Riding back from a fun afternoon of off-roading on the Ultimate Motorcycling Yamaha Ténéré 700 Project Bike, I got a thumbs up from several passing cage drivers in slow and go freeway traffic. After the second thumbs-up, it dawned on me why they were communicating an approval. I just installed the Brake Free Light—a wireless, smart, LED brake light unit on the back of my Klim Krios Karbon adventure helmet. They are telling me they like it. It is just that obvious and just that unique—a brake light much higher off the ground than motorcycle-mounted brake lights, and every bit as bright.Installation is quick and easy, though Break Free insists that you follow the quick start instructions. Break Free puts a card on top of the box— the width of the box—that says, “Please read the quick start guide! Seriously, read the quick start guide…”
Break Free’s website has an easy-to-follow install video detailing test fitting, alignment, cleaning, and glue-on mount installation. The instructions emphasize waiting at least two hours after sticking on the mount to actually click in the Brake Free Light unit. That delay has to do with the 3M glue having time to securely adhere to your helmet.Once the Brake Free Light unit is clicked into place, it can be lifted off the mount by a firm upward motion. I got the Extra Helmet Mounts pack ($13), which includes two mounts—one for my modular helmet and the other for my wife’s helmet. If she is my passenger, we move it to her helmet for the rear visibility—I don’t think she would appreciate being blinded by it if it were mounted on my helmet when we’re riding two-up.A crucial feature of auxiliary brake lights is sufficient daytime brightness. The photos I captured from the Insta360 One X2 camera I mounted off the back of the Ténéré 700 show they are every bit as bright as the factory LED brake lights.Watching the video of me riding through the city on the way to the freeway, every time I activated my stock brake light, the Brake Free Light lit up. According to the manufacturer, “Brake Free uses gyrometer + accelerometer in combination with our patented brake detection algorithm to detect all types of braking. No apps to install. No wiring required.”My off-road riding partner and I use Bluetooth intercom units to communicate about trail conditions, turns, and other critical information. I took the opportunity to ask him to eat my dust for a while and tell me when he saw the unit light up.We discovered that the Brake Free Light activates on deceleration, affecting those behind you. Changes in speed that mattered to him were always associated with the Brake Free Light coming on. Our course took us on some residential streets, as well as fast routes, and the Brake Free Light lit up every time I was coming to a stop. You can activate the LEDs by a quick head movement, forward or backward, so if you listen to heavy metal and headbanging as you ride, everyone behind you will know it.The IP65-rated water-resistant and dust-proof Brake Free Light is controlled by a surface-level push button that required my fingernail to depress; I couldn’t press the button deep enough to engage with any of my gloves.The Brake Free Light has three modes—Normal (all LEDs on), Blinking (all LEDs blinking), and Stealth (16 of 100 LEDs on). I prefer Stealth mode because it has the most prominent visual impact, instantly transitioning from almost nothing to a full intensity circular pattern. Normal mode lights all of the LEDs at low intensity, and they go to high intensity when braking. Blinking mode works like emergency flashers. The emergency flashers mode is critical if you are helping someone on the side of the road and want to notify passing vehicles to use caution.The Brake Free unit and its mount register 7.2 ounces on my scale. My Klim Krios Karbon helmet is very light, so after wearing the helmet for five hours, I did notice the Brake Free Light’s weight. I wasn’t bothersome; I just noticed it. The weight of the Brake Free Light is less noticeable on my heavier modular helmets.The Brake Free Light does have a sleep mode to save battery. With constant motion, like riding all day, the internal battery will last between eight and 12 hours, depending on the mode used and riding done. It will fully charge in about two hours at home via a USB charger. You can run a Micro-USB charging cable to it from the motorcycle electrical system or a power bank while riding, though the makers don’t recommend that for safety reasons.Speaking of safety, we can’t do any testing regarding the safety of the Brake Free Light on your helmet in a fall—you will have to make that determination on your own, or consult with the maker of your helmet.We are all at risk of getting rear-ended, and the whole purpose of the Brake Free Light is to get the driver’s attention behind you so that doesn’t happen. The Brake Free Light sells for $170, with free 48-state shipping. It has a one-year warranty, extended warranties up to three years are available. I wish I had known about the Brake Free device when it first came out—I would have gotten one then. This is one of those products that may save your life.
KTM Super ADV R + Lightning Motorcycles’ Richard Hatfield
byMotos and Friends by Ultimate Motorcycle
Hello everyone and welcome once again to Motos and Friends—the weekly Podcast brought to you by the editorial team at Ultimate Motorcycling. My name is Arthur Coldwells.
In this week’s first segment, Editor Don Williams rides KTM’s new 1290 Super Adventure R. This hardcore ADV bike is big, powerful, and a true expert-level machine. Interestingly, it has multiple points of adjustment within its highly capable electronics package, and Don discovered several big surprises where the bike changed personality completely. His is an intriguing look at one of the most capable off road ADV bikes on the market today.
In the second segment, I chat with Richard Hatfield, CEO of Lightning motorcycles. This silicon valley based manufacturer was founded in 2006, and having racked up several notable race victories (including Pikes Peak in 2013 with the late Carlin Dunne on board) Lightning have certainly dominated in racing terms. In another first, Lightning has just announced a new rapid-charging battery technology that may well bring electric motorcycles into becoming real-world, practical transport.
So from all of us here at Motos & Friends… we hope you enjoy this episode!