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  1. #1
    Senior Member formicaman's Avatar
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    Cheap lights from China

    I have equipped all my bikes with cheap lights from Chinese vendors on eBay. No more paying $25 for a piece of Chinese junk that cost $1 to manufacture. I want my Chinese junk at a Chinese junk price! The knock-off Knog lights (usually called Frog lights) are just as good for $3. In fact, the best recent purchase I have made is this:

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/190578808279...84.m1497.l2649

    For $7, it puts out a lot of light, has a great strobe function, and takes AAA bateries. I also got a 58-led clip-on headlight that even works ok in actual darkness.

    For "being seen" lights, the Knogs, cateyes et. al of the world can suck it.
    Last edited by formicaman; 11-02-11 at 10:51 AM.

  2. #2
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    I just ordered a set of head- and taillights that are even cheaper than those. Haven't got them yet, so I don't know if they're worth the $2.65 or not.

  3. #3
    Old, but not really wise CptjohnC's Avatar
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    I too decided to see how the super-cheap-Chinese-lights-from-China were (note -- these are similar, but not the same as what I bought); I got a headlight and rear blinky for a few bucks each (including shipping) to use as my third line backups :-)

    The 'headlight' is essentially a cheap tactical flashlight, aluminum body with plastic lens. It is pretty bright (definitely as bright as my 100 Lumen cheap tactical flash from Costco - maybe brighter) but the spread is awfully wide. Also it lacks a blink mode, which I like on a 'to be seen' light. It is also definitely cheaply made; the battery holder is much 'cheesier' than my other lights, the springs seem weaker, etc... and the threading between the rear cap and the barrel is not well machined. As a backup, it isn't bad, but it isn't great either. I'd probably go back to my three pack of costco lights for backups next time.

    The blinky is a little harder to decide on. To begin, the light is really cheaply made! it feels like it will shatter on any impact. It is also kind of large for what it is. But it is BRIGHT! it casts a good, solid red light behind the bike -- competitive with my Radbot. Most of the blink patterns are too fast, however, and the switch is awkward to use (and cheap, duh!). The light also lacks any sort of weatherproofing, though it is possible that the body seal is sufficient for light rain. Not significantly worse than my cheap walmart/target blinkies that I have been using as backups, and definitely cheaper. I think I would definitely re-buy when it comes time to get some additional replacement/backup blinkies, but I would NOT want to rely on this as my primary.
    Last edited by CptjohnC; 11-02-11 at 12:07 PM. Reason: included link to similar package.

  4. #4
    Senior Member formicaman's Avatar
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    I got these cheapos after several failures with knog and cateye lights. So far they have been reliable. I would happily spend more if I knew I was getting higher quality, but a lot of more expensive items seem to be the same Chinese junk no matter how much you pay.

  5. #5
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    I just bought one of those frog lights on a whim. Worst case scenario=out five whole dollars.

  6. #6
    Team Water Andy_K's Avatar
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    You might be just as well off to fashion your seven dollar bills into a small torch and light it.

    Seriously though, I've had mixed luck with knock-off Chinese stuff on eBay. Sometimes it works perfectly and is a great bargain. Other times, it doesn't work at all. The percentage of times it works is probably much higher than the percentage of retail price that you pay.

    On the other hand, I have one Knog light, a Gekko. I bought it for 93 cents at an REI scratch-and-dent sale. It didn't work at all. I wrote to Knog and told them my story, including the part about REI offering no promise that the thing would work at all. Knog sent me a new light (from Hong Kong, BTW).

    Officially, Knog products have a two year warranty, but their warranty page also says this:

    We expect all our products to ride to the shop and back again and again and again and again and again and again for a hell of a long time. But sometimes the **** hits the fan - and - if it does we want to make it as easy as possible for you to get righted even if the damage has been your fault or if the product is out of warranty. So get in touch with us...
    (my emphasis added)

    The question then becomes, is this kind of service worth an extra $15 or so? To me, it is.

  7. #7
    In the right lane gerv's Avatar
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    When I see super cheap goods from China, I often wonder about the person who actually manufactured the product. If it's being sold for $5.97, I can't imagine what that person got paid for his or her services.

    Although I suppose the more expensive lights could be made by starving slaves too...

  8. #8
    Senior Member Nitram612's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gerv View Post
    When I see super cheap goods from China, I often wonder about the person who actually manufactured the product. If it's being sold for $5.97, I can't imagine what that person got paid for his or her services.
    There is an excellent documentary about Chinese factory workers called Last Train Home. It really does a good job of showing what has to happen in order to enable American consumerism.

