Product Review – Vizi-Tec SupaBrake III Brake Light Modulator
Because flashing brake lights are way cooler than flashing ambulance lights.
Story and Photos by Kyle Hyatt
I’m sure that many motorcyclists would agree that riding around a city like Los Angeles, and in particular on its freeways, is an inherently crazy thing to do. Obviously, there are a lot of things you can do to mitigate the risk like having a good helmet and wearing protective clothing, but I think it’s probably best (and cheapest) to increase one’s conspicuity on the road.
To that end, I wear gear with retroreflective material on it, whether it’s my Aerostich Roadcrafter R-3 or my Aether Skyline jacket. My helmet has pops of reflective on the neck roll. I also have a huge white ADV motorcycle on which I sit bolt upright, but that wasn’t good enough, so I started looking into tail light flasher units, and while there are plenty on the market, I had some pretty specific ideas about what I wanted.
The big thing was that I didn’t want to do anything that would change or compromise my bike’s wiring system. The damn thing was built by the English who are well known for the quality of their wiring systems (damn you Joseph Lucas!) and I didn’t want to risk letting the smoke out of anything. It also had to be small and robust, nothing that could eventually jiggle loose and break. You might be surprised at how much that narrowed my field.
Eventually, I came across a company called Vizi-Tec and their product the Supabrake 3. This immediately ticked all of my boxes and then some. It’s entirely solid state with potted electronics to mitigate any vibration. They are available as direct plug-ins for dozens of bikes (including mine!), and they’re made in California. If there is a downside, it’s that the Supabrake isn’t supacheap at $115, but what it lacks in low cost, it makes up in functionality.
The Supabrake 3 is tiny. Improbably so. It’s about the size of a small box of matches and around half the thickness. It came ready to go, as promised with factory connectors installed and everything neatly heat-shrunk. Bernard is an ex-Silicon Valley guy, and he takes a lot of pride in his work. Installation was stupidly easy. I had to unbolt my sliding top case mount and blow out about a pound of dust and mud to get to the tail light wiring. Once I did, it was a simple case of clipping the Supabrake in-line between the tail light and the bike’s harness. I tucked everything back in its home and bolted it all back together.
Tail light modulator installed, I turned my bike on and gave it a test. The Supabrake 3 has 108,000 potential flash profiles and actuation settings; all are user configurable on the fly through the bike’s controls. I’m not what I’d call a “power user” so I have been using the standard profile, and thus far, nobody has crashed into the back of me!
Seriously though, I have noticed that cars tend to keep their distance when I’m braking, they seem to slow more quickly rather than rush up and brake late. The flash is set up so that if you’re on and off your brake a lot, say you’re in traffic; it won’t do multiple flashes. It looks like a normal off and on brake light. If you’ve not touched the brakes for more than 12 seconds, it goes into its flashing mode and modulates the lights accordingly.
The big thing for me is that it makes me feel more confident in my level of visibility to drivers of cars. As a new rider that’s huge. Not feeling confident means not wanting to get on the bike and that sort of defeats the purpose of this whole exercise, right?
If you’ve got an old bike or one on which you’re confident in hacking up the electrical system, the Supabrake 3 might be overkill, and there are cheaper options on the market. If you don’t want all of the configurability of the Supabrake 3, then the Supabrake 2 might be a good option. It’s similar to the 3 in its plug-and-play installation, but it costs around $25 less.
In summation, I like this product a lot, and it’s something that I’d 100% buy with my own money if I got another bike. Bernard turns out a really great product and his customer service is excellent.