New Tail Light: Why the PDW Radbot 1000 Rules.

Whenever I’m biking in a situation where I feel unsafe because of the cars whizzing from behind me at daunting speeds, like on any straight-away where cars have the opportunity to driver faster than crawling, I often find myself thinking “Man, I wish these cars would slow down.” or rather, “man, I wish I had a way to tell these drivers to slow the hell down.”

I just purchased the Radbot 1000 online, and it is bright, courtesy of its 1-watt LED, like that of Planet-bike’s Superflash. However, the primary reason I went with the PDW Radbot over the Planet Bike Superflash is that it includes a slow-pulsating blinking pattern, much like E.T.’s heartbeat, or more importantly, a car’s hazard tail-light. Surprisingly, this is a unique feature I haven’t seen on any previous lights I’ve owned, or any other bike tail-light I’ve ever seen. All the bike tail-light blinkies I’ve owned either have two basic modes: constant on, or rapid blinking (sometimes with some variation of rapid blinking). The Radbot also comes with a “cornea-blitz” mode. Check out this official PDW Demo video to see the modes:

RADBOT 1000 from PDW on Vimeo.

Of course, the Radbot includes a belt clip which can also hook onto either the include rack and seatpost mount.

“Slow pulse? So what?” you ask, “my blinky is plenty bright and flashes fast enough to be visible from afar.” Well, you’re right, blight flashing LED tail lights can do a great job of making you “be seen” by drivers. In fact, the Radbot includes a blinding “Cornea-blitz mode” as well. However, if you’ve biked in a dense and compact city like Boston, you’ve probably noticed that cars rarely slow down for you, and you’re probably familiar with some unintended consequences that happens when riding with or without a blinkie. I’ll call the first one the “*HONK*HONK* get the HELL out of my way!” effect, which happens a lot when I take the lane, and second, the “Don’t mind me just speeding up this truck to squeeze by inches away from you on your bicycle” effect, which most drivers probably don’t realize can be more dangerous and scary for a bicyclist than for a driver in an enclosed vehicle. Sure, drivers might see you, but these two common driver-cyclist interactions can not only be unsafe for you, but extremely unpleasant.

Unlike other blinkies, the Radbot 1000 speaks closer to the language that drivers understand universally, warning drivers not only of the hazard but also warning them to slow down.Visual cues and signals can function to send very powerful and important messages to others. Drivers use them all the time, hence turn signals, brake lights, and slow-blinking hazard lights, which drivers understand universally as a message to avoid the hazard and slow down if it is coming up from behind it.For example, if a car must travel much slower than other cars, the driver puts its hazard lights on in order to tell other drivers that they need to slow down and change lanes to pass Hmmm, as a cyclist, this is a familiar message I can get behind

Of course, it’s impossible to draw the conclusion that this light will actually make cars slow down for me. If I had scientific data about whether this blinkie actually does a better job slowing down cars than other blinkies do, I would offer it here, but since I don’t, I’ve made the best case I could for the very least one very visible and damned well-thought-out bicycle rear tail light. So just for comparison, here’s a video clip showing how much brighter my Radbot 1000 is over my Cateye TL-LD1100, which according to Cateye, is their “latest and brightest tail light”

and someone else’s short clip comparing the Planet Bike Superflash(left) to the Radbot 1000(right):

Visually, the RadBot communicates the message I want drivers to know about me as a cyclist, not just that I am a “hazard,” but also to “slow the hell down.” Whereas this blinky (My Cateye TL-1000) does a great job of saying “I’m a biker! I’m a biker!” my Radbot 1000’s “zZzPOP” screams “I’m a cyclist, dave. sllloOWW DOwn, YES! YOU! I’m a cyclist. sllloOWW DOwn! YES, YOU, DAVE!!”

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2 Responses to New Tail Light: Why the PDW Radbot 1000 Rules.

  1. Charlotte says:

    This is awesome, thanks for the product review. I guess I now need a RadBot. Hurray! I’m off to write to Santa.

  2. greg says:

    Charlotte, thank you, and you’re very welcome! I’m glad you found it helpful! Good things do come in small packages, after all.

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