Rear lighting options, yep, commuting in the dark again #cycling

I’ve previously posted about my favourite rear light (Cateye TL LD1100), but a bike shop email reminded me why the others in the same price category don’t get my attention.
Here’s why I chose and repeatedly choose this particular light (in no particular order):

  • high battery life
  • fantastic rear visibility
  • side visibility
  • lots of modes with 5 or 10 LED operation (lasts a huge amount of time only using 5)
  • easy to attach and detach from bike
  • rack mountable (extra cost bracket)
  • anything with 10 LEDs must be good, right? OK, that’s not true, but they are 10 powerful LEDs!

I own four of them, two for my bike, one for the Burley and one for the wife’s bike. She gets the one with the broken button (repeatedly dropping by me over the years caused that rather than a manufacturing fault).

The only thing I do have to do is throw away the plastic sleeves that sit inside the battery compartments, else it is a too tighter fit for my batteries. The bag / belt clip isn’t very secure, so doesn’t get used either, I wish they provided a free rack mount instead!
A friend had lost one and blamed the mount, but I’ve been using them for four years, every ride, even in bright sunshine and I’ve not had any problems. I do gently wiggle a light once attached to check it won’t bounce off, maybe that is why.

I’ve tried cheap Chinese lights, waste of money, but filled a gap at the time.

I once bought a competitor, the Blackburn Mars 4, though the single LED was bright, here’s why it was replaced after a month of being patient with it:

  • poor battery life
  • high performance of LED only on fresh batteries
  • stupid AAAs when everything else is AAs
  • rack mount or post mount but required tools to change between them
  • small and inaccessible on off switch was annoying
  • battery cover required a coin or key to open – which you did often, so it was surprisingly annoying!

There are new lights similar to the Mars around at the moment, but their quoted battery life is an instant turn off even if they don’t have the same shortcut comings.

I hope to have a dynamo front light setup soon, that’s a whole different post that is, but until then I haven’t given dynamo rear lights any consideration. Sure, the batteries wouldn’t run out, but here’s the things that put me off already:

  • permanently attached, another thing to be stolen
  • lack of support for two rear lights
  • Burley light would still have to be battery
  • more cabling / wires
  • wires can fail etc
  • they aren’t my current light

I’m tempted to do a DIY job and wire up a standard light of my choice, but I’m not an electronics guru and the AC is a bit if a pain. Maybe a USB hub for the dynamo (e.g. the plug) then a 5v DC to 3V DC (i.e. 2 x AA) converter or some resistors / whatever wired up to achieve that. Hmmm, worth further thought.


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