This is another in a series of runtime tests of bike lights.
PDW Radbot vs. PB Superflash taillights.
PDW Cosmic Dreadnought vs PB 2W Blaze Headlights.
PB Blaze 1W vs. 2W Headlights.
This time, I’m comparing five taillights, all powered by 2 AAA batteries. From left to right, we have the MEC Saturn, PB Superflash Turbo, PB Superflash Stealth, PB Blinky7, and the PDW Danger Zone. All these lights have superbright LED’s and 0.5W or 1.0 W LED’s in various combinations. The list prices range from $9-37. The PDW Radbot 1000 was not tested this time, since after some light use, and then sitting in my garage over the summer, mine seems to be dead.
Once again, for the purposes of this test, I used rechargeable AAA’s; either eneloops, or the made in Japan Duracells with the white caps that are supposed to be the same battery.
Here is a video, with 1 second = 87 minutes realtime.
Note that the turbo cuts out first. The measured runtime of 3 hours is well short of what I measured last time. The PDW is next.
Here is a still of the lights after 10 hours 40 minutes, taken with the same exposure settings are the earlier side view. At this point, the three remaining lights are adequate “be seen” lights. The PB Superflash and the MEC Saturn cut out at about 14.5 hours, although you can see in the video that the superflash stays brighter until the very end. The PB Blinky7 is still dimly lit at the time of this writing, more than 25 hours after the start of the test.
There are a couple of caveats here. Firstly, I would expect that runtimes will be longer if you use alkaline AAA’s rather than rechargeables. Certainly this was the case for the headlight test. Secondly, all these lights are more typically used on flash mode. One of these days I’ll have the patience to redo this test with flash mode. Finally, I don’t know why the Turbo did much more poorly than in a previous measurement when it ran for about six hours on steady.
Conclusion? My overall favorite light remains the standard 0.5W Planet Bike Superflash. The 1W Turbo is almost too bright, and it has a much shorter runtime. The DangerZone seems to do better than the PDW 1W Radbot, and so it seems to be intermediate between the 0.5W lights, and the superbright 1W lights. For applications like randonneuring, where flashing is not allowed, an ideal taillight might be 1W with a half power steady mode as an option to extend battery life. An alternative would be to have the PDW Danger Zone with an option to light up only one of the LEDs. The addition of reflective material would also be a plus.
Also, MEC appears to have dropped the regular superflash from their website, in favour of the superflash turbo, which is a terrible idea.
With lots of choices in the $9 – $15 range, there is no excuse to be riding this time of year without a decent taillight. Ride safe everyone!
UPDATES: another blog post that complements this one, with lots of information about lights and cold weather performance.
A more recent test measuring runtime on blink mode.