Support road.cc

Like this site? Help us to make it better.

review

Brightside Topside Helmet Light

9
£29.99

VERDICT:

9
10
A marked improvement on an already solid design – versatile, well designed and very user-friendly
Well made
Surprisingly bright
User-friendly
Charge cable rather short
Weight: 
66g
Contact: 

At road.cc every product is thoroughly tested for as long as it takes to get a proper insight into how well it works. Our reviewers are experienced cyclists that we trust to be objective. While we strive to ensure that opinions expressed are backed up by facts, reviews are by their nature an informed opinion, not a definitive verdict. We don't intentionally try to break anything (except locks) but we do try to look for weak points in any design. The overall score is not just an average of the other scores: it reflects both a product's function and value – with value determined by how a product compares with items of similar spec, quality, and price.

Good scores are more common than bad, because fortunately good products are more common than bad.

  • Exceptional
  • Excellent
  • Very Good
  • Good
  • Quite good
  • Average
  • Not so good
  • Poor
  • Bad
  • Appalling

I've been pleasantly surprised by the output and generous run-times of the Brightside Topside helmet light, a combination front and rear light unit. It's intended as a secondary form of lighting, but in a pinch can be mounted to your handlebar and used as a get you home light.

We liked the previous version of the Topside, but Brightside tells us there have been several significant upgrades and revisions for 2021.

> Buy this online here

The light that Siobhan tested in 2017 had 30 lumens front and rear, and four modes; it now sports seven, and the front is a more powerful 50 lumens, plus a 100-lumen flash.

The other significant revision is the ability to isolate front and rear lights, so they can run independently of each other.

Brightside lists the seven modes, with run-times and lumens, as:

  • Alternating ends: 43 hours, 15 Lumen
  • Double flash: 18 hours, 30 Lumen
  • Constant both: 2 hours 30 mins, 30 Lumen each
  • Constant white, red flash: 14 hours 15 mins, 15+30 Lumen
  • Constant white 5 hours, 50 Lumen
  • Constant red, white flash: 6 hours, 15+100 Lumen
  • Constant red: 3 hours 30 mins, 30 Lumen

There's also a memory function, so it'll turn back on in the last-used mode.

To operate, it has the same pronounced, top-mounted switch-cum-battery life indicator. This is user-friendly, easily located wearing winter-weight full-finger gloves, and requires a positive, half-second press, so accidental power-ups are unlikely.

2021 Brightside Topside Helmet Light - top.jpg

In terms of optics, we have two Cree LEDs projected through wide angle fish-eye lenses, casting a flood beam.

Weatherproofing is IP65, which means it should resist heavy jets of water but not full-blown, bog-snorkeling immersion. Build quality is reassuringly good throughout, right down to the charge port cover.

Mount

Two nylon mounts and rubberised O-ring straps come as standard to cater for different helmet vent designs. One will also accommodate handlebars, should the need arise.

2021 Brightside Topside Helmet Light - set.jpg

These have also been beefed-up and seem super-secure. I've had no issues, regardless of helmet and terrain – no hint of vibration, chatter or rattling, let alone slippage or ejection.

2021 Brightside Topside Helmet Light - bracket.jpg

Output

The flashing modes are the most extrovert, and just the right tempo for snagging driver attention. Brightside reckons it's visible to around 500 metres, the same as the previous version. It certainly reaches 250-300m at dusk, along unlit lanes – and more than 350m with the 100-lumen flash when it's pitch black. That falls short of the 500m cited, but it's still plenty of presence and impressive, nonetheless.

> Buyer’s Guide: The best 2021 front lights for cycling

The 15-lumen settings are good for 150m, closer to 180m in morning mist, and the constant white (50 lumens) proved more useful than I was expecting for luggage scrutiny, finding locking mechanisms and a quick roadside component tweak.

2021 Brightside Topside Helmet Light - front light.jpg

Reading road signs from any distance in the back of beyond was easier than I was expecting, too.

There's enough punch in the steady 50-lumen modes for moderately well-lit shared-use paths, but the flashing wins when it comes to standing out.

2021 Brightside Topside Helmet Light - rear light.jpg

The ability to switch between tempos means there shouldn't be any problems with being drowned out by competing illuminations around town, and is particularly helpful at roundabouts. While HGVs, buses and similarly large vehicles always leave me on edge, the Topside, being helmet mounted, is more closely aligned with driver eye-level, so in the flashing settings should hold their attention more convincingly.

Charge/run-times

The battery/charge indicator follows the standard 'traffic light' narrative, so it's easy to tell when it's time to plug in the micro-USB charger and refuel the lithium-ion 650MaH 3.7v cell. This is reckoned good for 1,500 charge cycles – that's several years' hard use before tangible deterioration sets in.

Using the supplied micro-USB cable (which, though serviceable, is very short) takes three hours, zero to hero, but bargain on 2hrs 30mins if you are using one designed to charge phones or tablets. Charging from my dynamo took nearer 3hrs 30mins.

The quoted run-times are accurate to within a few minutes. On a couple of occasions the indicator slipped to amber quicker than I'd anticipated but made no impression on total run-times.

True to claims, it will recover from a full discharge, although it does take a little while for any charge to begin registering.

