Bicycle and Gear Reviews

Review: Reelight SL 150 battery free bike light

3 Comments 17 August 2010

The light on the right, magnets on the left - Induction magic!

This summer has been awesome. Even though it seems to continue quite a long time, eventually the dark will set (in Finland summer nights are bright as day) and then you need to see and more importantly, you need to be seen. In the olden days, nearly all commuter style bicycles had some kind of dynamo attached to the front wheel, grinding some light for you to stumble forward in the middle of the night, but they were always a hassle.

Since then batteries have evolved and LED lighting has made it possible to use battery powered lights for extended periods, but even they would eventually run out of juice – usually at the time you needed to be seen the most.

Well, if it’s bikes and stuff for them, the people of Denmark have been in the forefront for a long time as they are crazy with their bikes. Reelight is a product from a company aptly named after their technology and it has the killer selling point – you don’t need batteries or dynamos for these babies.

They work with magic.

The rear light is exactly the same, but red. Surprisingly.

The magic science of electromagnetism, that is! The compact series (that’s the SL 100, 120 and 150) comes with two lights and four magnets. The compact lights are attached to your wheel axles and are rather simple to install. The magnets are attached to your spokes, and you can buy extra magnets as well if you want even more light from your Reelights.

The purpose of the Reelight system is not to see, but to be seen. The models differ in small ways, the SL 100 is a blinking version that stops blinking when you stop. The SL 120 is also a blinking version, but it has a built-in capacitor for the induction energy and it will keep blinking for a while after you stop. The SL 150 is a constantly lit version of the same light, and doesn’t have a capacitor. They all cost at around 45 euros.

Reelight has also applied the same principle in other lights that can be attached to your pannier, seat post, handle bar or fork crown – but they are nearly double the price. Even with the compacts you can see large shapes (like paths) in your way, but I wouldn’t (and you shouldn’t) use these as your only light source.

I went for the compact ones so they are out of the way and there wouldn’t be any wires or cables going around. I also selected the steady light version, because I don’t personally like the blinkers and I think they are less efficient compared to the steady version.

Our verdict: ★★★★☆

Not too expensive at 45 euros, battery and hassle free, ecological and quite good looking. A solid choice for people wanting to be seen.

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Markus is a bike commuter gadget freak who is learning the ropes of the bike world, you can find him all around the web - but you can start with his twitter at @banton.

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  • Hugo

    Neat!

    Where did you get them from?

    Are they permanently “turned on”?

    On the topic of lights, what’s the minimum legal requirement for bike lights in Finland?

    i.e. front/back, lighting up times, flashing versus steady.

    I usually try to have both front and back solid lights when it’s dark, but it’d be nice to know the minimum.

  • Hola,

    I got mine from a local bike shop in Helsinki, Fillarikellari (www.fillarikellari.fi). You can get them from your local bike shop, you can check the retailers from Reelight’s site (which also has a shop) from here: http://www.reelight.com/Default.aspx?ID=55

    The lights are permanently on and the usual legal limit for lamps is 30 cm from the ground (at least in the UK and Finland) the top height is 150 cm if I remember correctly, but you’d need a Penny-Farthing for that height. If you put the Reelight on your 28″ wheeled bike, your light should be about 35cm up. 26″ wheels are a different story, it depends on the size of your tyres.

    There’s nothing in the law about lights blinking or glowing steady, just their minimum height and that you can’t have any red lights pointing anywhere else than the back.

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Coming Thru (or Coming Through - as that URL was taken) is a daily updated bike magazine - a collection of writings and links that relate to biking in its every form. The idea started from when Maarten met Markus decided to finally start collecting the things we like about bikes and talk about our everyday adventures in dodging moving objects at high speeds.The site is run by a collage of cyclists, most notably by Canadian Johanna MacDonald, Belgian Maarten Patteeuw and Finnish Markus Sandelin.

It all started in the spring of 2010, after a record breaking snowy winter when Markus bought a house 25 kilometers from the office and decided to handle the commuting with a bicycle. It turned out the bike wasn’t up to standards for that kind of stress and the first weeks were more tragicomic than glorious. Thus the idea began to brew to actually document this journey.

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