Wednesday, December 9

Two Back Lights

Nowadays I run Buddy with two rear lights and a red reflector. I've purchased a better amber reflector, but haven't put it on yet. This morning, I was reminded of the second reason WHY I run with two rear lights (my MAIN reason is so that I show both a steady and a blinking light), and of why I often carry another in my cycling jacket.

Simply put, inexpensive rear lights are not the most reliable things put onto this earth. Over at BikeSkirt, here, they wrote an open letter to Planet Bike about unreliable lights. Yes, I commented. Among other things, I suggested that my Planet Bike Superflash was reliable. I stand corrected.

Over the last couple of weeks, the PB Superflash has developed an irritating and potentially dangerous habit of turning itself off. A while back, I bought another PB rear light (not a Superflash) that I now carry in my cycling jacket. This morning, I took the time to periodically stop to see what the persnickity PBSF was up to. Well, it went from "flash" mode, to "steady," and then to "off." Apparently, the mode/off switch has become very sensitive to fairly minor bumps. After I confirmed this behavior, it traded places with the other PB light and one of its batteries became a donor for my radio when ITS battery pooped out further into the ride.

I know that a number of readers of this blog use Superflash lights. Mine is no longer trustworthy. The Cateye at the TOP of the picture, on the other hand, is still working very well. In any event, it is fully reflective, so it has useful properties even if it should happen to die without me noticing it.

One last point on this. Nowadays, I have the PB light mounted on the rack stay. The light is obscured from my easy view by the trunk. The old configuration in the photo was much easier to check. Taillights are innocuous - they work better and longer (usually) than headlights, but you may not be able to easily tell IF they are working. At least if a headlight goes out you know it RIGHT AWAY.

PS: You might wonder what's the difficulty with sticking on an amber reflector? Like a lot of things, they require a certain amount of engineering to work on a bike safely and cleanly. I'll figure out how to put the reflector on as soon as I'm done re-engineering my Planet Bike fenders. Solutions have been found for both fenders. Completely tool free and no zip ties required.


Anonymous said...

I had a nice cateye taillight do that to me also. It started after an all-day ride in the rain. I tried drying it out, coating all the battery and switch contacts w/ dielectric gel and every other thing I could think of but I eventually had to write it off as broken.

Apertome said...

I have a SuperFlash too and so far, no problems. But I think this light gets a lot of hype, and I'm not sure it deserves it. I was expecting to be blown away by its brightness, but I find it's not that great.

cycler said...

That's a bummer-
I see a lot of people who suffer from not being able to see that their rear lights are out! I also see a lot of people whose lights are mounted such that they're easily hidden by stuff being carried along (backpacks, panniers, stuff on the rack)

I had asked for a PB light for Christmas for my secondary bike. Hopefully because its a secondary bike it will be dependable enough.

Steve A said...

I'll buy another PBSF. As I said, low cost lights are a bit of a crapshoot. Cateyes aren't perfect, either. I'd be MUCH more irritated at a $100 light failing than a $15 one. In a future post, I will add a few lesser known good points of low cost lights. Just be sure to run TWO.

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