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Trek Launch ‘CarBack’ Light/Radar Combination Unit

Trek have today launched a radar /rear light combination unit, the ‘CarBack’ alerting riders to the presence of vehicles approaching from the rear while also featuring a bright and long-lasting daytime running light.

The CarBack will detect approaching vehicles (or riders for that matter) from 240m while the rear light is claimed to be able to be seen from 2km at its highest setting of 90 lumens.

Trek say the CarBack will pair with most major cycling computers along with GPS smart watches and smart phones. We’ve paired our test unit with both a Hammerhead and Wahoo units and have no problems with ID, setup or use.

The radar pairs in a flash and once on the bike works seamlessly with existing systems. A 5-second visual readout of ‘Radar Connected’ on the Wahoo Roam is a comforting reminder that all systems are go.

The Trek ‘CarBack’ radar will detect vehicles, bikes, or anything approaching from the rear, from up to 240m.

At 68mm high and 50mm across it’s a little wider than we’d expected but it sits neatly and unobtrusively on the seatpost. A secure rubberised mounting is included and the unit slides in sideways and locks into the Trek ‘Blendr’ mount.

Single Button Operation

Operation wise, it’s all done via a single push switch on top of the unit. Fully rubberised (as per the unit’s IPX 7 waterproofing), switching the unit on, scrolling through the three modes, then powering off is as simple as.

Like most products these days, there’s an App, but it wasn’t live during our pre-launch test period. We’re told the app will be live online as of April 19.

The company say the Trek Accessory App will allow users get a visual reference of the approaching vehicle via a smartphone screen plus also receive visual or audio alerts. While this may be suitable for riders using QuadLock style phone mounts, to us looking down at a larger (phone style) screen is not conducive to safer cycling. The app’s audio alert – with the phone safely stored in a jersey pocket – sounds a far safer and smarter option.

The unit pairs with all major GPS computers and offers visual and audible alerts.

7 Hour Run Time

Battery and run time wise, the unit takes a USB-C charge cable and fully charges in around 2hrs. With radar and one of the three light settings selected, runtime is 7hrs.

To the radar, and Trek have used a dual axis detection system meaning the beam is projected both rearward and sidewards. This will allow for wider detection and seems to significantly assist on both wider roads and when vehicles are approaching from around gentle bends.

And despite being coined the ‘CarBack’ the unit is just as helpful in alerting the rider to anything approaching from the rear – trucks, busses, tractors … and of course other riders.

Summing up, the unit works well, is easy to operate, feels exceptionally well made and is of rugged construction. In these days of busier roads and more of an emphasis on safer cycling the ‘CarBack’ seems a timely and wise release. The onus will always be on driver to share the road and respect riders, but the more information and awareness we have, particularly about vehicles approaching from behind, the better our all round cycling experience will be. 

Summing Up

Our findings? The CarBack is a top quality product that has quickly become a personal ‘must take’ on each and every outing. It’s particularly helpful for those who ride solo, and we’ve quickly come to rely on for rides around Sydney’s ever busier northern suburbs.

With more and more riders using rear camera / light combos, had Trek engineers somehow squeezed a camera into the CarBack it would be the ultimate rear facing safety device. But two out of three ain’t bad, and we suspect the triple whammy light / camera / radar combo is not to far away.

Overall, the CarBack is a very impressive device and well worth the $299 investment. 

At A Glance

  • CarBack can detect and alert riders of rear-approaching vehicles from up to 240m away
  • Compatible with most cycling GPS computers
  • Pair CarBack with the Trek Accessory app to see a vehicle’s rear-approaching and passing distance on your smartphone
  • Designed with focus, flash, and range to be Daytime-visible from up to 2km away
  • Four light flash modes: Day Flash 90LM, Day Steady 25LM, Night Steady 5LM, and Night Flash 5 LM
  • Visible fuel gauge LEDs make it easy to see CarBack’s 7+ hour battery status
  • IPX7 waterproof rating to confidently ride through wet conditions
  • Includes Quick Connect Plus rear mount and USB-C charging cable

RRP $299

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