When it comes to cycling lights most people assume brighter is better. The reality is that bright lights often can be blinding for oncoming riders and traffic which is why Europe has adopted StVZO requirements with beam cutoffs. Trek’s new Commuter lights may lack the StVZO certification but have a similar sharp beam cutoff that Trek refers to as Kindbeam. In this review we’ll be looking at the top-of-the-line $159.99 Commuter Pro RT which adds some cool tech features such as Bluetooth connectivity for one-button control of both the headlight and connected taillights. Using a simple Bluetooth pairing sequence the Computer Pro RT can be linked to other Bontrager RT lights which allows you to both the headlight and second light with a single press. The large 4800 mAh battery offers up to 12 hour runtime and even has a power bank mode to charge other devices. Note, Trek does have a more affordable Comp R version with the same lens design but without the connectivity features.
The Trek Commuter Pro RT combines an optimized beam cutoff with clever wireless connectivity to control a second light with a single button press.
|Retail Price||$159.99 / $209.99 (combo w/ Flare RT taillight)|
|Rating||9.1 / 10|
|Measured Weight (in g)||192 (headlight), 30 (handlebar mount)|
|Likes||+ Sharp beam cutoff|
+ One button control for headlight and taillight
+ Dual six level battery status indicators
|Dislikes||– Premium price|
– Requires optional Blendr mount to mount under computers
– Only rated to IPX4 for water resistance
|Where to Buy (US)||Trek|
The Trek Commuter Pro RT comes in a compact white cardboard box with bright graphics and specs printed onto it. Inside the box you’ll find:
- Commuter Pro RT headlight
- Adjustable handlebar mount + rubber shim (25.4-35.0mm handlebars)
- USB-C to USB-A charging cable
- Instruction manual
Trek has done an excellent job minimizing excess packaging while still keeping the light securely packed inside the box.
The Trek Commuter Pro RT utilizes a proprietary slot / tab design that is shared with the Bontrager Flare RT and other lights. Included with the headlight is a tool-free handlebar mount which uses a cam-style mount and is compatible with handlebar diameters from 25.4 to 35.0mm. For smaller diameter handlebars there is an included rubber shim that goes between the handlebars and the mount. Although we are disappointed that Trek didn’t use a more common Garmin or GoPro style mount design which offers more accessories, the supplied mount works well. There is no side-to-side adjustment with the mount and only a minimal amount of upward/downward play. For cleanest mounting we’d recommend investing in the optional Blendr mount which allows you to place the headlight underneath a computer if you have a compatible Blendr handlebar setup.
FIT & FINISH
Trek markets the Commuter Pro RT as the do-it-all front light that has enough output for commuting or off-road cycling. The exterior of the headlight has a premium feeling metal housing with an integrated 4800mAh Li-ion battery. It’s a fairly heavy headlight at 192g despite a relatively compact rectangular profile. Instead of having Bontrager branding, the light as Trek printed on the sides along with Commuter Pro RT. On the rear you’ll find a rubber cover for the USB-C port which can be used to charge the light or to use the headlight as a powerbank to charge other devices. The rubber cover is a bit fidgety and has to be aligned properly before it can be fully seated. We suspect this USB-C port position and cover design is partially to blame for the low IPX4 water resistance rating which would make us hesitant to use this light in heavy rain conditions.
Along the sides you’ll find a beveled profile and a translucent orange cutout for improved side visibility. The tab mount design extends slightly downward along with rounded edges on the sides of the headlight to give the headlight a slimmer appearance. One of the main features of the light is the so called “Kindbeam” technology which is simply a refractor style lens with top mounted LED. The carefully designed reflectors create a sharp beam cutoff that focuses the light on the ground and is in fact “kind” as it doesn’t blind oncoming traffic as standard headlights would. It’s a similar lens design as the Outbound Lighting Detour and Topeak WhiteLite 800BT we’ve recently reviewed and a trend we’re happy to see gain traction.
On the topside of the light you have a large circular single button surrounded by a glossy panel. The light has a single button user interface which is also illuminated to indicate the current mode. What’s more interesting are the two rows of 5 LEDs placed below the button. The left five LEDs are used to indicate the battery status of the headlight while the right are used for the paired light or to indicate the power bank functionality being active. What this means is you have a six-level battery status indicator for both the headlight and the paired light (which can be a Flare RT taillight or even a Ion RT headlight). It’s a feature we’re happy to see as you can better monitor the status of the lights rather than rely on small low battery status indicator or confusing color indicators. The user interface of the headlight is fairly straightforward with a single press to cycle through the low / high / flash mode and a long press to access secondary features. We’ll tackle each of the features in more detail below.
