BRAKE FREE SMART BRAKE LIGHT
Improved visibility brings improved safety
When riding a motorcycle, anything you can do to make yourself more visible will help make for a safer ride. Brake lights, of course, are a necessity, but between switching to LEDs and the trend towards smaller lights for improved aesthetics, many modern motorcycles now have smaller brake lights than ever.
With the electric motorcycles we’ve tested, including a few models from Zero and the Livewire, one of the great features is regenerative braking. You can turn it way up, so it works as a fairly aggressive motor braking as you roll off the throttle. And often there is no real need to touch the brakes if done correctly. This gives you the advantage of having brake pads that may outlive the bike.
However, in traffic, you quickly realize that the car right behind you may not notice you’re slowing down. We have been dragging the brake just enough to actuate the brake light so the traffic behind us, if they’re not distracted, can see that we’re decelerating.
With the much-appreciated concept of increasing ride visibility, Brake Free’s founders started prototyping the light in 2014. They launched an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign in 2017, and over 2000 people kicked in funding. They also appeared on the “Shark Tank” television show with the goal of increasing the product’s visibility and hopefully get more funding.
Brake Free is a helmet-mounted light that aims to increase the visibility of a rider from behind. It attaches to your helmet via a proprietary mount, which is affixed via the same type of 3M adhesive used in GoPro mounts. They include a template to make it easy to line up the mount to get it perfectly centered on the back of your helmet.
The lighting unit has a built-in Li-ion battery that’s rechargeable using a micro-USB cable. It charges fully in two hours and lasts for eight-plus hours. The lights themselves are 100 ultra-bright LEDs. It can display a number of different lighting patterns, easily toggled by pressing the singular button at the top, which is also the on/off switch. It’s fairly bright when you are not braking. When you do, the built-in accelerometer actuates the light. Whether installed or not, the unit can demonstrate just how easy it is to work just by turning it on and moving it, then stopping your hand. It lights up brightly.
The whole system is really smart. The on-board circuitry and sensors are programmed with an algorithm that identifies when you’re moving, when you’re rolling off the throttle or starting to brake. When you decelerate slowly, it lights up solid; when you’re more aggressively slowing down, it flashes a couple of times before staying solidly bright.
Weighing in at just under 7 ounces, the light is not heavy, but it does add some bulk to your helmet. You generally don’t notice it, unless you’re wearing a backpack, which may end
up touching it and also may block it if you have a tall backpack. It’s rugged, made of hard plastic and seems to be fairly weather-sealed.
We love the fact that this is so simple, easy to use and, of course, bright. It’s not cheap, but can you put a price on safety? Like the old Bell Helmets ad said, “If you have a $10 head, buy a $10 helmet.” Honestly, we think that this technology with the sensors should also be built in to motorcycles, especially electric bikes. That said, this light is fantastic, and we made sure to get some extra mounts to use the light on more than one helmet (two extra mounts come in one package for $11.69).
• Very visible for safety
• Easy to switch between helmets