  9. #9
    Senior Member swwhite's Avatar
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    I ordered some Chinese blinkies once. I discovered, one dark and rainy night, that whenever I would hit a bump, they would go out.
    Riding in search of the simple life.

  10. #10
    Motorcycle RoadRacer cehowardGS's Avatar
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    I got a couple sets of the $2.98 lights with free shipping. They come with a headlight and a tail light.. Sheesh, for $2.98, can't beat that with a stick.

    I usually tape the cheapo headlight to my helmet, and take the rear and clamp it to my leg..

    Might check out this $5.97 light too.
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  11. #11
    Senior Member Mithrandir's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gerv View Post
    When I see super cheap goods from China, I often wonder about the person who actually manufactured the product. If it's being sold for $5.97, I can't imagine what that person got paid for his or her services.

    Although I suppose the more expensive lights could be made by starving slaves too...

    This. I buy American whenever I can.

  12. #12
    Lover of ALL things Bike Singlespeed92's Avatar
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    Idealic timing on this thread...21 days ago I won one for $2.43 shipped (counting two and change dollars worth of eBay Bux)-there's no brand name on it-to put on my son's 16" wheeled bike (he's but 9 years old,but is due a size upgrade soon),and it just came in Monday,installed Tuesday.

    He'd wanted his own light,especially after having ridden in pitch black-dark last week with only my $8.95 headlight (from Target on clearance no less,came with tail light,teehee!) to ride home by. It's cheap-I didn't say inexpensive-cheaper thanany light I've ever seen,FWIW,but guess what...it works,which is what's important (especially the flashng mode,since we ride around town lots after he gets in from school). The OP's right,if one's gunna run inexpensive lights,why pay 2,3,4,5x as much for the same thing rebadged?

    (HAVE to brag on the boy ),just what mileage he's ridden with me (ot counting his sister),that boy has ridden 156 miles on that little 16" wheeled Trek in the last 3 months (since we moved here)
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  13. #13
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    Are there any good affordable lights that are made in America? Many of these Chinese items come from the same factories and sometimes even the same production lines that the name brand items do.

    Niterider claims to assemble their lights in the US however given my previous experience with the units I wont be buying one ever again. Crappiest assemblies ever. Cables don't last, battery buttons fail, charger connectors are faulty. I just don't see them as quality units, certainly don't get what I pay for.
    Last edited by pityr; 11-02-11 at 08:25 PM.

  14. #14
    In the right lane gerv's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by swwhite View Post
    I ordered some Chinese blinkies once. I discovered, one dark and rainy night, that whenever I would hit a bump, they would go out.
    Those are the models with the special "bump indicator" feature. Cost extra.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mithrandir View Post
    This. I buy American whenever I can.
    If there were fewer manufacturing slave camps in Asia, you might actually be able to do this once in a while.

  15. #15
    Team Water Andy_K's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pityr View Post
    Are there any good affordable lights that are made in America? Many of these Chinese items come from the same factories and sometimes even the same production lines that the name brand items do.
    Just because something is made in China doesn't mean it's made under sub-human labor conditions. My company employees people in China, and I'm certain that they make a good wage and are treated well. Not many of our products sell for under $10.

  16. #16
    Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by Andy_K View Post
    Just because something is made in China doesn't mean it's made under sub-human labor conditions. My company employees people in China, and I'm certain that they make a good wage and are treated well. Not many of our products sell for under $10.
    I didn't say that. Just curious if there are companies that do make their product here in the US. I'm well aware of the variety of labor conditions that exist in China and don't necessarily have a problem buying from sellers there. I would like to buy from a place the uses as much US labor as possible however but I do have to consider my own pocketbook while doing so.

  17. #17
    Super Moderator no1mad's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pityr View Post
    I didn't say that. Just curious if there are companies that do make their product here in the US. I'm well aware of the variety of labor conditions that exist in China and don't necessarily have a problem buying from sellers there. I would like to buy from a place the uses as much US labor as possible however but I do have to consider my own pocketbook while doing so.
    Maglite claims to still make in the US. They are built tough, but their output is weak compared to the competition. Their newest model 'XL 200' is rated at 173 lumens, 2.5 hrs run time on 3 AAA.
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  18. #18
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    I recently came to the realization that I should spend enough on my lights to make sure they are reliable and visible. I'm trying to figure out why I shouldn't buy a Dinotte taillight for $200, that's not even enough to get the EMS guys to start the ambulance and take it out of the garage.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by unterhausen View Post
    I recently came to the realization that I should spend enough on my lights to make sure they are reliable and visible. I'm trying to figure out why I shouldn't buy a Dinotte taillight for $200, that's not even enough to get the EMS guys to start the ambulance and take it out of the garage.
    Are you saying your light should cost the same as an ambulance-ride copay?

