I’ve written about it here before, and now after five years of development, I finally have my hands on the Lucid Brake bike light. And while it’s everything I had hoped it would be, I still am a bit at a loss with what to do with it.
The concept was simple. A bike light that also alerted those behind you that you were stopping. It uses an inertial sensor to know when the light, and whatever it is attached to, stops or slows. The eight LEDs around the octagonal PC board, like a stop sign, come on brightly when stopping and flash furiously for a sudden stop. It’s quite an attention-getter, as it is designed to be.
The LEDs flash or glow steadily, depending on the mode of operation, but are almost an afterthought to the brake function. One mode even leaves them off until a stop.
The board is coated and waterproof with the only bare spots being the battery connections which hold the 2 AAA batteries firmly. The device is meant to be lightweight and minimalist for the weight-weenies in the cycling world. For those who prefer a little more of a package, there is a translucent plastic cover that snaps over it.
It has no on-off switch!
The attachment system to hold it in place is simple: one square inch of 3M Dual Lock. You may have used that for other things, but if you are not familiar with it, it’s like Velcro on steroids. It’s very strong, yet allows easy removal.
So, what’s my verdict? How does it rank with the other lights I have tried?
Well, the jury is still out. First, it’s unlike any other light I have seen. I wouldn’t say it is a replacement for a daylight-bright rear light, but it could be a decent nighttime rear light. But I think most people will like this light for the brake light feature and it’s in a class of it’s own there. I’ve never seen any other bicycle brake light that didn’t have to have some sort of kludgy wiring into the bike’s brakes.
It’s pretty bright and big. I wouldn’t leave it blinking in the day, but the brake is still bright and should serve it’s purpose of letting those behind you know you are stopping. The question is; do they really need to know? Will another cyclist close to you have enough time to react, or should a hand signal be used in advance to let them know you are stopping? And is it of use to motorists? Is a stopped cyclist all that different from a riding cyclist to a cager going 30 mph? I’ll err on the side of caution and say that any help in letting others know our intentions is good and this is of help. Time will tell how useful it is.
My second reservation is attaching it to a bike. The DualLock strip works well on a flat surface, but there aren’t many flat surfaces on most bikes. They claim it can be attached to a seat post, but I’d be afraid it would be easily turned to the side or even rolled off by even a casual bump. It could be attached to a bike bag, or backpack, but I’m skeptical about adhesive strips sticking to cloth. Maybe if you stitched it on. My bikes don’t have seat posts, since they’re recumbents, and are always problematic for light mounting. The whole bicycle light accessory world is pretty oblivious to the needs of recumbents. Probably the best place for attachment on any bike would be at the back of the rear luggage rack, if your bike has one. Most roadies scoff at such a thing, but I have one on each of my bikes. They even have a bracket for a light/reflector. This light is too big to fit there, though. An adapter would need to be fabricated. I also have already used that place of honor for my Cateye Reflex Auto on both bikes.
So that leaves one suggested place: the back of the helmet. It’s nearly flat, not much curve, and it’s not cloth, so it should stick well. That’s where I’m going to try it. It will also let me use one light on both bikes. With the other lights I already have, I should resemble a UFO going down the road.
I do think that an attachment bracket, even if sold as an option, would be a useful accessory. The 3M attachment is nice for taking it off the bike when you leave it, but a bracket with a square of the DualLock that allows multiple angles and places to mount it would be nice.
I first wrote about this product in 2010 and it has come to market now. They have listened to suggestions and made it better, and I have no doubt that they will continue to do so. If you want one of these lights, you can buy one now. They’re even on sale for $79.99 at the LucidBrake website.
What would I wish for if this light was to be made even better? Well, my v2.0 LucidBrake would be smaller, fully enclosed in protective plastic, and be rechargeable with Li-Ion batteries. I know I was skeptical of lights that USB charging connectors, but I’ve come around and now have a power strip and 4 USB jacks in my garage to keep things charged. It’s become convenient to know I don’t need to find the particular wall-wart for some dedicated charger. The other thing I’d change would be the price point. $80 is too much for mass acceptance. I got in on an advanced promotion, otherwise, I wouldn’t have one. Of course, the early-adopters always pay more and maybe once the word gets out and more of these get sold, the price might drop.