Review – Generic Rechargeable Bike Lights (sold under various names)

The four piece set

The four piece set

More and more people are riding with bike lights in the daytime, I personally don’t but it probably is a good idea, considering the statistics and how people seem to have less and less respect for others.  I also don’t ride at night but occasionally I do ride during overcast days, when there could be a storm coming, or near dusk especially when the days are short in the Fall and Spring. 

Normally I have a small emergency flasher light (also a set found here), permanently attached (and one on my wife’s bike) and tucked up under my seat bag on my seat stem in case of getting stuck out during a pop-up thunderstorm or something (and it has happened – sometimes during a zero percent chance of rain according to the weather forecast, sheesh).  This light works well, BTW, with just one LED and the ability to hold a storage charge for a long time via a 2032 watch battery with a second backup battery stored right in the light housing itself.  It is good for emergencies but not the brightest, yet it is small and inconspicuous and because it has an actual non-rechargeable battery it can sit on my bike unused for a long period of time and still be ready in an emergency. (Stephen B. sent me the link to these similar lights but which have three LED’s instead of one though these are rechargeable).

But when I know I am going to be out near dusk or in somewhat darker or possibly questionable situations I have other lights available to attach, but I wanted to try something different that was quickly and easily rechargeable, easily attached and detached at a moment’s notice, and so I decided to try a set of generic lights that I have seen advertised and marketed quite a lot in the last year.  In fact, I see them all over on various websites.

Micro USB charging port, with waterproof cover opened.

Micro USB charging port, with waterproof cover opened.

These are sold by many sellers and under various names, and some are branded with a company name while others are unbranded, but all seem to be manufactured by one company.  A few examples on Amazon are a two count of red and clear from Outair, a single red from Angelia three light combo of white, blue, and red from Angeli, and one red light from GoBike.  You’ll also find them sold all over Amazon, eBay, and other places.

I’ve used them as needed since last Winter and I am quite impressed with how bright they are and how well they work.  I have a pair of the white and a pair of the reds for my bike and my wife’s as well as for running and walking the dogs.

The lights are about 7.5*3*2 cm and as you can see from the pics they are a relatively small thin design, with a curvature on the back that especially fits well when attached to something with a tube-like surface, though they could just as well be strapped to something flat if there were a good attachment point or it wasn’t too wide.  The package includes the light, charging cable and two “o” rings, all packaged in little plastic baggies.

Charging

Charging

The lights each seem to come charged but I did charge them fully when I got them to make sure.  They charge via a regular micro-USB and each comes with a short USB cord.  One thing I have found when charging them is that you probably don’t want to plug them into a smart charger as I got a few incomplete charges.  A wall plug or just your computer works just fine, or a USB hub of any type.  The battery is a non-replaceable 50 mAH Li-Polymer battery and the circuitry stops charging when it is done – when charging it a red light is displayed (different from the regular light itself – and red no matter what color the actual light color is) and this goes off when it is charged.  You can also charge it while it is running as a warning light.  Charge time is relatively quick, depending on how run down they are.  With a good amperage charger maybe a couple of hours at most, usually much shorter.

They are rated IPX-4 rating water-resistant and come with a rubber plug over the charging port.  Unfortunately the charging port plug is a bit flimsy and I had one of mine fall off, but it can be carefully slid back in.  In general unless you are in a terribly wet rainstorm I doubt it would get enough water inside the USB port when the whole thing is attached anyway, but best to have the waterproof plug in place just in case.

There are four little hooks on the light casing, two on either side, and the light attaches via elastic “o” ring type bands. The packages I got had one large and one small “o” ring.  I had a few “o” rings lying around leftover from other hardware, plumbing I suppose, and they worked fine and the “o” rings seem to be exactly like what you would buy into Lowes.  You could also use any sort of other type of ring or small strap that would attach around the light’s hooks too, though the “o” rings that came with it are made for diameters of 12-35 mm or so, they are really stretchy and you can combine two together also.   I was able to attached a light to a Fitbit Charge 2 band while running as well as the buckle of a reflective sash/belt and the dog’s collars and leashes.  And they would fit many other things that you might need a warning light for I would suppose – tractors, lawn tractors, snowblowers, backpacks, slow-moving vehicles, recumbent bikes, bike helmets, trikes, bike racks and carriers, jogging strollers, bike trailers, heck – probably your horse carriage too 😉 

Lights

White one mounted on fork with larger “o” ring

But of course they are probably bought the most for the purpose of using on bikes – the small band fits most things toward the back of the bike while the large band fits most of the things on the front.  They’re attached most anywhere on the frame, seat post, fork, aerobars or bar ends, handlebar, and seat bag (slide the ring vertically down through the strap on the back of the seat bag and slip the hooks of the light over the ring above and below the seat bag strap – see pic below) or any place the attachment ring will fit around..  

These are bright!  With five bright lights in each one – and they are quite visible from a distance (see the video at the bottom of this page for a quick daytime demonstration).  In addition to being bright as seen directly from the front of the lights they are also visible from the left and right and top and bottom.  There are multiple flash modes – holding down the tiny power button on the front for a few seconds turns it on and pressing it again rotates through the flash types, the first flash mode which is an up-and-down following sequence with a spreading flash rotation at the end of the sequence before it starts over, the second mode is a strobe, the third another sequence and the fourth a solid light.  Holding the button again for a few seconds turns it off.  I can usually reach down while biking and turn it on without stopping.  The flashing sequences last for hours, three hours at the most for me but the solid light mode seems to last much less – an hour and a half or less.  Any of the moving or strobe flashing settings are the way to go as they are definitely attention-getting.

One thing of note is that these are warning lights, and you can’t use the white one with a solid always-on to light your way.  Don’t get me wrong; these are super-bright but they are also diffused and their purpose is for warning.  For a real headlight you want to go with a real headlight or flashlight sort of light of course.

lightonseatbagaOutside of the waterproof USB cover coming off on one they seem to be durable and built as well as can be expected, at least over the six or so months that I have had them, with the lens plastic feeling quite thick and the design fairly low-profile and protective yet able to allow the light to be seen well from five directions (directly, from the left and right, and from the top and bottom).

So I have to say that I am quite happy with these lights, and heartily recommend them.  I may even give the blue one a try just for fun.  Both the white and the red ones I have been testing are tremendously bright and very visible, easily attached and detached to pretty much anything and charge relatively quickly.

Again, you can find these sold all over the Internet and some buying links are here –  a two count of red and clear from Outair, a single red from Angelia three light combo of white, blue, and red from Angeli, one red light from GoBike.  Also note the Youtube video below showing the flash sequences.

Red one mounted on back of bike.

 

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