Review: Busch & Muller Toplight

After enjoying the benefits of the amazing Busch & Muller Lumotec IQ2 Luxos for about a year, and sort of wishing for a dynamo rear light but being unable to justify it while I had plenty of battery powered ones... eventually the rain destroyed my very old CatEye (which had given me excellent service itself). I was pleased to have a chance to purchase a "B&M Toplight Line brake plus rear break light" (Honestly I think there must be a shorter name) from Rose Bikes in Germany. Even with shipping it seems to be significantly cheaper to pick these lights up from Germany and the choice is much more extensive.

I was drawn to the B&M Toplight Brake Plus thanks to Dave McCraw's excellent review on "don't talk to me about bikes" and I was encouraged also by the information available on Peter White Cycles which warned me that Supernova taillights are not compatible with B&M headlights. Phew - mistake averted.

There are two LEDs in the white band at the top, which project a broad light intended to help motorists to gauge distance, apparently more easily than with a flashing or exceptionally bright rear lights. This light is still very bright though, and is visible from a very long distance away. The light is above a nice reflective plate too - giving a large lit area for following road users.

This particular light has some clever electronics which detect when the power from the dynamo is dropping, such as when the bike is slowing down, and puts extra power to the LEDs to give a brake-light effect.

Dave's wiring is beautiful, he has drilled holes in his frame on the downtube and in the seat post - so that the whole cable-run is internal to the bicycle. I'm not that confident! I simply connected the rear output from the B&M Lumotec to wires which I ran the length of the bike. NOTE: the light does not come with cable. I bought some of this twin core light cable.

This was threaded alongside the head tube and next to the rear brake cable:

The excess cable has been zip-tied under the saddle:

I don't know if this is an obsessive/compulsive behaviour, but I prefer my bicycle to look symmetrical; so I wanted the rear light underneath my saddle bag but centered over the rear mudguard. Using the Carradice Bagman tubing, I created a homemade bracket to wrap around it: cut from an old bidon, wrapped around the tube and drilled for mounting holes.

I'm going to have to revisit this bracket because it likes to slip round slightly - not a lot, but just enough to be away from vertical. I have thought about buying some p-clips. I would be happy for advice on this one.

The light itself is very slim and the wires connect without trouble underneath. I'm delighted with the whole setup and have ridden on a few dark winter evening nights with no problem. I believe a back-up is a good idea so I still use my FibreFlare across the Carradice Barley.

Heading out into the night, armed with a camera and a tripod; I wanted to film this and take some photos to see for myself what this so-called brake light looked like.

Both lights are very bright and visible, the FibreFlare has fresh batteries and runs seemingly forever, the B&M will run as long as I do of course. In both these photographs the B&M is on standlight mode - the light visible when I stop at traffic lights.

However, in this video footage, the light is shining as it ought to in normal use. I have also been able to spot the moments I brake. A pool of brighter light appears on the road beneath me, and the B&M shines out more brightly. I ran two comparisons, with and without the FibreFlare lit. I am very pleased with this lighting setup - I'm clearly visible for a long way even with the potential for street lights to drown out my bicycle light.

So far the only downside to having dynamo lights is that when I park up, friendly people stop to point out I've left my lights on. So. Not much hardship then.

Recommended? Absolutely.

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