A Damn Fine Review of Bike Tail Lights

The community blog for Bicycles Stack Exchange has this excellent review of 16 bike tail lights, and boy am I pissed off.

I’ve been building up to publishing my own version of the best bike tail light review the world has ever seen, and the author, “nhinkle,” has outdone even my grand ambitions — with fancy data graphs and graphics.

Review of the Best Bicycle Tail Lights in 2012
Screen Shot: Bicycles Stack Exchange

Who is this nhinkle?


All I’ve been able to ascertain is that he (or she) looks like this.

I’m going to go with a masculine pronoun, based on that avatar.

He covers lights by some of my favorite brands: Cygolite, Planet Bike, and Portland Design Works. But omits some other obvious brands, such as Light and Motion, and Busch & Müller.

Yeah. I’m nitpicking.

(Most of the Busch & Müller tail lights don’t even blink. It’s a German thing.)

In his final analysis, his choices are tail lights for which I already have a favorable bias: the Portland Design Works Danger Zone, Planet Bike Superflash Turbo, and the Cygolite Hotshot.

But his “best value” choices are a couple of lights that weren’t even on my freakin’ radar: The Blackburn Mars 4.0, and the SE 6-Way Flasher.

So if you’re thinking about bike tail lights, check out the very thorough article with all it’s fancy graphics. And when I finally publish my tail light review, I’ll try to approach the standards set by nhinkle.

Live long and prosper.

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8 thoughts on “A Damn Fine Review of Bike Tail Lights”

  1. Dr. M says:

    PDW Danger Zones totally rock! I clip them on my panniers, baskets and trunks. Extremely well made. Looking forward to your review though Ted!

  2. BluesCat says:

    In the 4/5/2012 update video to my CbB post Signal Pod Rhymes with Hot Rod (sort of), that’s a Blackburn Mars 3.0 blinking above the Signal Pod.

    Blackburn says the Mars 4.0 is even brighter, so I say “Whoa! That’s a good light!”

    If the Cygolite Hotshot is almost twice as bright as the Mars 4.0, then I say “Yeow! I almost PITY the drivers who are coming up behind you!”

  3. matt says:

    no MagicShine taillight? dead to me.

  4. Cullen says:

    It sounds like you an NHinkle will end up to be really good friends!

  5. Beachcumber says:

    Matt, do you have experience with the MagicShine tail ligth (that funny round one with 9 leds….)?

  6. Nhinkle says:

    Hey there,

    Just wanted to let you know that I’ve just published an update to this post, with 4 new taillights added. I’m also going to be publishing my first headlights review next week. Glad to see that people enjoyed the first review – hopefully these new ones will also be useful for folks!


  7. Hi there please check out our new intelligent bike lights that can sense and react to the environment, flashing brightest/fastest when a cyclist needs it most. Available now on Kickstarter. http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1670187625/seesense-the-intelligent-bike-light-with-road-sens

  8. SombraCycle says:

    ne night, I was cruising the bicycle lanes in central London, when another cyclist flew by me. He had one of those blinking, bright-red taillights, and in the dark it played some nasty tricks on my eyes.

    The light was so intense that even as the cyclist pushed further away, I kept feeling disoriented. With cars on my right and the sidewalk to my left, I was forced to stop so I would avoid diving head first into the curb. Needless to say I was annoyed, but my annoyance quickly turned to irony when I realized I had the exact same type of taillight, and that I was probably annoying other cyclists too. 🙂

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