Best taillight ever?
What are your favorite taillights? I just broke ANOTHER one and am really sick of buying new ones… just want a flashing red light that is durable and relatively waterproof. Seriously, I am cursed when it comes to this.
I’ve tried planet bike lights (either the mounting hardware broke or the electronics quit), those Knog lights (very cool and easy to mount, but those little coin batteries are murderously expensive), and most recently, one of those Blackburn lights that recharges via USB port on your computer. I really, really liked the concept of that one… I carried the charger around on my keychain, and could just take the taillight into my office with me and plug it into my desktop. Unfortunately, it seems to have just completely burned out, looks like it’s got some moisture inside and they make the things so you can’t take them apart.
Do I just need to abide by the old “buy it nice or buy it twice” adage and buy a really nice Cateye light that’s upwards of 50 bucks?
I second that. First time I saw someone with the superflash I asked what it was and immediately bought one. I have it on my helmet and I haven’t had a problem all summer, even riding in the rain.
Get the Viewpoint Flashpoint, Performance Bike’s knockoff of the Superflash. It’s about $5 cheaper, slightly brighter, and has a better clip for belt mounting. It doesn’t have as unique flash pattern as the SF though. But honestly either one of those are the “best taillight ever” and I use both regularly
I have one of the PlanetBike ones that rsprake mentioned. I clip it to the collar of my shirt. Stays there pretty well. Haven’t tried hooking it to anything else, though intend to try a zip-tie to the back of my helmet somehow.
One thing about the planet bike-type lights: their effectiveness is greatly diminished if attached to clothing, bag, etc. because the strobe LED is so directional. For best results attach to seatpost, stay, etc. and adjust so that it’ll be directed to the eyes of motorists coming up behind you…
I like the Cateye LD1100. Takes two AA batteries and has several different flash modes.
I also like the Princeton Tec Swerve. The switch can be bumped (off the bike) fairly easily so you may find that the batteries (2 AAA) don’t last quite as long as they would otherwise.
whatever kayla has.. i forget what she said.. i need to get one. i was behind her on the last flock ride and it was super bright.
I currently run 3 different lights. I have chinese knog ripoffs on my helmet, I have a niterider tl5 on my pannier, a lot for the reason Noah mentioned, it isnt as directional. and I have a niterider cherrybomb as my “main” rear light.
I use to have a super flash until it popped off on a ride one day and I never saw it again. The cherrybomb has a similar strobe pattern to the superflash.
The knog ripoffs I got from http://www.meritline.com Just search for led silicone
Make sure you have batteries with a strong charge. It doesn’t matter how powerful your light is if the batteries are almost dead.
I have been using rechargeable batteries and make it a point to keep them charged. I find it hard to just look at the light and guess how good the battery power is, so I just charge every few weeks (when I remember).
i have an el-cheapo one from kraynick’s that is super super bright. the only problem was the button fell off and i had to jam a key where it used to be to turn it on. for $5 you cant beat it.
Stef- I also have the Viewpoint Flashpoint that Noah brought up. $14.99 at Performance!
I’ve gone through probably six or seven tl5’s in about three or four years. Also lost a few rechargeable batteries because the cover would pop off and batteries would go flying and couldn’t find them after that. I’ve got two remaining, and I think one lenses is super gluded
the clip broke off my light (some ravx thing i think) so i disassembled it and drilled some holes so i could bolt it directly to my rack. best idea i’ve had in a while if you have broken ones you may want to try something like that.
+1 on the Planet Bike Superflash.
Wouldn’t buy a Blackburn Mars 3.0. Whenever I see lights lying in the street, it’s one of those.
Get a bunch of rechargeables and two chargers: one for home, one for work.
_Not_ cheap, but dynamo-driven fender-mounted tail lights are my favorite. Nice and bright, hard/pointless to steal, and no batteries with which to screw around.
what about modified… I don’t know what they’re called, but my paramedic friend calls them “whacker” bars/lights. They’re what EMTs, medics, fire fighters (especially volunteer) mount to their dash/hood when they are in their personal vehicles and answering a call. I’m sure they run off cigaret lighters and would need some kind of modification to be bike friendly, but if you attach a light that looks like a flashing emergency light, people pay attention to that. If it were blue, I gar-un-tee cars will quickly approach the speed limit the second they see it. But blue might not be legal for non-cops.
my gf as well as several other people had their lights stolen from their bikes parked near penn & negley the other night, so you could buy one of those when they reappear on the market (or get chucked in the sewer by the more-likely vandals, not thieves)
Nope, blue is not legal.
+1 reddan on permanently mounted dynamo lights.
noah, you cannot leave lights on your bike anywhere near Penn.
