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best AA / replaceable li-ion taillight

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best AA / replaceable li-ion taillight

Old 05-09-16, 09:22 AM
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best AA / replaceable li-ion taillight

I was wondering what the best replaceable cell taillight is on the market, under $100 if they happen to go higher than that. I don't like not having access to the battery for replacement if needed, or simply being able to swap cells on the fly. I have quite a collection of Eneloop NiMH AA's (and a few AAA) and also 14500 & 18650 li-ion cells. I usually don't ride at night so it's not much of a concern, and do have an older PDW Danger Zone light, but my first tour (mini-tour?) coming up has me wondering if I should consider upgrading. I plan on tent camping most or all the nights, which is why I'd rather have a light I can just swap batteries and not rely on chargers. I may be over-reacting since I'm new to overnight trips and I don't plan on cycling after dark but you never know. I'm sure it would come in handy sooner or later.
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Old 05-09-16, 03:28 PM
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I've owned a few flashlights that use 18650 cells. There was only one that I really loved, but it died prematurely. It was the Fenix PD32. The switch in the end cap died, and I'm not willing to pay the replacement price for it. If you're luckier than I am, you might consider this one.

The trouble with shopping for these flashlights is that there are SO MANY to choose from and not a lot of information about most of them. Most descriptions say they're REALLY BRIGHT but that is compared with expectations, not quantitative. A lot of them are super bright but the beams are too narrow. I walk my dog at night on an unlit road in the country, and my eyes tend to look where I point the flashlight, even when I make an effort to look into the dim portion of the beam. So see if you can see beam patterns, and try to get a light with many intensity choices. You might find that one of the lowest settings is best. I think the designers optimize for brightness rather than battery life. That's too bad, because there's a lot of energy in those cells. Most of the lights I've used only give a couple of hours of use, and they're far brighter than I need, even on the low setting.

There is an entire forum to flashlights. If you think people go nuts here, take a look at candlepower.
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Old 05-09-16, 05:13 PM
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Some old school options for a AA or AAA powered taillight:
You might also look for a AA powered flashlight with a red LED. There are ways to mount those backwards.

The flashlight probably would give you good throw but not much light left and right. If you want to cover all bases with AA and AAA lights you could mount the flashlight center and 2 Superflash Turbos directed 10 degrees left and right from each seat stay.

Most current tail lights, and perhaps all the brightest models, are now powered by rechargables other than AAs or AAAs.
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Old 05-10-16, 09:12 AM
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I've got a Cateye LD630, which uses a single AA cell. The brightness is roughly similar to lights like the Planet Bike Superflash. Compared to the Superflash, the LD630 is easier to remove and install, easier to change the battery, and has a more reliable switch (I had a problem with the Superflash turning itself on and off).

One nice thing about Cateye is that they sell extra mounting brackets, so I can move the LD630 between my bikes.

TL-LD630-R | CATEYE


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Old 05-10-16, 09:27 AM
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The old Dinotte 140R-AA taillights are really nice if you can find one. I've had one as my primary taillight for commuting for the past 8 years, and it's like having a red headlight on the back of my bike. Although I am not crazy about the separate battery pack, I've found ways to accommodate it, and it holds a charge for about 8 hours.
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Old 05-10-16, 09:38 AM
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Originally Posted by tarwheel
The old Dinotte 140R-AA taillights are really nice if you can find one. I've had one as my primary taillight for commuting for the past 8 years, and it's like having a red headlight on the back of my bike. Although I am not crazy about the separate battery pack, I've found ways to accommodate it, and it holds a charge for about 8 hours.
I have two with the Ion batteries on my trike.

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Old 05-10-16, 11:03 AM
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@noglider I think you misunderstood. I already have a good 18650 powered headlamp, I'm looking for a red taillight. And I am a member of Candlepower forums though haven't really been on there for a couple years.

