The BBB Signal Brake Rear Light is very well sealed and follows the trend for modern rear bike lights in having 'braking' functions, which are appearing more and more, as our best rear lights buyer's guide shows. However, the BBB trades retina-ruinous firepower in favour of sensible steady and flashing modes. It does this without feeling underpowered, which in part is because you're able to tune the light. If you do get distracted, there's an auto kick-down to daylight flash, which should buy you enough time to get home. That said, it is better suited to solo bikes rather than trailers, tagalongs or specialist builds, and its peripheral punch could be better.
The first thing that struck me about the light was its weather-resistance. Its IPX7 rating means it can be fully immersed in water, which isn't that common for lights and is great news for riding on wet, wintry roads, and also for cross and gravel bikes that see mixed terrain and, often, boggier conditions.
The port's beefy cover is integrated within the strap, so that it forms a very tight, weather-cheating seal, especially when mounted on a seatpost. This, and its braking function, suggests the BBB would be a good fit for low-slung trailers, though personally I'd prefer a light with a larger surface area and a bit more punch.
The BBB's polycarbonate lens and resin body feel rugged, and the lens is designed to project a 180-degree arc of light from the COB – Chips on Board – diodes. These are powered by a quick-charging 3.7V 100mAh lithium polymer battery that is charged via a micro-USB cable. Sensored lights are becoming increasingly prevalent, and this has an auto stop-start, which means after three minutes of inactivity, it will switch off automatically and re-start again when it senses movement/vibration.
There are four modes in total, a sensible number and they cater for most situations. However, you can also tune the output yourself, which refreshingly doesn't require you to plug it into a PC. You can also perform a factory reset at any point.
The default modes are steady (20 lumens), flash (3 lumens), day flash (50 lumens) and steady flash – a 10- and 20-lumen hybrid pattern – or in a brake-only mode. You can engage or disengage the braking function, and you can manually select outputs to suit your personal preferences, though doing so disables the sensored functions.
These aren't actually fully custom settings but are set within certain parameters. In the steady mode you can set it to run from 2-20 lumens, 3-20 lumens in the lowest flashing mode, 2-50 in day flash and 1+2 lumens or 10+20 in steady flash.
To toggle between the auto (factory pre-set) and manual (user-chosen) settings, you press the power switch for one second. To reset, you depress it for three seconds. To choose an output in manual mode, it's just a matter of holding the power button for three seconds, when it will scroll from the highest to lowest power output – you simply release it when it reaches your chosen output. Though not complex, it did take me a few attempts to master it, so make sure you're not rushed.
The switch itself is a medium-stiff rubbery block on the back of the light. It's easy to operate, even in full-finger winter gloves, but you need to give it a definite press, so it's unlikely to be turned on in a bag or pocket.
A memory function takes faff from fast getaways and the top-mounted battery/charge indicator makes it easy to gauge how long you've got. When charging, or when the charge falls below 30%, it will flash and when it dips to 5% it will go into the daylight flashing mode and run for a further four hours, which should get you home or to a charging point.
This is a simple, integrated 'watch strap' so no risk of loss or getting it swiped when locking up in the street.
The curved rubbery port cover clings limpet-like to thin tubes, including pencil-thin seatstays. It also coped with 31.8mm seatpost and box-section tubes, so it's been well engineered.
It's worth noting that manually choosing modes and the braking function will have an effect on these. However, I found the stock modes were within a few minutes of those cited. The 20-lumen steady mode consistently returned 2 hours 24 minutes (claimed 2hr 30) from a full charge, daylight flashing 24 hours 56 minutes (25 hours) and 4 hours 55 minutes (5 hours) in steady flash).
The quoted 1 hour 45 minutes charge time was bang on, from a laptop or similar, and 1 hour 20 minutes from the mains, both of which are refreshingly brisk. It took longer from the dynamo USB, but this was still very practical on a longer, day ride. I've come nowhere close to exhausting the 3-lumen flashing but can confirm the bailout/kick-down to day flashing has been very reliable.
The braking function is essentially an accelerometer, a sensor that detects movement. These vary in sensitivity and to some extent accuracy. In the BBB's case, it seems to be triggered by a speed reduction of 3mph and stays on for 2.5 seconds. If your riding style is very choppy or you're in stop-start town traffic, expect it to trigger more readily.
By my reckoning and riding the fixed along open roads with a few sneakily steep climbs, it was consistent and those run times took a 10-15% hit, rising to 20% when tethered to Tubby tourer towing a trailer.
The 50-lumen braking function is a lower than some, such as the Ravemen TR500 USB Rechargeable Rear Light that Steve reviewed and the Magicshine SeeMee that I tested. However, traffic did seem to hold back a little when it kicked in, which was welcome. It didn't seem to irk approaching riders either, which was similarly appreciated. Not that I'd want to be running it on a group ride, unless I was at the back.
