Nite Flux are an Adelaide based company and manufacturer of high performance bicycle lighting. Their latest offerings are the Red Zone 4 and White Zone 5. I have been fortunate to have a pair of these lights for a long-term test and evaluation. Here are some initial thoughts.
It is hard to put these impressive little lights into a category, probably the best description I could give them is daylight visible safety lights – emphasis on ‘daylight’ – as this consideration is important when comparing the NiteFlux against most other ‘daylight visible lights’ on the market today.
LED technology has advanced so much in recent years – early LED were insipid things that dimmed quickly as the power, usually drawn from a AA battery, diminished – till they were little more than reflectors. I have an early front Vista Light that I use to wonder what the point of it was – the dull green glow of the front LEDs barely giving out any light.
As LEDs advanced, so did the power output and the designs possible. Today there is a vast array of LED lights on the market at many different price points, with some very powerful models available at very reasonable prices. However, if you use a light everyday, or have ever dropped one, you will quickly realise that the mounts and light bodies can be quite fragile and brittle – I have a shoe box full of failed lights, mounts and parts from cheap and not so cheap lights that have broken. I have even made my own lights, a particularly powerful 12volt head lamp – but that light required a 12v battery – not the best thing to carry around on a bike (total overkill)
From the outset, I think I can confidently say that the Red and White Zone lights are the most robust bicycle lights I have ever seen. They have obviously been designed to be used everyday and on every ride. They are designed to be easily moved between bikes using a very simple velcro and / or clip style mount that attaches to either the frame, clothing or a saddle bag, or in the case of the Red Zone, ones helmet (this is how I have mainly been using it).
The case of the lights is a resin-based material that apart from the charging socket (covered by its own sealed plug) totally seals the entire unit. The lights are USB rechargeable with an internal non-serviceable battery. The lifespan of this battery is anticipated at 5 years – considering that I would expect these lights to outlast pretty much any other light I have seen, and that LED technology will advance further within the lifespan of the product, I do not see an internal sealed battery as a problem – I would if the light felt like it would break, but not these lights. Standard the lights come with a 1-year warranty with additional extended warranty options available from the manufacturer.
Most bicycle lights, whether front or rear, are highly focused and directional. The narrow field of vision of a front head light is really good to see where you are going on a really dark street or mountain trail, but perhaps not so good in city traffic or on an overcast day where you want a wide angle spread of light offering maximum visibility and attention to the rider. The same goes for the rear light, but even more so. Focused rear lights get lost in all the background information that motorists have to process when driving. Distraction and situational awareness are two things that motorists have to constantly deal with. A bright, visible and wide-angle taillight that is ‘un-miss-able’ is a very desirable accessory for the cyclist. The Red Zone certainly meets these criteria.
Both lights have several power and flash intensity settings. They come shipped with 3 by default, and these can be adjusted and customised within a menu by user selection. The defaults are: a daylight visible intense strobe flash, a lesser nighttime flash (otherwise you are likely to dazzle oncoming traffic or cause your riding partner following behind to have a seizure) and a steady high-powered light (particularly handy if a main front head light fails – such as happened to me in McLaren Vale one moonless night).
So, first impressions are very good – the lights are very well made, robust and are very user friendly.
The main point about these lights, one that I feel really needs to be emphasised – is the visibility. I feel that they are like no other bicycle light on the market today. They have such an intense LED light source that is not focused, resulting in an incredible field of visible light. This light is visible from a wide angle of view, giving approaching traffic ample notice of your presence on the road.
I have been using the lights commuting almost 35 km every day and on long rides through the Adelaide Hills. I have actually felt more visible using these lights; with motorist behaviour modified by the additional presence these lights seem to give me as a cyclist.
I look forward to continue the trial and report again at the end of summer and the cooler darker months of the year later in 2012.
See http://www.niteflux.com/Products.aspx for more information.