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Cygolite Lights Reviews

Cygolite Hotshot Review

February 7, 2019

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Cygolite Hotshot Review

Cygolite Hotshot
4.64

Summary

Cygolite’s Hotshot lineup offers a variety of super-bright, affordable, durable, and versatile cycling tail lights.

I’ve ridden with the SL 50 for 2+ years and have nothing but good experiences to report. I appreciate its effectiveness and ease of use, although I might recommend selecting a model with the proprietary Versatite™ mounting system (or purchasing it afterward and replacing the stock clip) if you plan on using yours across multiple bikes.

  • Price
  • Mounting
  • Brightness
  • Battery Life
  • Durability
  • Versatility
  • Ease of Use

Pros

  • Bright light that helps increase safety
  • Solid run time
  • Competitive price
  • Durable and water-resistant
  • Easy to mount and switch between modes

Cons

  • Compared to the standard seat post mounting (depending on model), I’d recommend upgrading to the Versatite system if used between several bikes
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User Review
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I’ve used a Cygolite Hotshot tail light for nearly two and a half years. Here, we’ll explore the lineup, discuss my experience, and help you maximize your cycling setup.

About the Cygolite Hotshot Lineup

Advertised as “the most powerful line of single LED tail lights,” the Cygolite Hotshot promises to make your presence known when cycling on the road.

Each model in the lineup—there are a total of five—features a Li-ion battery that’s rechargeable via USB, can last for hundreds of hours and delivers enough power for easy visibility whether riding during the day or night.

They’re also backed by a one-year warranty against manufacturing defects, as long as you purchase from an authorized dealer.

What else do these popular tail lights have in common? And is there a Hotshot that meets your needs? To help you find some answers, let’s start by taking a look at each model. Then, we’ll discuss my long-term experience.

An In-Depth Look at Each Cygolite Hotshot Model

Cygolite Hotshot Similarities

Even casually glancing at the Hotshot lineup, you can see that they share more in common than otherwise.

This includes a compact, water-resistant design for broad daylight and nighttime use, a patent-pending two-button design (except Micro) that allows you to switch between modes and flash tempos, an extra-wide beam, and a low battery indicator.

They also share many of the same technologies, such as:

  • Enhanced Cycling Optics™ – Involves a specially treated internal body that scatters light for a wider-angle glow and extra-long beam that, together, “maximizes and expands your presence.”
  • SteadyPulse® Mode – Pulses of light help keep motorists alert at night, which overlap a steady beam for improved distance recognition.
  • DayLightning® Mode – Cygolite advertises that these “lightning-like” flashes work even during the brightest part of the day.
  • Zoom Mode – Delivers subdued brightness changes.
  • Light Mode Memory – Automatically remembers your previous setting when you last turned off the light. Not available on Micro.

Each Cygolite Hotshot comes with a micro USB charging cable, and the 200, 150, and Micro models include a Versatite flexible mount, which they indicate fits most standard and aero seat posts. Hotshot 100 and 50 models come with a standard seat post/seat stay mount.

With these details in mind, let’s take a look at the differences between each Cygolite Hotshot model.

Hotshot Pro 200 USB

As the name implies, this 54g model delivers intensely powerful 200-lumen flashes that overlay a steady 120-lumen beam, all of which are wrapped in an “aggressive design.”

According to Cygolite, it also features built-in Adaptive Flash™ light sensors that automatically adjust to optimal brightness, depending on the time of day. Battery life runs between two and 210 hours, based on the mode used and the length of time. A full recharge takes five hours.

Cygolite explains the Hotshot 200’s 24/7 Safety Technology® provides access to six different day and night modes:

  • Steady
  • Zoom
  • SteadyPulse®
  • Triple Flash
  • DayLightning®
  • Random Flash

Third-party pricing at the time of our research typically fell between $35 and $45.

The Pro 200 is the flagship model in Cygolite’s Hotshot lineup, which offers the most lumens, six different modes, and their Versatite™ mounting system. Credit: Cygolite

Hotshot Pro 150 USB

This 59g model delivers 150-lumen flashes over a steady 90-lumen beam, a two to 210-hour run time, five-hour recharge time, seat post / stay mounting, and the same six modes as the Hotshot 200.

Third-party pricing at the time of our research typically fell between $25 and $35.

The 150 Pro offers many of the same features as the 200, except for the fixed seat post mount and 50 fewer lumens. Credit: Cygolite

Hotshot 100 USB

While the Hotshot 100 (also 59g) comes with the same six modes and two-button interface as its more powerful brethren, its smaller 100-lumen flashes can deliver up to 270 hours of run time. It takes about three hours to recharge fully.

Third-party pricing at the time of our research typically fell between $25 and $42.

Although the 100 delivers half as many lumens as the 200 Pro, it offers longer possible run times. Credit: Cygolite

Hotshot SL 50 USB

Compared to the original, Cygolite tells us their Hotshot SL 50 delivers nearly twice the light output (50 lumens), up to 200 hours of run time, three-hour recharging, and six modes.

Weight is 55g, and it attaches to your seat post. Pricing was around $28.

