NiteFlux Red Zone 4 and White Zone 5 - Review

Nite Flux are an Adelaide based company and manufacturer of high performance bicycle lighting. Their latest offerings are the Red Zone 4 and White Zone 5. I have been fortunate to have a pair of these lights for a long-term test and evaluation. Here are some initial thoughts.

It is hard to put these impressive little lights into a category, probably the best description I could give them is daylight visible safety lights – emphasis on ‘daylight’ – as this consideration is important when comparing the NiteFlux against most other ‘daylight visible lights’ on the market today.


LED technology has advanced so much in recent years – early LED were insipid things that dimmed quickly as the power, usually drawn from a AA battery, diminished – till they were little more than reflectors. I have an early front Vista Light that I use to wonder what the point of it was – the dull green glow of the front LEDs barely giving out any light.

As LEDs advanced, so did the power output and the designs possible. Today there is a vast array of LED lights on the market at many different price points, with some very powerful models available at very reasonable prices. However, if you use a light everyday, or have ever dropped one, you will quickly realise that the mounts and light bodies can be quite fragile and brittle – I have a shoe box full of failed lights, mounts and parts from cheap and not so cheap lights that have broken. I have even made my own lights, a particularly powerful 12volt head lamp – but that light required a 12v battery – not the best thing to carry around on a bike (total overkill)

From the outset, I think I can confidently say that the Red and White Zone lights are the most robust bicycle lights I have ever seen. They have obviously been designed to be used everyday and on every ride. They are designed to be easily moved between bikes using a very simple velcro and / or clip style mount that attaches to either the frame, clothing or a saddle bag, or in the case of the Red Zone, ones helmet (this is how I have mainly been using it).


The case of the lights is a resin-based material that apart from the charging socket (covered by its own sealed plug) totally seals the entire unit. The lights are USB rechargeable with an internal non-serviceable battery. The lifespan of this battery is anticipated at 5 years – considering that I would expect these lights to outlast pretty much any other light I have seen, and that LED technology will advance further within the lifespan of the product, I do not see an internal sealed battery as a problem – I would if the light felt like it would break, but not these lights. Standard the lights come with a 1-year warranty with additional extended warranty options available from the manufacturer.



Most bicycle lights, whether front or rear, are highly focused and directional. The narrow field of vision of a front head light is really good to see where you are going on a really dark street or mountain trail, but perhaps not so good in city traffic or on an overcast day where you want a wide angle spread of light offering maximum visibility and attention to the rider. The same goes for the rear light, but even more so. Focused rear lights get lost in all the background information that motorists have to process when driving. Distraction and situational awareness are two things that motorists have to constantly deal with. A bright, visible and wide-angle taillight that is ‘un-miss-able’ is a very desirable accessory for the cyclist. The Red Zone certainly meets these criteria.

Both lights have several power and flash intensity settings. They come shipped with 3 by default, and these can be adjusted and customised within a menu by user selection. The defaults are: a daylight visible intense strobe flash, a lesser nighttime flash (otherwise you are likely to dazzle oncoming traffic or cause your riding partner following behind to have a seizure) and a steady high-powered light (particularly handy if a main front head light fails – such as happened to me in McLaren Vale one moonless night).

So, first impressions are very good – the lights are very well made, robust and are very user friendly.

The main point about these lights, one that I feel really needs to be emphasised – is the visibility. I feel that they are like no other bicycle light on the market today. They have such an intense LED light source that is not focused, resulting in an incredible field of visible light. This light is visible from a wide angle of view, giving approaching traffic ample notice of your presence on the road.

I have been using the lights commuting almost 35 km every day and on long rides through the Adelaide Hills.  I have actually felt more visible using these lights; with motorist behaviour modified by the additional presence these lights seem to give me as a cyclist.

I look forward to continue the trial and report again at the end of summer and the cooler darker months of the year later in 2012.

See http://www.niteflux.com/Products.aspx for more information.

Views: 3066

Comment by David Bastians on October 4, 2012 at 16:50

Hi All,

got some recent emails about these lights and this thread. Here is an update:

It is the case that some RZ4 units develop problems with the switch when used on a bicycle seat-post. After more than a year in the marketplace, plenty of user info, and some material revisions, we now know that the problem is not caused by any adhesives or other material faults. The problem is caused by stuff that comes up off the road. Not water, because we have done lots of testing in water. It could be fuel, or other chemicals. Some users are much more affected than others because they ride over different roads. Whatever it is, it soaks through the plastic and causes some problems.

We are making a new version that is optimised for seat-post use. it will be a different shape and made of different materials. It will be even easier to see from all angles, will have a longer runtime and be all-round better for seatposts. We will continue to produce the current shape version for backpacks (although this seems to be the minority use for this light).

