Thursday, December 10

More on Lights You Might Not Know

One bracket fits most Planet Bike tail lights
Yesterday, I related here how my Planet Bike Superflash started turning itself off. Tonight, I performed minor surgery on it and bent the switch bracket a smidge to make it harder to turn on (and also off). We'll see if that cures the irritant. I won't mind a light being a tad harder to turn on if it doesn't turn OFF by itself. In the light's defense, I now have nearly a year's use from it with three sets of batteries, so it's not a total waste of the $15 I paid for it. AND, there's another consideration to this light, and to some Cateye lights as well, that is worth considering. So, campers, if a PB or Cateye is on YOUR Christmas list, and you're unsure if that was wise, read on.

Simply put - when considering a low cost light, also consider the bracket. Planet Bike includes not only a seat post bracket with its tail lights, but also a seat stay bracket. This gives you a lot more choices of where to mount the things. What's more, most of their current lights all use the SAME bracket. This means you can swap lights amongst the various bikes you have and use different lights. This sounds like a pretty minor item, but it means I can carry a spare light of a different model and it'll fit the bracket I have installed. It also meant that when I thought I had a Superflash problem, I was able to get the model available at the LBS and it just snapped in place, allowing me to be on my way in no more time than it took to put the batteries in. If I want, I can put brackets on multiple bikes and in multiple places and have easy light mounting regardless of whether I have a trunk installed or whatever. Planet Bike treats its front lights the same way - one bracket fits multiple light models. You buy a few spare brackets and you can have two lights on each and every bike you ride without going broke buying lights. If a light goes bad, a replacement will give you yet another bracket option.
 One bracket fits most Cateye headlights

Cateye headlights (the Cateye tail light brackets seem much less standardized) are much the same way. While I'm not overly keen on how stable the Cateye headlight bracket is, it'll take any light from the little blinky one up to the 530 model. In response to a comment I made on "Lovely Bicycle," here, that suggested I get a new bracket, I was able to discount that advice because I have THREE Cateye brackets on two different bicycles, and I've considered buying a couple more so I can run two headlights on any of the frequently ridden bikes with a simple snap & go. I find moving brackets around to be fiddly and the plastic loses a bit with repeated tightening and loosening. Without extra brackets, I'd not be routinely running with two headlights on each bike. During the day, an empty bracket weighs very little.

So, my HL-EL530 that jiggles in the mount would NOT be helped by a new mount (it needs a shim), and I'll keep buying Planet Bike tail lights, even if my Superflash surgery proves unsuccessful. The more brackets I've got, the more I get easy lighting options. Lights that go on a bike easy get used. Something to keep in mind!

PS: Nobody noticed, but in the previous light post, the Planet Bike Superflash is mounted upside down! The PB rear light brackets work equally well in either direction. When mounted on my Tricross seatstay, the light could not be installed OTHER than upside down. Now, with it mounted on the rack stay, I have it mounted rightside up again.


Big Oak said...

Brilliant!!! Thanks for discovering this. I did notice your PB light, but I have shoved mine in the bracket upside down too. It was difficult to remove though.

Filigree said...

Regarding the Cateye lights: weird, weird weird. I am not doubting your experience, but I am mystified by it. I have used these lights on 4 very different bikes, and my husband on an additional 3. There has been zero jiggle on any of them, zero problems. I wonder what accounts for our different experiences.

Re the Planet Bike lights: I have heard so many people now complain about these lights malfunctioning in various ways, that honestly I am weary of them.

Steve A said...

Filigree - The 530 is the only one of four Cateye head lights I own that has jiggled. I've had problems with two other Cateye head lights. In one case, a halogen Cateye would die after 10-15 minutes of operation even with fresh batteries. Tweaking contacts did not cure the problem. The second problem was with the HL-EL520 which was simply a poor design. It would not accept rechargeable batteries, unlike the 530 will.

I have not had problems with any of the three Cateye tail lights I own. No two have the same bracket which keeps PB as my first choice at that end of the bike. BTW, bending the switch on the Superflash seems to have restored its sense of responsibility.

Steve A said...

Big Oak - In my case, I had the bracket attached to the bike upside down to clear the seat stay so, technically, the light was oriented properly relative to the upside down bracket and wasn't difficult to remove. The PB brackets hold those lights in very securely.

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