These days it’s hard to keep track of all the rechargeable devices on your bike, from smart helmets, taillights, headlights, GPS units to electronic shifters. That means it’s highly likely you’ve found yourself riding in the dark with dead bike lights at least once. Reelight’s NOVA lights are a battery free modular light system that utilizes their innovative contact-less rim dynamo lights. That means you never have to worry about recharging batteries or keeping track of charging cables as the NOVA lights are always ready to go. It’s a modular light system with headlights and taillight that can be mounted to the frame or fork as well as wired rim dynamos to power them.
Retail price starts at €87 for the NOVA headtube/fork headlight, NOVA seatpost taillight (€13-16 per light) and two dynamos (€30 each). Reelight also offers a number of accessories such as extension cords and extra basket brackets to customize the installation for your bike setup. At full output, the headlight and taillight are rated for 150 and 60 lumen respectively with a more realistic 20-30 lumen rating at 15 km/h (~9 mph) and have large integrated reflectors for improved visibility. The lights also feature Reelight’s ReePower Flash which allows the lights to flash for up to 2 minutes after you stop to ensure you remain visible at intersections or lights. Although the lights can work with nearly any bike configuration, the wheels must be constructed from aluminum for the dynamos to generate power.
The Reelight NOVA is a modular bike light system that keeps you visible without the need for batteries.
|Rating||9.1 / 10|
|Measured Weight (g)||24 (headtube/seatpost version), 46 (basket/rack version), 84 (dynamo)|
|Likes||+ Battery-free design|
+ Large reflectors integrated into the lights keep you visible
+ ReePower Flash keeps lights on even when not moving
|Dislikes||– Limited output|
– Dynamo installation requires specific spacing
|Where to Buy (US)||Reelight|
The Reelight NOVA is a modular system which means you can buy each component individually to customize your own setup. For this review, we specifically utilized the NOVA headlight, taillight and two dynamos. Each product has its own eco-friendly cardboard box with the instructions printed directly on a tissue like paper that is wrapped around each light / dynamo to prevent them from moving around or getting scratched. It’s a slick design that eliminates the need for plastic or any packaging waste.
Each of the dynamos come with:
- Rim dynamo
- Allen key
- Instruction manual
The allen key is shaped like a key and is used to install the dynamos. It’s a standard 4mm allen key though, so don’t worry if you lose it.
Inside the NOVA headtube/fork headlight you’ll find:
- NOVA headlight
- Plastic bracket w/ bolt
- Multiple rubber straps for mounting
- Steel bracket for fork mounting
- 30cm power cable to connect to dynamo
Note, to use the steel bracket you’ll need a bike with a bolt slot in the fork as well as a bolt to secure it in place.
Inside the NOVA seatpost taillight you’ll find:
- NOVA taillight
- Plastic bracket w/ bolt
- Multiple rubber straps for mounting
- 40cm power cable to connect to dynamo
Getting the NOVA lights installed and ready to ride requires a bit of patience as each light requires an individual dynamo. The headlight offers two installation options: a fork mounted bracket or a simpler rubber strap against the headtube. For the latter approach, you simply loop the provided rubber o-ring through the plastic strap and around your headtube. Then install the headlight using the provided bolt onto the end of the bracket. You can easily adjust the angle of the light by loosening the bolt and rotating the light. This simple mounting bracket is also shared with the seatpost version of the taillight and can be installed using the same method. You’ll also want to connect the included power cable into the lights and ensure it’s fully inserted as it won’t work otherwise.
The more time consuming portion of the Reelight NOVA setup are the rim dynamos which need to be centered onto your aluminum rims with a 2mm gap for optimal performance. Installing them is straightforward though, as they mount using an integrated cable wire that can be loosened or tightened using the provided allen key. Each of the dynamos also have a ball and socket design which allows them to swivel around for optimal placement. The dynamos can be installed on either side of the bike as long as you orient the target symbol toward the rim. If you have a disc brake setup you can even place the forward or backward as desired. Getting the clearance dialed in takes some trial and error, but once the mounts are tightened down they do a good job of staying in place.
FIT & FINISH
The Reelight NOVA lights utilize a two piece design with the headlights and taillight connected via a power cable to the dynamo. This two-piece design allows for flexible mounting of the lights and larger form factors for improved visibility. Reelight offers multiple variations of the lights for basket mounting or standard versions for direct mounting to the bike frame. The standard versions have a teardrop shape with a single LED and circular reflective housing at the top. Below this you’ll find a large integrated reflector which ensures your bike is always visible. The basket and rack versions of the NOVA lights have an elliptical shape with a reflector on both sides of the lights. With the lights themselves having no batteries, they are thin and very light. What’s nice about this modular design compared to more integrated dynamo / light options like the Reelight CIO is that you have much more flexibility in the placement of the lights
The only difference between the taillight and headlight variations is the tint color as the taillights are red while the headlights are white. Although the NOVA lights would look out of place on a high-end racing bike, the large form factors and retro design elements means they look great on commuter or urban bikes. We particularly appreciate the integrated reflectors as that helps keep your bike visible even when it’s parked. What makes the NOVA lights special are the contactless rim dynamos which connect to the lights via included power cables. The dynamos are fairly heavy at 84 grams and have a nondescript black finish with Reelight printed on it. If you’re not familiar with Reelight it would be easy to overlook the dynamos. The integrated cable mount design of the dynamos makes them somewhat theft-resistant as it’s not visually obvious how to remove them from a bike.
As with other dynamo lights, the output of the lights depends on how much power is supplied to them. Reelight claims the front headlight is capable of 150 lumen while the taillight is rated for 60 lumen at maximum power levels. At a more realistic 15 kph (~9 mph) the lights are rated between 20-30 lumen which is closer to speeds you’d see on crowded trails or urban roads. That means the NOVA lights aren’t particularly bright and should be considered “be-seen” lights to help others see you. On dark trails or paths you’ll still want a battery powered headlight to illuminate the path. That’s why we’d recommend the NOVA lights as backup lights you can leave installed on your bike to ensure you’re always visible.
The large reflectors of the lights means the NOVA lights are visible from a fair distance away. They aren’t as blinding as lights or daytime bright like the Moon Sport Helix Sense 450 or Bontrager Ion 200 but they’re excellent for urban or shared trail use. We found that the ReePower Flash mode worked surprisingly well. Once you’ve ridden a few miles with the lights, the built-in capacitors in the dynamos allow the lights to flash for 2 minutes or more. This is particularly useful to keep you visible at stop signs or red lights. The high frequency flashing extends the runtime of the light and is more eye-catching than the constant mode.
Overall, we found the Reelight NOVA lights to be highly versatile and well designed lights. With their modular design you can mix and match bike rack / basket lights with standard seatpost or headtube mounted lights to match your bike setup. The two piece designs allow the headlights and taillights to be lightweight and have large reflectors built into them. It’s a clever battery free light system that utilizes contactless rim dynamos to power the lights for essentially free. We were impressed with the ReePower Flash feature which keeps the lights on even when you aren’t moving for up to 2 minutes. The only downsides of the NOVA setup is that they aren’t particularly bright and better used as secondary lights and that the dynamos require a bit of patience to align properly. That said, if you’re looking for a cheap and effective battery-free way to improve your visibility and safety on the road then the Reelight NOVA is a great option.
Disclaimer: The product for this review was provided by Reelight. 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.