One of the most annoying aspects of bike lights is the fact that you have to operate each one separately with battery status indicators on each light. That means it’s easy to forget to turn on a taillight or have a taillight run out of power mid-ride. Topeak’s new PowerLite BT Combo solves this issue by connecting the Topeak WhiteLite 800BT headlight with the RedLite 80BT taillight using bluetooth. The Topeak PowerLite BT combo retails for $157.95 and offers up to 800 lumen from the headlight and 80 lumen from the taillight. Both lights can be controlled independently via two buttons on the headlight with a combined LED indicator that shows the status of both devices. The headlight even features a refractor style lens which generates a sharp beam cutoff. Although the headlight is not StVZO certified, the anti-glare lens ensures oncoming traffic is not blinded and focuses the light on the ground.
The Topeak PowerLite BT Combo offers bluetooth connectivity between the sharp-beam cutoff WhiteLite 800BT headlight and the bright RedLite 80BT taillight.
|Measured Weight (in g)||124 (headlight only), 8 (SideClick adapter), 22 (handlebar mount), 58 (taillight + strap)|
|Likes||+ Sharp beam cutoff|
+ Headlight can be mounted from topside or bottom
+ Single battery status indicator
|Dislikes||– Headlight lacks side-cutouts|
– Lights need to unpaired if not used for extended periods of time
– Battery status LED indicators are inset with poor viewing angles
|Where to Buy (US)||Todson|
The Topeak PowerLite BT comes in a simple square cardboard box with branding printed directly on it. Inside the box you’ll find:
- WhiteLite 800BT headlight
- Handlebar mount + rubber gasket + 22.2-26.0mm bracket
- SideClick adapter
- RedLite 80BT taillight
- 2x USB-C to USB-A charging cable
- 4x Rubber seatpost mounts (accommodates 12 to >34.9mm diameters)
- Round + aero + clip taillight adapters
- 2 / 3 mm Allen keys
- Instruction manual
What’s great about Topeak is that they include all the necessary adapters for both the headlight and taillight rather than selling them separately. Right out of the box you can accommodate nearly any seat post design or mount the headlight from either the top or bottom.
Topeak has developed both the headlight and taillight to be easily mounted on nearly any bike setup with tool-free quick-release mounts. The Topeak WhiteLite 800BT headlight uses a proprietary tab style mount similar to those found on Fenix bike lights. What sets the headlight apart from other lights on the market is that Topeak has incorporated a tab on both the top and bottom of the headlight which means you can mount the headlight on top of handlebars or use the included SideClick adapter (i.e. a tab to GoPro bracket) to attach the lights underneath out-front-mounts like the Topeak UTF. This simple detail allows you to cleanly install the headlight on a handlebar or stack the light with GPS computers while still maintaining the proper beam orientation. It’s an amazing feature that’s particularly important with headlights with directional beams as you can’t simply flip the headlight upside down.
The Topeak RedLite 80BT taillight doesn’t have any party tricks like the headlight but it does offer a variety of mounting options right out of the box. Topeak includes four different length rubber straps with round loops on each side that slide onto hooks molded into the taillight for secure mounting. To accommodate different seatpost shapes, Topeak also includes a round and aero style rubber backing with specific shaping. The rubber pieces have an interchangeable design that slide onto the rear of the taillight. To attach the taillight onto saddlebags or clothing there is even an additional clip adapter that can be swapped in place of the rubber pieces. While this design means you can mount the taillight nearly anywhere, the multi-piece design means it can be easy to lose pieces over time.
FIT & FINISH
The Topeak PowerLite BT connects a bright 800 lumen headlight and 80 lumen taillight using bluetooth to simplify operating the lights and monitoring their battery status. This is one of the first smart connected light setups we’ve seen from Topeak and it is a feature we’re excited to see. Although the WhiteLite 800BT headlight and RedLite 80BT are offered separately it makes the most sense as a combo to take advantage of the pairing capabilities. At this time, the headlight can only be paired with the RedLite 80BT but we assume Topeak will offer more taillight options in the future to choose from. Visually, the headlight has a black finish with metal front section and rubberized rear which houses the integrated 3500mAh Li-ion battery. One of the big features of the headlight is the refractor lens which creates a sharp beam cutoff that prevents glare for oncoming riders or traffic.
The LED is mounted on the top surface of the lens with a triangular reflector that diverts the light downward. This lens design isn’t as advanced as projector lenses such as those found on more expensive lights like the Lupine SL AF or LightSkin NACA but it still produces a sharp beam cutoff. On both the top and bottom of the headlight you’ll also find slots cut into the housing with a removable rubber cover that can be placed in whichever slot is not used. As we mentioned, this simple detail allows the headlight to be mounted from the bottom or topside for mounting onto out-front mounts. There is also a USB-C charging port on the bottom of the light underneath a rubber cover. The left side has WhiteLite 800BT branding printed on it and two separate rubber buttons on the other side to control the headlight and a connected taillight.
Finally, you have a rectangular window on the topside of the headlight which has 5 status LEDs underneath it that are illuminated when the light is on. The four lights on the right side indicate the battery status of the headlight while the one LED on the left side is used for the taillight status. The LEDs appear to be slightly inset into the housing which is why the LED display can be a bit confusing. It’s hard to distinguish the individual LEDs and at side angles as the position of the LEDs can be misleading (i.e. 3 right LEDs can appear to be the far left 3 LEDs at some angles). Aside from the design issue, the combined battery status display is a welcome feature that lets you monitor both lights from a single location without the need for separate apps or compatible GPS computers.
