I’d buy the Bontrager Flare R light again, but I can’t

Watch for my tale of woe below, but here’s the TL;DR summary: the Bontrager Flare R tail light is surprisingly bright even in daylight and a good value for the money. It’s especially great for this time of year in the Northern Hemisphere when the sun is low in the sky even at midday. Bontrager accessories are available at your local Trek dealer or order online from Trek.com.

Bontrager Flare R bright bicycle tail light

I live not far from Keith Bontrager, who handed me a review sample of the Flare R bicycle tail light. I don’t know how much involvement he has these days with his Trek-owned brand, but he’s clearly excited about this light.

The Flare R is designed specifically for daylight use. I can see this 65 lumen lamp flashing from miles away in bright daylight along the Pacific coast of California. In brightness, it’s about equivalent to the Light & Motion Vis 180 Brown Shugga, 2 Watt lights like the popular NiteRider Solars are about 40 lumens. It’s significantly brighter than Planet Bike’s original Superflash (1/2 watt LED) and the Superflash Turbo (1 watt LED).

The mount is somewhat unique. It has the usual flexible strap to attach around your seatpost or other round-ish surface, but you twist the light around to adjust the aim.

The only drawback, such as it is, is that this light feels a little “cheap,” with a build quality perhaps equivalent to Planet Bike’s bike light offerings.

Like other lights in this class, it’s USB rechargeable with hours of battery life. The four modes are bright flashing and bright steady for daylight use, and dimmer night time flashing and steady on modes. The dim+steady mode is ideal also for group rides so you don’t induce seizures and blindness in the riders behind you. When battery life drops to two hours, it goes into a battery saver flashing mode to conserve battery life and let you know you need to recharge — a very handy feature.

Unfortunately, I lost my $60 light before I had a chance to shoot photos or video comparisons. I ran to my local Trek dealer today to buy a replacement and they’re closed for store inventory just two weeks before Christmas! Who does that?

I recommend this light. Go buy one for yourself or your loved one. Buy from your local Trek dealership. You can also order Trek products online and your bike shop gets a cut of the profits. The shipping fee is is a complete ripoff unless select the “Click and Collect” option.


  1. Well, I like the Flare-R a lot. I agree the brightness is similar to the L&M Vis 180 — it might even be a bit brighter. But it’s a less expensive than the Vis, and also less heavy. I don’t mind it looking like every other blinky on the planet — it’s not as likely to attract attention if you forget to take it off the bike. One place the Vis 180 is considerably superior: Side visibility. Guess that “180” name is there for a reason. The amber side blinkies really stick out. Still the Flare-R is my go-light these days, and I’m buying extras for family and my other bikes.

  2. Richard, have you seen the Orfos lights? I’ve been meaning to reach out to you in case you want to borrow one and review it, as we just got two (taillights) but won’t be using the second one until late January (when my wife starts her new job). Otherwise I’ve been using a combination of Performance’s Axiom Pulse 60 (steady) and my old Radbot 1000 (in flash mode). And if you haven’t already seen it, check out Nathan Hinckle’s http://bikelightdatabase.com.

    Chris, good info, thanks! We’ve been paying attention to side visibility since my wife was nearly hit when a driver ran a stop sign a few months back. I switched out her NiteRider to the L&M Urban Motion headlight (for the side markers), and gave her LIT 28s with reflective sidewalls.

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