    I could be tempted by $3 lights for my kids, I am not impressed w/ how they handle $20 flashlights on their handlebars...

  20. #20
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    i bought that exact same light here in china where is sells for less than $1 (US) and i love it. works just fine. i've had more expensive chinese lights that have fallen apart in minutes so you can't always win.

    as for the wages. about $200-300 per month plus food and dormitory usually. its not as low as you might think.

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    Best cheap Asian lights I've used

    http://www.meritline.com/3-watt-led-...--p-30929.aspx
    These are very sturdily built little AAA flashlights (outer metal is about 2mm) with a clip-mount that clamps onto handlebars. They've lasted me well over 3 years now. They're easily brighter than my old Planet Bike Halogen, and almost as bright as the Cygo-Lite that replaced it. I run two of them one my "second" bike, side-by-side, usually with one steady and one flashing. The biggest drawback as that the clip-off feature makes it too easy to grab one for use as a bright flashlight, at which point I tend to forget to put it back.

  22. #22
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    I run really bright lights on my bikes, but I usually carry a cheap Chinese headlight/taillight set. Why? I like to say it's for redundancy, but the chances of my DiNotte lights failing are pretty small. No, I carry them so I can give them to ninja cyclists I encounter. I've given out 5 sets in the last few years. Sometimes the riders are really appreciative, and sometimes they look at me like I'm nuts, but I figure if I give them the light and they use it they may not get run over.
    "When I'm on a bike, it's like I'm 14 again, racing off to the arcade with a pocket full of quarters."

  23. #23
    Senior Member
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    I saw Last Train Home on WLIW, one of our local PBS channels, and it is a hell of a good film, one that really made me wonder what we all can do to change these kinds of situations. Basically it's the story of a teenage girl who is growing up in a Chinese town far from the city, with her grandparents, because both of her parents are working their butts off in the city so that she can afford to go to school. They put all their faith in her (and she deserves it, sort of, because she's cearly a smar girl...but..) Every year at New Years Festival, hundreds of millions of Chinese return "home" - to their official hometown, often its to see their families, children, parents. But its crazy, because as I said, its HUNDREDS of millions of people. Anyway, this movie was shot in China and all the scenes are real. Its as real a story as a documentary can be, and the scenes of riots as thousands of people attempt to board overcrowded trains to go home are as real as real can be. You can see families being separated (accidentally, by the crush of people) Like Japan and Korea where they have crews of (physically big) people whose job it is to cram every last person into trains, like sardines, its like nothing here in the US. Looking at the labor intensive factory work I couldn't help but thinking, all those jobs will be completely automated in just a few years. What the hel will they do then? What will happen? How will they eat? How will WE eat!

    Quote Originally Posted by Nitram612 View Post
    There is an excellent documentary about Chinese factory workers called Last Train Home. It really does a good job of showing what has to happen in order to enable American consumerism.

  24. #24
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    When people buy American, that means the company is American and sometimes it means the product is made in America, but it doesn't always require the same amount of labor it does in low wage countries because the economics dictate that American factories automate much more. And the technology to automate is improving very quickly, everywhere in the world..

    So, because the technology is always more available and continues to get cheaper, over the entire span of their existence all manufacturing, but especially factories in (first) American and Western European and then more recently also Japanese or Taiwanese or Japanese or now even Chinese factories will hum along with a very small number of people compared to the past. Less people required to produce a given widget.. more productivity all the time. Paradoxically, the more productive workers are, the less as many of them are needed, and also there is an effect on consumption as the wealth becomes less spread out in some countries and more spread out in others, but only termporarily, because eventually the same factors will result in automation and decreased need for unskilled or medium skilled human workers, and increasing demand for a much smaller number of the most highly skilled ones, there, too.

