Magene Fitness, a cycling component manufacturer better known for its affordable power meters and indoor trainers, has introduced a smart tail light that can detect vehicles approaching from the rear, and inform the rider audibly or visible via their GPS computer. Its radar has a 40° beam angle, so is able to detect vehicles even where there is a bend in the road, giving the rider a little heads up on a potential hazard.
Magene L508 Radar Tail Light
As cyclists, staying safe on the roads is, sadly, not always in our power. Unfortunately, we are very much subject to the whims of other road users, our fates all too often decided by whether or not a person left early enough for work that morning, or how much they had to drink last night, or whether or not they decide to take that poorly timed phone call. A tail light, even in the day time, is a small investment, the value of which you will never have a full understanding of.
Making yourself as visible as possible is a no brainer, but enhancing your own awareness of the presence of vehicles approaching is a secondary solution that could help you stay safe out on the roads. The new Magene L508 Radar Tail Light looks to combine both of those features, linking up with your chosen GPS computer to make you aware of cars coming up from behind. And, it compares rather favorably to the Garmin Varia Radar on affordability, with a suggested retail price $129 USD.
Its radar relies on millimeter wave pulses to detect slow- and fast-approaching vehicles within a 10-120 kph (6-74 mph) range. Vehicles up to 140 meters away can be detected by the radar, so long as they are travelling within that speed range. It will alert the rider to vehicles approaching from directly behind, but also anything within a 40° range of the rider; so, vehicles that have pulled out of their line early preparing to overtake, or vehicles approaching when you’re half way around a bend.
The tail Magene L508 Radar Tail Light can be set up to alert the rider either audibly, or visually via the display interface of your GPS Computer. It connects to the computer via Bluetooth and ANT+, and is compatible with Magene’s own C406 Computer, as well as most Garmin models, the Wahoo Bolt and Roam, and R750 and S500 models from Bryton. It can also work with most Garmin watches, too.
The tail light is visible at angles up to 220°, so should help make the rider more visible at junctions where the vast majority of road incidents involving cyclists occur. Magene also claim the L508 Radar Tail Light is visible from up to 1.2 km away. If it does sense a vehicle approaching suddenly from behind, it will automatically enter flash mode for two seconds, increasing the chances of the driver spotting the cyclist.
The L508 also has an integrated acceleration sensor, so is able to detect braking events, even subtle ones, prompting the light the enter “highlight” mode for 3 seconds. The sensor is able to distinguish between actual braking events and bumps in the road, so as not to unnecessarily waste precious battery life.
The light itself has 5 modes, customizable via the Magene Utility App. However, that customization is only available if you sign up to become a “Magenius” for $4.99 USD a month.
Battery capacity is dependent on the mode used, of course. In the continuous mode, the battery is claimed to last up to 6 hours, increasing to 10 hours in flash mode, 12 hours in pulse mode, and 8 hours in “peloton” mode. The latter is less bright, so as not to irritate other risers when you’re in a bunch.
In a bid to conserve battery life further, the tail light has a vibration sensor. After 5 minutes of no detectable vibration, the tail light will assume it is no longer required and enter sleep mode. It will then automatically wake up when it detects movement. The battery can be fully recharged within 3 hours via the Type-C USB port.
The Magene L508 Radar Tail Light can be mounted to aero and regular round seat posts via a universal rubberized mount. A secondary safety strap is attached to stop the light dropping onto the road if it does somehow become dislodged from its primary mount.
Pricing & Availability
The Magene L508 Radar Tail Light competes well with the comparable Garmin Varia Radar on price, retailing at around $129 USD (though it does lack the camera boasted by the Garmin option).