Review: RSP Asteri 2 LED bike lights

Today my new bike lights arrived – a pair of RSP Asteri 2 LED lights.

The manufacturer’s website has hardly any details and reviews of these lights are scarce, so it is practically my duty to write this review, for the benefit of anyone else who is considering buying them. Also note that the pictures on the manufacturer’s website are wrong. Both the battery pack and the lights are different!

What you get

In the box, there are two lights, each with one 1W LED. There is a battery pack which actually contains 4xAA NiMH rechargable batteries. There is a Y-adapter to attach both lights to the shared battery pack, and there are two velcro straps to attach the battery pack.

The box
The box

Build quality

Build quality is not actually as good as I might have hoped.

The lights themselves seem sturdy. The silver ring around the front is metal and feels solid. But the attaching mechanism is made entirely from rubber. I don’t know how supple this will be after a couple of years. Other rubber cycling products I’ve seen have perished after a few years and no longer stretch, eventually causing them to crack.

One of the lights
One of the lights

The battery pack is flimsy in my opinion. It has a belt clip which can be used to attach it in a number of ways, but it looks brittle and would expect it to snap off before too long. The lid of the battery pack is held on by a single screw, which could be damaged by over-tightening. Be careful! There is also no rubber seal between the lid and the body of the battery pack, so I don’t know how it will fare in rain. However, the box does claim that the set is waterproof, so we will see.

The battery pack
The battery pack
The battery pack
The battery pack

The cables are thick and appear suitably strong. Their connectors are all standard push connectors, but they have a “click” to keep them in place. The strength of that “click” seems to vary across the connectors and some are not as strong as I would like. I don’t plan to unplug mine very often so I will probably tape them up with insulating tape.

Mounting

The mounting facilities are not as good as other sets of lights I have used. The headlight units attach to the handlebars with a rubber strap with holes, and a plastic peg that pushes into the hole. There is no way to set the tightness to a setting between holes (e.g. the way that other lights have a screw).

Mounting of the battery pack doesn’t seem great either. The pack itself simply has a belt clip. There is a velcro strap in the box, presumably to attach the unit to part of the frame. However you’d have to figure it out yourself, and loop the velcro under the belt clip. Luckily I have some other rubberised velcro strips from other cycling products I’ve bought over the years.

Bear in mind that you will probably have to remove the battery pack in order to charge it (unless you leave your bike within reach of a mains socket overnight).

The cables are not curly, so if they’re too long then you’ll have to put up with them being saggy, or tie them up. You’ll need to be careful running the cable between the handlebars and the frame, in case it gets pulled taut when you steer. Nothing is provided in the box to attach the cables to your frame. I plan to use regular cable ties.

The lights have short (5cm) cables and the Y-splitter is perhaps 15cm long. The battery has the longest piece of cable and this is rather annoying. To remove the battery, you also have to remove the cable from the frame, so there’s not much choice to fix it permanently.

The system boasts a low battery warning so you don’t over-discharge the batteries and break them. Unfortunately you are unlikely to be able to see it as it’s on the battery pack, which will probably be on your luggage rack, on your frame or in your back pocket! Never mind.

Both the lights and the batteries are very light.

Performance

Despite my grumbles so far, these lights are really bright. Much brighter than any other so-called “1W” lights I’ve come across. The beam is fairly narrow, such that no light is wasted but it’s by no means a narrow beam. It can be seen from all angles.

Lights running
Lights running

Each light has its own button, so you can use one light or both. The button cycles through 3 modes – dim, bright and flashing. The separate buttons means you can have one flashing and one on constant. Nice and versatile. Other twin lights I’ve seen have a central button on the handlebars. I guess each system has its pros and cons.

The battery pack contains 4 x AA batteries as opposed to simply being a proprietary NiMH battery pack. The intention is to keep the pack sealed and simply plug the charger into the battery pack to charge it, but of course you can remove the batteries to charge them in a conventional battery charger if you wish. See Modding for other ideas.

Modding

The system is quite simply put together, so it should also be nice and simple to take apart! 😀

As I mentioned above, the battery pack takes 4 x AA batteries, and a set of 1600 mAh batteries are provided. This immediately gives you options – you can replace them with more expensive rechargeables (such as the 2500 mAh ones I use in my camera) or simply use regular alkaline batteries.

Using the included batteries, the manufacturer quotes 1-2 hours runtime at full power, and up to 6 hours flashing. Swapping these for 2500 mAh batteries immediately adds 50% to those figures for not much outlay.

Using AA batteries also has a huge bonus in that you can always keep some spare alkaline batteries in your rucksack so you’ll never be caught out if your rechargeable batteries go flat on you. This is often a problem with rechargeable light sets that use proprietary battery systems.