The good news? When the kids got mine, they put them on their bikes and used them. Besides some major hassle by me about stealing them I was secretly happy. I really think they just don’t have any idea how to get lights or anything like that despite having Jerry right down the street
“Hey kids, this is how it works. There’s this thing called money. You earn it. Do that by raking leaves in someone’s yard, babysitting, walking dogs, whatever. You take that money and go to a bike shop. Kraynik’s, Performance, or any of several others not that far from here. You give them money. They give you a headlight. You hook it to your bike. Then you can ride at night safely and legally. Let me know if there’s anything I can help you with. But taking my light, or my money, without asking me nicely, is not OK.”
Had lights stolen in front of the TMC (right by Spaks) and at the EEFC (East End Food Coop) Now I take them off when I leave the bike
linky to a dynamo-driven, fender mounted permanent tail light? reddan, Lyle, any favorites? Or did you both build your own?
I’ve got the B&M Seculite…works great. Also, I’ve got the Spanninga XPSb battery-powered light on a different bike; because it’s bolted to the fender, it’s not easy or desirable to steal. Changing batteries requires a philips-head, though, which kinda sucks.
Note also that Peter’s site has pretty much everything you’ll ever want to know about dynamos and dynamo lighting systems…if you can find the topic in question in the labyrinth of pages.
FWIW, bottle dynamos don’t suck too much. I ran one for about a year (’til I got a bike with a hub dynamo). With a wire roller, it worked well enough in the rain. Didn’t work at all in the snow, though.
I had Peter build me a front wheel around the Schmidt Dynohub, and I bought the Lumotec headlamp from him, but I used taillights from another source that clamped to the seatstay (and didn’t actually fit my tubing very well, as they apparently were designed for gaspipe three-speeds). I am currently contemplating switching everything to LEDs but I haven’t pulled the trigger on that yet, and I haven’t found a dynamo-powered LED taillight.
For references, I would look at Peter’s site, Sheldon’s, and the bike-current mailing list.
Bottle dynamos have price in their favor, but as a general rule, generator-powered lighting systems are pricier than battery-operated ones.
ejwme: I have little round clip-on blinkies in several colors designed for runners. I sometimes put them on my panniers in addition to my red rear blinky. One day I randomly ended up with blue and red ones on there, and immediately figured people are somewhat less likely to hit a red and blue blinky thing.
Lyle: So is a little blue blinky illegal? On a bike? On a pedestrian? What’s the penalty? Can you quote the relevant code? I know you’re good at that.
I just saw a woman with a dynamo LED taillight branded “TopLite”. No idea of its quality.
Jeg, I don’t think there are any laws about pedestrian equipment. I’ll look up the vehicle code later.
Actually, given the newer generation of less expensive, relatively durable dynamo hubs, the bottle dynamo is a less attractive option. Yeah, you still need to get a new wheel (or rebuild a current wheel), but overall, I’d rather drop an extra $50.
I had a lower end Shimano hub on my previous bike, and I never had issues with the hub, and that was ridden year ’round, and sometimes left out of doors.
you could get red and green ones on your port and starboard sides and the boaty people would be amused.
i want to do red & green handlebar tape on the appropriate sides (as more of an aviation reference)
Stu, I hear what you are saying but it’s really not that simple. It’s not ok to steal clearly but the kids that are stealing lights don’t have remotely the same worldview as you do and I’m pretty sure they:
>know they are going to be made fun of by their peers
>never been inside a bike shop before
>don’t really give a shit
>are obnoxious teenagers that get really excited about stealing things for no reason
At least that’s what I’ve seen with my own eyes. The only reasonable approach is to take your lights off every time you park. Or fenders, or anything else that is easily removed.
Sad but true.
I also have the Viewpoint Flashpoint, and I love it. I think I paid $14.99 (less $6 in “recycle-a-tube” coupons).
I have literally had over $400 in <$20 lights in the past few years (I try to keep spares on me, and I used to give them to light-less people). There are some good lights out there, but there is also a lot of garbage (in that price range).
I can say for sure not to buy XLC lights. I came to a smooth, complete stop once, and the headlight fell off, hit the ground, and fell apart, and didn’t work after that.
Tail light clip snapped and fell of in the middle of an intersection, did not survive getting run over several times (Not that I expected it to, but I expected the clip to not break).
I just went last night and picked up the one Noah mentioned from Performance Bike…super super bright. On sale right now for 14.99 (originally $24.99) Thanks for the suggestion!
Thanks for the advice guys. I went with the Performance light and ended up with a red spot in my eyes from looking directly at it… very effective, good price.
If you write PlanetBike about your light breaking they’ll ship you out a new one free. They’ve done it twice for my Superflash (first one got sad because of water, second one the back light part fell off of the back part with the mount)
Thanks for the info on Planet Bike. I was ready to scrap the idea after two P.B. lights bit the dust (one to snapping off, one to losing the red lens), but this gives me hope that I’m not guaranteed being out another $30.
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