The Bontrager 'Flare R' Mission is underway
Some of you may think it strange that I am reviewing a bike light at this time of year. Surely the nights are getting shorter I hear you say, and yes, I would agree with you. However, the Bontrager Flare R is a rear bike light with a difference. Bontrager appreciate that whilst we all know we are legally obliged to use a rear light at night, research has shown that actually 80% of cycle related incidents occur in daylight hours. Like all good ideas, the thought behind the Flare R started with a 'eureka' moment. Trek Bikes' head honcho, John Burke, was out on his morning daylight commute and saw a fellow cyclist using a flashing rear light. Using this and the proliferation of car daytime running lights as inspiration, John Burke set his R & D department to work and, following refinement of the lens and the LED to be used, the Flare R was born.
With a single LED giving a maximum output of 65 lumens and, a lens that provides up to 270 degrees of visibility this was a light designed to give maximum presence on the road. Bontrager say that on its brightest setting the light is visible from 2km away in daylight and 5km at night – watch out for low flying planes!!. Trek Factory Racing actually used the Flare R during a very wet and dull Time Trial in the Giro D'Italia last year – think F1 and you get the idea. All this is all well and good but how well does the Flare R work in the real world?
I've been using this light all winter and whilst it isn't my only rear light it is the one in my opinion that provides the main presence when cars approach from behind. The Flare R comes with 4 settings – 2 Flashing (65 lumens and 5 lumens) and 2 Constants (65 Lumens and 5 lumens). Utilising the elasticated 'iSync" bracket the Flare R can be secured to most seat posts out there. Moreover, can be adjusted further using the Philips screw on the mount. Alternatively you can use the supplied clip to attach it to a seat pack, bag or clothing.
At some point I've used each one of the 4 available settings. However, initially I used the highest flash setting on my commute home. I have to admit it was a great feeling to look round on the odd occasion and see how bright the light was– it certainly gets you noticed! I have also used this setting whilst out in daylight on a typical grey UK winter's day and it certainly does the job it was designed to. Whilst providing daytime safety was its primary objective, the Flare R shouldn't be dismissed as a decent night time rear light either. Using the Flare R throughout the dark Winter evenings I have been very impressed to not have experienced any close encounters from drivers at night. This in turn has filled me with the confidence to concentrate on looking in the right direction i.e. forwards.
On solo rides the daylight flashing mode is certainly confidence boosting however, I have refrained from using it whilst out on group rides as the 65 lumen setting can be rather 'retina burning' to other riders!! With a bit of experimentation the 5 lumen constant setting proved more than ample for group riding and my commute home at night. When compared with the same output from say, the handy Lezyne Femto 'safety' light, you can appreciate where the R & D undertaken by Bontrager has worked. Using my very simplistic test of checking behind me and seeing what road signs were illuminated by my rear light, I was seriously impressed by what was effectively the lowest setting. The Flare R is USB rechargeable and has the benefit of a fast charge time. Bontrager quote a 2 hour charge time from flat and although I admit I haven't timed the charging period, that is pretty good. However, I would imagine most people will work in an environment where they have computer access and will have plenty of time to re-charge the light during the working day if need be.
have given the Flare R a mission – to 'reduce the 80% daytime cycle related incidents to 0' – Whilst that would be a truly an amazing feat, with a retail price of £44.99 the Flare R is priced affordable and may well contribute significantly in its aims. I for one will be championing the Flare R to my friends and will be continuing to use it through the Summer!