This new version is 95% finished and is with the tool-maker for production tooling right now. We are encouraging anyone who has problems with their light from seatpost use to wait for the new version which will be out soon. Meanwhile, advice to others that use the light on the seatpost would perhaps be to rinse the light with tap water after riding in wet conditions where road spray is on the light. It is not avoidance of water that is important; but cleaning off chemicals that have come from the road-spray. Final public health and safety tip, remember people, roads are filthy places; always wash your hands before eating.

Cheers,

David

Comment by Tim B on October 4, 2012 at 18:46

Hi David, I asked this question in the other thread, but will post it again here...

If the current crop of RZ4's keep going faulty due to chemicals, road grime etc, will they be replaced under warranty with the newer style units?

cheers

Tim

Comment by David Bastians on October 4, 2012 at 20:55

Hi Tim,

well it is not right to say that the current crop is always going faulty.  It is not as if every unit used on a seatpost will suffer this problem.  On our test bikes we always use the seatpost and never see any problem.  My own unit is caked in road-grime.  It seems mostly to depend on where a person lives and while most people wont have any problems at all. Some who ride through some frequently contaminated roads will have repeat problems, or we will see a spate of problems from one geographic area or other for a week or two and then the problem will subside again.  If you think of how this fits with stuff being spilled on the road, then this all makes good sense.

Anyway, with the new version just around the corner, any person who has a warranty claim now or in the future that is caused by road spray will get one of the new ones as soon as they become available.

Comment by Brad Hooker on November 29, 2012 at 10:16

Just want to see if Niteflux is still operating, all the phone numbers are disconnected & I sent a Redzone 4 back under warranty & have had no reply to the original or follow up emails. David can you please advise.

Comment by David Bastians on November 29, 2012 at 13:30

Hi Brad, I just sent out the following email stream today.  trust it will answer your questions. NB: wehave moved office and will not be reconnecting our old landline.  We will update our website with that detail shortly.  Cheers, David

Dear niteflux warranty customer,

I am writing with an update about the new version of our red zone 4 and white zone 5 lights.
We have just finished the preproduction work on our new model and it will be better than ever before.
If you are receiving this email it is because you have sent a light to us for repair, or an email enquiry about repair.  I am sorry that we have not replied to every person individually, we have been waiting to finalise the new version and then release the info on mass.
Thank you for your patience.  Any person that is waiting to have their rz4 or wz5 light repaired will receive our new version as soon as it becomes available.  We will also offer a free upgrade to the new 8W version if you want.  Please just reply to this email to book your double power upgrade.
For those that are disconcerted because they cannot get through on the phone, we moved office recently and will not be reconnecting our old landline.  Please dont worry about whether or not we got your old package.  We will look after all customers with new lights as soon as the first batch of production is completed.
Best Regards,
David


---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: NiteFlux a href="mailto:sales@niteflux.com" target="_blank">sales@niteflux.com>
Date: Thu, Nov 29, 2012 at 2:06 PM
Subject: niteflux red zone 8
To: sales@niteflux.com


Good things come to those who wait:
Attached are photos of the new Niteflux red zone product.  It is improved on the original in many ways:
even easier to see from all angles
much easier switch action
longer runtime
easier to attach to seat posts
repairable/battery replaceable
Also, in response to requests from USA, it is also going to be available in DOUBLE power.  That is 8W peak power in flash mode and over 400lm!
We are now finished pre-production test on this new unit.  It has taken some time to finalise the design but it will be worth the wait.  We are now beginning the first production cycle.  This will take around 4-6 weeks.
For those who have asked about getting a new niteflux red zone for xmas, I am sorry but we wont be guaranteeing delivery before xmas.
For those who have asked about international delivery, we usually ship these from a warehouse in USA but there have been changes in the postal system in USA banning all batteries in the short term.  This is expected to be reviewed with new rules in place on Jan 1 2013.  Niteflx bicycle lights will comply with the new rules and international postage will resume at that time.
If you are receiving this email it is because you have sent a back-order enquiry to niteflux.  Sorry we cant give individualised replies to all emails.  We get too many.  Thanks for your patience, we will be making a special offer to all back-order customers:  A free upgrade from 4W version to 8W version.  Just reply to this email to book your 8W version if you want it.  Otherwise, we will send another email when the first batch of stock is available.
Best Regards,
David
Comment by David Bastians on November 29, 2012 at 14:14

wow, I sent out a bulk email only an hour or so ago.  Nobody in Australia has ever said to me before they needed their red zone tail light to be brighter but already I got lots of takers for the double power version.

For interest, the standard for car tail lights and brake lights in USA is about 1.5x the brightness of car lights in Australia.

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