For anyone following our FB page, you’ll know that we just ordered ~$120 of lights from our favorite discount Hong Kong website today. No, we’re not associated with them in any way, and I’m pretty sure that they don’t even know we exist. We just like the products and pricing, although their wait times can get a bit grueling sometimes. But hey, they’re shipping factory direct product here to the US at a fraction of what it would cost at retail, so I can’t really complain. Besides, there’s another month before the darkness really sets in anyway…..
We’ll do a full-on review/comparison once we get all of them, but since shipping times are somewhere around 3 weeks I thought that I’d let you guys know what we ordered, in case any of you want to order some yourselves.
Ok, to be honest we have ordered this light before. It’s dirt-cheap, and…. well, let’s just say I’m hard on rear blinkies. I’ve left countless ones scattered in a million pieces across various roads and trails in Madison to the point that they’re practically a disposable item for me these days. Apparently I ride harder than most “urban commuters” and anything that’s designed to be removed quickly and easily to avoid theft will remove itself quickly and easily when I hit that pothole just right. In the past I’ve ziptied them in place (particularly around a rear rack), but with them being this cheap and easy to replace I just ordered a bunch. They also have a built-in clip that works with backpacks, rear belt loops, jacket collars, or just about anywhere where you can find something to clip it to. Works great if you clip it to a backpack for the additional bit of illumination. Also is great for increasing my “LED Count” when talking about how I’m lit up like a Christmas tree (20 LEDs per wheel, one of these on the bike, one of these on my back and a 5 LED Planet Bike Beamer-5 and I’m already up to ~64 LEDs without even counting my ungodly bright headlamp).
We picked up a bunch of these to hand out to unlit riders/walkers/joggers/etc that we see on a daily basis. Got 10. Will probably need more….
Similar vein to the one above, but with some weird type of center LED (and it also flashes red *and* blue, for those times when you want to be in violation of your state and local laws) that might, or almost certainly might not be a brighter, more powerful LED than the others. That’s the thing with ordering from a sketchy online Hong Kong website, you have no idea. I mean, when you have descriptions like: “Ensure your safety especially for those who riding top grade bikes and who usually riding at night” trying to guess exactly what you’ll receive receive is half the fun!! Regardless, the $10 we spent on 3 of these will be put to good use, both in having them as a comparison for the others or just handing them out as “you win the Unsafe Unlit Pedestrian Prize of the Day” award!
Ok, I’ll admit that we debated long and hard as to whether to include this (we’ve been looking at it since we started ordering lights from these guys last December). The thing is, it looks very, very, very similar to a certain light that’s sold by a certain US (local) manufacturer. Like…… identical. We got a couple this time around to fully compare them to said similar light, and whether they are in fact unbranded albeit identical products. Or who knows, maybe they are slightly different and superior products. Again, that’s sometimes the game of “guess what that random picture on a foreign retail website actually is”. From what we can tell, certain molded parts are identical. 100%. How that translates to what’s actually inside, or how it’ll perform is yet to be seen. Picked up 4 of these, 2 for my bikes, one for Shannon’s, and one to pay back a certain bar tab from last night…………
In retrospect, this seems like a bad, bad, BAD idea. You have the quick-release clamp on the downtube, and then your water bottle bolts to it. However, the idea of a full (read: heavy) water bottle torquing a simple little clamshell clamp trying desperately to hold itself on to a downtube while you ride over potholes and Wisconsin’s great dirt rails-to-trails just seems like an exercise in futility. There are bolt-on clamps that seem to work fine, but this…. well, let’s just say that I’m not too optimistic about it yet.
Using CREE Flashlights as headlamps
Ok, this is all going to get grouped together since it’s part of a package deal. As noted above, we LOOOOOOOVE our ungodly-bright headlight (and to be perfectly honest, that light is the SSC-P7 Deal Extreme light. Shannon rides with that one, but I use the even brighter XML-T6 1200 Lumen light…) but there’s still an issue of dangling wires, and the entire light not being self-contained. We wanted to try something that’s easier to set up, easier to remove when we need to leave a bike outside (we’ve taken to just removing the battery pack and leaving the bulb attached to the handlebars, but it’s only a matter of time before some idiot doesn’t realize that there’s no battery attached and steals it) and might have some alternative, secondary use as a flash light. So we picked up a couple bright flashlights, a couple rechargeable batteries, and a mount that (hopefully) will work with the handlebars.
Now, the thing to keep in mind with these flashlights is that they’re small. Like, really small. The whole thing is only 5.6″ long, and so should fit decently well on a handlebar. The other thing to note is that the “lumen rating” is probably wildly, wildly optimistic. It’s basically claiming that with a single 18650 battery (more on that in a minute) will be as bright, and last as long as 4 in one of the handlebar lights I linked to earlier. So we’re not expecting miracles here, just something that’s decently bright that can be used when we don’t need the full awesome power of our current headlights… We picked this up since Shannon’s P7 lasted *forever* on our Pick Me Up at the Border midnight ride/race to the IL border a couple weeks ago. Not quite as bright as a T6, but worth seeing how long it lasts (and how bright it is).
Ok, we picked this up because it said “New,” “XML T6 (same as my current headlight),” “1000 Lumen” and “under $20.” The crown looks to be similar sized to the one on my headlight now, so fingers-crossed it’ll still have a similar beam pattern/throw. Again, we picked it because it’s a small self-contained flashlight with a similar emitter to the one’s we’re currently using. This one’s just about 6″ long.
Ok, here’s where things really start to get tricky. Remember how I said that you never have any idea of *what* you’re going to get when you order something online from a non-native-English-speaking website? Here’s the perfect example. Will this work with 31.8mm handlebars? No clue. Will this work with the flashlights I picked out? No clue. Will it be strong enough to hold it while we ride? No clue. But hey, that’s why you guys read this, right? To
laugh at our failures find alternate ways of success? We can do as much estimating, theorizing, and staring intensely at photographs (that looks like it would at least conform to a 31.8 handlebar, right?) but at the end of the day it’s a crapshoot where you hope that things work out right but know that if they don’t, you’re out whatever you spent on it. We have a couple “failures” kicking around, headlamps from DX that wouldn’t fit our 31.8mm handlebar portion (near the clamp), AND wouldn’t fit the 22mm handlebar portion (near the grips). Considering the money we saved on other headlamps (and rear blinkies) it’s not that big of a deal, but something to keep in mind.
Oh, we also needed 18650 batteries ($7.99) and a charger ($5.90). The 18650 batteries are one of the most common rechargeable batteries available now, and so you can get them anywhere including Amazon (and you can also get Flashlights there as well).
So that’s it, now the waiting period begins. We’re still at a time where we don’t need lights for commuting, but that’ll change pretty quickly. Hopefully our box-0-cheap-lights will show up by then….