09 October 2007

bikefix Review: Blackburn Mars 3 LED Tail light

Do not look directly into this light- at least not at close range. One of about a billion blinking LED lights for the back of your bike, Blackburn's Mars 3 LED tail light has a few features that means that I now, personally, own three. Every time I've bought one, I've had a look at what else was available and gone, again with the Mars. Here's why:
  • It's bright. From the rear, drivers are exposed to five quite bright red LEDs that are bright enough to walk around with in the dark. Not as fire truck-bright as Dinoette's rechargeable 1W units, but very bright nonetheless.
  • It has side lights. A pair of amber LEDs provide good visibility from the sides (if your thighs don't block the view).
  • The seatpost mount is unusually solid. Using a worm gear-type clamp (think hose clamp) and worm gear-driven angle adjustment, the provided mount holds the belt clip quite solidly, with little chance of the light bouncing out.
  • It lasts forever. On two (supplied) AAA batteries, the Mars 3 is rated to 150 hours blinking.
  • Its cheap. $17 or so at many local bike shops, or less on the interweb (but then there's shipping...).
What isn't there to like? One thing that I've noticed is a major drawback. The balance on the belt clip seems a bit off. If it were mounted a bit higher, the weight of the light would keep it in a better spot for most bag blinky tabs. If you're thinking about using one on your bag (not a bad idea if you leave your bike locked up for any amount of time), try it first. Also, the three tiny screws that keep the back on are a bit fiddly, but given the time between battery changes and good seals, that seems a small price to pay. This has to be the nicest all-around rear LED that I've seen, and if you're in the market, it worth seeking out.


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