Originally Posted by Athens80
Some old school options for a AA or AAA powered taillight:
You might also look for a AA powered flashlight with a red LED. There are ways to mount those backwards.
I think the old Danger Zone I have was rated higher than the Planet Bike Superflash, at least when I researched it a few years back I decided on the Danger Zone.

That DiNotte looks good, I'd have to search around to see if I can find one maybe.

I thought about a red flashlight. I have several Zebralights, all 90º head flashlights and with a twofish block can mount any way you can think of. They make a red version, the H502r H502r Red AA Flood Headlamp but it is a reflectorless full flood (bare LED) light so the beam is full flood 120º. Great for covering all angles but low intensity. And using very old XP-E emitter with low efficiency drains a good AA in less than one hour at 100 lumens, or about 2 hours at 60 lumens. Maybe 2 of them would offset the lower intensity of the flood beam (and 60 lumens or less output) but then we're up to $140.
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Old 05-10-16, 11:42 AM
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Originally Posted by T Stew
I was wondering what the best replaceable cell taillight is on the market, under $100 if they happen to go higher than that. I don't like not having access to the battery for replacement if needed, or simply being able to swap cells on the fly. I have quite a collection of Eneloop NiMH AA's (and a few AAA) and also 14500 & 18650 li-ion cells. I usually don't ride at night so it's not much of a concern, and do have an older PDW Danger Zone light, but my first tour (mini-tour?) coming up has me wondering if I should consider upgrading. I plan on tent camping most or all the nights, which is why I'd rather have a light I can just swap batteries and not rely on chargers. I may be over-reacting since I'm new to overnight trips and I don't plan on cycling after dark but you never know. I'm sure it would come in handy sooner or later.

Since you mention touring, where are you planning to mount the light? In my experience, lights mounted on the back of a trunk rack take a severe beating compared to seatpost mounting, presumably because all the shock experienced by the rear wheel gets transmitted in a straight line from the dropout directly up through the rack stays and to the light mount. Cheaper replaceable-battery lights often don't hold up, in my experience. They either break and fall off outright, or the vibration causes the batteries lose contact momentarily due to poor battery holder design. If the light has a soft on-off switch, this will often turn off the light, so now you're riding around with no taillight until you notice the problem and turn it back on. So just make sure that whatever recommendations you get, that the light has been tested in sufficiently rough conditions.

Last edited by Metaluna; 05-10-16 at 11:47 AM.
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Old 05-10-16, 12:11 PM
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Originally Posted by Metaluna
Since you mention touring, where are you planning to mount the light? In my experience, lights mounted on the back of a trunk rack take a severe beating compared to seatpost mounting, presumably because all the shock experienced by the rear wheel gets transmitted in a straight line from the dropout directly up through the rack stays and to the light mount. Cheaper replaceable-battery lights often don't hold up, in my experience. They either break and fall off outright, or the vibration causes the batteries lose contact momentarily due to poor battery holder design. If the light has a soft on-off switch, this will often turn off the light, so now you're riding around with no taillight until you notice the problem and turn it back on. So just make sure that whatever recommendations you get, that the light has been tested in sufficiently rough conditions.
Yes would go on back of a Tubus Cosmo rack (for that bike at least). I was assuming lights close to the $100 mark would not have these problems, but I'll keep that in mind. I've never had an issue with my cheap Danger Zone though, but it's a rare thing I use it so not many miles on it. I actually bought that for running before I was a cyclist actually!
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Old 05-10-16, 01:15 PM
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Originally Posted by T Stew
@noglider I think you misunderstood.
I certainly did. Thanks.
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Old 05-10-16, 01:36 PM
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In keeping with what was said in the opening post: Since you aren't expecting to be riding at night I purpose that you get something that might be a bit brighter for added daytime visibility. I would suggest something like the DiNotte quad red. It won't run on AA's but the charge should last for days if you only use for two-three hours at a time on flash.

