Affordable conspicuity

Quick Reminder: The last San Jose Bike Train of 2016 rolls on the Winter Solstice, departing Caffe Bel Bacio in San Jose’s Little Italy at 8:15 A.M. on Wednesday, December 21, 2016. Bring a Santa hat for a group photo!

After I warned you off ultra-cheap bicycle lights, Cherokee suggested this inexpensive knock-off of an older Magicshine bike light. I was skeptical, but for only $18 and free shipping I gave it a try.

Communite bright bicycle headlight

Unlike other discount lights I’ve tried, this one almost lives up to its claims, with a blazing 1000 lumens lighting the road in front of me and 3 hours of battery life at “high” mode. After two hours of exposure to rain with my bike (and it’s light) sitting on the front of a commuter bus, I disassembled this light and found the inside is completely dry, as is the power connector. The aluminum housing means this light is super robust and sheds heat readily. I found the inside of my battery pack also remained dry, though I’ve heard complaints from others that their power packs failed after rain exposure so you’re mileage may vary.

This lights does have drawbacks:

  • The design obviously dates from five years ago, when there was still a lot of DIY aesthetic in bike lights, especially brighter lights like this one. Most of these other drawbacks stem from this older design.
  • I’m not a fan of external battery packs with proprietary chargers.
  • The wires are so long I can mount the battery pack under my saddle and run cables to the handlebars. That means a wiring mess that I need to cleanup with cable ties, which in turn results in inconvenience when I remove the battery pack to charge it.
  • Because of the external battery pack and long cables, it’s hard to make this look “pro.” If clean lines are important to you, this might not be your bike light. If you’re the kind of cyclist who rides with a pool noodle or flash flags and a slow-vehicle triangle pinned to the back of your bike shorts, this light should be fine.
  • The beam pattern is a tight round blob. This is easily rectified with this diffuser lens that easily pops in to make an awesomely perfect horizontal beam.
  • There’s no side-to-side adjustment at all.

I’m not sure I can recommend this light at the $50 list price, but it’s a steal discounted right now to under $20. If you need very inexpensive bright lights and you’re okay with the clunky design, go grab it right now while you can and buy the diffuser lens pack while you’re at it. I liked the first light so much I bought a second one.

Image provided by vendor. I bought my review unit of the Comunite “1200 Lumens Super Bright CREE XML T6 LED Rechargeable Waterproof Mountain Bike Headlight Bicycle Headlamp Flashlight with 5200mah Battery Pack.” If you purchase after clicking through on the Amazon affiliate links above I might get a percentage of what you pay, and I thank you for your support.

2 Comments

  • Volar
    December 20, 2016 - 6:25 pm | Permalink

    How are you measuring light output? I assume you don’t have an integrating sphere, so probably using DSLR/light meter or similar?

  • December 23, 2016 - 12:35 pm | Permalink

    That is the exact same light I cited in my December 7th comment. I also recommend you get a replacement bag for it as noted in the web link. For the “Better Battery Case,” you want to scroll down to “Lighting Serendipity.” I would appreciate your future post on the diffuser. As I saw it, it made the beam wider, but didn’t do anything to focus things up/down. THAT has been the problem with the light in my experience. Particularly on high setting, it can blind oncoming traffic.

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