With the rise in aerodynamic bikes, many bikes on the market have non-round seat posts with airfoil profiles to optimize airflow. These aerodynamic seat posts have sharp trailing edges that make the typical seat post tail light mounts incompatible. The Topeak Redlite Aero USB 1W tail light addresses this by offering flexible mounting options along with a bright COB LED design and slim form factor. While the tail light design may not have been optimized using a wind tunnel, the aerodynamic profile allows the light to sit flush behind your seat post.
The Redlite Aero USB 1W is one of the most powerful tail lights Topeak offers, and has a number of upgrades from the other iterations of the Redlite Aero. As the long product name implies, this is a micro USB rechargeable light (integrated 640 mAh Li-ion battery) with a bright 55 lumen output. To achieve this higher output, the Redlite Aero USB 1W uses a COB LED design arranged in a tight vertical grid for a uniform and distributed output. The tail light housing has integrated mounting hooks and a clever tool-free mounting system to accommodate aero or round seatposts as well as a body clip for backpacks or saddlebags.
Topeak has nailed the fundamentals of a quality bicycle tail light with the Redlite Aero USB 1W. With a sleek transparent housing and rechargeable COB LED design, it has excellent side visibility and is bright enough for daytime use.
|Category||Bicycle Tail Light|
|Likes||+ 220° visibility |
+ Included aero post adaptor and body clip
+ Modern and bright COB LED design
|Dislikes||– Tall form factor |
– Low battery warning easy to miss
– Long press does not power off light
|Where to Buy (US)||Topeak|
Topeak packages the Redlite Aero USB 1W in a sleek cardboard package with the tail light prominently displayed. The display box has a ‘try me’ option to let you interact with the light as well. Inside the box you’ll find:
- Redlite Aero USB 1W tail light
- Micro USB charging cable
- User manual
- Body clip
- Aero/round/body clip mounting inserts
- 4 x rubber mounting straps
The clever mounting option means there is no allen key or tools needed or included in the packaging. Also, the user manual has more details than we typically see.
Topeak has incorporated a clever mounting system for the Redlite Aero USB 1W to accommodate aerodynamic as well as round seatposts and the standard body clip. On the rear of the tail light is a simple plastic slot that fits one of three included mounting options. First, a simple flat rubber piece that works for round seat posts. Second, a ‘U’ shaped rubber insert that is designed to grip sharp aerodynamic seat posts or seat stays. Finally, a plastic body clip to use on backpacks, saddlebags or even a jersey pocket.
These three mount insert options attach with a satisfying snap when they are locked in – no tools needed!. This allows seamless swapping between different bikes and mounting locations, unlike the Magicshine Seemee 60 which uses one-time-use adhesive rubber mounts. The four different rubber straps that are included also allow for a wide range of mounting locations. The only negative we found is that with the taller form factor, the tail light doesn’t feel as secure on a backpack strap. It tends to move side-to-side due to the length.
FIT & FINISH
The Redlite Aero USB 1W has a slim and vertical form factor with a tight grid of COB LEDs along the center section. Most of the tail light housing is a transparent red lens with only a slim opaque black plastic backing to accommodate the different mount attachments. The mounting hooks are also integrated directly into the housing, with the button on one side and branding on the other.
While the overall design is similar to many other tail lights on the market, Redlite Aero USB 1W has an aerodynamic profile with a beveled, sharp edge to it which improves light distribution and looks sleeker when attached on the bike. In particular, we found the COB LED design gives the light a futuristic design. It has a high quality feel to it without any exposed molding lines. According to our scale, the light came in at 40g which was slightly lower than the claimed 42g weight of the light only.
The micro USB port is located on the bottom of the tail light with a little rubber cover to achieve the IPX6 rating. To operate the tail light, there is a rubber button on the left side of the light. A long hold will turn the light on, and a short press will cycle through the four available modes. Like the Headlux 450 USB we previously reviewed, a long hold does not turn the light off. To shut off the light, you have to cycle through the modes back to the off state. This is an unusual design choice, and not intuitive to use as it is common practice to long hold the power button to shut it off. This also means there is no need for a mode memory with this tail light as you always have to cycle to the off state.
The transparent housing design of the Topeak Redlite Aero USB 1W ensures the light output has excellent side visibility and distribution. There are four output modes for the tail light: high constant (2 hours), low constant (4 hours), blinking (15 hours) and pulse (50 hours). Topeak only lists the 55 lumen max output and not the lumen output per mode. In all the modes, the deflectors built into the lens housing result in the entire tail light illuminating. This results in a 220° visibility, which ensures you have both rear and side visibility.
Additionally, with the COB LED design the light output has a uniform spread that gives the tail light a modern appearance. The LEDs are mounted angled upward within the housing to counteract the fact that seat posts are angled backwards. Overall, we were impressed with the bright output and the vertical spread. One negative is that there is no non-uniform flash mode, like the Light And Motion Vya Switch does which we found to be more effective. Also, as we mentioned earlier, you do have to cycle through all the modes to shut the light off which is atypical for a tail light interface.
Unlike AAA battery powered tail lights which dim as they lose power, LED lights are designed to maintain output until they run out of power. As with many USB lights we’ve reviewed, the Topeak Redlite Aero has a non-intuitive low battery indicator. There is a small orange light on the side of the tail light that will light up when the battery is low, a green light is used to indicate the tail light is charging. Although this is better than not having a low battery indicator, we wish Topeak could incorporate something similar to the battery status indicator of the Fenix BC05R.
With a sleek transparent housing and rechargeable COB LED design, the Topeak Redlite Aero USB 1W has excellent side visibility and is bright enough for daytime use. The included mounts for aero and round seat-posts as well as the body clip mounts are tool-free and easy to use right out of the box. Although there is no non-uniform flash mode or a clear battery indicator, Topeak has nailed the fundamentals of a quality bicycle tail light with the Redlite Aero USB 1W.
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.