If you like to bike at all hours of the day – and even in the wee hours of the night – you’re going to want to have bright, dependable and easy-to-use lights mounted on your frame. Good bike lights can not only help you see where you’re going and avoid debris on the road, but just as importantly, they help others on the road see you and avoid an accident.
The Thousand Traveler bike lights attempt to deliver the brightness a cyclist should demand with some handy capabilities, including magnets. But they’re a pricey set of lights, at $70 for both the front and rear pair or $35 individually, and they also make some trade-offs to offer a unique design.
Find out how we test products and read on to see if Thousand Traveler makes the grade to be ranked among the best bike lights (and best bike rear lights).
THOUSAND TRAVELER BIKE LIGHT REVIEW: DESIGN AND FEATURES
Thousand Traveler - Key Specs
Max lumens: 250 (white), 80 (red)
Operating modes: Solid, Daylight Flash, Eco Flash
Battery life: 6-36 hours (white), 3.75-22 hours (red)
Rechargeable: Yes (USB-C)
Water resistance: IPX4
Weight: 40g (light), 20g (mount)
The Thousand Traveler lights are a fairly compact set. The bulb section of the light is a couple of inches across but has a lightweight, pancaked design that’s wider than it is deep.
The lights have a simple rubber strap for mounting around handlebars and seat posts. The band can fit a wide range of tube sizes and it holds securely in place.
The unique aspect of the Traveler lights is that the mount and lights attach via a magnet and twist-lock. The magnet helps easily get the light in place while the slightest twist helps secure the light against bumpy riding.
Once the lights are secured to the bike, you can twist further to turn them on and go through the three lighting modes they support. There’s a low-power strobe, a higher-power strobe and a sustained beam.
As convenient as the mechanism is for mourning the lights – especially when parking a bike and taking the lights off to avoid theft – the twist lock isn’t remarkably secure. It can be a bit finicky trying to switch between modes without accidentally removing the light. It’s also a small mental puzzle to change the lighting modes when the light is removed from the mount.
The lights conveniently charge via USB-C with a rubber cover over the port that helps them maintain their IPX4 rating against water. This is a plus, but it may not hold up to heavy downpours.
THOUSAND TRAVELER BIKE LIGHT REVIEW: PERFORMANCE
The white Traveler light offers a 100-lumen peak brightness that can flare up to 250 lumens in its Daylight Flash mode. The red light offers a more tame 35 lumen brightness and 80-lumen peak in Daylight Flash mode.
The numbers don’t tell an obvious story, but the lights themselves do: At a range of 100 feet, these lights are nearly impossible to miss, especially in their brightest strobing modes.
The lights offer a stunningly bright blink that’s likely to be spotted by other drivers on the road. But it also won’t constantly blind drivers, as the Daylight Flash mode uses a series of dimmer blinks and then a quick burst of extra-bright blinks.
With a flat front, the Thousand Traveler lights don’t offer the most all-around visibility. Reflectors on a bike are an important feature for being spotted by cars driving perpendicular to your direction of travel, but having some extra light coming out of the sides of your lights never hurts, and the Traveler lights don’t deliver much in that regard.
At a lower price, the Apace Vision tail light performs substantially better, with solid visibility both behind and to the sides.
The brightness of the Thousand Traveler lights does come at a cost, though. The Daylight Flash mode can run for only 6 hours on the white light and 3.75 hours on the red light. They can eke out a little more time on the solid beam but really only offer a long runtime (22 to 36 hours) when in the far less visible but reasonably useful Eco Flash mode, which doesn’t have the extra bright pulses.
While the ability of the Traveler lights to make you visible to drivers is excellent, their ability to help you see where you’re going is a bit more lacking. The solid beam isn’t as bright or broad as I’d like, especially if biking along at a higher speed and needing to see further ahead in the road to avoid obstacles.
In side-by-side testing, the Traveler lights definitely prove capable, but they can struggle to beat the competition. A handful of cheaper, no-name lights could provide plenty of brightness for visibility in their strobe modes, though they generally had weaker sustained beams.
However, the Shark 500 offered an especially powerful strobe while delivering a sustained beam that easily outclassed the Traveler headlight.
THOUSAND TRAVELER BIKE LIGHT REVIEW: VERDICT
The Thousand Traveler bike lights are a solid option that can provide exceptional visibility to others on the road.
They’re a bit lacking in side visibility, and the headlight doesn’t provide much of a beam for spotting obstacles on the road, but this is a handy option for city riders who have well-lit roads and want extra-convenient lights that just help protect them from drivers.
THOUSAND TRAVELER BIKE LIGHT REVIEW: Also consider
You’ll want to think carefully about what you need from a front and rear bike light. I find the Shark 500 a substantially more useful light – if not quite as convenient – for the front of a bike, and it only costs $40. That $40 price also brings with it a bigger battery, improved water resistance, and an included tail light (though not a great one).
Meanwhile, in the rear, the Apace Vision tail light is easy enough to mount while providing a solid runtime and plenty of visibility at a fraction of the price. Neither of these alternatives is quite as stylish as the Thousand Traveler bike lights, and both rely on dated micro USB ports for charging, but they prove themselves on the road.