The RedLite 80BT taillight is very reminiscent of Topeak’s similarly named RedLite Aero taillight with a transparent red housing and wedge shape. There is a single COB LED strip down the center of the light which illuminates the entire body of the taillight for excellent visibility at nearly any angle. There is a single rubber power button on the top of the taillight with a large textured surface that makes it easy to feel even with gloves on. There is a USB-C charging port on the bottom surface of the light which is a welcome upgrade from micro USB ports found on previous Topeak products. There is a semi-hidden LED indicator on the right side of the housing that illuminates to indicate pairing or for low battery status.
PAIRING THE LIGHTS
One of the main features of the Topeak PowerLite BT combo set is the fact that you can pair the lights together using bluetooth and change the taillight mode directly from the headlight. The pairing process is pretty straight forward and can be done by pressing the “R” taillight button on the headlight quickly or holding it for 3 seconds. This causes the far left LED on the status indicator region to flash blue. Next you turn the RedLight 80BT on. Within a few seconds the indicator light will switch to green on the WhiteLite 800BT headlight and you can now control the taillight mode from the headlight. A long press on the “R” button shuts the taillight off, while a short press cycles through the different modes. Note, if you accidentally hold the “R” button and enter pairing mode you can do a single short press to exit out of it.
Once paired, you can no longer control the taillight from the button on the RedLite 80BT and can only operate the light from the headlight. It’s an odd choice that we don’t particularly understand the rationale of as it would be more convenient to change the modes on the taillight directly and visually see it change. With this setup you need to press the headlight button and turn around to view what mode it is in, there is no indicator on the headlight to show the current mode of the taillight (such as the indicator light on the Shanren Miles GPS computer). When you shut the paired taillight off a blue light remains on the headlight to indicate “standby” mode is active. According to Topeak, the standby mode is only meant to be utilized for periods of time less than a week as a convenience feature.
What this unfortunately means is that it only makes sense to keep the headlight and taillight paired during relatively short periods of time. Otherwise, standby mode slowly drains the battery and leaves a blue light indicator active on the headlight. For longer term storage you need to hold the “R” button for an additional 3 seconds after the light is off to unpair the lights. The next time you use the lights you would need to redo the pairing process which requires manually turning on the taillight along with an extra button press on the headlight to initiate the pairing. In our opinion the inclusion of a separate standby mode instead of a full shutdown option defeats the entire purpose of including bluetooth connectivity. The dual button design of the headlight also means you don’t have a true one-button operation to shut the lights off in unison, even when paired you need to press each button separately. We prefer other smart connected lights like the Trek Commuter Pro RT which implements true one button operation and one time pairing.
Both the Topeak WhiteLite 800BT and RedLite 80BT have five different output modes: three constant modes and two flashing modes. The modes are all in a single level menu which means a single press cycles through them and mode memory ensures the lights turn on in the same mode they were shut off in. The constant modes for the headlight are: high (800 lm / 3.5 hr), medium (400 lm / 5 hr) and low (200 lm / 9 hr). For daytime riding or low visibility conditions the headlight offers flash (200 lm / 20 hr) and a more gentle pulse (400 lm / 40 hr). We found the runtimes to be consistent with the claimed numbers and more than enough for most rides.
The main feature of the headlight is the lens which creates a sharp beam cutoff and focuses the light on the ground. It’s a smooth beam with a trapezoidal shape that is approximately a lane wide and also creates a bright patch directly under the front wheel. Note, one of the primary reasons the WhiteLite 800BT is not StVZO certified is the fact that it features flash modes for the headlights which the regulation does not allow. We used the flash mode for daytime riding to improve our visibility on busy roads. The one big let down of the WhiteLite 800BT is that Topeak forgot to add side cutouts or markers for side visibility, the current design has a flat lens which means the headlight is not visible from the side. This is a simple feature which helps improve safety at intersections where cars or other bikes approach you from perpendicular angles.
The RedLite 80BT also has the same mode options with a high (80 lm ./ 3.5 hr), medium (40 lm / 5 hr) and low (20 lm / 7.5 hr) constant modes. There are an additional two flash modes: flash (30 lm / 20 hr) and pulse (50 lm / 40 hr). Again, the runtimes are quite generous and more than enough for urban riding or long distance road cycling. We found the five modes to be excessive and would have preferred less options as there is little reason to use all three constant modes. On the road, the taillight’s COB LED design creates smooth and uniform illumination that also lights up the translucent lens for excellent side visibility. Compared to taillights like the Bontrager Flare RT or Light & Motion Vya which have highly focused LEDs, the RedLilte 80BT isn’t visible for longer distances as the lens design distributes the light.
Overall, we found the Topeak PowerLite BT Combo to be a well designed light combo with clever features. The headlight offers a sharp beam cutoff that focuses the light on the ground and has an anti-glare design that oncoming riders or pedestrians will appreciate. At 800 lumens the headlight has more than enough illumination for road cycling or urban riding and has a well tuned beam. The RedLite 80BT taillight is also bright at 80 lumen and has a translucent red housing that lights up when the taillight is on. One of the main features of the combo is the bluetooth connectivity between the headlight and taillight which we were a bit disappointed by. We think Topeak missed the mark with the connectivity design which requires the lights to be unpaired if stored for more than a week. The lights also do not have a true one-button operation and instead uses a controller style approach with two buttons on the headlight to control the headlight and taillight separately. That’s why we are a bit on the fence about the PowerLite BT Combo, it has great features such as dual sided headlight mounting and a sharp beam cutoff but has usability issues with the connectivity approach.
Disclaimer: The product for this review was provided by Topeak. 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.