Bontrager ION 800 R and Flare R Bicycle Lights

by Kenn Korchma, EMT
MedCycle EMS, Trenton NJ

Bontrager ION 800 Headlight

The Bontrager ION 800 light is a great light overall.  It is very versatile and easy to handle. Installation was made simple by picking an easily accessible spot on my handle bars on which to wrap and snap the heavy rubber Sync bracket.  The swivel adjustment made it very easy to adjust the light in the direction you want it to point.  I found it helpful to make the adjustments at night in an open area like a driveway.  When I adjusted mine, I faced my bike toward the garage door, about 60 feet away.  I slid the light onto the Sync bracket and illuminated the yard and garage.  I then adjusted the light up and down and swiveled it until I felt it was in a good position for me to see and for others to see the light from a long distance.

I like the amount of illumination the light produces, and the angled width of the light is great for riding at night.  The ION 800 has a variety of light modes ranging from 800 lumens down to 150 lumens, with night and day flashing.  One test I conducted was lighting up my backyard with the ION 800 light.  I put it on the hood of my truck and turned on the light.  I then turned on my truck lights and compared the two.  The ION 800 lit up my yard just as brightly as my truck lights.

The small amber side visibility lights on the front of the light can be seen from more than 100 feet away, but are not eye-catching.  I would like them to be a little bigger.   The flashing amber lights are not big or bright enough for use for emergency responding.

The light easily and securely locks onto and unlocks from the bracket, even in an emergency. When you remove the light to use it for searching or lighting up a scene, it works very well for its size.  As an EMT, I like that it is flat underneath and on the back end so it can be either laid down or stood up while I am treating a patient.  The light swivels on the bracket, so you can adjust the light to the left or right to light up an area while the bike is parked.  If you have a mechanical failure, you can place the light on the ground while you make repairs, or use it to warn drivers and/or other bicyclists. 

The rechargeable battery with the universal USB cord is fantastic because just about everybody has one.  And the short cord makes it easy to store away.  Since we work in all kinds of weather, it is ideal that the light is waterproof.  It seems to be a little heavy if you are watching the weight on your road bike, but it is sturdy enough for mountain biking.

Some things I didn’t like about the ION 800:  the button to turn it on and off is a little difficult to push to operate the different light patterns if you are wearing gloves, and the rubber cover on the USB plug was difficult to open.  But it is tight-fitting for weather resistance and to keep the USB port clean. 

Bontrager Flare R Taillight

The Bontrager Flare R taillight is also a great light.  It is easy to install on the seatpost under your saddle.  It is very bright and has a wide degree of visibility.  The three flash patterns are very effective and eye-catching, and combined with the day steady and night steady, provide many choices of light patterns for your safety.

I found the cover for the USB port much easier to open than one on the ION 800.  And the control button is easy to push to choose your flash pattern. 

The only problem I see would arise if you are using this taillight with a rack and trunk.  The trunk will be in the way when the light is installed on the post.  If Bontrager could make a clip to attach it to a rack or trunk, there would be more options for placement.

The rubber quick-connect bracket makes it easy to remove it and place it on your belt loop for foot patrol, off-duty running, or walking your K9.

The two lights working together make a great setup for road or mountain biking or patrolling.  As far as responding and using it as an emergency light setup, it falls short because the headlight has limited visibility from the sides, and you have to turn the lights on separately, which equates to loss of time or forgetting to turn on the tail light when you go responding.  In all fairness, however, they are neither designed for nor marketed as emergency lighting. 

In conclusion, I find these products built well, and they do the job.  So enjoy them and be safe riding.       

Kenn joined MedCycle EMS in 2016.  He has been an EMT for over 30 years.  His experience includes career and volunteer projects.  Kenn has served as a FTO and has held leadership roles.  Currently he is studying Emergency Management and Preparedness.  During his free time, Kenn is an avid mountain biker and is looking forward to attending the IPMBA EMS Cyclist course this spring.  He can be reached at kennethkorchma@yahoo.com.

(c) 2017 IPMBA.  This review appeared in the Winter 2017 issue of IPMBA News. 

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