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The Sentry Aero 260 from NiteRider is a Daylight Visible Flash LED tail light. Like the Lumina Dual 1800 headlight I reviewed recently, it’s not just for nighttime or low light use. Motorists should be able to see it during the day as well. If you want that extra bit of safety while commuting, training, or just riding for fun, this is the light for you.
In keeping with their position as a leader in LED light technology, Nite Rider designed the Sentry Aero 260 with COB (Chips On Board) LED emitters. Two rows of very tiny LEDs mounted on strips no wider than a pencil put out 260 lumens of Daylight Visible red light. Paired to this efficient light is a Li-Po (Lithium Polymer) battery. While it doesn’t have the energy density of a Lithium Ion battery, it doesn’t need it either. Run times vary from 4.5 to 30 hours, at a mere 65 grams. So the LEDs and battery complement each other the way the Sentry Aero 260 complements the Lumina Dual 1800.
There are six mode in total – four flashing patterns, plus a continuous high and low. Pressing the tiny button on the top of the light cycles through them. Note that there is a rear-facing set of LEDs, and another set in the body. First up is all of them flashing together, for up to seven hours. Next is the rear flashing only, with the body on continuous for six and half hours. Then they alternate, like a police car, for up to seven and a half hours. Rounding out the flashing modes is a slow, pulsating flash for up to six hours. Finally, there is the high continuous for four and a half hours, or low for up to thirty hours. For continuous light, you’ll get six hours at 350 lumens, three hours at 700, and ninety minutes at 1500. As noted, all modes are controlled through a single top-mounted button. Your high school science teacher would like me to remind you that all run times are approximate, as battery state and ambient temperatures may cause variations. So don’t expect a full battery to perform the same in both summer and winter.
260 is for lumens, right?
Clearly, the 260 in the name refers to the light output, in lumens, right? Not so fast. The Sentry Aero 260’s shape isn’t strictly for aesthetics. Not only is it aerodynamic, but the extended profile allows for 260 degrees of visibility. See what those smart designers did there? Of course you did. So motorists will have a hard time not seeing you too. Can’t wrap your head around 260 degrees? No worries. Hold your arms straight out at both sides. That’s 180 degrees. Now try to put them as far behind you as possible, until you feel like your shoulder blades might touch. Yeah, that’s still not 260 degrees. This tail light will be visible from behind, and from the sides. For someone approaching you, they will see the light before you actually pass them in the opposite direction.
Design and features:
Honestly, I’m still stuck on the COB and Li-Po combination. Even with the rubber strap, this light’s overall weight will be appreciated by weight weenies. And it fits round posts and aero posts too. How? Well, Nite Rider really wants you to ride safe. So there’s a short strap for round posts, and a longer strap for aero posts. Swapping them takes about the same amount of time you just spent reading this sentence. Since they know it’s going on an aero post, they made it taper. Shave at least a second off your next criterium! Both the top button and bottom USB micro charging port are sealed, for an IP64 rating. That makes it safe in the rain and dusty conditions.
How do you charge it?
When you power it off, a blue light will flash to let you know it’s time to charge. You’ll want to pay attention to that. Inside the package, along with that extra strap, is a micro USB charging cable. So you won’t be stranded with a dead battery at work. Heck, even if you forget the cable, someone, somewhere, probably has a charger. And you’ll only need two and a half hours to fully charge the Sentry Aero 260.
What’s it like in actual use?
On the street, I mostly chose the flashing mode that reminds me of police car lights. I feel like that gets the most attention. For our bike trails, I just used the low continuous setting. I’d like to think that no one ever passes me, but it happens. Of course, it’s not like another cyclist wouldn’t notice me, with 350-700 lumens of bright light coming off my headlight. The point is that you have options. And really, this light is so bright, it’s annoying. Depending on time constraints and the weather, I can sneak in 30-60 minute rides on evenings and weekends. In mixed modes, that’s about a week between charges.
About that Daylight Visible Flash mode:
After struggling to get decent video of the Daylight Visible Flash mode, I gave up. It’s very bright, yet my video footage doesn’t provide a “true-to-life” rendition of just how bright. I’m going to experiment more with that, but in the meantime, here is a still image. I shot this to show how the two strips of light work in tandem. The internal strip is behind a red diffuser, and both are covered with a clear outer lens. Imagine this, but bright like the sun. (I got a headache just trying to take some photos, it’s that bright)
This is usually where I wrap things up, and try to suggest who the target demographic might be. In this case, anyone who rides a bike on the street or bike paths can benefit from the Sentry Aero 260. It’s extremely visible, which can add to your safety. With a modest MSRP of $39.99, it’s quite affordable. (It’s even less on Amazon, click here) Runtimes are great, and you’ll likely never be too far from a charger. There are lower-priced options, but I don’t think you’ll get the output and the angle of coverage. So it’s a definite winner.
A special thanks to NiteRider for sending their Sentry Aero 260 for this review. If you’re interested in reading my review of the Lumina Dual 1800 as well, click here.