Autonomous Motion

Down Low Glow

Side-visible bike frame lights

The Down Low Glow is a super-bright bicycle running light embedded in a shatterproof tube with reflective mylar coating. Both a safety device and a fashion accessory, the Down Low Glow is possibly the most fun safety light I’ve ever seen. Even the persistence-of-vision LED spoke lights we have on our tandem don’t get as many appreciative comments. Having skater kids comment on how awesome my bike is has been particularly fun. I’ve even had total strangers come up to me and say they saw me the other night on the road. Unlike the previously-reviewed DiNotte lights, which are certainly bright, the wide glow from these things makes you look HUGE. Cars give me more passing room, and my wife feels better about my evening commute knowing that I’m highly visible from all directions, including the side.

The system comes in single- or dual-tube configurations and in a variety of colors including street-legal amber, blue, red, pink and purple (mine is green). The rechargeable battery is good for at least three hours on a dual-tube system, more on a single-tube (they also sell an “All Nighter” battery that lasts 14 hours on a single-tube, 7 hours on a double-tube). Mounting the lights to your frame is very easy, and requires no tools. There’s a plastic clip which straps to your down tube with adjustable rubber bands and retains the larger diameter glowing tube. The smaller tube is held to the chainstay with velcro straps and rubber spacers. The battery pack can be attached with a sturdy velcro strap to virtually any part of the frame, including the seat tube or top tube. However, I keep my battery in a Jandd frame pack, along with a multitool, spare tube, patch kit, Adventure Medical Ultralight & Watertight .9 first aid kit, keys, and cellphone — i.e. it’s not like I bought the bag just for the batteries. Keeping mine in the frame bag also helps protect the battery when it rains, which is a lot here in Seattle (note: I believe the newer generation of battery packs are more waterproof).

Until fairly recently, I was able to park my bike in my office, so I didn’t have to worry about people trying to steal them while parked during the day. At night, I am never away from the bike for much longer than it takes to buy groceries, so I haven’t been too worried about them then, either (I’ve been using them since Christmas of 2006 with no issues). Since I don’t have secure bicycle parking at my new job, the use of a hose clamp looks like an excellent idea for preventing theft of the tubes. The battery pack removes quite easily, so it’d probably be a good idea to take it with you if you’re worried.

-- Josh Larios 10/17/08

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