Planet Bike Superflash Turbo

Planet Bike Superflash Turbo

I received an advance copy of the Planet Bike Superflash Turbo tail light this week. This is the new, updated Superflash that’s being upgraded from 1/2-watt to 1-watt and given a slightly different flashing pattern. As you can see in the photos, the Turbo is significantly brighter than the original Superflash (the old version is mounted on the seatpost). It’s rated for double the output (of course), and I’d say it’s at least twice as bright as the original. The flashing pattern is slower and slightly different, but it’s still essentially the same eye-popping strobe, only much brighter.

Planet Bike Superflash Turbo

This new light is so bright that you’ll want to carefully consider where and how to use the flashing mode; it may be too bright for some circumstances. Unlike the original, the steady mode is so bright that it completely illuminates the casing, dramatically improving 180 degree visibility. Honestly, I can’t see ever needing a brighter tail light than this one. The output is incredible given its size and power source. Highly recommended.

Planet Bike Superflash Turbo

Specs

  • 1 Watt Power LED plus 2 red LEDs for visibility up to 1 mile
  • New attention-grabbing Turbo flash pattern
  • Soft-touch power switch accesses flashing or steady mode for up to 100 hours of run time on two AAA batteries
  • Ultra compact vertical design is weatherproof, lightweight and durable
  • Includes bike mounts and clip mount for multiple mounting options
  • Available this spring for $29.99-$34.99

About Planet Bike
Whenever I review one of their products, I like to point out that Planet Bike donates a full 25% of company profits to grassroots bicycle advocacy organizations. Learn more here.

Planet Bike

Disclosure: Planet Bike is a sponsor of this website and provided the Superflash Turbo for this review.

30 Responses to “Planet Bike Superflash Turbo”

  • voyage says:

    Did they send you the equivalent in a headlight? How is it? How is the pairing? Do they offer package deals at the LBS level?

  • sygyzy says:

    Does Planet Bike give lumen ratings? I can’t imagine a need for something twice as bright as the Superflash which is the brightest tail light I’ve ever seen that’s still a reasonable price and size. Now if they are phasing out the Superflash 1 or reducing the price, that makes sense.

  • arevee says:

    Is the switch easier to use than the original? I love the original, but the switch . . . not so much. Is mounting hardware the same?

  • jb says:

    Have you tried the Portland Design Works radbot? I just got one and am very impressed.

  • Nick says:

    This is interesting because I recently bought a new light from MEC (the Canadian REI) to replace an old Planet Bike Superflash that I broke. It’s the Portland Design Works Radbot 1000. I thought it would be a great upgrade since it has 1W of power and a rear reflector. Turns out the electronics are defective and the light turns itself off when you go over bumps.

    Despite this problem the light was the brightest I have ever used.

    Hopefully the Superflash Turbo does not use the same electronics as the Radbot.

  • Mr. S. says:

    This should be a great day time tail light. At present I run the original Superflash on all but the brightest days. In the city it keeps me visible in shadows and under bridges, and in the country it might get some halfwit driver’s attention at the last moment. I would not worry about the new one being too bright for drivers, as their lights are brighter than their wits; for night riding with other cyclists it might be better to run the old one. Does the new one have power settings, or just on/flash/off?

  • Matt says:

    Nice upgrade. I hope that Planet Bike updates their dynamo Blaze with the 2 Watt LED from their top of the line battery version as well. That would be a nice combo. Add a solar panel to the Superflash and you would have a reliable, low maintenance setup. I like the idea of driving two headlights off of the dynamo up front but using solar/battery for the rear (no cables running aft)

  • Alan says:

    @voyage

    “Did they send you the equivalent in a headlight? How is it? How is the pairing? Do they offer package deals at the LBS level?”

    This light is not out quite yet. We’ll have to wait ’til spring to see if it’ll be available in a package with a headlight.

    Here’s the matching headlight:

    http://www.ecovelo.info/2010/12/30/a-minimalist-lighting-system/

    http://www.ecovelo.info/2009/10/28/planet-bike-blaze-2w-2/

    Alan

  • Alan says:

    @sygyzy

    “Does Planet Bike give lumen ratings? I can’t imagine a need for something twice as bright as the Superflash which is the brightest tail light I’ve ever seen that’s still a reasonable price and size. Now if they are phasing out the Superflash 1 or reducing the price, that makes sense.”

    Haven’t seen any lumen ratings. I can see using this light in steady mode as a daylight running light in low visibility weather. I think that’s where this light has a real advantage over the original.

    Alan

  • Alan says:

    @arevee

    “Is the switch easier to use than the original? I love the original, but the switch . . . not so much. Is mounting hardware the same?”

    The switch and mounting hardware are the same. Its physical dimensions look pretty much exactly like the original.

    Alan

  • Alan says:

    @Mr. S

    “Does the new one have power settings, or just on/flash/off?”