Durability

Despite weighing a very modest 70g, it's surprising how solid the Topside feels. During testing it's been struck by overhanging branches, the odd stray stone and heavy showers and hasn't missed a beat. It's also passed my garden hose torture test – with flying colours.

Aiden at Brightside says testing involved freezing the lights in a block of ice and they just came back for more (I should stress Brightside doesn't recommend this!).

Value

Siobhan thought the RRP of £29.99 for the previous version was excellent, and the price hasn't changed.

BBB's ScoutCombo pumps out a maximum of 200 lumens up front and seems well made – I've been running one regularly for several years – but is £59.99.

> Buyer’s Guide: 22 of the best rear lights for cycling

The ETC Sirrah 500 Lumen Front Rear Light will serve as a main light, proper, but this is reflected in the £52 asking price.

Conclusion

Ultimately, the updated Brightside Topside is a marked improvement on an already great design. More extrovert than the numbers suggest, it's an excellent companion to a main light or as an emergency backup, at a great price.

Verdict

A marked improvement on an already great design – versatile, well designed and very user-friendly

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

road.cc test report

Make and model: Brightside Topside Helmet Light

Size tested: 100 lumens max

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?

Brightside says, 'Lights at a driver's eye level are so much easier to see

Dual front and rear cycling helmet light. The new Topside helmet light now produces 100 lumen of bright, crisp light. *

The Topside helmet light is easily and securely fitted to most helmets.

Rechargeable, water resistant and with a 43 hour battery life, Topside is must for commuter cyclists. At eye level to drivers, the fish eye lens gives a wide but not blinding beam and is very visible from both the front and back.

Weighing just 68 grams or the same as seven £1 coins it's hardly noticeable when fitted and with the added benefit of being pointed where you look.

*100 lumen on flash mode

Dual front and rear cycling helmet light. Use as just a front light or a just back light or both together The 43 hour battery and 100 lumen bright flash gives great visibility without blinding drivers and gives sufficient light to let you see where you are going.

Having lights at eye level to a motorist really helps stay seen in traffic where normal bike lights can lost amongst the traffic.

Easily fitted to most helmets and at only 68 grams it's hardly noticeable when on. Waterproof, rugged and rechargeable, the Topside light provides a great option for staying seen in traffic."

My feelings are that it's an impressive secondary/contingency light with solid build quality and decent run-times.

Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the light?

Brightside lists these details:

Battery life from 20 to 43 hours

New modes give the option to use as a front or rear light or a mixture of both combined

Brighter 100-lumen flash

Increased clip mounting strength

Also now available all across the EU, US, Canada and Australia

Cree LEDs

The battery is a Lithium-Ion,650MaH 3.7v. It is good for up to 1500 charges

Rate the light for quality of construction:
 
9/10

All components, right down to the straps, feel really solid and fit really precisely.

Rate the light for design and ease of use. How simple was the light to use?
 
9/10

User-friendly switch, and memory function adds another level of convenience.

Rate the light for the design and usability of the clamping system/s
 
9/10

Very solid and secure. Has proven compatible with several different styles of helmet.

Rate the light for waterproofing. How did it stand up to the elements?
 
9/10

Passed my garden hose test with flying colours.

Rate the light for battery life. How long did it last? How long did it take to recharge?
 
8/10

Reliable, accurate and in line with those cited.

Rate the light for performance:
 
8/10

Decent run-times and much brighter than the numbers might imply.

Rate the light for durability:
 
9/10

Seems very rugged, especially given the price.

Rate the light for weight:
 
8/10
Rate the light for value:
 
8/10

It's great value for money, especially given the upgraded specification. You get more lumens for your money with the BBB ScoutCombo and ETC Sirrah, but they're both north of £50.

Tell us how the light performed overall when used for its designed purpose

Though not overly powerful, the output is very effective at grabbing attention without being aggressive or irritating to other road users. Though large vehicles such as buses, skip lorries and HGVs always have me on edge, the light's positioning seems to hold their gaze in slow-moving traffic or when tackling roundabouts. The ability to isolate front/rear lights is another definite plus.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the light

Great build, innovative and very practical design, and competitively priced.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the light

Nothing, though a longer charge cable would be welcomed.

How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?

It's half the price of the BBB ScoutCombo, which pumps out a maximum of 200 lumens up front, while the ETC Sirrah 500 Lumen Front Rear Light is £52.

Did you enjoy using the light? Yes

Would you consider buying the light? Yes

Would you recommend the light to a friend? Definitely

Use this box to explain your overall score

As before, it's excellent: a really well-conceived secondary light with solid build quality and sensible run-times.

Overall rating: 9/10

About the tester

Age: 47  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,

Shaun Audane is a freelance writer/product tester with over twenty-eight years riding experience, the last twelve (120,000 miles) spent putting bikes and kit through their paces for a variety of publications. Previous generations of his family worked at manufacturing's sharp end, thus Shaun can weld, has a sound understanding of frame building practice and a preference for steel or titanium framesets.
Citing Richard Ballantine and an Au pair as his earliest cycling influences, he is presently writing a cycling book with particular focus upon women, families and disabled audiences (Having been a registered care manager and coached children at Herne Hill Velodrome in earlier careers)

Latest Comments