DAYTIME FLASH BYPASS MODE
Because the Trek Commuter Pro RT only has a single level menu you have to cycle through daytime flash mode to switch between the low and high settings. Not only is this annoying but it can be dangerous as the daytime flash mode can be quite distracting on a dark trail. Rather than using a dual-level menu like the Magicshine RN 1500 uses, Trek has added the ability to entirely disable daytime flash mode. This makes the daytime mode entirely inaccessible and avoids the distraction issue caused by cycling through the mode. To enable or disable it you turn the light on, then hold the power button for 8 seconds and release the button after you see the headlight flash. It’s an effective way to avoid cycling through flash but a bit cumbersome compared to the simplicity of a dual-level menu design found on other lights.
PAIRING THE LIGHTS
One of the key features of the Trek Commuter Pro RT is the ability to pair to other lights. The most obvious choice is the Bontrager Flare RT taillight but you can in fact connect to any of the Bontrager RT lights including the Ion RT front lights. Pairing requires turning on the headlight and then holding the power button for 15 seconds. As long as the other light is nearby the Commuter Pro RT will pair to it and then allow you to turn it on / off in sync with the headlight. It’s a very convenient feature that gives you a seamless riding experience as you don’t have to worry about turning on the taillight separately. To un-pair a lights you simply repeat the process but ensure the other light is not nearby and wait 10 seconds for the pairing information to be cleared from the headlight. Compared to the Topeak WhiteLight 800BT which has a standby mode, the Commuter Pro RT gives you true power on/ off functionality without any additional steps.
POWER BANK MODE
The large 4800 mAh Li-ion battery in the Trek Commuter Pro RT can not only be used to power the headlight but also charge other devices via the USB-C port. It’s a great feature that allows you to get more use out of the headlight and help justify the price. Not surprisingly, you also have to hold the power button for 8 seconds with the light off to enable the mode. A single button press exits the mode with the right 5 LEDs cycling upward/downward to indicate the mode is active. Per the manual, you should not connect the other device until the mode is active to enable the power bank charging feature.
Trek has avoided the temptation of excessive output modes and minimized the number of mode to three. You have a low and high constant mode as well as daytime flash. The high constant mode offers the full 1000 lumens with 1.5 hr runtime while the low constant mode is 500 lumens with 3 hr runtime. Daytime flash offers the best runtime of 12 hours and puts out 300 lumen. Thanks to the wide beam and sharp cutoff, even the low mode is more than enough for nighttime riding. We were impressed with the width of the beam and the brightness of the light. We’d estimate the beam width to be about two lanes wide with a distinct dual pattern with a bright region next to the front wheel and a second bright region further ahead. High mode feels brighter than the 1000 lumen output would suggest and is great for fast and dark sections.
We found the runtimes to be consistent with the claimed numbers and the six-level battery status indicator perfect for ensuring you make it home before the lights die. For night rides over 3 hours you’ll likely want to use an external battery pack to extend the limited constant mode runtimes. As road cyclists we found the daytime mode the most useful as the irregular flashing pattern is bright and helps ensure your visible at intersections or busy roads. Given the price and amount of features of the light, we were a bit surprised that Trek didn’t include an ambient light sensor to automatically switch between daytime / nighttime modes. It’s a feature that we’ve found useful on other lights like the Lupine SL AF and would work well with the Bontrager Flare RT taillight.
Overall, we found the Trek Commuter Pro RT headlight to be a well designed and full-featured bike light. Trek has successfully leveraged Bluetooth to allow you to control both the headlight and taillight with a single button. It’s a seamless experience that allows you to hop on the bike and turn the headlight / taillight on together and then turn them both off when you’re done with the same headlight button. We were also impressed with the dual battery status indicators which offer six-level battery status instead of the typical low battery indicators most lights use. The main negatives with the light is the premium price and the fact that you have to purchase separate Blendr accessories to mount the light underneath a GPS computer. That said, the Trek Commuter Pro RT is a bright light with well designed beam cutoff and seamless connectivity features that are hard to beat.
Disclaimer: The product for this review was provided by Trek. 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.