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Commuting Bicycle commuting is easier than you think, before you know it, you'll be hooked. Learn the tips, hints, equipment, safety requirements for safely riding your bike to work.

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Old 02-07-09, 10:32 PM   #1
NEXUS
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Reelight Real Cool

Ordered a pair of Reelight SL120s from Amazon on Wednesday and got them this afternoon so here's my review:

These things were a ***** to install! The Reelight site claims that anyone can install them in a matter of minutes! It took me an hour to get them on the back wheel and about half an hour to get them on the front and then another half hour of tweaking after the first test ride!



As you can see I do not have it mounted on the rear axle because of my IGH. I tried it and it forced me to have to secure the magnets too deep between the spokes, basically touching the hub. Though it worked, this would overtime bend or pop the spokes. Reelights sells a version with a longer mounting brackets but I don't think any place in America carries them.



The reason why they are so tricky to install is you have to get the magnets and light within 1-3mm of each other in order for the magnets turn the dynamo thingy inside the light. Now this is very tricky to adjust, since a mm too far and you get nothing while a mm too close and the components start to rub. If you have a quick release skewer you might want to thread it from the other end like I just to be see but it probably wouldn’t matter.



Took her for a test ride to the market for some beer (2 miles) just now and am very satisfied so far. These lights are about the same brightness as a typical blinky and at cruising speed they blink at about 3 blinks per second and 4 when going fast. They also stay on for 1-5 minutes after you have stopped, depending on how long you have ridden. When I got out of the market they were still blinking.

I wish all bikes came standard with something like this.
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Old 02-07-09, 11:02 PM   #2
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I agree that they are not as easily installed as the company insists, but once they are installed they are a breeze.

While the front light is not bright enough to see by, it (and the rear) are certainly enough to BE SEEN by, so that when your battery fails at the most inconvenient moment (as it inevitably does) you at least aren't a Ninja.
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Old 02-08-09, 12:06 AM   #3
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I think I would break those things off in about 2 minutes. Doesn't look like a good place to put a light as far as longevity.
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Old 02-08-09, 12:12 AM   #4
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Nah, once they are set they are set.
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Old 02-08-09, 12:18 AM   #5
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I agree that they are not as easily installed as the company insists, but once they are installed they are a breeze.

While the front light is not bright enough to see by, it (and the rear) are certainly enough to BE SEEN by, so that when your battery fails at the most inconvenient moment (as it inevitably does) you at least aren't a Ninja.
I often even forget to turn off my battery powered lights.
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Old 02-08-09, 06:16 AM   #6
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When my CrossCheck was set up for commuting, I had a set of the old style blinky Reelights on it.
It did take a little fiddling to get them set up just right, "cold setting" as they say the bracket helped a lot. Then I forgot I had them, they worked well- always used them in conjunction with fixed lights.
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Old 02-08-09, 12:44 PM   #7
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I think I would break those things off in about 2 minutes. Doesn't look like a good place to put a light as far as longevity.
They are a lot stronger than they look.
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Old 02-09-09, 07:49 AM   #8
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I think I would break those things off in about 2 minutes. Doesn't look like a good place to put a light as far as longevity.
Having purchased a set of SL-150s in October and destroyed them by December, I can say that they're not great in the longevity department. It's not the brackets or magnets - those are quite beefy. It's the internal electronics.

My front light has a mind of its own - won't stay on like it should, but randomly turns on (anything from dim to bright) with no relation to my speed. Since the SL-150s are supposed to be steady, they should get brighter as you go faster and dim to off when you slow down.

If you live somewhere it gets really cold, be careful of the lights themselves breaking too. On my ride home one night, I heard a clatter behind me, stopped and went back to see what it was - the plastic casing of the rear light had broken and the light had fallen off. Maybe I ride over too many potholes, or someone hit it pulling their bike out from an adjacent position on the rack where I park, but shattering plastic mid-ride is also not my idea of durable.

I hope you have better luck with your Reelights than I did!
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Old 02-09-09, 10:30 AM   #9
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kweichel, you have had some really bad luck. Mine have been installed for about a year and they are holding up quite well.
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Old 02-09-09, 10:36 AM   #10
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I've been running Reelights for a couple of years now, and I like them quite a bit. I even bought a second set of them so I can run them on both of my commuter bikes.

Installation is a bit annoying, but I didn't find it terribly difficult. The magnets are simple to attach (especially the newer design with the flexible plastic). As for the lights themselves, it's a pain to adjust them laterally once you have the skewers tightened, because the hub and frame block the most convenient spots to insert a screwdriver. Once I get the positioning kinda-sorta-right, I fine-tune by just bending the brackets (cold setting).

As for longevity, I've only had one real problem. I had a wipeout last winter where my front light took some impact. Afterwards it worked fine, but clearly the internal mechanism had come loose from the shell, so that each time a magnet passed there was an audible 'click'. At high speed the clicking became so loud and annoying that I eventually removed the light.

