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FlashBak Bike Safety Light

Right after I read a review of the Flashbak on the Bike Commuter blog, I wrote the folks who make them and asked if I could have one for review.

Within a couple of days, one arrived in the mail.

Is this a garter belt for my Camelbak?

My first thought was, this looks like some kind of kinky garter belt for my CamelBak M.U.L.E.. The square nylon strappy thing has 10 BRIGHT LEDs embedded in it. The four alligator clips are to attach the device to your hydration pack, jersey, panniers or whatever.

The solid square box in the middle is where the three AA batteries live. It has a power switch on it. I leave mine on all of the time because the other wire on the right is a remote switch. The neat thing about it is that it blinks in time with the LEDs on the back to confirm that it’s turned on.

How well does it work?

As a photographer, I hate to admit that sometimes 1,000 words ARE better than a picture.

It works MUCH better than the video indicates. For some reason, the FlashBak is much more visible to the eye than you would think from looking at the video. Inventor Brad Beneski said that he had the same problem when he tried to shoot his videos.

FlashBak video

I can see the light reflecting off stuff on the sides and behind me when I’m going down the road. Cars seem to give me more room. One night I wore it under my orange Campmor Rain Cape and I looked like a big orange pumpkin. That doesn’t come through clearly on the video.

What was the setup?

If you look at the video or my lighting reviews, you’ll see that I love lights and reflective devices. Some of the videos were taken of me on my bike, which has a Planet Bike Blinky Super Flash strobing away and a generator-powered B&M 4DToplight Senso Multi burning steady. On the back of my Camelbak is a highly-reflective Slow Moving Vehicle triangle. Other sequences were shot when my riding partner, Osa, was on her bike, where she has a blinky and pedal reflectors. (She was wearing my Camelbak.)

I have a SON generator-powered Busch & Muller Lumotec IQ Cyo R N Plus on the front of my bike. It puts out a great beam of well-aimed light. It also tended to cause the SMV triangle to light up so much that it overpowered the FlashBak.

Would I ride with one all of the time?

If I was a touring rider who didn’t plan to ride in dark, foggy or rainy conditions often, I’d probably pass on the FlashBak, particularly if I didn’t wear a hydration pack. On the pack, it’s pretty much put it on and forget about it. It would be a hassle to put it on a jersey.

If I was a commuter riding under those conditions, I’d definitely consider it. It puts out a lot of light that’s highly visible from both the back and sides. It also has a great, “Hey, Maude, What’s That?!” factor.

Where can I get one?

If you live in Texas or Louisiana, you might find a bike shop that carries them. Otherwise, go to the FlashBak web site and tell ‘em that I sent you.

What do other reviewers say about the FlashBak?

Any other FlashBak videos out there?

Disclaimer

I was given a FlashBak for review. You may read my policy about reviews and advertising here.

11 comments to FlashBak Bike Safety Light

  • Hi Ken

    An interesting set-up and I appreciate your comments about the video, but there was something about it that didn’t work for me. I always wonder about the effectiveness of lights that portray a different image to what is considered normal. Do these really add benefit or confuse?

    Regards
    Andrew

  • Andrew,

    That’s a valid point. I think the main benefit to the FlashBak is that it DOES catch your eye at a distance, particularly in dark surroundings.

    I see any light or reflective device as being good if it causes you to look at it, if only to try to figure out what it is.

    I noticed on one curve with what passes as a hill down here that cars that normally would have tried to slip past me slowed and waited until before going around me.

    I assumed that was because they weren’t exactly sure WHAT I was and they wanted to figure it out before they rolled up on it.

  • Jimmy coffill

    Thanks for the review. I always find great info on your blog.
    I thought it might be worth mentioning that there is a percentage of color blind folks out there. Most color blinders don’t see red as well red. so 1 blinky yellow light mixed in witha few reds is not such a bad idea.
    I would agree your front light kinda maskes the lights full brightness. Here in Texas where illuminating the streets is a concept yet to catch on I think this ligh adds a extra level of be seen.
    Thanks again keep up thegood bloging
    jimmy

  • mark S

    Interesting design, I might incorporate it into my helmet, but way too much trouble for me to string it on every time…

    For that price you can get TWO Planet Bike Blinky Super Flash 1/2-Watt Blaze LED Plus 2 eXtreme LED Rear Bicycle Light and not have to go to all the work. I’m just saying…

  • Jay Rain

    Another great review! I like the alligator clips on my Flashbak…they never come loose! I have lost so many clip-on red blinkies it is sick! They have this little clip that never holds on to anything well. I still run(until it falls off) a PB Superflash, and the Flashbak is as bright or brighter, plus I like the amber color. It sounds strange, but many nights, cars have pull up and mentioned the amber lights that they say they saw from far, far away. I have mine attached to my backpack(Camelbak) and my buddy has his clipped onto his pannier(road-side). The Flashbak seems ahead of its time. I dig mine!

  • Jay,

    That’s a good point about the alligator clips. In fact, the grip so well that I’m not sure that I’d want them attached directly to a jersey.

    I’d give some thought to putting them on a loaded pannier, although I like the idea of having the lights up higher.

    I saw some comments somewhere else that warned that some states require a red light to the rear and that Brad was considering replacing a couple of amber LEDs with red ones so you’d be legal if this was your sole rear light.

    I’d like it better, I think, if the U-shape was replaced with a triangle-shape to mimic the traditional Slow Moving Vehicle symbol. That’s more universally recognized.

  • Jay Rain

    A friend of mine just arranged a move from his old house to a new one…the catch was he only wanted to use bikes, trikes, and trailers to move his belongings. I wasn’t able to help, but he posted a pretty good video of the FlashBak in use, attached to the back of his trailer. Check it out. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e2OI3vgDZXA&sns=em

  • Jay,

    Thanks for sharing that. Your friend’s video comes closer to representing what the FlashBak looks like than mine did.

    It IS an eye-catching light.

  • Interesting design, I might incorporate it into my helmet, but way too much trouble for me to string it on every time…For that price you can get TWO Planet Bike Blinky Super Flash 1/2-Watt Blaze LED Plus 2 eXtreme LED Rear Bicycle Light and not have to go to all the work. I’m just saying…

  • Carey

    1. How on Earth would you know what a garterbelt looks like?
    2. So is it worth the brain waves to wrestle it onto your bike? Sounds like it.

  • Robert Moreno

    I have my Flashbak attached to the back of my cargo bike(Xtracycle). The light seems to be made for this application. I can see the on/off switch from the saddle, so I know when my lights are on. A very cool light set up. I picked up my light in New Orleans, while the lights were on sale!

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