B&M Toplight Line Plus Braketec rear light

For a while now I’ve had my eye on the B&M Toplight Line Plus with Braketec. The standard Line Plus uses a pair of LEDs and some clever optics to produce a line of red light rather than just two spots. The logic behind this is that diffusing the light into a line makes it easier for following traffic to judge the distance of the light, whilst also being less likely to irritate those following.

The Braketec version of the light also features a signal processor which detects the change in the dynamo AC frequency when the bike slows rapidly, momentarily increasing the brightness of the light to indicate the rider is braking. Whilst I have my doubts about the usefulness of turning signal lights for bicycles, I expect that a brake light will at least be correctly registered by following motorists despite the relative rarity of brake lights on bicycles. However, the main reason for wanting to try this light out are not because of the potential minor safety benefits which come from the brake light function, but because it is quite a clever idea, executed in an interesting way.

The light is bright, although the rack mounting on the Brompton makes for rather poor side visibility. Thankfully this is made up for by the reasonable side visibility of the front light an the reflective sidewalls of the Marathon Plus tyres. The brake light function works without any calibration required, regardless of whether you are using a hub dynamo with large wheels, small wheels or a bottle dynamo. It just works.

The effect is pretty clear in the video, but viewed by the human eye rather than through a digital camera it is much more pronounced.

Punctures

Those of you who follow me on Twitter may have noticed my recent Brompton tyre problems. On Thursday morning I was cycling from Macclesfield to Manchester along the Middlewood Way, when I heard a violent, “Whoosh,” of air leave my back tyre. Thankfully I was very near Rose Hill Marple station so I decided to just fold-up and hop-on. When I took the tube out I found a small spear-shaped piece of glass had managed to pierce the centre of the tyre tread.
A utility bicycle needs to be resistant to punctures; if the frequency of punctures on a bike is too high, it will cease to feel like a viable mode of transport. This was the fist puncture I had on the Brompton which was not due to the poor rim tape, and I decided it would be wise to invest in some Schwalbe Marathon Plus tyres as an upgrade over my Brompton green-label tyres.
This turned out to be a wise choice, on Friday I got a second puncture. At first I expected it would be a piece of the glass which had worked its way through after the repair, but when I pried the tyre off the rim to patch the tube, I found that the puncture was a rather large tear in the sidewall (I had been taking a turn at the time of the puncture. I patched the tyre and the tube and hoped it would hold until my new tyres arrived.
On Saturday I got a third puncture whilst riding down Princess Street in the evening. This was about 1 cm away from the previous sidewall puncture. Again, I patched the tube and put the tyre back on the rim. By this point, the tyre was starting to look like a special effect from Peter Jackson’s seminal masterpiece; Braindead.
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The bulging, infected-looking tyre
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Some serious warping
I decided that the bike was more of a liability than an asset in its current state, and decided to walk instead on my Sunday train trip to The South.
Today I got my new tyres, which have been fitted to the Brompton. The Marathon Plus tyres were quite challenging to get onto the rim, but their reputation suggests I won’t be taking them off regularly. The tyre-swap also provided me with an opportunity to replace the frankly terrible Brompton rim tape.
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The new tyres seem make the Brompton feel a bit more nippy than before, and the ride is a tad harsher, likely due to being 2 mm narrower. Another advantage is the extra clearance between the tyre and the mudguard stays, removing the squeak after a bodged fold which was common with the old tyres. Overall, I am quite pleased with them, as long as I don’t have to take them off for a while.