Like several other lights I've tested recently, lower numbers don't necessarily denote impotency. The 3-lumen flashing is probably closer to five or so and adequate for town and shared-use paths. And chat with approaching riders suggested they picked its tempo out at around 50 metres. When I used it as my only form of rear lighting, car and bigger vehicles seemed to register it at 25-30 metres.
Because of this, I tended to manually ramp the light up to 10 lumens, which translated into 100 metres – much better and all without doing nasty things to run times. Riding in semi-rural areas under clear skies, this rose to 125 or 150 metres according to my neighbours.
Consensus suggested that running the light in the steady, 20-lumen mode, it was visible to around 60 metres in town, and 80 or 90 metres on the open road on a clear night, though this was thirsty on battery life. As a result of this, steady flash became my default for most rides. It's brighter than 30 lumens might suggest, and along the lanes, farm workers suggested they'd seen from 150 metres with clear skies at 4am.
It's a little bright for town but stops short of being abrasive, which is where tunability comes into play – allowing you to switch things up or down to give you the best balance of light and battery life. Peripherally, though, the illumination is good, rather than great. And I felt a little more vulnerable when entering the flow of busy traffic, especially, when navigating bigger roundabouts – though the brake setting helps in these situations.
The BBB's daylight flashing mode, though by no means poor, is outclassed by lights producing 100 lumens. This is especially true in bright sunshine, not that there's been much of that recently. In dusk or when it's overcast, it is markedly better though, visible to around 150 metres and the flashing keeps you conspicuous to other road users.
Monsoon conditions have defined much of the testing period, and with the light low on the seatstays it has received liberal dousings, along with regular washes and rinses. It also survived 10 minutes in a bucket of water without obvious impact. Don't allow the lithium polymer battery to deplete regularly: keep it as close to 70% charged and give it a 50% charge if placing in hibernation, and there's no reason it shouldn't live a long life.
Magicshine's SeeMee 200 features a second, tracer light, various flashing modes, a braking function and an ambient light mode that selects what it reckons is right for the conditions – assuming you're happy to release the reins. The second, tracer light casts a wide, eye-catching arc of light on the tarmac, which is perfect for illuminating trailers and tagalongs.
It all works very well, though the braking function did drain the battery faster. The Ravemen CLO6 offers 50 lumens, a brake sensor and a lighting sensor that increases in intensity when it detects approaching headlights. The IPX6 weatherproofing and distinctive flashing modes round out a good package. The Ravemen is also £5 cheaper. However, Steve found the braking function a little too sensitive.
If you weren't fussed about a braking function and wanted a potent light for the darkest nights, the Lelumia the Beast Taillight costs £34.99, features a 150-lumen day flash, 100 and 65 lumen flashing modes, with relatively generous run times and excellent peripheral output. However, it only meets IPX4 for weather resistance, there's no auto kick-down and it's arguably too bright for built-up areas.
My overall experience with the BBB Brake Rear Light has been very positive. On balance, I would've liked a brighter daylight running mode and peripheral punch but otherwise, the light caters well for most riding contexts. The ability to fine tune modes and excellent weather sealing are definite selling points.
Well-made light with some innovative touches but daylight running mode and peripheral punch could be improved
If you're thinking of buying this product using a cashback deal why not use the road.cc Top Cashback page and get some top cashback while helping to support your favourite independent cycling website
Make and model: BBB SignalBrake Auto Brake
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?
BBB says: 'Our SignalBrake Rear light is not just your normal everyday rear light. It has some very clever features that you probably haven't seen in other lights before. The special brake function g-system senses you slowing down to emit some extra light to function as a brake light. The light goes on standby when it senses to stand still for 3 minutes so that you can never forget to turn off your light. This and many other great features are packed into this special Signal rear light to make sure you are always safe in the dark!'
My feelings " Understated, competent and tunable light with rugged build quality and decent output. However, peripheral presence could be improved".
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the light?
"Max. lumen in steady mode (lm): 20
Max. burn time (hours): 42
Weight (g): 34
Battery indicator: Yes
Battery type: Lithium Polymer
Battery capacity (mAh): 1000
Battery voltage (V): 3.7
Certification StVZO: No
Charge time (hours): 1:45
Light source: COB
Max. lumen in flash mode (lm): 50
Modes: Dayflash, Flash, Steady, Steady Flash
USB type: Micro USB
USB rechargeable: Yes
Waterproof level: IPX7
Sensored braking and standby function
User tunable modes
Rate the light for quality of construction:
It's light but feels very robust.
Rate the light for design and ease of use. How simple was the light to use?
Generally intuitive in the factory settings but while it's not overly tricky to set up the custom options, I'd suggest you set aside a quiet time to do this and not 10 minutes before a ride.
Rate the light for the design and usability of the clamping system/s
Very simple strap that achieves a secure fit on a wide range of tube profiles. I found no issues with seatposts between 25.4 and 31.8mm, and it also worked well with box-section tubing and seatstays.
