Stuff We Like: Planet Bike Superflash

Not much to say here. The PB Superflash is widely acknowledged as the best little battery powered tail light on the market. Bright, light, reliable, and tough. We’ve been using them for a few years now with no issue. With one or two of these on the back of a bike I have no worries about being seen.

Planet Bike

26 Responses to “Stuff We Like: Planet Bike Superflash”

  • Lovely Bicycle! says:

    Do you use it mostly in flash mode or in steady mode? We use the Cateye TL-LD1100 tail light, which is excellent. Any idea how the Planet Bike Superflash compares when used in steady mode? It is difficult to tell by the specs which is superior.

  • steve says:

    I purchased the PB Superflash over the summer but have been waiting to use it. Now that the weather is cooler here in Phoenix, I restarted my bike commute to work. A co-worker that I commute with was impressed by the brightness of the intermittent flash mode.

  • Pat Franz says:

    Yes, a great light, but I wouldn’t call it “sturdy”. I have several and they do come apart when bumped into, and even sometimes on just the right bumpy road. They always go back together and keep working though. So I guess they are “tough” in that way, but I wish they stayed together better.

    Love the brightness and the flash pattern for sure. Attention getting and authoritative.

  • Diggidy_Dylan says:

    The De Facto standard when it comes to tail lights. I use a thin black zip-tie around the top and middle LEDs to keep it together. Mine has fallen off to many times.
    -Dylan

  • Bryan says:

    I bought a few Superflashes based on their popularity when I was first shopping for lights and was pretty happy with them for a long time. I’ve since added some Cateye TL-LD610′s to my collection and have found them to be much more visible from a distance. They’re both great though, I actually use them together most of the time.

  • brad says:

    I find the flash mode on these a little too distracting for my taste — I almost wonder if it could trigger epileptic seizures in people riding behind me! Having ridden behind people who were using these I can say that it can be distracting and even a little disorienting.

  • 2whls3spds says:

    To me they are the best value on the market for a rear light. I use them on all of my bikes for night riding. I like the fact they can double as a solid red light if something were to happen to my normal generator powered tailight.

    FWIW I will turn it off if I am in a group unless I am the guy off the back.

    Aaron

  • David says:

    I run two custom made flashers made by a mad scientist friend of mine.
    They are 3 3/4″ x 2 3/4″ x 3/4″. All wiring is set in clear epoxy with a silver foil back ground with the LEDs recessed in the front. The first one he made me has 36 LEDs and the second has 44.
    They flash at different rates and so during the flash cycle they will flash at the same time for a bit.
    The same guy milled out of flat stock aluminum a bracket for these lights with them mounted to the back of my trunk bag. I use a pig tail cable that plugs into a Nite Sun water bottle battery secured inside the trunk bag. I can run it day and night for a month before I need to recharge.
    I will move the trunk bag back and forth between our tandem and triplet depending on whether I riding with one or both of my kids.

    I run them night and day and have gotten many very positive compliments from motorists during the day time in regards to how visible they are. At night the motorists slow way down even if I’m on an adjacent bike path.
    At night their visibility is just about unlimited depending on line of sight but even then one can still see their glow over the tops of hills and around curves.

    In group rides I am always asked if I will take the rear such as in the local “Ride of Silence” we had here.

    Plus I could drive tent pegs with these lights and it wouldn’t hurt them.

    One can never be bright enough.

  • Julia says:

    David,
    Any chance you could share more about the custom light set-up? It sounds really impressive.

    Is that an NiMH battery or something else? Was the battery pack purchased off the shelf? If so, how do you connect to it with the custom light? Any photos?

    Thanks. I’m always trying to be brighter and I hate the idea of not being able to use rechargeable batteries. I’d love to cobble something together like this.

    Julia

  • Alan says:

    @Lovely Bicycle

    I mostly use the Superflash in flashing mode. I ride in an area with very little early morning bike traffic or I’d run in steady mode. I haven’t compared the SF to the Cateye side-by-side, though I do have a TL-LD 1000. The 1000 is larger, so in steady mode it provides a larger spot of color, but the flash mode on the SF appears to be more eye-catching.

  • Robert Frith says:

    I have a Superflash and it is a wonder, except that mine spontaneously turns itself on every now and again when the bike is parked. Have to carry a spare battery as contingency

  • doc says:

    yup. Great light. At night I can hear the cars slowing down as they approach. If I’m with another rider, it goes on steady mode. I too use a zip tie to keep it from working out of the strap on the Carradice; and I carry a spare battery with the patch kit.

  • bongobike says:

    I saw one in action for the first time several months ago and was amazed by the flashing mode–bright and wild! As someone else here said, it could trigger epileptic seizures on some people! :)

  • David says:

    Hi Julia

    The battery is an off the shelf 40 watt Nite Sun Ni Cad rechargeable in the shape of a water bottle.