All in all, I'd say these lights are fantastic. As an insurance policy alone they're worth their weight in gold - at least once I've had all of my other rear lights die on me, but the Reelight kept on chugging, and I could feel safe riding home.
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Old 02-09-09, 12:59 PM   #11
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They're especially valuable in the late afternoon/early evening when it is just beginning to get dark but not dark enough to light up.
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Old 02-09-09, 01:58 PM   #12
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Having purchased a set of SL-150s in October and destroyed them by December, I can say that they're not great in the longevity department. It's not the brackets or magnets - those are quite beefy. It's the internal electronics.

Unlike the 100 and 120s, the 150s have had mixed reviews. I think that it is better to get the blinky version of these lights because they aren't bright enough to be continuously and would be more noticeable blinking.
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Old 02-09-09, 02:06 PM   #13
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Installation is a bit annoying, but I didn't find it terribly difficult. The magnets are simple to attach (especially the newer design with the flexible plastic). As for the lights themselves, it's a pain to adjust them laterally once you have the skewers tightened, because the hub and frame block the most convenient spots to insert a screwdriver. Once I get the positioning kinda-sorta-right, I fine-tune by just bending the brackets (cold setting).

They are almost impossible to adjust while on the bike, you could strip the screw that way. Bending the bracket is not a good idea either since that slightly changes the angle of the light possibly making the magnets less efficient and the angle of the beam less noticeable. If I ever get another pair I will set the light at maximum closeness and use 1mm washers to properly adjust the gap.
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Old 02-09-09, 02:19 PM   #14
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Just FYI, it's not turning any dynamo thingie inside the light. There aren't any moving parts in there. The bike wheel is the moving part, and it's generating electricity inside the light by moving the magnet past a coil, that's how generators work. 6th grade science, and pretty cool.
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Old 02-09-09, 02:34 PM   #15
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Nah, there is somethig moving in there. Suspend or put the bike upside down, spin the wheel and hold the light. You can feel something turning inside.
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Old 02-09-09, 11:53 PM   #16
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They make two different types the ones that have something inside keeps the lights flashing for a brief time when you stop. The others only go only by induction.
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Old 02-10-09, 07:48 AM   #17
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If you're rolling platforms,you might want to consider a set of these:
http://www.pedalite.com/

On in 5min with a pedal wrench,you get side lights,and they cover both sides of the bike.
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Old 02-10-09, 08:34 AM   #18
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If you're rolling platforms,you might want to consider a set of these:
http://www.pedalite.com/

On in 5min with a pedal wrench,you get side lights,and they cover both sides of the bike.
The Pedalites look interesting. I was wondering how I would mount regular toe clips onto those, then I found that they offer their own special toe-clips for them. However, the toe-clips don't look all that effective and their FAQ page on them doesn't say much about functionality. The pedals look interesting, but lacking a decent toe clip would be a deal-breaker for me. Does anyone have any experience in this regard?

BTW, I have some Reelight 120's and am very happy with them. Installation wasn't too hard, and I haven't had to touch them since (about 3 months of use so far).
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Old 02-10-09, 12:57 PM   #19
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Nah, there is somethig moving in there. Suspend or put the bike upside down, spin the wheel and hold the light. You can feel something turning inside.
You're just feeling the light being pulled back and forth as the magnets pass. There are definitely no moving parts inside! The ones that keep flashing after the wheel has stopped work by charging a capacitor, not by spinning up a flywheel!
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Old 02-10-09, 02:36 PM   #20
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Ok, I'll take your word for it. So how do you explain the clicking yours everytime the magnets go around?
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Old 02-10-09, 04:53 PM   #21
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If you're rolling platforms,you might want to consider a set of these:
http://www.pedalite.com/

On in 5min with a pedal wrench,you get side lights,and they cover both sides of the bike.
I am rolling in platforms and those look like a great idea. The only problem I can think of is
one would have to make sure everytime that the pedals are facing the same direction.
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Old 02-10-09, 09:30 PM   #22
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Ok, I'll take your word for it. So how do you explain the clicking yours everytime the magnets go around?
As I said, in my case the light's innards were separated from the housing by impact, and are essentially just rattling around inside. The 'click' as the magnet passes is from the induction coil being yanked against the side of the housing. An undamaged light doesn't do this, and doesn't click!
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Old 02-10-09, 09:46 PM   #23
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The company also says that there is no spining resistance. This is not true. Earlier I spun the wheel while holding the rear up by the seatpost and I could feel the bike slightly vibrate every time the magnets passed the light. How could it not have resistance? You cant get somethng for nothing right?
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Old 02-10-09, 11:06 PM   #24
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Does anyone here know if the magnets have to be set exactly opposite of each other (as in 9 o’clock and3 o’clock) for the light to work most efficiently or is a little bit off ok, like say 9 o'clock and 2 or 4 o'clock? My spoke pattern makes setting them perfectly opposite of each other impossible.
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Old 02-11-09, 11:06 PM   #25
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What they mean by "no spinning resistance" is that there is no mechanical friction. As you said, you can't get something for nothing - the energy to make the lights flash comes from the kinetic energy of the wheel. Their point is that unlike a crappy generator light that drags a rotor along your rim, there's negligable mechanical friction, so the energy transfer is about as efficient as one could hope for.

The magnets don't have to be placed exactly opposite one another. If they're offset the wheel will have a slight hop, but certainly less than from having a spoke-reflector or whatnot. Not a problem at all.
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