Rate the light for waterproofing. How did it stand up to the elements?
Has resisted everything the flooded roads and boggy bridleways could chuck at it and has passed my garden hose test with flying colours. The strap also serves to hold the port cover tight, providing a very solid seal. The only potential vulnerability could result from the strap or port cover's deterioration.
Rate the light for battery life. How long did it last? How long did it take to recharge?
Very quick charging and run times in line with those cited – in the factory default settings. Braking functions still tend to put a slight dent in run times. Much will depend on factors such as location. Stop-start traffic, long ascents or a choppy riding style will trigger the braking function more frequently and put a dent in run times. I'd say by about 10-15% on a solo or 20% when towing a trailer has been my experience. Obviously, other factors, such as custom modes will also play their part. Mercifully, there's an auto kick-down when the battery's running really low. And this also seems very reliable.
Rate the light for performance:
Rate the light for durability:
Seems better made than many, particularly at this end of the market. Much will also depend on user care – ie regularly topping up the lithium polymer battery, rather than habitually allowing it to deplete.
Rate the light for weight:
It weighs just 29g but feels reassuringly solid.
Rate the light for value:
Competitive but there's still a good deal of alternatives at this end of the market.
Tell us how the light performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Overall, I've been pleasantly surprised by the BBB Signal Brake Auto Brake. On balance, I would prefer a brighter daylight running mode but I found it quite effective in overcast conditions, and the other settings are brighter than numbers might suggest. Steady flash was good enough for backroads – as a default, not a contingency. That said, I always carry and sometimes run a second light as a back-up. The 20-lumen steady has a reasonable kick but does tend to put a dent in run times, most notably when the braking function's engaged. What I really appreciated was the ability to tune the settings to taste and without an app. The auto kick-down has proven very reliable and I'm yet to exhaust the 3-lumen flashing. Peripheral punch was good, rather than great and continuing this narrative, the smaller surface area means, despite the 'braking' function it's a better fit for solos, rather than tagalongs and trailers.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the light
Solid construction, sensible range of modes, quick charge times, and the ability for you to tune it. The braking function is reliable and not overly sensitive.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the light
This is a minor niggle rather than a dislike as such, but I would have preferred a brighter daylight running mode – though this isn't a deal-breaker in my book.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
The Magicshine SeeMee 200 features a second, tracer light, various flashing modes, a braking function and an ambient light mode that selects what it reckons right for the conditions – assuming you're happy to release the reins. The second, tracer light casts a very eye-catching, wide arc of light on the tarmac-perfect for illuminating trailers and tagalongs.
It all works very well, although the braking function depleted its battery reserves faster. Ravemen's CLO6 offers 50 lumens, brake and lighting sensors (increasing intensity when it detects approaching headlights), IPX 6 weatherproofing and distinctive flashing modes. It's also a £5 cheaper. However, Steve found the braking function a little too sensitive.
If you weren't fussed about a braking function and wanted a potent light for the darkest nights, Lelumia the Beast Taillight is £34.99 features a 150-lumen day flash, 100- and 65-lumen flashing modes, with relatively generous run times and excellent peripheral output. However, it only meets IPX4 for weather resistance, there's no auto kick-down and it's arguably a bit OTT for built up areas.
Did you enjoy using the light? Yes
Would you consider buying the light? Yes
Would you recommend the light to a friend? Generally speaking, and for solos (rather than tagalongs/trailers), yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
Well-conceived light with some innovative touches and solid build but peripheral punch and daylight running modes good, rather than great.
Age: 49 Height: 1m 81cm Weight: 70kg
I usually ride: Rough Stuff Tourer Based around 4130 Univega mtb Frameset My best bike is: 1955 Holdsworth Road Path and several others including cross & traditional road
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: cyclo cross, commuting, touring, fixed/singlespeed, mtb,
That Salford 'roundabout' is a very tight circle. I'm not sure I'd want to go around there in the wet...
The zip broke on my Harrington.
Can I ask you for a cite on those 900mm and 1200mm numbers, please, Dave? Very geniune question - I'm trying to get to the bottom of this. It's a...
Brammeiers' comments are probably factually correct but the tone isn't acceptable....
Just checking start time for Brugge -De Panne and it looks like the window shuts a little early at 8 am UK time. Looks like race starts at 10.30 am...
I suspect this has been on the cards since the early 90s, with rumoured lobbying from teams including March and Footwork.
Aha! *That* is the real reason that being able to accelerate is a "safety feature"! "In the event of fire, break glass (windscreen) and accelerate...
I've got one, not ridden with it in winter, but the battery life isnt great, I do use the silicon case to protect from water/mud as it gets a...
I'd rather take my bike to Halfords. That's something I thought I'd never say!
and then to be asked to comment on it! and yet, here I am