    The latter. In steady mode I don’t see any problem with running this light in-and-amongst other bicyclists as long as it’s mounted appropriately low on a rack or fender. It’s bright, but not nearly as bright as the tail light of an automobile.

    Alan

  • jnyyz says:

    “The switch and mounting hardware are the same. Its physical dimensions look pretty much exactly like the original.” How do two AA batteries fit inside if it is the same size as the original (which runs off AAAs)?

  • Alan says:

    @jnyyz

    Typo. It now reads “AAA”.

  • Andy says:

    Isn’t the current 1/2 watt model rated for 90 hours? Sounds like some magical electrical engineering and LED efficiency if this one does actually last longer. Have you tested the battery life in this one?

  • bongobike says:

    Looks like a great product. Can’t wait to get my hands on one.

  • jnyyz says:

    “up to 90 hours” is a matter of definition. I know that the old one is rated at “up to 100 hours” and it lasts somewhere between 12-18 hours on steady mode. The Radbot lasts less than 6 hours on steady mode.

    http://jnyyz.wordpress.com/2011/02/02/taillights-pdw-radbot-1000-vs-pb-superflash-runtime/

    It will be interesting to test the new one. There is a possibility that the 1W is fractionally more efficient that the 0.5 W, but I’d be surprised if it ran much more than half the time of the old one (since the W rating is presumably a measure of electrical power consumed, and does not say anything about light output). If it is more efficient, it might give more than twice the light out for just double the power in (but this is difficult to quantify). I wonder if the short run time of the RADBOT is the reason PDW released a half watt version as well.

  • Thor says:

    the only thing to hate is that they are using the same font for the “turbo” as Porsche does. I mean exactly the same ….thats kinda lame ….
    otherwise it looks like a good product

  • Alan says:

    Max run times are always based upon the flashing mode under ideal conditions, not the steady mode.

    LEDs are still improving by leaps and bounds, so it wouldn’t surprise me if this new light gets nearly the run times of the old one.

    Alan

  • Daniel says:

    How am I this excited about a tail light? Super dorky, but I definitely need one of these.

  • Alan says:

    @Daniel

    From one dork to another, what’s not to be excited about!?!

    Alan

  • Brian says:

    A video showing the old and the new light side by side to show the difference in brightness and flash patterns would be nice.

  • Alan says:

    @Brian

    With my low quality video gear the output is pretty much meaningless when trying to compare bright strobe lights like this. Both will overwhelm the auto exposure in my little camera. I’ve tried it before with lackluster results, so I passed this time around.

    Alan

  • Supp Suppinger says:

    Dear Alan, try out the Cateye TL-LD1100. It has 10 LEDs, 6 to the rear, and 2 on each side. So You get super side visibility!!! It is super bright. And it runs on 2x AA batteries, which I prefer. Thanks.

  • Alan says:

    @Supp

    I have one of those! :-) It’s a nice light, but I prefer my little Superflashes. Between these two tail lights, I’d say it comes down to personal preference more than anything.

    Thanks!
    Alan

  • JP Atkinson says:

    I own both the Cateye TL-LD1000 (not 1100) and the Superflash. After watching this video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fl5y72POyiU), I only use the Superflash. I will definitely get the new one when it is out! Thanks, Alan!

  • Brian says:

    I’ve seen that video before. A few comments:

    1. The LD1100 is much brighter than the LD1000 that was used in that video (about twice as bright).

    2. That video used a very poor choice of flashing pattern on the LD1000. The LD1000/LD1100 has two banks of LEDs; there are several flash modes, and each bank can be set independently. Since they are not synchronized, setting them both to the regular flash pattern causes them to drift in and out of sync. When they are out of sync, it looks like a steady light until you get quite close. Much better to set it to something such as one bank on flash, and one bank on random – which looks like this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tkG7Dql4yKQ (not my video, but it’s what I use with my LD1100, and have seen other cyclists using).

    3. I see both Superflashes and LD1100′s in use by other cyclists. I’ve always found the LD1100 to be brighter and more noticeable if a good flash pattern is used. I notice them from quite a bit further away than the Superflashes. Lights don’t always look the same in real life as they do in YouTube videos.

    4. If you already own both – why not use both? That would not only make you more visible, but if one fails or the batteries die, you have a backup.

    I look forward to seeing how the new Superflash stacks up. I expect it will probably be similar to the Radbot 1000 in terms of brightness and beam pattern.

  • jnyyz says:

    Kent Peterson says that the Superflash Turbo runs about the same time as the RADBOT1000, both about 6 hours on steady mode. The 0.5W superflash runs at least 12 hours on steady.

    http://kentsbike.blogspot.com/2011/02/one-watt-tail-lights-compared-planet.html

  • JP Atkinson says:

    @Brian: Cool! Great points. I will experiment with my “old” LD1000 and consider using both!!

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