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Rant: USB rechargeable tail light

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Rant: USB rechargeable tail light

Old 12-22-14, 12:08 AM
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woodcraft
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Rant: USB rechargeable tail light

I purchased a Cateye rechargeable blinky (2 actually, one to give away), and used it for the first time yesterday. It replaced a Giant light w/ 2 AAA batteries @ 64 grams that works pretty well.

The day was grey and wet, so I put the light on at the start of the ride, not flashing so as to be less annoying to others in the group.

Half way through the ride, the battery had run down & the light was off.

It's bright & all, but what good is a light that will be dead when you need it?

Why such a short run time, when a regular blinky with a watch battery lasts for a year, & the AAA light will probably go all winter.

End rant.
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Old 12-22-14, 12:13 AM
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Steady uses more battery power.

On High 1 hour run time

http://202.215.251.86/images/manual/...R-F_ENG_v4.pdf
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Old 12-22-14, 12:20 AM
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What model? How long is it rated to run? Did it run that long? If it didn't run as long as it was supposed to, consider contacting Cateye for a replacement or refund. Or maybe someone that knows batteries can give some suggestions on battery behavior.

Bummer it ran out on you, but I've found most USB taillights last for a very long time on one charge, due to the fact they don't need to put out the same power as a headlight. When commuting, I typically charge my taillights maybe once a week (twice if I make extra trips, or accidentally leave a light on for some reason), while I run headlights on high burn and charge them every two days or so.

Edit: oh yeah, missed the part about it being on steady. That's probably it. Check the list of burn times on this model: http://www.cateye.com/en/products/de...00-R/moreinfo/

Last edited by Raiden; 12-22-14 at 12:24 AM.
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Old 12-22-14, 12:32 AM
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Model Rapid 1. It did what it was designed to do- run 2 hours on steady.

This is my point- what good is a light that only runs 2 hours?

Not sure why I thought this was worth a try.
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Old 12-22-14, 12:33 AM
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I know a little bit about batteries. At the risk of being smug I'll ask if you charged it first. If it was fully charged and it didn't last as long as it was supposed to you should ask for a refund. Quality control on cheap Chinese lithium batteries is spotty and it isn't unusual for the batteries to underperform. Temperature will also affect battery life, so if it's cold you should expect shorter operating life.

I only use rear lights on blink and just bought a second one for backup in case I forget to charge my main light.

edit: just saw your post. I only use my lights when it's dark and I think they're more effective blinking. 2 hours would work for my daily commute if I wanted to leave it on steadily. That's not much different than my front light which I usually charge every day and it has a large (4.6 Ah) battery.
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Old 12-22-14, 12:46 AM
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Originally Posted by gregf83 View Post
edit: just saw your post. I only use my lights when it's dark and I think they're more effective blinking. 2 hours would work for my daily commute if I wanted to leave it on steadily. That's not much different than my front light which I usually charge every day and it has a large (4.6 Ah) battery.
I use my rear light the same way. Keep in mind that his question is about group riding, where you generally can't set it to blink, or you'll be blinding the guy behind you. How about setting it to blink and pointing it toward the ground?

OP, If you've got to run it steady for longer than two hours, get a bigger light. The Rapid X will do- not only does it last longer on low steady, the pulse 'flash' isn't as bad on the eyes as the strobe style flashes most lights are programmed for. The Volt 50 is cool too, you can replace the battery on it in just a few seconds- buy extras , keep them in your pockets, ride at night forever.
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Old 12-22-14, 12:48 AM
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I use one from performance. 60 lumens for $30ish. Blinking lasts about 6 hours.
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Old 12-22-14, 12:53 AM
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Originally Posted by Raiden View Post
I use my rear light the same way. Keep in mind that his question is about group riding, where you generally can't set it to blink, or you'll be blinding the guy behind you. How about setting it to blink and pointing it toward the ground?