Most people on tours are still going to need to carry a phone and to charge it. If you stop for a hour or so you should be able to get at least a boost charge for your phone and the rear light if you carry along a small plug-in USB charger with multiple outlets. Of course if you are dead-set on something with AA's the DiNotte 140R with Red LED that uses AA's would be a good choice if you can find one. Otherwise you could buy something like the DiNotte 300R ( if they still sell those ) and build an AA battery holder to power it.

Lastly, you can buy an AA ( USB ) re-charger for your phone ( or USB rear light if you have one ). I've never used one of those myself but they should work although I'm sure it would take perhaps 8 AA's to recharge a phone. Doesn't matter though, AA's are pretty cheap and can be bought almost anywhere.

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Old 05-11-16, 08:50 AM
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Serfas TL-STP:
https://www.serfas.com/products/view...ights%7Cpage:2
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Old 05-11-16, 10:04 AM
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Originally Posted by rfomenko
That looks good, just what @T Stew (the original poster) asked for!
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Old 05-11-16, 10:08 AM
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Originally Posted by noglider
That looks good, just what @T Stew (the original poster) asked for!
https://www.bikeforums.net/electronic...l#post18360606
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Old 05-12-16, 10:42 AM
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Originally Posted by noglider
That looks good, just what @T Stew (the original poster) asked for!
Well that would certainly be an option that met some of my criteria but that can't be the best, I hope. I've seen that one before actually in the other thread that rfomenko linked, none of those seemed very good. I doubt at 35 lumens it's any brighter than what I have, and at less than $30 I put little faith in it. Nice though it has built in reflector plus rack mount. There are plenty of choices for cheapies under $30. And a few really great ones over $100. Where are the decent ones for $50-100? Say close to 100 lumens?

Originally Posted by 01 CAt Man Do
In keeping with what was said in the opening post: Since you aren't expecting to be riding at night I purpose that you get something that might be a bit brighter for added daytime visibility. I would suggest something like the DiNotte quad red. It won't run on AA's but the charge should last for days if you only use for two-three hours at a time on flash.

Most people on tours are still going to need to carry a phone and to charge it. If you stop for a hour or so you should be able to get at least a boost charge for your phone and the rear light if you carry along a small plug-in USB charger with multiple outlets. Of course if you are dead-set on something with AA's the DiNotte 140R with Red LED that uses AA's would be a good choice if you can find one. Otherwise you could buy something like the DiNotte 300R ( if they still sell those ) and build an AA battery holder to power it.

Lastly, you can buy an AA ( USB ) re-charger for your phone ( or USB rear light if you have one ). I've never used one of those myself but they should work although I'm sure it would take perhaps 8 AA's to recharge a phone. Doesn't matter though, AA's are pretty cheap and can be bought almost anywhere.
Catmando - that is exactly what my plan is assuming I can not find an adequate replaceable cell taillight, I just didn't want to clutter up my question saying about my other options. Recharging isn't a big concern since my trips aren't very long and as you point out I might not even be using the light much. And I do have 18650 powered USB charger and a few good cells if needed. I plan on being able to go on trips without stopping at places to recharge. I'm more concerned with high output. And not dead set on AA's, though I do like that option, but equally would take something that ran on 18650 or 14500 cells since I have some of those and a charger. The point being replaceable cells and high output (lets say daytime visible).

In any case I appreciate the advice and it just seems like there is not a lot of great options for what I was looking for, despite the great advancement in LED and driver technology in recent years. Manufacturers seem to push the lengthy run times, and often several cheaper lower powered LEDs instead of just one or two quality high output LEDs. That Serfas is a good example. 25-40 hours run time? Might be good for someone commuting daily that doesnt want to constantly charge but lets say you're only out at night once in a great while, or perhaps only on a road during the day that is really dangerous once in a while and you want to be seen. That kind of describes me since I don't use a bike for commuting (that would be 80 miles a day on a 12 hour work days, no thanks!) and I have great bike trails around so rarely am on a busy road. The trip or two I'd want the light I'd gladly take 4x the output at 1/4 the run time. 10 hours is plenty, heck a few hours would suffice for most trips just to cover busy traffic times. 40 hours is kind of a waste especially if one can re charge or swap cells after each trip. And any light that can churn out hundreds of lumens usually can be throttled back to those super long run times too if you want, so not like you're loosing that ability. C'mon manufacturers, where is all this modern advancement of technology that everyone speaks of?
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Old 05-12-16, 11:34 AM
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Maybe your niche is just too small.
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Old 05-12-16, 12:20 PM
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https://www.bikeforums.net/electronic...ht-info-2.html

