We reviewed Light and Motion's Vis 180 a couple of years ago and liked it. Since then, it has shed some weight, gained even more lumens and still costs a lot.
The Vis 180 is a (micro)USB rechargeable rear light that is seriously bright, and is visible through 180 degrees. It achieves this through two dedicated amber LEDs pointed to the sides, as well as obviously the main red rear facing light.
In the product video (http://vimeo.com/13816382), Light and Motion reckon that the Vis 80 delivers 10 times the light output to its closest tail light competitor. While I have neither the resources or the inclination to verify that, I will say that it's VERY bright. Easily the brightest rear light I've ever used (though I haven't been able to compare with an Exposure Flare, which was suggested in the comments when we reviewed it last). I'll go out on a limb here and say that it's not as a bright as a Hope District +, going by our review of an earlier version of that - the Hope is a chunk more expensive and to be fair isn't the kind of AA light that Light & Motion are making their comparisons with.
The main red rear-facing light has 4 modes which you cycle through with a single button: steady (50 lumens), high pulse (50 lumens), low pulse (25 lumens) and paceline (5 lumens). The latter only gives you side visibility, and switches off the main rear red light - so as not to blind whoever is sucking your wheel. Stated battery life is 4 hrs, 6 hrs, 12 hrs and 20 hrs minimum. My unscientific test of fully charging it, switching it on in steady mode and timing how long it takes before it switches itself off suggests that these are pessimistic times. I got nearly 6 hours out of a full charge on steady - only fair to say that was at room temperature.
The rear lights battery status indicator (found at the bottom of the light) is described as "novel" in the product video, claiming it's a "true" indicator. I found it pretty useful in any case. As the guy in the video says, if you're in high pulse mode, a green status tells you that you have 6-8 hrs of battery life left, on amber that's 4-6 hrs, red means 2-4 hrs and when it starts flashing red you've got less than 2 hrs left and it's time to find that microUSB cable to charge the Lithium-Ion battery, which takes around 5 hours.
A micro-USB cable is included in the box, but not a wall mount. Chances are you've got one of those kicking around anyway.
The mounting system is tool-free and consists of a mounting bracket with a rubber strap that goes around the seat post. The light then clicks on to this; you can adjust the angle of the light so that it's perpendicular to the road by holding down the little red button on the side of the light. According to the website, you can buy a rack mount. At nearly 100 quid, I would have liked to have seen that included.
The manual states that the light can also be clipped in to the little strap you find on many seat packs and saddle bags. I tried this on a Topeak medium saddle pack; sadly the light wasn't there anymore when I arrived at my destination. That's seriously not funny if you've spent all those notes.
At the risk of going on about it, while the light itself is excellent, out of the box it can only reliably be mounted to the seatpost. That's a serious limitation to me, on my bikes there's a saddle pack in the way.
The light is rated to IP65, which means "totally protected against dust and can withstand low-pressure jets of water from all directions - with limited ingress acceptable". Translated: is fine with rain.
An impressively bright light at a pretty impressive price; let down for me by its mounting hardware.
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Light & Motion Vis 180 rear light
Size tested: n/a
Tell us what the product 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?
Light and Motion say this: "The Taillight that looks to its Left and its Right. Keep your mind focused on the day ahead, while your VIS® 180 has your back and your side - the first taillight to offer a full 180 degrees of Commuter Safety. The Vis® 180 is available in two different colors: Quartz and Bronze."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
The Vis® 180 delivers an SUV sized output from a compact lightweight package. At 10 times the light of the most powerful AA tail lights, combined with brilliant amber side lights, the Vis® 180 lets the cars know you belong on the road too. With a tool-less mount, locking mount clip for frame or bag, and convenient cell phone micro USB charging, you will never go back to a blinkie again.
The light is made on a metal chassis and has a very high quality feel to it.
It is VERY bright and does make you visible around 180 degrees from the rear.
At 102 grams, it's not the lightest rear light you can get. Those lighter ones won't be anywhere near as bright.
At £80 (if you shop around online, SRP £89.99), this is undoubtedly one of the most expensive rear lights out there. However durable and bright, not everybody will be able to justify it.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Very bright, a joy to use until it pinged off my saddle pack. Then it didn't work so well any more, due to me not being able to find it anymore.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Seriously bright, gentle pulsing as opposed to aggressive blinking and 180 degree visibility.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The price and the mounting system.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? No - too expensive
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Probably not, unless they were made of money.
About the tester
Age: 32 Height: 1.78m Weight: 76kg
I usually ride: All of them! My best bike is: Cervelo Dual
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, touring, club rides, fixed/singlespeed, Audax