Lupine is a German company that is best known for their impressive build quality and high output mountain bike lights. With the Rotlicht Max, they’ve created a unique bike taillight that combines durability, serviceability, and many features in a single package. The replaceable Lithium polymer battery ensures you can continue to use the light instead of having to replace the entire taillight. With 160 lumens (2W) output, the taillight is also bright enough to ensure you remain visible during both the day or night. The CNC machine housing and polycarbonate front cover combine to give the Rotlicht Max an impressive durability and IP68 rating.
In this review we are looking at the Rotlicht Max which is the higher capacity version of the Rotlicht light and nearly doubles the runtime in all modes. Those that speak German will also note that Rotlicht translates to ‘red light’ in English. Anecdotally, the Topeak Redlite Aero and Planet Bike Rojo (which we’ve previously reviewed) take their name after the color Red. With upto 120 hours in flash and 60 hours in the lowest steady mode, this is a taillight you won’t have range anxiety with. The ambient light sensor and brake sensor also give the Rotlicht Max some high-tech features to ensure you remain visible. The big question for us is whether the $140 price ($120 for standard version) is justified in a crowded market.
A bike taillight that can outlast your bike? With an aluminium housing and replaceable Lithium polymer battery, the Lupine Rotlicht Max has the serviceability and durability to be used for years to come.
|Category||Bicycle Tail Light|
|Measured Weight (in g)||80|
|Likes||+ Premium build quality |
+ Replaceable Li-poly battery
+ Highly configurable
|Dislikes||– Large form factor |
– Lacks clear battery indicator
– No auto on/off or day/night option
|Where to Buy (US)||Lupine|
Lupine packages the Rotlicht Max comes in a basic plastic case with a simple cardboard insert. The taillight is clearly visible through the plastic yet well protected. In the box you’ll find:
- Rotlicht Max Taillight
- Seatpost mount
- Long rubber strap
- Micro USB charging cable
- User manual
Despite the premium price, the Rotlicht Max taillight comes with a simple rubber strap style seat post mount. The rubber strap itself feels thick and durable, but it is surprising to not see a more complicated mount. With plenty of mounting spots, and the included longer strap, the Rotlicht Max should fit on any diameter round seatpost. The manual suggests cutting any extra length from the strap if needed. We had no issues with the taillight slipping even on potholed roads as there are grippy rubber pads on the back of the light housing. Lupine also offers additional mounting options such as a seatpost and body clip that appear to be similarly well designed.
FIT & FINISH
With a larger battery capacity, the Rotlicht Max is a fairly bulky light. There is a single Cree led design with a rectangular polycarbonate lens. The bottom portion appears to house the ambient light sensor and the acceleration sensor. The lens itself is secured with exposed screws to the housing which allows the taillight to be serviced. Lupine also offers an optional red tinted lens instead of the clear lens from the factory. The lens is slightly beveled as well resulting in excellent side visibility as the entire lens is illuminated.
The Rotlicht Max has an understated boxy design with the clear housing exposing most of the internal electronics. As with other Lupine products, the build quality is unparalleled and the IP68 rating is impressive. The high rating means the Rotlicht Max can not only operate on wet days but also underwater for extended periods of time. This is particularly impressive as you can actually replace the Lithium polymer battery (this is a very rare feature unless you have a AAA powered light). The Rotlicht Max is a unique taillight, one that offers serviceability without sacrificing water resistance or durability. In fact, the entire rear housing if the taillight is aluminum and not the standard plastic a majority of lights are built with giving it a high-quality feel.
Lupine has also given the Rotlicht Max a few tricks by integrating an ambient light sensor and acceleration sensor. With the light sensor the Rotlicht Max can automatically increase the light output when it detects a bright light. This means if a car is behind you, the taillight can become brighter to ensure you remain visible. The brightening effect is very obvious when in steady mode but can be difficult to differentiate when flash mode is active. Also if you are already using the highest setting for the current mode, the light sensor will have no effect.
The brake sensor also acts similarly by changing the active mode to the brightest steady mode when deceleration is detected. Like many lights with this feature, a potholed road also triggers the feature. Although brake sensor features are becoming more common, we are still on the fence about them. Are they really effective? I’m not sure, as it seems like every light manufacturer implements them differently and with the feature enabled you end up with erratic battery life. Until brake sensors implementations become standardized, we suspect most drivers and cyclists won’t know how to react to the feature.
Although these two smart features are cool, they are becoming more common on taillights that cost a lot less (i.e. the $35 Magicshine Seemee 60 has the brake sensor). What is unique about the Lupine Rotlicht Max is just how configurable the sensors are. Not only can you enable and disable them independently, but you can also choose between low/medium and high sensitivity. This allows you to customize the light to your heart’s desire. To change the settings you simply have to hold the power button with the light off and count the number of flashes of the red led. If you find it hard to remember the setting for all the flash mode, there’s a cheat sheet printed on the back of the light which is handy.
The Rotlicht Max comes with four unique output modes: steady, flash, pulse and steady+pulse. Unlike other taillights there is no irregular flash pattern (such as Planet Bike‘s Superflash or Light & Motion‘s SafePulse), however the two pulse combinations are great for drawing attention without blinding fellow cyclists on the road. As is the theme here, Lupine has made the actual brightness in each mode adjustable independent of one another. To change the brightness, you simply hold the power button down until the green light flashes and then press the button again after one of the five desired brightness levels is shown (Note: some of the modes only have four valid options). The factory settings use different levels in each mode and are sufficient for most users. As you can see in the photos, the brightness varies quite a bit between modes allowing you to either conserve battery or be highly visible.
Using the factory settings, the brightness and output settings per mode are: steady (0.25W, 24hr), flash (2W, 6hr), pulse (2W, 6hr), and steady+pulse (0.1W, 50hr). The 120 hour run-time printed on the package is achievable using the lowest power setting in pulse while 60 hours is possible with steady on the dimmest setting. The Rotlicht Max has nearly double the run-time in all modes due to the higher capacity battery than the standard Rotlicht. We were able to ride for nearly two weeks between charging with the standard steady+pulse mode. One surprise was the lack of a clear battery indicator (the user manual states that on shutdown, the lights blink to indicate used power but we were unable to reproduce this). We’d like to see something similar to Lupine’s SmartCore external batteries used for their headlights that incorporate both audio and visual indicators.
Overall, we found that the Lupine Rotlicht Max offers impressive smart features and customizability not typically found on the market. With the Rotlicht Max, you can not only independently adjust the brightness of the four modes between upto five settings, you can also enable/disable the sensors as well as change the sensitivity. Although the stock settings are more than sufficient for most users, we appreciate that Lupine has allowed so much programmability. While the effectiveness of the brake sensor and light sensor might be up for debate, the build quality is not. The Rotlicht Max has an IP68 rating, aluminum housing and a low cost replaceable Lithium polymer battery. This means that while the Rotlicht Max is expensive, it is a great investment as it may be one of the last taillights you buy.
Disclaimer: The product for this review was provided by Lupine. 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.
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