The battery is proprietary but replaceable and under 10$. The light is $125 on Amazon but I'm sure you can get it under 100 somewhere from Europe.
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Old 05-13-16, 09:07 PM
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Originally Posted by rfomenko
https://www.bikeforums.net/electronic...ht-info-2.html

The battery is proprietary but replaceable and under 10$. The light is $125 on Amazon but I'm sure you can get it under 100 somewhere from Europe.
Proprietary battery to me no better than internal battery. Needs to be AA (or AAA), 18650, or 14500.

On second thought, since it's cheap and rack mountable, AA, and built in reflector maybe I'll get that Serfas just for the heck of it, and maybe add on the Zebralight I mentioned earlier for added punch, and a 100+ lumen strobe for daylight.

And then if I get some free time, maybe I'll just fabricate my own taillight, since I know the technology is out there, just that manufacturers aren't attempting to make what I am looking for. Maybe a winter project for next year.
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Old 05-13-16, 09:39 PM
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AA and AAA style lights are declining rapidly in availability, and with only 35 lumens with the Serfas you would have the dimmest tail light on the road. You should reconsider what you want. You could buy a Philips Saferide 80 headlight that uses AA bats, and then buy a small roll of tail light lens tape and cover the clear lens with 2 to 4 layers of the tape (test each layer till you get the redness you want). Then you would have the brightest AA battery powered tail light on the market.
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Old 05-13-16, 10:22 PM
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I got the Planet Bike Rack Blinky 5-LED taillight Friday, sorta by mistake. I had too many different lights in my Amazon wishlist, was bleary eyed at 5 am Friday pre-coffee, and confirmed the order for same-day delivery. I'd intended to get a Serfas that takes AA batteries. The PB Blinky 5 take a pair of AAA batteries.

I went ahead and mounted it on the rear rack to try this weekend. It's about as bright as my Blackburn 2'Fer, but with a much narrower aperture for maximum brightness, while also having a pretty effective lens to diffuse and disperse the beam into a horizontal pattern. If that makes sense. It's both directional and wider than the 2'Fer.

The Blackburn 2'Fer is very bright for such a small USB light, but the unshielded LEDs make for very bright pinpoints visible from a wide angle -- I like it for riding in traffic, but not nighttime group rides or around other cyclists at night in the city or on the MUP. I use it as a helmet mounted rear light.

The PB Blinky 5 should be friendlier. The narrow aperture for maximum brightness might actually help approaching vehicles get a better sense of distance and closing speed, while the wide angle diffuser/disperser makes it look more like a small motorcycle taillight. From bicycle height, the PB Blinky 5 appears bright, but not piercing. From the lower position of a typical car driver, the eye line will be closer to the maximum piercing brightness -- which is a good thing because it's still less bright than a typical vehicle or motorcycle taillight.

While I'd rather have an identical type taillight with AA batteries, this PB Blinky 5 may be a keeper. I'll take some photos and videos this weekend to decide. I've noticed some online videos don't really help much because compression tends to degrade reds, so those low resolution videos of taillights aren't as impressive as lossless still photos or viewing with the unaided eye in meatspace.
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Old 05-14-16, 09:53 AM
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Originally Posted by T Stew
Proprietary battery to me no better than internal battery. Needs to be AA (or AAA), 18650, or 14500.

