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The Portland Design Works (PDW) Radbot 1000 is a powerful rear LED with some eye catching flash options.
This light has been popular in the US for a while now, so it seemed like a good idea to try one out. Out of the box it's a neat design, good-looking and compact. It proved simple to fit and was easy to unclip from its mount to swap between bikes. It also fitted nicely on to the webbing loop of a Carradice saddlebag without moving around too much, helped by a nice tight clip with a security step.
The switch is in the centre of the light and needs to be held down for a couple of seconds to switch it on. This reduces the chance of it coming on accidentally when it's rattling round the bottom of a pannier. The switch was easy to locate and operate, even with winter gloves on.
Once on, is it bright? You bet it is. The LED sits in a deep dish, very similar to our all-time favourite rear light, the Smart 1/2W Superflash. The Radbot has a 1W LED and it's a pretty fierce piece of kit, although not in the same league as the new generation of rechargeable rear lights.
You get three funkily monikered modes starting with the zZzpop, which is three quick flashes followed by a slower pulse. It's very eyecatching and this is the setting we used the most. Then there's cornea blitz – a strobe-like flickering which is horrible. Finally, there's rock steady which, as the name suggest, is constant. It's visible from a loooong way back and casts out a halo of light that encourages drivers to pass wide. The casing is translucent so you also get some useful side visibility, and although the reflector doesn't do a lot when the light is on, it's nice to have a back up.
Although it encourages drivers not to get too up-close and personal, if you're riding in company you want to keep, do your wheel-sucking friends a favour and switch the light to rock steady. Riding behind either flashing mode was not my idea of fun. Cornea blitz really does do what it says on the tin and zZzpop is weirdly hypnotic.
Over a winter of commuting and longer rides this light flashed away in the face of lashing rain, sleet and hail, and didn't bat a red eyelid in over 10 minutes of being tested with a hose spray. On taking it apart for the first time I noticed some very fine sandy grit had winkled in between the light body and casing, though this hasn't had any affect on its water-resistant qualities.
The only minor drawback I found was that you need to unscrew the back with a cross-head screwdriver when the batteries need changing. Most multi tools have a screwdriver and the screw itself is captive so you don't have to worry about dropping it straight down a drain, but it's still a bit of a faff when you've got cold fingers. Luckily, you shouldn't need to take it apart very often as battery life is good, with the original batteries lasting over a month of commuting and day rides when using all three light modes.
Powerful, tough, and easy to use rear light with some eye catching flashing patterns.
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Make and model: PDW Radbot 1000
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?
Portland Design Works say: "The Radbot 1000 has one directive: to defend you and your bike from rear collisions. It comes equipped with a precision reflector that conforms to strict EU standards and its blazing red eye contains a 1.0 watt Japanese LED to stare down vehicles. This is the same powerful LED used in the brake lights of new cars!
Also, the Radbot 1000 makes a mean cup of coffee. Actually that last part isn't true."
This all sounds about right - though even if the last part were true, I'd be more impressed if it could make a nice cup of tea.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the light?
Uses 1.0 watt red LED made by Nichia brand.
Has 3 modes: zZz pop, cornea blitz and rock steady modes (30 hours runtime flashing/15 steady.
Incorporates Euro reflector.
Fits rack, seatpost and seatstay, has backpack clip.
Takes 2xAAA batteries (included).
Dimensions: 36 x 40 x 82mm.
Nice quality. It's well made and fairly sturdy.
Simple to attach to the bike, easy to use and switch between modes.
It's a standard, easy-to-fit clamp and the clip has a step, which makes it more secure on light loops.
Kept going through sleet, hail, heavy rain and the garden hose test.
It has survived the usual amount of being dropped, taken apart, swapped between bikes and lugged around in bags without complaint.
Tell us how the light performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Tell us what you particularly liked about the light
Its brightness, and the switch is very easy to use.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the light
Having to unscrew it to change batteries.
Did you enjoy using the light? Yes
Would you consider buying the light? Yes
Would you recommend the light to a friend? Yes
Age: 40 Height: 163cm Weight: 75kg
I usually ride: Dawes Horizon My best bike is: Kona Haole
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, touring, sportives, Audax