of clothing clips per se, not a reflection on Ravemen.
Numbers sell lights, optics are key. A few years back, 30lumens was my bottom-line minimum for lonely backroads and I generally preferred closer to 50. Admittedly, the rapid flashing and high slow flashing have been my default during the test period, but the lower modes were surprisingly viable - even along deserted lanes. Anecdotally, the rapid flashing and high slow flashing looked comparable to some 30 lumen models I own.
Visibility seems to be around the 200 metres, longer on a clear night. With the sensor function muted, the high steady (8 lumen) mode is still a credible choice for unlit lanes and closer to those with 15-18 lumens. Visibility on a clear night to around 100 metres, falling to 70 when things turned murkier, although the sensor function came into its own as other traffic approached. I’ve never felt uncomfortably vulnerable.
A season or so back we’d have been a bit sniffy about 4 or 5 lumens, suggesting such a mode was only there to make up the numbers and not much use. However, the battery sipping 4 lumens low (steady) and low slow flash feel closer to 8 and 15 lumens respectively. Enhanced in no small part by the sensor function. More than happy to default to these for shared use paths, or built-up contexts, although I preferred the sensor function engaged in the latter context.
Monitoring the sensor suggests this is effective, nailing driver attention at 50 metres. Much the same story through semi-rural settings with street lighting. Through built up town sections, outright prowess is muted very slightly, given the competing illumination, but still good for 30/40 metres.
This stop-go traffic scenario is also where the sensor comes into its own, particularly when entering the flow of traffic, or tackling roundabouts. Several pulsing/flashing paces also reduces the likelihood of falling off the radar. Or being drowned out by municipal vehicles/similar competing illuminations.
Group outings have been off the table, given the pandemic but feedback from other riders suggests low steady is ideal but the lower pulsing is still socially acceptable. The sensor function has also been triggered by swiftly approaching riders with high power (1000 lumen) lights, so might be something you want to disengage, when out with the chain gang.
Again, I would’ve laughed at 11 lumens and daylight running, used in the same sentence. Nonetheless, while there isn’t an official daylight running mode, even on bright January days, the flashing have surprised me with their presence - good for 40 metres at a conservative estimate, nearer 80 when things turn overcast. These qualities also mean it’s a viable choice for trailers/tagalongs, although on balance, I’d be erring toward the CLO6 with more power and larger surface area.
Rider care caveats re charging and other basic stuff aside, the build quality is very solid. The port plug is a very precise, reliable fit; thus, I’ve not bothered with a cursory lick of silicone grease and the CL05’s never missed a beat when I’ve been riding through flooded roads and heavy rain. Passed my garden hose torture test with flying colours too. Bob Elliot & Co (their UK importers) tell me the lithium polymer cell is good for 500 charge cycles before dropping to 60-70% of charge capacity, so should last several seasons with basic care.
£25.99 is pretty good, especially when the specification and features are considered and direct comparisons are a little tricky, given the CLO5 is much brighter than numbers alone can convey. Magicshine See Me 100 Rear light is genuinely very bright. It delivers 72, 36 and 18 lumens (the 100 refers to the braking function) and a smart/ambient light function for £25.99. Its little sibling, the See Me 30, pumps out a maximum of 30 lumens and also offers 8 modes (although 3 of those are power settings), IPX6 weather resistance, ambient light sensor technology and auto power saving auto kick-down for £20. Oxford Ultratorch R50 Slimline Rear Light lacks the sensors and outright, peripheral presence but puts out a maximum of 50lumens, features collimator lens technology and some very frugal settings for £17.99.
The Ravemen CLO5 and its more powerful CL06 stablemate are the embodiment of the old phrase horsepower sells cars, torque wins races. While they may lag behind others, on paper, the use of clever optics ensures they are both very bright and enjoy generous run times too.