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Multi-purpose rear lights

Old 08-17-12, 09:44 AM
  #1  
SeanT
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Multi-purpose rear lights

Hi guys,

I just got into road biking within the past two months. I'm enjoying it so far! I had been riding a MTB on a MUP for the past year and a half.

I'm looking for some rear lights that probably don't exist. To the south of me is mostly unlit, fairly wide, almost farm-like roads. To the north is civilization with plenty of lit roads and a good amount of roads with bike lanes. And there's a MUP basically across the street that goes for a good 30 miles or so. I don't really foresee myself really riding directly at night, probably more riding at dawn or dusk just as it is dark. (We'll see what winter brings though!)

I wanted to start with two rear lights, one always on and one blinking.

However, I want:
1. A low power light for when I'm on the MUP occasionally so as not to blind joggers, dog walkers, etc. as well as when I'm on the road with another cyclist drafting me. This would probably be the blinking light.
2. A higher power light for when I'm by myself and am coming from down south where the lanes are generally not lit. This could also be useful during the day and would probably be the always on light.
3. Good side visibility.
4. Must use AA or AAA batteries as I have a bunch of Sanyo Eneloops I can use.

I was looking at the Cateye TL-LD1100, especially for its side lights, but it's big and heavy!
Then I almost pulled the trigger on the Mars 4.0 and the Cateye TL-LD650. I liked the 650 since it had a simple pulse mode that only ran three of the lights and I was hoping would be good for the low power use. But some reviews I read didn't seem to like it's side visibility. And everyone likes the PB super flash over the Mars 4.0.

Are there any two lights that would both accomplish my criteria? Or am I doomed to three lights?

Thanks for the input!
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Old 08-17-12, 11:10 AM
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If you have a rack, I'd say go with a B&M 4D Toplight. Takes 2xAA, no blink mode, but acts as both a reflector and a light. If it weren't for your prerequiste of strictly AA/AAA, I'd suggest the Hotshot and just program whatever output or flash mode you want. The new NR Solas supossedly has a 'group ride' mode, but it's USB powered as well.

I've got the 4D, and it does a good job of side visibility as well. I can stand at my handlebars and still see the light.
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Old 08-17-12, 12:01 PM
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SeanT
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Good point, should have thought to mention that I do not have a rack.
I suppose if the newer lights with the integrated batteries have different levels, it might just be worth it to get one of those and another cheaper light. So many choices... The thing I don't like about those is that they are essentially throw away devices when the battery dies. Yes, people in the know can replace the batteries themselves, but I'm not one of them.
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Old 08-17-12, 12:28 PM
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The Cygolite Hotshot has user-adjustable modes. I have one set for MUP use, I have it set extremely dim. When I get to the road, I hit the "mode" button once and it switches over to a super-bright flash mode I have set up. You can set brightness and flash speed.
It does not use AA or AAA batteries. Instead it has a built in rechargeable. Beam is pretty narrow, but it can get really bright.
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Old 08-17-12, 02:49 PM
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Another option that may appeal to you, depending on your handlebars and ****ers (or mirror) is something like the Bontrager Beacon lights. They use AAA and come in either drop bar or flat bar variants, but IIRC, the run time is inflated. I think mechBgon has/had these and also believe that he mentioned that there is a little rubber thingy that will need to be replaced from time to time.

You could run the bar end lights on your group rides and get like a Radbot 1k for the seat post. The Radbot could be active while out in traffic and then passive (does double duty as a reflector) for group rides/MUP.
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Old 08-17-12, 08:10 PM
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Cateye Rapid 3 has a very bright flash mode and very dim one. Its brighter than the Mars 4.0 or Superflash and smaller too. Regulated output so will keep constant brightness for the full runtime (Mars and superflash are not regulated). The dim flash is very directional too so if correctly mounted wont be in the eyes of anyone drafting you.
Single AA and seatstay mounting possible.
http://www.cateye.com/en/products/detail/TL-LD630-R/
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Old 08-17-12, 08:28 PM
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Bunch of youtube vids of that Rapid 3. Not bad. Then I saw one for the Rapid 5. I think Cateye is getting with the program now...
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Old 08-17-12, 10:06 PM
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Personally, I'd probably get a separate reflector and light. The reflector is just a few bucks and stays on your bike all the time, so even if you forget or drop the light you still have some visibility. Plus, you have much wider range of lights to select from.

Two lights setup isn't a bad idea. You could use a cheap unit for low-power solid / extra flash, and use the better one as a solid long-range light.

Plenty of cheap low-power AAA lights available, the local HW stores are full of them - I agree those small flat batteries are a pain, even if you can change them yourself.

Last edited by proileri; 08-17-12 at 11:33 PM.
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Old 08-23-12, 07:34 PM
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I'm thinking of getting the Radbot 1000 and the Cateye TL-LD650. I need a rear reflector at night by law so the Radbot would fit the bill as well as being a good long range light. The 650 can give me some good short range wide visibility.

I hardly have any seatpost space available, maybe 2 inches to the top of the bag beneath the seat. Are there any mounts that kind of angle down a little so I could use the seatpost? Or I guess I could put the Radbot on a seatstay. I'm planning on clipping the 650 to the seat bag and just take it off whenever it's not dark.
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