OP, If you've got to run it steady for longer than two hours, get a bigger light. The Rapid X will do- not only does it last longer on low steady, the pulse 'flash' isn't as bad on the eyes as the strobe style flashes most lights are programmed for. The Volt 50 is cool too, you can replace the battery on it in just a few seconds- buy extras , keep them in your pockets, ride at night forever.
The only time I would consider a rear light on a group ride would be in the fog or dark and I hate riding in the fog so I generally skip group rides when it's foggy. My group rides are always in daylight so I don't use lights.
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Old 12-22-14, 12:55 AM
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Originally Posted by woodcraft View Post
Model Rapid 1. It did what it was designed to do- run 2 hours on steady.

This is my point- what good is a light that only runs 2 hours?
A lot of lights are intended for commuters, who may only be riding for say half an hour a night. Charge once a week for 4 commutes or whatever, and a lot of them will be using flashing modes which last a lot longer. If you wanted a light for long group rides in daytime, using steady, then you simply bought the wrong light. My Niterider Solas claims 4:30 on high steady, and 36 hours on low steady.
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Old 12-22-14, 12:59 AM
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Originally Posted by gregf83 View Post
The only time I would consider a rear light on a group ride would be in the fog or dark and I hate riding in the fog so I generally skip group rides when it's foggy. My group rides are always in daylight so I don't use lights.
Well, there are about 14 hours of darkness in Californa per day right now. Kinda hard to ride in the morning or evening (those times that bookend the 'middle of the day when you do stuff with people') without riding in the dark
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Old 12-22-14, 01:14 AM
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Originally Posted by stephtu View Post
A lot of lights are intended for commuters, who may only be riding for say half an hour a night. Charge once a week for 4 commutes or whatever, and a lot of them will be using flashing modes which last a lot longer. If you wanted a light for long group rides in daytime, using steady, then you simply bought the wrong light. My Niterider Solas claims 4:30 on high steady, and 36 hours on low steady.

Your Nightrider light looks pretty good. I have one of their headlights that I like. Interesting that they say twice the run time on low steady vs blinking.

Edit- Many complaints on Amazon of the mount & USB jack breaking. That could also be rant-worthy.

Last edited by woodcraft; 12-22-14 at 10:14 AM.
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Old 12-22-14, 02:49 AM
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Woodcraft - what is your budget? Light and Motion make a VIS 180 that is rechargeable and on group ride mode, it will last for a long time.
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Old 12-22-14, 03:52 AM
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Knog's Road R USB taillight rocks 70 lumens max and offers a Peloton mode of reduce brightness steady lighting for 13hrs, and an EcoFlash mode that runs for 20hrs. Max brightness modes are 5-7 or so hours.

Lezyne's Zecto Drive has a 4hr economy (low power) steady mode for group rides and also, cleverly, a 4 level battery status indicator that's always visible when light is on. Very handy to know level before heading out.
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Old 12-22-14, 05:01 AM
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Any chance a rechargeable battery pack, carried in a seat bag attached to your rear light would get you more burn time?
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Old 12-22-14, 05:52 AM
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Presumably, the intended use of the light is blinking/flashing mode. Steady mode is there if you really want it but the light is not designed around it. Hence the tiny battery.

Not that it would have killed them to put in a decent battery anyway. Cygolite Hotshot 2W weighs 55 g vs. Cateye Rapid 1's 40 g, it's one of the brightest rechargeable USB taillights out there, it lasts 4.5 hours on steady and several days in blinking mode, and it charges in 3 hours vs. Cateye's 4.
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Old 12-22-14, 07:03 AM
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Get one of these: Robot Check

The so-called "low beam" is still plenty bright, and in blink mode (which is really what you should be using) it lasts nine hours. The issue isn't being USB rechargeable but rather the light itself.
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Old 12-22-14, 08:40 AM
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Serfas Thuderbolts Brah ... 9 hours run time, hour to 1.5 hour charge time.

Visible up to 1900 yds.

I have the red tail, 2 white Thunderbolts on each side of front fork and a 550 lumen Serfas headlight.

Thunderbolts are about $40 bucks each, comes with cord but not charger.

Great product.