    It isn’t a light battery but considering I ride a tandem and or triplet with one or both kids, a few pounds more is no big deal. I imagine one could use a lighter battery. I just happened to have a few extra Nite Sun batteries laying about.

    The 80 LEDs of my flashers draw so little a charge the lights will go over a month of day and night use before they would show a weakening of out put. Where as running the Nite Sun handlebar light it would only go 4 hours burning the 10 watt low beam.

    When I’m rolling the lights are flashing night or day.

    http://www.night-sun.com/htmldocs/xc.html

    I use an Y-Adaptor audio cable AKA pig tail from Radio Shack that plugs into both lights of which I’ve spliced a Nite Sun plug on the other end to engage the battery.

    I haven’t taken any pictures but I can perhaps borrow my daughters camera and get some shots of the set up.

    How would I get these pictures to you? Is there a way to post pictures on this forum?

    My friend made these as a gift to my daughters and I to keep us safe when we are out and about on the bike(s).

    I had been using a “Real Light” brand flasher with 18 LEDs which is nothing compared to the combined 80 LED flashers.

    He’s not in the business or interested in selling these lights and I would hate to even guess looking at other lights on the market just how much they would go for.

    This guy also makes his own derailleurs, shifters, brakes and such and could make just about anything he needs for his bikes.

    His bikes are amazing.

    He’s brilliant.

    David

  • Alan says:

    @Pat

    I’m curious about the issues you’re having with the lights popping open. Are they more than a couple of years old? I’m just wondering if the casings are worn. I have a half dozen Superflashes that constantly get moved around from the back of helmets to various bikes and I’ve never once had one pop open on me, either while riding or moving them from one mount to the other.

    Alan

    PS – When I said “tough”, I was thinking about the mount, which I prefer to some of the zip-tie-style mounts on some other lights in this price range. The quick release rack mount is particularly nice if you have a rear rack:

    http://www.ecovelo.info/2009/04/17/superflash-rack-mount/

  • Alan says:

    @Bryan

    Thanks for the report on the TL-LD610. I’ve been wondering about that light; I may have to give one a try.

    Alan

  • Larey says:

    My PB Superflash would turn itself off when it was cold (20′s F) and I’d hit a bump like railroad tracks. I cut a piece out of the bottom of the cover to expose the switch and that fixed it.

    The flash mode is way too much for a bike path but is great for fog or rain.

  • beth h says:

    Industry insider warning:

    Planet Bike has recently lost exclusive control over the casing design of this light. As a result, you will see lights from two house brands this fall (J & B’s Sunlite and Seattle Bike Supply’s XLC) that look almost exactly like the Superflash, but do not shine nearly as brightly. The difference? PB’s Superflash uses better LED technology that results in a brighter light and more durable inner workings. These knock-offs will retail for less than half of the price of a Superflash and in my opinion are not worth the savings. I plan to stick with the original.

    Meanwhile, you should know that we’ll be seeing more of this sort of thing as Taiwanese factories churn out cheap knock-off versions of our favorite bicycle accessories. Ask the hard questions and read the fine print on the packaging before you buy.

  • Alan says:

    That’s good to know, Beth. Thanks for the heads up.

    BTW – Here’s another reason to support Planet Bike:

    http://www.ecovelo.info/2008/06/26/planet-bike/

    Alan

  • s0fa says:

    These things drive me crazy, anytime I’m commuting in the dark I’ll get behind someone with one on in flashing mode and the white flashing light burns holes in my retinas. I used to try to deal with people with them by passing them, but then of course commuter pride sets in, whoever I pass decides “IT’ S ON!!” and I get stuck them passing me, slowing down to my speed, meaning I’m stuck with the flashing again, me passing them and then a big ugly confrontation. OR them taking off ahead of me and then getting caught at the next light and I’m stuck with them sneering at me. Then there are the people who put them on both the front and the rear so you can’t tell if they’re coming or going, much less see anything after they’ve been past you.

  • bongobike says:

    s0fa wrote: “…whoever I pass decides “IT’ S ON!!”

    Why are cyclists always trying to race each other out there? It’s pretty silly how people are always trying to prove something, sigh…

  • jeff says:

    I’m not sayin’ my Blackburn Mars 4.0 is brighter but I once burned holes in 1/2″ steel on flash mode.

  • Juan says:

    I once saw someone riding after dark and I’m pretty sure they had a Superflash on their helmet. I could see them from a good half mile away, if not more (I was in a car). I currently have one of the regular Planet Bike tail lights, but do have the 1W Blaze headlight and usually run that in superflash mode.

  • Jeff H says:

    I have a Super Flash. It’s good, except it does “wash out” in bright sunlight. That’s why I always have my Dinotte rear light turned on.

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