Designed to be invisible when it is off and bright when it is on, the Trace taillight is one of Hornit’s smallest taillights. The Hornit Trace retails for a very affordable price of $16.95 and offers runtimes from 12-72 hours. With a focus on compact size, the output of the Trace is limited to 15 lumen in the daytime flash mode. The Trace offers three flash modes for daytime or nighttime use as well as a constant mode which is a great option for nighttime riding. While the Hornit Trace may lack the blinding multi-hundred lumen output that has become a trend in bike taillights, it does offer a compact size and transparent body that boasts a 300° side visibility to keep you visible at all angles. The Trace also has a simple rubber quick release strap design that is compatible with round seatposts.
The Hornit Trace is a compact taillight that combines an affordable price with impressive side visibility.
|Rating||8.4 / 10|
|Measured Weight (in g)||32|
|Likes||+ Budget friendly|
+ Rubber mounting strap feels durable
+ Excellent side visibility with transparent body
|Dislikes||– Micro USB charging instead of USB-C|
– Not particularly bright compared to other taillights
|Where to Buy (US)||Hornit|
The Trace comes in a compact Hornit branded cardboard box with specs printed directly onto it. Inside the box you’ll find:
- Trace taillight w/ mount attached
- Micro USB charging cable
- Small card operation instructions and light mode info
The mount itself is directly attached to the taillight and can not be removed.
Hornit has incorporated a simple quick-release rubber strap for mounting. The thickness of the rubber strap means it should hold up well to daily use. Unlike typical taillights that use a one-sided design with a hook directly built into the taillight, the Trace has a two-sided design with a plastic hook to attach each side of the rubber strap to connect to each other. The Trace is also a one piece design with the taillight permanently connected to the strap. Hornit has incorporated a slight angle to the mount which helps keep the Trace parallel to the ground when mounted on a seatpost. The taillight can also be rotated around on the mount which means you could potentially place the Trace on a backpack clip or have alternative mounting positions.
FIT & FINISH
With the Trace, Hornit has chosen a simple square form factor with transparent red plastic body to maximize side visibility. It’s a familiar form factor that other taillights such as the Bontrager Flare RT use and is small enough to hide behind seat posts. On top of the taillight you’ll find a rubberized power button with a simple interface: long hold to turn on/off and single press to cycle through modes. The Trace also features mode memory so it always turns on in the same mode you turned it off in. On the bottom of the Trace there is a rubber cover for a micro USB charging port. Although we would have preferred a USB Type-C charging, the rubber cover feels secure and gives the Trace an IP44 rating.
Branding on the taillight is limited to “TRACE” written on the sides and Hornit on the top. While the taillight is small, Hornit’s claim that it disappears when off isn’t quite true. The small square design and red body don’t quite blend in on a black seatpost. Elongated rectangle profiles found on taillight such as the Moon Sport Cerberus are more effective at blending into seatposts. Otherwise, the Trace is a small taillight that isn’t much larger than a pair of dice. The face of the Trace has a dual LED design with simple reflectors integrated into it to help focus the beams for better long distance visibility.
The Hornit Trace uses a two LED design and transparent body that focuses on compact size rather than raw power. Nevertheless, the Trace comes programmed with four output modes: daytime flash (15 lm / 15hr), flash (5 lm / 27hr), constant (2 lm / 12hr) and low flash (2 lm / 72hr). Regardless of the mode selected, the runtimes are quite generous and should mean you won’t be charging the light very often. The daytime flash is an irregular flash pattern with a higher intensity that helps attract attention compared to standard on/off flash patterns. The other two flash modes, flash and low flash can be difficult to tell apart as brightness difference between them isn’t that obvious. We would have preferred if Hornit had removed one of the flash modes or added a nighttime flash with a low/high flashing pattern that is less disruptive for nighttime riding.
Even though it’s only 15 lumens, the daytime flash mode is fairly effective during the day. It’s hard to see the light in direct sun but in any sort of shade such as buildings or trees, you can still see the Trace from a fair distance. While there are obviously better daytime flash lights on the market such as the Light & Motion Vya or the Bontrager Flare RT, they cost significantly more. For more casual cyclists or urban commuters, the Hornit Trace is a good balance between cost and brightness. In terms of side visibility, the transparent body of the Trace is quite effective at achieving the 300° visibility which means at stop signs or side angles, you’ll still be visible on the road. The small size of the Trace does mean it won’t be visible from more extreme angles like bulbous style taillights such as the NiteRider Bullet 200 .
Overall, we found the Hornit Trace to be compact and effective bike taillight. At only 15 lumen maximum output, the Hornit Trace is far from the brightest taillight on the market especially as other companies offer taillights with as much as 350 lumen output. Instead, the affordable price and 300° side visibility mean the Hornit Trace is a great option for casual or urban cyclists looking for daytime or nighttime visibility. The daytime flash mode’s irregular flashing pattern works well in most conditions and helps attract attention while offering a 15 hour runtime. Some of the downsides of the Trace is the micro-USB charging design and the fact that the flash and low flash modes can be difficult to tell apart. That said, if you’re looking for a budget friendly taillight with a compact form factor, the Hornit Trace is a great option.
Disclaimer: The product for this review was provided by Hornit. The views expressed on this website are solely those of the authors and are here to help people make an informed choice before a purchase. The authors or the blog itself does not get any monetary compensation from the product manufacturer or third-party websites/vendor links that are posted here.