RAVEMEN TR50 REAR LIGHT
The Ravemen TR50 USB Rechargeable Rear Light packs a maximum of 50 lumens. It's an understated capable light with sensible modes, run times and quick charging. However, peripheral punch is best when mounted to luggage, and the bike mounting bracket merits tweaking.
Pros: Surprisingly bright, quick charging, sensible modes.
Cons: So-so peripheral visibility, bike mounting bracket is functional but fiddly.
The TR50 uses and 30 diodes, projected through a polycarbonate lens. The COB (Chips on Board) technology, which places diodes directly on the circuit boards, meaning more can be crammed in the same space, and ultimately, optimising power and output. A heat sink theoretically keeps things cool and gives them a sporting chance of long and productive lives. Pretty standard stuff, these days.
Talking of durability, its designed to withstand drops of 1metre and in terms of waterproofing, we’re talking IPX4-rain. Still, in my experience, perfectly adequate for general road riding. There are four modes and two switches. A main, placed along the side, which brings the unit alive and a top mounted, touch circle, which switches between the five modes and the memory function is very welcome.
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Modes-wise, two steady (30 and 10 lumens respectively) and three flashing (the highest being 50lumens, rapid flash and pulse being 10 apiece. Run times range between 2.5 and 25 hours, which is practical for commuting and much longer rides-albeit with some considerations.
Charging being one of them. Now is probably a good time to mention the charge level indicator and possibly more significantly, there’s an auto-kickdown, which cascades to flashing, when the 800mAh/3.7V rechargeable Li-ion battery cell’s reserves plummet.
The light, like many others comes with an integral clip, perfect for tethering to pockets, or luggage and its reassuringly secure, my default for these reasons but I can appreciate it may not be everyone else’s. The post mount uses the ubiquitous rubber band (thus supposedly a universal fit) However, the hinged bracket (which is designed for precise alignment of the light, so it’s not aimed at your rear tyre/mudguard requires dedicated shims. Therefore, swapping between bikes is less convenient than many other designs and slightly disappointing, if I’m honest.
Charging is cited as being 90 minutes and pans out, when fuelling from the mains, via the micro USB cable. Tack another 15-20, if yours is feeding from a laptop/PC. Super convenient for most workplaces and the light is also very discrete. Of course, it will also charge from a dynamo setup, which could be practical for touring, or long, daylit training rides. Keeping lithium ion cells charged to 70% (or above) will extend their life quite considerably (although most of us will appreciate this isn’t always possible/realistic).
For the most part, I’ve got along quite nicely with the setup. A two second press of the main switch powers up and defaults to the last setting-handy for a regular commute, or if you’ve got a favourite setting. A single tap of the pressure sensor toggles between them and I was initially wowed during August when mitts were a must. That’s not to say things felt remote, or unpredictable, wearing full fingered gloves-provided fingertips featured silicone detailing. The pressure sensor proved a little too sensitive at times, switching one or two modes ahead of that intended.
No issues with IPX4 in the everyday sense and we’ve been caught in some intense summer downpours with no problems-I've also doused it in warm sudsy water, when washing bikes down. On balance, I’d be inclined to give the charge port a quick lick of silicone grease, especially during winter and fitted to bikes shunning mudguards.
This has been very good in many respects but tempered in some contexts by middling peripheral punch, when post mounted. Kicking off on a positive note, the full 50 lumen flashing mode has been my setting of choice, for most contexts-other than testing. I’d been regularly setting out before dawn and was impressed by just how well it cut through the darkness - roads shrouded in coastal fog and similarly murky conditions.
In terms of visibility on dark, clear nights along unlit roads, friends reckoned they could spot me at 350 metres. Through town the tempo is quick enough to stand out but this dipped to around 100 metres.
Mounting to my fixed gear winter trainer’s Altura Aero Post pack and this Passport Cycles Bike Packing Seat Pack seemed to amplify the light’s side-on visibility sufficiently that I didn’t feel I’d donned an invisibility cloak when entering the flow of traffic- at roundabouts/junctions but post mounted, I felt more secure with the Xeccon Mars 60 COB Rear Light . This may be a moot point, if yours is playing backing singer to a full dynamo system.
Daylight running lights have been a thing for a good while now. I’m pleased to report it will play this role very convincingly too. Not on par with something like the Knog Cobber Medium but on bright sunny days, we’re talking 30-40 metres.
Daylight aside, arguably this kind of output is overkill (some might say, antagonistic through town). Given the optical technology, 10lumens is bright enough in the flashing settings for town work, especially the fastest setting.
Most approaching vehicles seemed to slow and take note at 25-30 metres, which keeps a respectable distance at rush hour. These are also the most frugal options and again, possibly the perfect combination with a rear dynamo light. Pulsing though distinctive, and fine for dual use paths, or again as a secondary system felt a little too slow for urban stretches.
However, being frugal, a practical choice for group riding, assuming you didn’t want to go for the lowest (10 lumen) steady option. Group contexts aside, I’ve found the lowest steady setting adequate for suburban contexts, and its brighter than numbers might imply. That said; perhaps unsurprisingly those flashing and pulsing 10lumen options were more conspicuous. 30 lumens is good enough for semi-rural and indeed rural stretches-some reckon they could pick me out at 90 metres on a clear night, although it puts a dent in the run times.
Run Times 3.75
Cited run-times are faithful to those cited and very practical for most contexts. I was pleasantly surprised to discover the 50lumen flash exceeded the cited 4hourt run times by 15 minutes, or so. Rapid flash (25 hours) has returned 24hrs 41 pulse flashing ran within 3 minutes of the 18 hours cited. The highest steady setting has managed 2hrs 30 (2.7 hours cited) and I’ve had 7 hours (7.6 cited) from the lowest steady mode. Now, the auto kick-down. This works and very reliably. However, not with the leeway offered by some-10-15minutes seems to be it. Might be enough on a short commute, or the end of a long ride. It shouldn’t be an issue, if you’re disciplined with charging but something to bear in mind.
£34.99 is a competitive price point. Xeccon Mars 60 (see above) is a few quid cheaper and has better peripheral presence and bracket. However, the much longer (5hour) zero to hero charging times may be a turn off. Moon Shield X Auto Rear Light features a 300lumen daylight setting, better peripheral punch and yes, bracket. If you’re on a tight budget Oxford Ultratorch R50 Slimline comes in at £17.99, offers 50 lumens, practical charge and run times.
The TR50 offers a good blend of features, practical run and charge times. The sort that caters for most riding contexts. That said, while the bike mount is adequate, it merits revision.