The battery pack has a standard power connector that you can buy from any good electronics shop. Maybe even a bad electronics shop, too. You can create your own battery pack so long as you use the same connector, and you won’t have to alter (and risk breaking) your light set.

The power connector
The power connector

I plan to build a bottle battery with D batteries, for long runtime. Naturally I will post about it here when I get round to it.

Verdict

As far as lights go, this is a good, versatile, powerful set. Shame about the build quality. If you buy these, expect to have to do some DIY when you install them. You will probably need cable ties and insulation tape – the kit isn’t even in the same league as a CatEye set. However, it is a fraction of the price!

Some simple oversights exist in the system, such as the battery back not being detachable from its cable. It would cost pennies to rectify the design, but you’ll just have to make those changes yourself, or work around them.

Overall, I would recommend this light set to a fellow cyclist, on the condition that they weren’t expecting miracles, and that they were prepared to do a little work to install it.

Pros Cons
  • Bright
  • Good beam pattern
  • Individually controlled lights
  • Has flashing mode – unusual for rechargeable light sets
  • Rechargeable battery pack
  • Able to use AA alkaline batteries so you’re not left stranded
  • Easy to make your own battery pack
  • Price – I paid £80 for this kit
  • Poor build quality
  • Not enough accessories to complete installation. You’ll need to provide some
  • You’re on your own mounting the battery pack
  • Light mounting seems pretty sloppy compared to other lights – even cheap ones
  • No curly cables
  • Fairly poor battery life at full power with supplied batteries
  • Some practical design mistakes. You either have to repeatedly unscrew the battery cover, or repeatedly detach the entire cable from your bike.

My installation

Here are some photos of how I’ve got my lights set up. The other headlights are a pair of CatEye ABS-35 halogen headlights. They’ve long since been discontinued but are still going strong. There’s a 20W spot and 15W flood, with individual handlebar-mounted switches. With both lights burning, you get around 45 minutes runtime…

The new RSPs are mounted below the handlebars, and the CatEyes are mounted above.

Front view
Front view
Side view
Side view

You can barely see the RSPs hiding below the handlebar in this one. Each light has a switch on its top (so underneath, in my case) which can be a bit fiddly to press while riding. The CatEye lights have the yellow/grey switch to control them.

Cyclist's eye view
Cyclist’s eye view

I’ve fixed the battery pack to my luggage rack with a rubberised velcro strap.

The battery pack
The battery pack

Another shot showing the CatEye batteries under the bottle cage, and the loose cable for the RSP lights along the top tube. It’s held in place only with velcro straps as I need to remove the cable every time I want to remove the battery for charging.

The cabling
The cabling

After I’ve used the lights for real, I will post more pictures of them working outdoors at night.

19 Comments

  1. […] The FlexTight bracket is great, as it easily lets you install the computer on the handlebars or the stem. On both bikes I have the computers mounted on the stem, to save maximum room for lots of lights. […]

  2. John
    October 23, 2009
    Reply

    nice review, just wondering, are ur abs35 batteries originals? i have an abs25 i got in 2004, havent used them in a few years until recently and battery life has declined, is it possible to use the battery on your RSP lights to power the abs? i wa sthinking of buying a sigma battery pack if it woudl work without mods, thanks

  3. Jonathan
    October 23, 2009
    Reply

    Hi John,

    Yes, my ABS-35 batteries are originals. I’ve had mine since around 2004 and they’re wearing down too, but fortunately still enough to get me home from work.

    The connector on the RSP Asteri 2 is the same size as the ABS-35 connector, but it’s the wrong male/female fitting. You could easily buy or make an adapter for that, but the RSP battery pack wouldn’t power the ABS-25 for long because it’s designed for energy-efficient LEDs. You can see from the photo it fits into the palm of my hand.

    I’m not familiar with the Sigma battery packs, but if you’re looking for a cost-efficient way of getting a massive battery, I recommend you have a look at my guide for building a bottle battery. I did this as an upgrade for my RSP lights but it works with the ABS-35 too.

    Cheers,
    Jonathan

  4. richard
    October 24, 2009
    Reply

    Thanks for taking so much trouble. Very helpful.

  5. January 17, 2010
    Reply

    Hi,

    Thanks very much for the review exactly what I was looking for.

    I have nothing to add myself but it has been very helpful for me I will probaly get a NiteRider MiNewt Mini USB Plus instead now.

