Keepers: Bontrager Ion 200 RT/Flare RT

Keepers: Bontrager Ion RT/Flare RT- by Grannygear

Keepers:  Editor’s Note: In conversations with the contributors of Riding Gravel, it became apparent that there were certain items we had reviewed, or purchased for ourselves in the past, which had become core parts of cycling kit for each of us. This, we all felt, deserved attention. So we thought it might be interesting to you, our readers, to learn what has “made the cut”. The things we rely on and find are “keepers” in our stable of bikes and gear.

Bontrager’s ION 200 RT/FlareRT lights. Image courtesy of Trek Bicycles

I ride a lot of pure road here in So Cal, and even when I am on the gravel bike, there is a good amount of road riding to connect the dots on a typical outing. While nothing can keep you completely safe while sharing the road with motor vehicles, simple things like bright clothing and daytime running lights are well worth using. If you don’t think so, notice the next few times you see a cyclist on the road.  Do you see him or her sooner or, to say it another way, was your attention more drawn to them if they were wearing bright clothing or using a blinking light?  It’s not a guarantee of being seen, but we should give ourselves every advantage.  It’s no coincidence that black clothing is worn to funerals.

So, even if you want to look all suave’ and ‘pro’ in your black or muted colored jersey, a small yet powerful front and rear blinking light is worth having on your bike for daytime rides, assuming it’s a road shared with motor vehicles. 

Bontrager ION 200 RT
Bontrager ION 200 RT

I have used several of the more popular types, from inexpensive multi LED ‘bars’ to more costly front and rear light sets that combine a front light powerful enough to actually ride with at night with a bright flashing mode front and rear. That bigger set-up is fine for rides that might stretch into darkness, but those 500 lumen (or greater) lights that sit above the bars are a bit bulky, take up bar space, and are heavy. They do, however, give you long run times in flash mode, maybe even 12hrs of it, often more. I have found most of the smaller, cheaper types simply lack the ‘punch’ to be seen from enough distance, at speed, and in bright daylight and they do not run long enough to be good for longer rides either.

What I wanted was a smaller light form with as little weight as I could get, and with enough intensity front and rear to be worth using on open roads. I also wanted at least 8 hours of run time on a high level flash.

I found all that in the Bontrager Ion 200 RT/Flare RT light combo

Bontrager Flare RT
The Bontrager Flare RT

Small is good and the little rubber cubes are very tidy, taking up little room on a seat post or handlebar. They are not very tall, so if you have limited seat post extension, they should still fit in there. The mounts are simple and effective, the casings seem to be well sealed to the elements, and they have enough modes to get the job done.  They also have an auto mode where ambient light is measured and the light pattern adjusts as it sees fit. I also understand they will connect to a Garmin and sense road speeds, adjusting the light mode to suit the moment.  I would not have a Garmin if they paid me, so I use them in manual mode as I want to control that part of things.
They are bright enough to work at a useful distance on the open road when used in the daytime flash setting and I easily get 8 hours out them on that setting. The small size also allows you to carry a spare, either in a jersey pocket or bag, but also just strapped to the bike somewhere.

Honestly, they are just superb for my needs. At $114.99 for a set they are not cheap, but also are backed up by your local Trek dealer.

A peach, these are.  Keepers.


Author: Grannygear

Grannygear hails from SoCal and spent most of his cycling days as a mountain biker from the formative years of mountain biking all the way up to the present day. His day job is in the tech sector, but he has spent time writing about off road 4X4’s, 29″ mountain bikes, and cycling in general. Grannygear and Guitar Ted have worked off and on together since 2009 after a chance meeting at Interbike. With gravel cycling on the rise, Grannygear has been exploring how this genre’ works in SoCal and now does guest pieces for in his spare time.

Related Articles

3 thoughts on “Keepers: Bontrager Ion 200 RT/Flare RT

  1. Re: the rear lights:
    You say they have an auto mode, is there a way to turn that off? Mine are stuck in that mode, and often automatically switch to a less brengt setting when it’s a grey and overcast or foggy, when I would still want max brightness.
    I also have the older, larger ones, and the new ones are much more focused in their beam pattern. Fine on a seatpost of the correct angle, but on the back of a helmet they are far less visible, because the angle often isn’t quite straight.

    They last and last. Both my girls use them to ride to (Elementary) school daily, including in Miinsots winters. Despite this harsh use, they all still work after several years.

    Both front and rear are truly daylight visible.

    1. @slim…yes, there is a way to get out of AUTO mode. Power the light on and then press and hold the on button for 15 seconds IIRC. If I remember, the light blinks and now you are in manual mode.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.