Planet Bike is synonymous with bike lights. If you live in the Midwest and ride, you’ve very likely owned at least one Planet Bike (PB) product, if not several like myself.
In all honesty I had moved away from using many of their products due to the changes in the landscape when it came to light offerings. Companies like Light & Motion and NiteRider were coming out with USB rechargeable lights that could handle extreme weather. You could also drop them and not have them explode into a mash up of plastic and batteries on the bike path.
My experience with PB had primarily been with their inexpensive, battery powered lights that were often very disposable due to the fact that most didn’t last a season. They either ate through batteries like crazy, broke if dropped, would die if the weather got too cold, or succumb to some other awful fate. (Usually getting nicked off my bike when parked downtown.)
To be fair, they had other products that weren’t as disposable. Their full coverage fenders and their ECO racks can still be seen on many bikes commuting across Madison.
At some point I noticed Planet Bike was playing catch up. They started coming out with newly designed lights that competed with some of the other light players in the industry. They had a line up of USB rechargeable head an tail lights.
Many of their lights use the same name, but have been upgraded with better casings and more power. The Blaze, Beamer, Spok, and Superflash have existed in multiple iterations.
It’s been a number of years since I have used a Planet Bike light, so I was happy when I showed up to work and saw the Rojo 100 sitting on my desk. Per my perusing on social media, I had seen that Planet Bike was sending samples of this light to lots of bikey influencers and shops alike to try them out.
I think Planet Bike is trying to regain their space in the lighting world by sharing new product and showing that they can compete on price/lumens and features.
My initial thoughts on the Rojo is that it looks like a Planet Bike light. It has a full plastic casing around it, with it’s traditional rear clip on the back. The nice thing is that I didn’t feel like I could pop the top cover off. I have not done a drop test with it yet to see how it survives. I’d like to ride with it for a bit before beating up too much.
There were a few things I noticed that I think gives PB an edge over the competition. The first being the amount of mounting brackets included in the packaging. There’s the traditional seat-post mount, a rear rack bracket to slide on the light, and a rear chain stay mount as well. Many brands often include one mount option and you have to purchase additional mounts, that is if there even is one. They also offer two additional stretchy strap style mounts that are sold separately. If you can’t find a way to mount this light to your bike, then I don’t know what to tell you!
The second thing I noticed is they ditched the micro USB charging for a USB-C! Yes! U-S-B-C. Why is it taking so many companies so long to adopt USB-C? Honestly I love it and had an Android phone that used USB-C before I made the switch back to iPhone and it was one of the best features. The plug is beefier, the hole is uniform so no having to squint and flip the cable over and over to make sure it’s positioned the right way, the charging is much faster, and it’s just oh so awesome. Kudos Planet Bike, whoever on your team got on board with USB-C is my new friend.
The third thing that I really like about the light is it has a TON of different mode options. I particularly like the courtesy mode, for those who want to have a blinking light option in a group ride or bike path setting. It’s not seizure inducing flicker that blinds you. It’s a very slow pulse with the light getting slowly brighter before blinking to the smaller under light. Here’s a video the company did to showcase the modes:
Now it’s not all butterflies and rainbows. I do have some reservations about the longevity of the light. For one it is made fully out of plastic, casing and all. Traditionally that usually signifies inexpensive and disposable in the world of bike lights. I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt on this though as I have other lights that also have full plastic casings that have lasted a fairly long time.
Another reservation is that while it’s listed as the Rojo 100, the steady lumen listing on this light is only 25 lumens. It’s only when you use the Pulse or Turbo modes that you actually make use of all 100 lumens. As a fan of using just a steady red rear light on my bike, I’d prefer to have a brighter steady lumen output. Particularly for when I’m riding on the road with cars. If I’m riding on a protected path, it’s not that big of a deal to me. I just prefer steady light as it can be distracting to drivers and riders around me to have something flashing. Personal preference, everyone is different.
The lumen count is also questionable on many bike lights. The brightness and directional visual output can vary greatly from brand to brand. Some brands actually get their lights tested and certified to a standard like ANSI (look it up if you aren’t familiar) in order to ensure their lumen count is accurate. I wasn’t able to see anything listed on the product page for the Rojo 100 on Planet Bike’s website, but I see they use CREE LED’s, which are a trusted leader in LED lighting.
The light is rated IP66 which is better than some of the competing lights on the market and worse than others. The $35 price point tail light is a tough market to compete in. You can purchase an 80 Lumen NiteRider Sabre, so a brighter light offering which offers a full 80 lumens on steady. You can also purchase the Blackburn Dayblazer 65 which offers a 50 lumen steady, 65 max lumen on high flash, has ANSI certification, and is IP67 rated. The difference between IP66 and IP67 is the ability of submerge the actual item that is rated vs. being able to withstand a jet of water.
The Rojo 100 has a lot of competition, but I think for folks who have liked and used Planet Bike’s lights and other products in the past that this would be a great upgrade to a more modernized light.
Planet Bike’s headquarters is based here in Madison, WI and they participate in 1% for the Planet. They donate a lot of time, energy, money, and product to our local cycling community. So there’s something to supporting the homegrown company.
While I have not run this light through testing as of yet, I’d still say that it’s a good contender if you need to upgrade to a USB rechargeable option or need a spare for a 2nd or 3rd bike. The mounting options alone are a killer bargain for the $35 price point. I can confirm that most lights in that price bracket don’t offer that many accessories.
Thanks for reading as always and I look forward to putting the Rojo 100 to the test!
Thank you to Jereme and the crew over at Planet Bike for continuing to evolve their products and being such a driving force for our local cycling community.
I received this product free of charge, but was not contacted by anyone at Planet Bike to write a review for this product, nor did my employer ask me to write this for any sort of financial game. Currently my home shop does not actively stock Planet Bike’s lights, but we do stock other products from their line.
Spoke Haven is also on YouTube.com/spokehaven