On second thought, since it's cheap and rack mountable, AA, and built in reflector maybe I'll get that Serfas just for the heck of it, and maybe add on the Zebralight I mentioned earlier for added punch, and a 100+ lumen strobe for daylight.

And then if I get some free time, maybe I'll just fabricate my own taillight, since I know the technology is out there, just that manufacturers aren't attempting to make what I am looking for. Maybe a winter project for next year.
I use the Serfas as a rack light in addition to Cygolite Hotshot 80. I made it non-removable by drilling its back panel & mounting it permanently to a rack with a bolt and nut. But if you need it to be removed, you can get an optional rack mount for $6 on Ebay. So in case you decide to get Serfas, get one with an USB port. It is only couple of bucks more expensive but that way you won't have to remove the batteries every time in order to charge them.
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Old 05-14-16, 05:25 PM
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The Cateye Reflex has become my favorite rear light for the reasons the OP mentions. It takes two AAA rechargeable batteries that are easily replaceable, but it also contains built-in reflective technology to keep you safe at dark even if your batteries were to die. Add some LED technology to the mix that last between 30 hrs (constant) and 120 hrs (flashing) at a very attractive price, and this rear light is hard to beat. I've had mine for about 4 years. I used it for about 6 months when I first bought mine and then moved on to what I thought were "better" rechargeable lights. I came back to the Reflex about a year ago when I started doing really long brevet rides. I keep them on even at daytime for extra safety due to their long duration. No worries! Highly recommend it!
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Old 05-14-16, 06:05 PM
  #23  
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Originally Posted by Chris Pringle
The Cateye Reflex has become my favorite rear light for the reasons the OP mentions. It takes two AAA rechargeable batteries that are easily replaceable, but it also contains built-in reflective technology to keep you safe at dark even if your batteries were to die. Add some LED technology to the mix that last between 30 hrs (constant) and 120 hrs (flashing) at a very attractive price, and this rear light is hard to beat. I've had mine for about 4 years. I used it for about 6 months when I first bought mine and then moved on to what I thought were "better" rechargeable lights. I came back to the Reflex about a year ago when I started doing really long brevet rides. I keep them on even at daytime for extra safety due to their long duration. No worries! Highly recommend it!
Cateye Reflex is a joke for daytime riding and that's a fact. I wouldn't even ride with it at night in the city with lots of ambient light. Two AAA batteries and long run times make it a little better than a glorified fifty cent reflector for $20. LEDs evolved a LOT in the last five years and the old school blinkies do not cut it anymore.

Last edited by rfomenko; 05-14-16 at 09:34 PM.
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Old 05-15-16, 01:50 AM
  #24  
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Originally Posted by canklecat
....I've noticed some online videos don't really help much because compression tends to degrade reds, so those low resolution videos of taillights aren't as impressive as lossless still photos or viewing with the unaided eye in meatspace.
Viewing videos of rear lamps is almost pointless IMO. No video can truly duplicate what the human eye can see. I've seen some good videos but they have been few.

Probably the best way to compare rear lights is by viewing the output on a white wall at a given distance ( depending on relative brightness ). Of course for it all to have meaning you would need to know at least one of the lamps being tested, how bright it is and how well it can be viewed under normal night time use. It would also be helpful to have a lux meter to help judge relative brightness.

Originally Posted by rfomenko
....Cateye Reflex is a joke for daytime riding and that's a fact. I wouldn't even ride with it at night in the city with lots of ambient light.
I wouldn't call the Reflex a joke but I wouldn't use it in the day. I've seen people using some really poor rear lights in night time urban settings before. My opinion is that the Reflex would be a step up compared to some of those and that's from just viewing some videos that usually aren't that good.

Last edited by 01 CAt Man Do; 05-15-16 at 01:58 AM.
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Old 05-15-16, 05:38 AM
  #25  
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I use the reflex auto on my commuter. Great set of lights for that. Batteries last a whole winter. Built in big reflector. Auto start is a big plus too. Wouldn't use them on the highway though.
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