The Cygolite Hotshot SL is an impressive rear light with excellent brightness to keep you visible on murky days – Cygolite calls it 'Daylight visible' – and at night. Run time isn't particularly long on full beam, but flashing modes increase battery life to get you out of trouble, and you can adjust them all with a customisation button.
Sporting a 2 watt LED, on static mode at full power the Hotshot SL really is a beacon of light. Side lighting, while not separate, is also considered in the shape of the light, which means viewing angles are impressive too.
The Hotshot SL has four modes – one static, three flashing – and a customisation button that Cygolite calls 'OSP' (Onsite Programmable Technology). In static mode, this allows you to adjust the brightness by pressing and holding, while in the flashing modes you can adjust the rate and length of the flashes. It's a nice inclusion, although in reality I'm not sure it's particularly necessary – I would probably have been just as well served by having five presets of varying flash speeds and modes. That said, if you like to have a particular kind of flash, then the chances are you can get close to it with the Hotshot SL.
To my mind, the biggest benefit of OSP is the ability to reduce the ferocity of the setting to increase battery life – if I was worried I wouldn't make it home before the sun went down and I'd already been using it for much of the day on a high setting.
In terms of battery life, at its lowest power setting on static the Cygolite will run up 200 hours of use, while at full beam it'll run out at an estimated 2 hours, although I squeezed nearly 2:30hrs out of it, over multiple commutes. In the flashing modes battery life varies hugely depending on how demanding you have the modes set at – you can get between 48 and 120 hours on just one of the flash modes alone.
The Li-ion battery is recharged using a USB cable that fits into the base of the unit. The cover for the socket is sealed well enough to keep out road grime and the weather, as long as you take care to fit it within the housing securely. Recharging takes little time; I got a full charge from zero in less than 90 minutes through the USB port in the back of my computer.
Fitting is also relatively easy. It's a more traditional clip-in system than the newer wrap-and-go varieties, with a fastenable bracket, but it's easy to install, and easy to remove the light from it in order to charge/for security. You can also fix it to a tab loop on your saddle bag or pannier, although this is less secure than clicking it into the bracket.
While adjustable to secure a tight fit, it won't attach to your seatstays – so avoid the Hotshot SL if that's what you're after.
Overall, this is an impressive light, with excellent brightness, plenty of variability and a very good build quality. At £34.99 it's a solid option.
A great piece of kit that won't break the bank yet will keep you visible in the murkiest of conditions
road.cc test report
Make and model: Cygolite Hotshot SL
Size tested: n/a
Tell us what the light is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
Cygolite says: "Derived from one of the hottest tail lights available, the Hotshot SL's powerful 2 watt red LED alerts others of your presence. Stay safe with 4 different modes featuring OSP® Technology that lets you quickly fine tune your brightness and flash speeds. Now includes SteadyPulse™ mode."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the light?
- Powerful 2 watt red LED
- Daylight visible
- Water resistant design
- 2 ~ 200 hr run time
Technology & Safety
- 4 modes: Steady - Single Flash - Triple Flash - SteadyPulse®
- SteadyPulse® mode features a steady beam helps motorists better gauge their distance from you while the overlapping pulses keeps them alert of your presence.
- USB rechargeable internal Li-ion battery
- OSP® Technology lets you independently adjust the flash speed of each mode
- Light mode memory, recalls last mode used
- Built-in charging indicator
- Built-in clothing clip attaches to clothes or seat post mount
- Number of LEDs: 1
- LED Output: 2W LED
- Total Modes: 4 (with OSP)
- Run Time: 2 - 200 hrs
- Charge Time: 2hrs
- Mounting: Seatpost
- Battery: Internal Li-ion
- Weight: 35g (80g including bracket)
It's built solidly; I can find no standout weaknesses.
Getting your head around the variable options takes a few tries because it's not immediately clear if you're having an effect, but once you've got the hang of it, it's easy.
The clamp is pretty standard - nothing to see here, which in my view is a good thing. Nice and secure.
The seals kept all water out, and no condensation was seen building up internally.
If you had it on full blast static, I'd imagine the 2.5 hours I recorded wouldn't quite cut it for some - but the flash modes overcome this. Alternatively, turn it down a bit. Nevertheless, a slight shame it doesn't last longer.
It's a bright and sometimes dazzling light if you're in line of sight. I'd be happy to use this as my regular rear light on flash mode.
No faults spotted, but it's made of plastic, which in today's world of aluminium-machined lights does feel slightly 'lightweight'.
The plastic build means at 80g for light and bracket, it's certainly not heavy.
I consider £34.99 to be reasonable value, so long as it holds up for a few winters, which I think it will.
Tell us how the light performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Very well. No complaints barring wanting a bit more battery life on full static mode.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the light
Brightness and good flashing modes. USB rechargeable.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the light
Nothing in particular, except again that battery life on full beam.
Did you enjoy using the light? Yes
Would you consider buying the light? Yes
Would you recommend the light to a friend? Yes - if it was the best value option at the time of buying.
Use this box to explain your score
It's a good light, easily bright enough to make you extra-visible during the day, as well as at night. The ability to adjust the modes brings an extra something to the party, while build quality is adequate for winter use.
About the tester
I usually ride: Specialized Allez Sport My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Under 5 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding