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Topeak Aero USB 1W lights review

13 Nov 2017

Bright and easy-to-fit, these work best as ‘be seen’ lights for city riding

Cyclist Rating: 
A lot of lumens stuffed into a neat, simple package
It’s hard to find a good mounting spot for the front light

Don’t let the ‘Aero’ tag confuse you. These lights won’t save 50 watts at 40kmh or any of the other usual claims that come alongside aero kit. It simply means that this set of lights comes with attachments that allows them to fit snuggly onto narrow aero fork blades or aero seatposts.

Fitting is one of the strong points of these lights. They are held in place by simple rubber straps, meaning there are no clips or buckles to go wrong, and in the event the rubber should break they are easy to replace.

The box comes with a selection of seven straps of varying sizes and stretchiness, so you should have no trouble attaching the lights to the thinnest or thickest of tubes.

On the rear of each light is a channel that accepts either a gently rounded rubber pad, for use on thick tubes, or a plastic fitment with a deep wedge shape to grip onto bladed tubes without swivelling.

The design is near perfect for the rear light. It’s light in weight (40g without attachments), robust, easy to fit and remove, weather-proof, very bright (claimed 55 lumens), and visible from a wide range of angles.

It has four settings – full blast, slightly less bright, fast flash and slow flash – and the LED strip is cunningly angled to compensate for the layback of the seatpost.

Run time is two hours on full beam (checked by Cyclist) and a claimed 50 hours on slow flash (not checked – we’ve got to sleep some time). Charge time is claimed at two hours, but our tests suggest it is nearer four hours from completely empty to fully charged.

As a rear light, it is very hard to fault. The problem comes with the front light.

It is basically the same as the rear light, except white instead of red. That is not intrinsically a problem – it is still a bright, clear light that is easy to see from a long way off, as well as from the side. But the design is not best suited for placement at the front of the bike.

The instructions that come with the light set suggest attaching the front light to a fork leg, and the angle of the LED is such that it compensates for the fork angle, ensuring the beam goes forwards.

Thanks to the aero attachment, the front light fits solidly to even bladed fork legs, however it’s just not the best place to put a light.

For one, it’s too low down. In traffic, the light sits at a level below most car windows, and riding with the beam down low makes the rider feel less visible and more exposed. Also, by placing the light on one fork leg, the wheel obscures the light from anyone approaching from the other side.

A better place for the light is on the handlebars. The Topeak Aero front light will fit to a bar, but it doesn’t sit particularly comfortably, and is awkward to adjust to ensure best visibility.

It’s really a light to ‘be seen by’, as opposed to ‘see by’, and its lack of adjustability or focussed beam means it doesn’t do a great job of lighting the road ahead when there are no street lights.

At a penny below £70, this is far from the cheapest set of lights on the market. The rear light is well worth the outlay, but it might be wise to buy it separately (sold singularly for £36.99) and choose a better partner to do the job up front.

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