Although the 100 delivers half as many lumens as the 200 Pro, it offers longer possible run times. Credit: Cygolite

Hotshot Micro 30 USB (2W)

A 35g low-profile model (about $26 – $28) that delivers 30-watt flashes from a two-watt LED, up to 100 hours of run time, a three-hour recharge time, a Versatite™ flexible mount, and five modes:

  • Single Flash
  • Zoom
  • SteadyPulse®
  • Steady Beam
  • Group Mode
The Micro 30 is the smallest model with the fewest lumens in Cygolite’s Hotshot lineup, but it’s also the lightest and among the least expensive. Credit: Cygolite

Here’s a quick-reference table outlining how each Hotshot model compares:  

  Output Modes Run Time Charge Time Mounting Weight
Hotshot 200 200 lm flashes (120 lm beam) 6 2 – 210 hrs 5 hrs Versatite™ Flexible Fit 54g
Hotshot 150 150 lm flashes (90 lm beam) 6 2 – 210 hrs 5 hrs Seat post / stay 59g
Hotshot 100 100 lm flashing 6 2.5 – 270 hrs 3 hrs Seat post / stay 59g
Hotshot SL 50 50 lm flashing 6 2.5 – 270 hrs 3 hrs Seat post / stay 55g
Hotshot Micro SL 30 30 lm f/2-watt LED 5 2.5 – 100 hrs 3 hrs Versatite™ Flexible Fit 35g

My Experience With the Cygolite Hotshot

Overall Quick Thoughts

I’ve used the Hotshot SL 50 as my only tail light since October 2016, in combination with the Light & Motion Urban 350 up front (which I also highly recommend, based on its outstanding performance).

And overall, I’m very pleased. While I use it for occasional nighttime rides, I run it on Random Flash mode (personal preference) every time I ride for added visibility during the day as well.

A few different angles of my Cygolite Hotshot SL 50, which I’ve ridden the piss out of for 2+ years. It’s held up flawlessly.

The Hotshot’s Brightness

From a brightness perspective, I’ve found the flashing beam provides wide coverage (about three feet on each side of my bike) at night.

I haven’t had the opportunity to speak with passing cars during the day, for obvious reasons. During the 2018 Denver Century, though, I had more than one cyclist comment about my Hotshot SL 50’s brightness, even from a distance.

Mounting the Hotshot

Cygolite’s seat post mount is super easy to attach and involves only two screws; one that tightens the collar surrounding the seat post, and another that allows you to adjust the light’s angle.

Note: I have to attach the Hotshot below my seat collar on my cyclocross bike since its collar is too big for my 27.2 mm seat post.

Once in place, the Hotshot’s back clip slides into special grooves on the mount. Further down, a curved section on the clip locks over a triangular wedge. To unlock, the clip pulls slightly backward and allows you to slide the light upward and away.

Cygolite’s seat post mounting system is very secure, regardless of terrain, and releases the Hotshot with the quick press of a lever. I also mount it to the loop in the back of my saddlebag.

While this seat stay mounting is easy to set up and move between my different bikes, I imagine the Versatite™ system might be faster and more convenient.

Although mine didn’t come with one, the clip on the back of all Hotshot lights can be removed and replaced with the flexible mounting (Part #2017FM $3.95). As of this writing, I haven’t had time to test it firsthand, however.

When I have my SKS S-Blade fender in place, I keep the mount in place but clip the light into the slot on the back of my Topeak Aero Wedge Pack (F25, size medium). Everything fits nicely and doesn’t move around excessively.

Here’s the Hotshot SL 50 affixed to my Topeak saddlebag, which is the only option when my SKS S-Blade is in place.

Operating the Hotshot

Turning on my Hotshot is as easy as pressing and holding the left button, which has a faint power symbol embossed below. Since the SL 50 features Light Mode Memory, it automatically returns to my previous settings.

If I want to change the flashing pattern, I just press the right button, which scrolls through them in sequence. Their two-button system is super efficient—I can even turn my light on and adjust modes without looking if I forgot to set up before heading out.

When the ride’s complete, I hold the left power button to power down.

Scrolling through the Hotshot SL 50’s different modes.

Hotshot Battery Life

Cygolite’s USB recharging system is super easy and convenient. The Hotshot’s light will subtly flash red during the recharging process, which turns to a steady beam once the battery’s full.

Based on my experience, the SL 50’s Li-ion battery typically lasts 8-10 hours on a full charge and takes 4+ hours to recharge if fully depleted.

However, I typically forget to recharge in advance, so I’ve found that topping it off for 30-45 minutes while I eat and get everything set up for my ride will often give me a few hours of run time.

Recharging my SL 50 involves opening the rubber cap at the bottom, inserting the USB cable, and waiting for the light to turn solid, which indicates a full battery.

Coming to a Conclusion About the Cygolite Hotshot

For the price, it’s my opinion that Cygolite’s Hotshot lineup—and the SL 50 in particular—deliver loads of value for the money.

Mine still works great, even after hundreds of hours across nearly 2.5 years. It’s also easy to set up between bikes (even with the slightly less-easy seat post mount), remains in place during riding, delivers a bright beam, multiple modes, and is widely available from popular third-party online retailers.

And based on most of the online customer feedback I encountered, it seems like most cyclists who purchase a Hotshot tail light are pleased with their experiences.

Together, I’d highly recommend picking up a Cygolite Hotshot—not just for the value it delivers, but also the added safety when you’re on your bike.

Keep rolling: Spurcycle Bell Review

Derek is an avid cyclist with more than two decades of experience in the sport, and currently resides in Denver, Colorado. He enjoys all types, including road, MTB, cyclocross/gravel, commuting, and touring. When he's not writing reviews and guides related to bike accessories, parts, and gear for TreadBikely.com, he's riding, talking about cycling, or thinking about bikes he can't afford. #rolloutblissout
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