    Thank you,
    Pete

  6. January 17, 2010
    Reply

    Hi Pete,

    The NiteRider looks pretty good, and it was one of the ones I considered when I was buying lights. I can’t remember my reasons for not buying it now 🙂

    I think it was the appeal of having lights that could be very bright for offroad use, or flashing for city use. Most “small” LED lights have flashing mode, but hardly any of the rechargeable ones do. My commute takes me through central Bristol and then along an unlit, offroad cycle path – hence I also have the Cat Eye set.

    I don’t know how easy it would be to use a custom battery with the NiteRider, but I’ve built a bottle battery for my RSP lights which increases the battery life from about 90 minutes to well over 36 hours (combination of flashing and constant). I didn’t time it exactly, but with roughly an hour’s use every day, it lasted for well over a month on a single charge, with no signs of it fading. The bottle battery cost about £35 to build and weighs in at 750g, although you could build it more cheaply by choosing different batteries.

    Re-reading my own article, it sounds pretty critical but actually in the several months I’ve been using the kit, it’s great. My comments about the build quality only seem to come into it when installing the kit. With my bottle battery, it lasts ages, runs brightly, flashes when necessary and is exactly what I was after 🙂 One day I really, honestly will get round to taking photos of the lights in action!

    Cheers,
    Jonathan

  7. Fraser Law
    February 28, 2010
    Reply

    These RSP Asteri light are garbage!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I’ve had had them for three months. In this time I have sent them back to the place I bought them from as they both cut out on me while I was riding in the dark. The replacement lights mounting straps both snapped as they couldn’t withstand potholes. I made alternative mounts so I could keep using them. Now one of them has cut out again.

    I’m really annoyed and would like to request yet another replacement but I can find the manufacturers web-site. What is the web-address for this manufacturer?

    Regards,

    Fraser

  8. Jonathan
    March 1, 2010
    Reply

    I believe they are sold by Raleigh… http://www.raleigh.co.uk/p_details.aspx?id=4718

    Sorry to hear you’ve had such a bad time with yours. When I got mine I was initially surprised at the low quality of the rubber mounts – I thought they’d point lower and lower with vibrations. But since then I’ve been quite pleased with how well they’ve held their position, and I’ve never had any problems with them cutting out.

    If there’s a slightly loose connection, either in the battery pack, the mid-cable connectors or the switches on the lights, this could cause them to keep turning themselves off.

    Still, thanks for your comment, and here’s hoping mine will last a while yet.

    Cheers,
    Jonathan

    • Jonathan
      November 29, 2010
      Reply

      Hi Carl, these RSP Asteri lights come with built-in rubber mounts so you won’t need to buy a separate bracket to attach them. I don’t know what that bracket is for, but I guess it’s to attach a regular torch to your bike. Have fun!

  9. Natasha
    November 3, 2011
    Reply

    Hi just got these lights but i find as i ride along the road i hit pot holes the lights go out. Bit of a problem when i work shift work and its pitch black. Would you no something i could try.

    Thanks very much

    • Jonathan
      November 3, 2011
      Reply

      Hmm, I’ve never had that problem. The first place I’d check is to make sure the push-fit plugs are secure and don’t rattle. You could try taping them in place with electrical tape?

  10. Steve
    November 7, 2011
    Reply

    I had the same problem with lights going out whenever i hit a bump. A big problem as i cycle home through single track woods…opened the battery pack, pulled the springs a little longer that connect to the batteries and not had a problem since.
    My problem…one of the lights has stopped working and feels like the wire entering the housing is loose. Anyone opened up one of these things? I tried with a couple of pairs of grips to rotate off the silver housing but seems to get dangerously close to breaking with no movement.
    RSP Asteri seem good for road but not for trail.

  11. Steve
    November 7, 2011
    Reply

    Oh, and the rubber buttons came out and the contents of the switches so I now need to switch on/off with a nail/twig/pen/whatever i can find. Do not buy for off road.

  12. Steve W
    November 10, 2014
    Reply

    Any idea how to change the bulb or open the unit to check the wires. One of mine just stopped working today?

    • November 10, 2014
      Reply

      Hi Steve. One of mine stopped working a while ago. Unfortunately I never figured out how to open it. The screw that holds the fastener on does not open the unit. I wondered if it unscrewed but I never got it to budge. At the time I searched quite hard for a repair manual or blow-up diagram, but no luck.

  13. Steve W
    November 10, 2014
    Reply

    Me to, dont want to trash the unit if there is a simple way to open it up, checked the RSP web page great for info but no technical stuff. Did the usual nd ditched the manual after a couple of years ownership as needed the space for otherthings, my bad.

    Looks like i might just have to pop into the shed and have a play. As its not working nothing lost and might be able give some info back. Thanks anyway Steve

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