August 23, 2017

I was looking for a way to be more visible on my bike when riding in the roadway.  For safety reasons, I want to make sure that motorists see me.  Of course they can see me in the daylight, but do they notice me?  I want to draw their attention to me.  So I acquired a pair of Ra lights along with a BatPak3 on Kogalla’s Kickstarter campaign.  In fact, as Backer #2, I was one of the first to support their project.

The Accessory Kit has a D-ring strap.  I mounted one on each Ra because I wanted to have them act as an insulation layer to protect the lights and the bicycle from getting scratched, and from vibrating.  It helped them to be quiet when I hit bumps.  There isn't a rattle.  Other than those reasons, the D-ring straps are not needed.  You could mount it with just the Velcro strips included in the Accessory Kit.  I used both the straps and the Velcro to mount the lights on front and back.  I did use some additional Velcro straps that I got from Home Depot that are a little bit thinner.

I routed the USB cable along the frame and stored the BatPak in my frame bag.  It’s big enough to hold the large BatPak and the excess cable from both the front and rear lights.  And I still had room for my phone.  You can see how I used the Velcro strips for the USB cable as well as both lights.

My road bike is a Trek Zektor 3, which is a hybrid road bike.  It’s designed to be fairly durable for exercise and commuting.  It’s about one-fourth mountain bike and three-fourths road bike.  That’s why it looks like a road bike but has mountain bike style handlebars.  I think the RA could be mounted in a similar way on traditional road bike handlebars.

The Accessory Kit included red lenses that I easily snapped on to the light in the back.  I set the red lights on the flashing mode.  I think it draws more attention and it doesn’t consume as much power.  Since my objective in the daylight is to be noticed, I also set the front lights on flashing. 

I read a pamphlet about bicycle safety and being seen on the road and it said that, besides using daytime running lights (like all new cars have), having variation in the flashing pattern is more noticeable than a steady flash.  So on my last road ride, I used the S.O.S. flash pattern — I figured that most people wouldn't pick up on that.  :) least I haven't been pulled over by any police, military or rescue personnel.

I suggested to Kogalla that in the next revision to the firmware, they should add a non-S.O.S. random flash mode — maybe spell out "RA" or "Kogalla" in a medium fast sequence.

I took a daytime ride from Draper, Utah over the point of the mountain, down to Lehi and back along Redwood Road.  It was apparent that cars noticed me as I got a better response from them as they gave me more room on the road.

I installed the lights on the bike more for daytime riding than for nighttime.  However, it’s good to have that nighttime lighting when needed.  It was a simple button push to switch from flashing on the front light to the steady high beam when I needed the light at night.

At night I could clearly see the headlight and rear light from two blocks away.  In fact, the headlight on full brightness might be a little annoying to passing motorists.  It’s that bright.  They're definitely brighter than 99% of the lights that I see on bicycles.  I would probably lower the brightness depending on where I’m riding.  I like the ability to adjust the brightness and switch to flashing as needed.

For the daytime ride, the BatPak was nearly full at 4 bars.  At the end of a 2-hour ride with both lights in flashing mode the battery was still at four bars.  That‘s pretty good.  The BatPak3 weighs 12 oz and is supposed to run Ra on high beam for over 10 hours.  For my uses, I could easily switch to the BatPak2 which is two-thirds of the size and weight.  It still provides over 7 hours of power for Ra on full brightness so plenty of lighting time for my needs. 

And with 3 USB ports, I could even keep my phone charged while running both lights.  That’s definitely a nice feature.

All in all, except for the size of the battery and the additional weight, compared to many smaller bike lights, it is a pretty good setup.  At least I know that the motorists can not only can see me… they definitely notice me.

- Stephen Johnsen, Utah

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