I had read several good reviews online about the Portland Design Works Radbot 1000 – most notably on Kent Petersen’s blog. So when I needed some new lights and I saw the RadBot 1000 for sale at MEC for the same $17.50 as my usual goto lights [Planet Bike Superflash] I got two of them thinking I would be stoked by them. A month later I am here to report that the RadBot isn’t as Rad as I had hoped…=-(
Before I get into its lack of Rad-ness I should say that:
- it’s not actually a bad taillight
- it works
- it’s bright
If you gave me a free case of them I’d use them – something I wouldn’t do if they were junk. If the Planet Bike Superflash didn’t exist I’d probably be using RadBots and be happy about it.
However, you can tell I didn’t love them because:
- I put them on bikes I ride at night the least
- I won’t buy more
- I didn’t recommend them to a friend when she was buying lights at MEC recently…I helped her buy some Superflashes.
What didn’t I like? Well compared to my PB Superflashes:
- the RB is huge
- it’s damn ugly
- the mounting clip flexes more and seems flimsier
- I don’t like the two blinky options it has
- I don’t think brighter is better [at some point] when it comes to bike lights
- I can’t operate the function button while riding the bike and get reliable results like I can the Superflash’s much simpler switch [yes I do vary how my lights are working on the fly!]
- I do think more lights are better and I tend to run 2+ lights aimed at different spots down the road so all of these issues are exacerbated for me
- I wear reflective material on me and don’t want to have big ugly reflectors on my bikes
- requires tools to open and swap batteries
I should also point out that I’ve never had my Superflashes turn off nor have I had them malfunction due to getting wet. They have never jumped ship on me. The Superflash is so bright and the flashing mode is so similar to police and emergency vehicle strobes that I have had cars slow and stop on more than one occasion when I was pulled over to the side of the road fixing something. If I mis-aim my Superflashes it’s easy to blind drivers and other cyclists. Do I need a light that is twice as bright? Not really.
You may then ask if I don’t need brighter lights why do I use two Superflashes on many of my bikes? :
- LEDs shoot light out down a narrow cone so they are at peak brightness only from a small angle which makes have two different aiming points [typically I use a near and far setting] valuable.
- having two lights means one can stop working/fall off/run out of power or I can lend one to someone I’m riding with and still have some lighting back there.
- sometimes I’m in the mood for a taillight freak show and 3 lights pulsing away is more freaky than 1 or 2!
Just to reiterate although I prefer the Planet Bike Superflash the RadBot 1000 is not a fail…It’s just not as good as I had hoped. I own two and will continue to use them [until I manage to give them away to needy friends!!] so I may change my mind…if so I will report back.
Some RadBot tidbits:
- RadBot 1000’s will clip to your bike using the Planet Bike Superflash mounting bracket if that matters to you.
- There is a fender mounted version of the RadBot.
- the RadBot comes with a mounting bracket that will fit European [ie. Tubus] racks.