The unusual Lucetta bike lights and Nello bicycle bell will tickle the fancy of kids and riders who love a dash of style. Palomar are an interesting brand originating from Florence in Italy who have an unusual assortment of products which all reflect the concept of ‘space’. It means that space can be the stars in the night sky that you can observe with their Galileo’s Telescope but space is also defined in their quirky city maps and travel logs. In review are the Lucetta bike lights and Nello bike bell that you can use as you navigate urban space.
It is no secret that I’m fan of Italy… with the exception of the 2006 World Cup where Italian soccer player Fabio Grosso took a dive which resulted in a penalty and 1:0 victory against the Socceroos. Yes, I am still upset about that game, but when it comes to culture, food, travelling and style, it’s great when it’s Italian. Could you imagine the history of cycling without the Italian bike brands and riders?
Beyond the world of pro cycling and past the Vespa’s that whizz through the streets of Florence, Palomar have coupled practicality and style into their urban cycling lights and bike bell.
Lucetta – Theft-proof front and rear lights
Almost five years ago, the Lucetta was released and these bike lights have a timeless quality. The cylindrical lights are elegant and compact, when they are not in use, a magnet holds the white front light and rear red light together.
You pull them apart, put the rear light (marked with a red) on your seat tube and the front one on your bars or headtube. As soon as the magnets latch on… the light turns on. Simple and wonderful.
The big idea is that you simply take them off at the end of your ride and this saves them from theft. As the lights are so compact, they are so easy to drop into your pocket or a back, you just have to remember to bring them out again when you are ready to ride.
The Lucetta lights are ‘too be seen’ and each have a single LED. They are bright enough to be seen by others on the road but for bike riders still want a bigger visual footprint the Lucetta are probably not the right lights.
Another nice feature is the three light modes, steady, slow flashing and fast flashing. To change you simple detach the light and then attach it back to the bike and the mode changes. It is so simple that it is fun which why the kids become fascinated.
You need to know that the magnets only work on steel bikes. A lot of commuter bikes are constructed with non-ferrous aluminium and steel bikes tend to be either the cheap and basic bikes or classic road and urban bikes. To help ‘magnetically challenged’ riders, the Lucetta is delivered with two attachments that let you use these on your aluminium or carbon fiber bikes. While this is not quite as elegant and simple – it is still a good solution and one I needed during this review on my everyday bikes (which are not steel).
In practice, I liked these lights and if you ride a stylish urban run-around like a fixie or vintage bike but don’t want to ruin your style with permanent lights or ugly lights, the Lucetta are a stylish and functional solution.
At 34 Euro plus 15 Euro postage to Australia, this represents an investment of around $75 (AUD) which means you may have to cut back on the smashed avocado on toast.
Nello – An oddball among bike bells
The name reminds me of the little yellow minions characters from the animated films that speak gibberish, instead of ‘hello’ they say ‘bello’. In fact, Nello is a catchy name and rhymes nicely with the Italian ‘bello’ (a handsome man).
It is a real eye-catcher, the spherical ball sits on top of the bars and if you don’t already know what it is, your curiosity is awakened. In contrast to the Lucetta, the Nello requires the small mount. Straps in two lengths are provided and it can be setup in 1 minute. Set the Nello down and you can feel it latch on magnetically. It is ready to go ahead and press!
With the 24 Euro retail price and 15 Euro shipping, $60 (AUD) is a hefty premium for a bike bell – it costs more than the knog OI! but is about $20 less than the Spurcycle bell. This is obviously in the league of premium bike bells where there is no admittance to riders who are perfectly happy with a $5 bell.
The sound is electronic (it runs on 2x CR2032 batteries) and there are three different sounds. To change the sound, lift it from the mount and set it back down.
The first sound is like an obnoxious whistle, the second sounds like a broken bike bell and the third is like annoying duck… I like that one best. Kids love this bell, their faces light up and they beg you to have a go.
In it’s simplicity, I still missed the practicality of being able to set my preferred sound (the ducks) and sticking with that. Each time you have to cycle through the sounds. Perhaps it is the early morning commutes where I just want to pedal away rather than setup the sound that steals away a bit of the joy. Sometimes the sound wouldn’t change properly and my beloved ducks were missing and I kept getting obnoxious whistle which I stopped liking. That will teach me for being grumpy.
The sound volume is 90 dB which is quite soft in noisy urban environments. The first big test was approaching a big group of pedestrians from behind and I was wondering why I had to ring the bell six times before any of them noticed and turned to look. Perhaps the unusual sounds don’t send the same message as the clear definitive tone of a bike bell. It was only when I put the Nello bike bell onto one of my kids bikes and headed out for a nice ride together was I able understand why pedestrians didn’t seem to notice it.
While I am riding with this bell on my bars it is audible to me. But when I am a few meters, the volume drops rapidly and it starts to become really difficult to hear regardless of the sound selected. In a typical urban backdrop with cars whizzing by, the buzz of pedestrians and squeak and clatter of bikes, the Nello very easily gets lost… I reluctantly have to say that this is a problem for me as I need pedestrians to notice and make space.
In practice, the Nello bell will help you satisfy the law of requiring an ‘audible warning device’ on your bike, but it underperforms in comparison to a regular (and boring) bike bell… In contrast, it looks fantastic. To become a convert however, I would need two improvements; a much louder audio and a broader selection of sounds.
Just the facts…
The Lucetta lights are not cheap, but if you have an awesome classic steel road bike or vintage bike, these lights are practical, fun and look good. The Nello bell is (ironically) not as audibly impressive as it should be… but it is different and visually, a head turner.
More information about Palomar products and purchases are online at: palomarweb.com