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The Vel 20 Lumen Rear Light's super-compact 18g shell feels high quality and the minimal branding means it won't look out of place on a race bike. I had previously been using a Knog Blinder Road R70 on a day-to-day basis, which is by no means a large or ugly light; now going back it feels somewhat cumbersome in comparison. The only compromise that comes with the Vel's size is that run-times aren't that long.
At just 20 lumens, this little rear light doesn't sound like it would be bright enough in some conditions, but Vel has proved there's more to a light than its lumen count. The 38 COB (chip on board) design means the LEDs are densely packed, ensuring that the Vel outperforms what its stats would suggest.
Even in a busy urban environment the light cuts through the noise with impressive ease from a few hundred metres away. Side visibility is limited, although the wraparound lens means there is some leakage.
In day flash mode you get 30 lumens at your disposal, further aiding its eye-catching ability. Previously, I have steered clear of using rear lights under 100 lumens as a primary unit, but the Vel has changed that. I have had no qualms using just the Vel, no matter how poor the conditions have been.
On the rear of the light you'll find a clip that means it can be attached to a backpack or helmet strap. In the box you'll find two seatpost mounts, one for round tubed seatposts and the other for aero. I found that the non-aero one actually worked best on my kamm-tail seatpost design, and my doubts about it being flimsy were soon put to rest.
Unlike a lot of rear lights, the light unit itself can be removed from the bracket with a simple twist, leaving the strap attached to the bike; this makes charging a doddle. The security of the mount is excellent, too – it even stayed firmly in place despite a heavy crash involving front flips and a broken wrist, so top marks to it there!
Unlike Vel's front light (review to come), the rear is only water resistant rather than waterproof, and I have to say this is a bit offputting considering how much water a rear light usually sees and how many I've had give up on me when the going gets wet. Saying that, this light hasn't had any issues as yet, and is surviving the floods much better than most of the places I've ridden it through.
During the last month, dry rides have been few and far between, but there's no sign of water ingress.
Seven different modes mean there's one for every scenario, and mode selection is simple via the single button on the top. This positioning also means it's easy to fire up the light on the move.
Another feature I appreciated is the memory mode, whereby the light turns back on in the last mode used – particularly useful at café stops.
Quoted run-times are accurate if not the longest, especially on constant, with high just 1:30. On the lowest constant (7 lumens), it will last 4.5 hours, so for long rides you'll have to opt for a flash mode – but that's something I would do anyway.
You can get 20 hours using Flash 1, but I usually swapped to Flash 4, which lasts 15 hours, when the light dropped below 24%.
A separate light on the side indicates charge level. Constant indicates that it's 50-100% full; slow flashing 25-50%; and fast flash under 24%. I found this invaluable and it's a feature I wish every light included.
Charging takes around 2 hours – just under from a wall socket; just over through a laptop.
The Vel has an rrp of £20, though it's currently on sale for £18. Its closest rival that we've reviewed recently on road.cc is the £16 20-lumen ETC Mira. Despite the ETC's similar lumen count, Shaun didn't think it was up to the job on unlit roads, whereas I reckon the Vel worked really well. The Vel has the added benefit of a memory function, too.
We also tested the slightly more expensive Infini Olley rear light at £21.99; again, I'd say the Vel is the superior choice with its clever mounting system.
However, it is given a run for its money by the Oxford Ultratorch Slimline R50, which is just £17.99 and, as the name suggests, offers 50 lumens on its highest setting and longer run-times.
The Vel's small size, surprising output and simple-to-live-with design all appeal. The limited run-times might be a drawback, but charging is quick and easy.
Super-compact, surprisingly bright and a smart mount
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Vel 20 Lumen rear light
Size tested: 20 lumens
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?
Vel says it is a versatile 20-lumen offering with seven modes to suit a range of conditions.
I have to agree and its light output is incredible given its minuscule dimensions. It's a great option as long as you don't mind charging it regularly.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the light?
20-lumen rear light
38 COB LED
Seven modes including dayflash mode: High Beam - 20 lumens/1.5 hours | Low Beam - 7 lumens/4.5 hours | Flash 1 - 10 lumens/20 hours | Flash 2 - 10 lumens/5 hours | Flash 3 - 20 lumens/7.5 hours | Flash 4 - 20 lumens/15 hours | Dayflash - 30 lumens/8 hours
Memory mode function
Water-resistant, including the USB port cover
Low battery indicator: 100-50% - constant | 49-25% - slow flash | 24-0% - fast flash
Quick-release quarter turn mounting to included bracket
Versatile multi-mount for helmet/seatpost/saddlebag/backpack
Additional aero seatpost bracket
Weight: 18 grams
Included: Rear light / rubber straps and pad / velcro strap for helmet mounting / zip ties for added bracket security / angled seatpost bracket (19-32mm diameters) / aero seatpost bracket (19-32mm diameters) / micro-USB charging cable
Well made and subtle branding looks good.
The twist mount is excellent, which makes removing the light for charging extremely easy.
I love the twist lock system and it proved its security.
It shows no sign of water ingress but I'd still like an IP rating.
Run-times are as I would expect from its compact size; it's enough for a ride and the small battery means it charges in a couple of hours.
Brightness is excellent – I still don't believe it's only 20 lumens. Run-times aren't huge but they're okay, and acceptable given the size.
I'm impressed it survived a fairly hard crash, which my wrist didn't and which sent my bottle and the contents of my pockets flying.
The light feels high quality, you get a few mounts included, and it's currently on sale for £18. At rrp or discount it's in the same ballpark as other 20-lumen rear lights, sitting in between the ETC Mira and Infini Olley but outperforming both.
Oxford's Ultratorch Slimline R50 is £17.99 and has a higher max output and longer run-times.
Tell us how the light performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Really well: good mode selection and light output for a variety of conditions, including daytime, urban riding and fog.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the light
Super-compact size, brilliant output, twist lock mount design.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the light
Run-times aren't that long, and it's water resistant rather than waterproof.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
The Vel's closest rival reviewed recently on road.cc is the £16 20-lumen ETC Mira. Despite its similar lumen count, Shaun didn't think the ETC was up to the job of unlit roads, whereas I reckon the VEL worked really well in such circumstances. The Vel has the added benefit of a memory function so well worth the extra few quid.
We also tested the slightly more expensive Infini Olley rear light at £21.99; once again I believe the Vel is the superior choice with its clever mounting system.
Oxford's Ultratorch Slimline R50 is £17.99 and has a higher max output and longer run-times.
Did you enjoy using the light? Yes
Would you consider buying the light? Yes
Would you recommend the light to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
It's a great little rear light. The mounting system is excellent and the charge indicator, choice of modes and light output all add appeal. Its super-compact size means run-times are a compromise, but one that I'm happy to make.
About the tester
I usually ride: Specialized venge pro 2019 My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Under 5 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo cross, commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, mtb,
Jamie has been riding bikes since a tender age but really caught the bug for racing and reviewing whilst studying towards a master's in Mechanical engineering at Swansea University. Having graduated, he decided he really quite liked working with bikes and is now a full-time addition to the road.cc team. When not writing about tech news or working on the Youtube channel, you can still find him racing local crits trying to cling on to his cat 2 licence...and missing every break going...