    Quote Originally Posted by pityr View Post
    I didn't say that. Just curious if there are companies that do make their product here in the US. I'm well aware of the variety of labor conditions that exist in China and don't necessarily have a problem buying from sellers there. I would like to buy from a place the uses as much US labor as possible however but I do have to consider my own pocketbook while doing so.
    Lots of companies remain in the US and produce in the US, but a lot less than in the past, before the various free trade agreements that give US companies access to profitable emerging markets, realy where the big money is therse days.

    Also, long before GATT which became the WTO, NAFTA, etc, made it possible to trade access to the US market for access to foreign markets and untaxed offshore profits, many US corporations to varying degrees had already seemed to gradually make conscious choices to slow investments i US factories or eventually, to abandon the manufacture of many kinds of consumer goods to Asian companies and instead, focus on what they saw as high value fields like semiconductors and military/industrial electronics, high end materials and technologes.. where there was patent protection, high margins, less competition and a lot of government spending, but employees also needed security clearances and that excluded a great many people who for various reasons didn't want to pursue that path or couldnt get one if they did.

    I think that was a mistake because that meant that many US companies were in a sense wedded to the Cold War kinds of budgets and programs and when the USSR disintegrated the huge US military-inndustrial complex, which had become great at making incredibly high tech products, was left literally stuck in outer space without a paddle and they had to figure out how to continue that level of spending, despite a growing need to end it. of course, in a sense, 9-11 was a Godsend for them, because it postponed the cuts that everyone thought were inevitable.

    So, now we have a problem in that decades of cuts in education and healthcare are making it hard for us to remain he leader economically or increasingly, even remain relevant.

    A lot of the kinds of jobs that supported our large middle class in the middle and latter part of the 20th century vanished and nothing has ever stepped in to fill the gap. If we dont stop scapegoating everything and everybody except ourselves, we're in serious trouble.
    So by all means, buy American, but don't assume that you are always necessarily creating jobs HERE by doing it. The laws on labelling products have a lot of loopholes, for example, I think products 90% "made" in other NAFTA or WTO countries can often be sold labelled as made in the USA, with the way things are made, I think the pieces that make up our products come from everywhere.. its extremely rare that any kind of complex product is just made in one country, perhaps except for China, which is so big and diverse economically that it happens as often as not. (It used to be the USA doing that.)

    Also, keep in mind that products come from all over the world because of BILATERAL trade agreements.. so it may even be illegal for an American company to "discriminate against" another NAFTA or WTO country's firms in sourcing a good or service.

    Recently it emerged that a lot of bailout/stimulus money that apparently many thought would go to "American" firms for things like innovative "green" jobs ended up going overseas, oftentimes to buy "green" products from sometimes long established companies - creating jobs - THERE. I wasn't surprised. When those grants were announced, my first thought was that it might even be illegal now for our own government to discrminate against foreign firms because for decades the US has screamed holy murder when foreign countries discriminated against US firms in their dealings, when US companies want to open factories or sell their products THERE, we may have to open up a US market to them in exchange, allowing them to provide a service here, in exchange. Even educational, financial/insurance, medical and legal services will soon be irrevocably opened to foreign firms, giving a right to the companies that invest in developing US markets like health insurance and private education to remain here, an entitlement. US jobs hold a lot of appeal to skilled workers in other countries, and many doctors, nurses, teachers and attorneys, even, may jump at the chance even if they have to live in dormitories, make low wages, and return back home in five years, never having seen much of the US except for the inside of a classroom or hospital.

    In exchange, an American multinational might get the green light to invest in a factory there, or sell them our American-branded products. As long as they keep their profits overseas and invest them there, its tax free money.

    We (the American voters) are very unsophisticated and we are often struggling under mental models of the world and our place in it that are more appropriate to the 1980s than the 2010s.
    Last edited by christ0ph; 11-09-11 at 08:19 PM.

  25. #25
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    It depends. Chinese workers work much longer hours than Americans, but like us, they are not getting ahead of the game like they thought they would. They are barely keeping above water. Their retirement age is lower than ours, 60, as opposed to 65 or 67. More like the French. But many Americans find themselves "retired" earlier, as well. Chinese do have that official New Years paid vacation. The US is I think perhaps one of the the only countries in the world that does not have any laws requiring any kind of paid holiday for workers. We have better safety laws, but they are rarely enforced adequately.

    Quote Originally Posted by mynameuk View Post
    i bought that exact same light here in china where is sells for less than $1 (US) and i love it. works just fine. i've had more expensive chinese lights that have fallen apart in minutes so you can't always win.

    as for the wages. about $200-300 per month plus food and dormitory usually. its not as low as you might think.

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