Last edited by CNC2204; 12-22-14 at 08:45 AM.
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Old 12-22-14, 08:49 AM
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The simple answer is that your new light is a LOT brighter and probably makes you more visible from a longer distance than the ones that go for weeks. Up close, it might not seem much brighter, but I bet it is at more distance. Hopefully it has a lower steady mode, or a slow pulse mode that burns at a lower rate you can use for a longer ride. I would use this on high for a commute, or a ride that starts in daylight and only need the tail light for an hour or so at the end. The better lights let you chose a mode that balances brightness an run time to fit your ride. If you want a super bright light that runs all night, you're going to spend some money and it will probably have an external battery pack.
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Old 12-22-14, 09:24 AM
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Originally Posted by Raiden View Post
Well, there are about 14 hours of darkness in Californa per day right now. Kinda hard to ride in the morning or evening (those times that bookend the 'middle of the day when you do stuff with people') without riding in the dark
Isn't a group ride doing 'stuff with people' I commute 10 hrs during the week in the dark these days so skip any opportunities for dark group rides. There are no group rides around here in the dark that I'm aware of. Perhaps it's because I'm old and know too many retired guys who are allergic to dark.
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Old 12-22-14, 09:38 AM
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Originally Posted by CNC2204 View Post

Serfas Thuderbolts Brah ... 9 hours run time, hour to 1.5 hour charge time.

Visible up to 1900 yds.

I have the red tail, 2 white Thunderbolts on each side of front fork and a 550 lumen Serfas headlight.

Thunderbolts are about $40 bucks each, comes with cord but not charger.

Great product.
I have a set of Thunderbolts and I love them but even these are only rated to last 1.5 hours if on steady:

Modes: 1.5 hours (high steady); 2.5 hours (low steady); 4 hours (high flash); 7.5 hours (low flash)

https://www.serfas.com/products/view/669/
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Old 12-22-14, 10:13 AM
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I prefer this on group rides, since I can easily switch it off it I'm not in the rear. Otherwise it's cheap, swaps battery easily, and is very bright.



$10 on dx.com
Buy Ultrafire WF-501B Philips Luxeon K2 Red LED Flashlight (1*18650/2*CR123A)
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Old 12-22-14, 10:15 AM
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Lights - don't get me started!

If you ask me, rechargeable isn't worth it if the charge doesn't last as long as a new battery. The cost of batteries is nominal, it's the nuisance of changing them or charging them that I can do without. I HATE having to fiddle with those stupid lights every time I go for an early morning ride. Every minute counts at such times, and I don't have any to spare for that nonsense!

I don't care what anyone says; my next bike (for wet and winter riding and early morning training rides) is gonna have a dynohub!
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Old 12-22-14, 10:22 AM
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Originally Posted by kbarch View Post
Lights - don't get me started!

If you ask me, rechargeable isn't worth it if the charge doesn't last as long as a new battery. The cost of batteries is nominal, it's the nuisance of changing them or charging them that I can do without. I HATE having to fiddle with those stupid lights every time I go for an early morning ride. Every minute counts at such times, and I don't have any to spare for that nonsense!

I don't care what anyone says; my next bike (for wet and winter riding and early morning training rides) is gonna have a dynohub!
As I was reading your post, I was thinking "this guy needs a dynohub". Then I got to the last line
If you do more than 2-3 hrs of riding at night on a regular basis, a dynohub is definitely the way to go.
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Old 12-22-14, 10:25 AM
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I have been using a Knog Blinder 4 LED for over two years. It will go about 45-50 hours on a charge if you use the slow blink setting. The early rap on these lights was that the rubber strap (built in, non removable) would crack then break. I have had no such problem. It just works and built in USB plug means I can plug it in nearly anywhere (Car, Home, Office). About a 4 hour charge from dead battery.
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Old 12-22-14, 10:36 AM
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GIANT Bicycle Taillight NUMEN TL1 Mountain Bike LED Flash Warming Taillught Red - Lights & Reflectors - Bike Accessories

Maybe just stick with this. Pretty bright, visible from the side, good mount, they seem to claim 50 hr run time.

I want something that will be there when needed, & when the alkaline batteries get low the light dims rather than cutting out entirely.

Another guy on the same ride had (pretty sure) the Serfas light. It died too.
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