Monday, November 02, 2009

Solar Bike Tail Light

Long time readers of this blog know that I spend a lot of my time thinking about and tinkering with bikes and bike stuff. This time of year half my commute is in the dark, so naturally I think about lights. I've had good luck with and like Planet Bike Lights and I run rechargeable batteries in them. While I notice when the headlight is going dim, I tend to ignore tail lights and when I saw the solar bike light on Amazon last week, I thought "what the heck" and ordered it.

Now remember folks, I'm an Amazon Associate. If you buy something through a link on my blog, I get percentage (usually about 6%) of the purchase price credited to my Amazon account. It doesn't cost you any more and it actually it doesn't matter if you buy the exact product I talk about or some other product on Amazon. If you go to their site through a link on my site and buy anything on Amazon in the next 24 hours, I get a percent of the purchase price credited to my account. The amazing thing isn't that, I plug products on my blog, the amazing thing is that I don't just plug products on my blog. I do try to stick to stuff that I find interesting in the hopes that you folks out there at least find it worth the time to stop by. But remember, I'm not a neutral party in this.

Wow, that was dull, I was supposed to be talking about a bike light. Yeah, well when I talk about things some of you folks buy things and then I wind up with this Amazon credit and I have to spend it on something. So I got this tail light. So far it seems cool. Down the road I'll let you know if it holds up to the rigors of the commute and the trail or if it shorts out or anything. I made a shot a video review with my phone (which I use as pretty much everything but a phone, but that's another post). You can see the review here: Solar Tail Light Review.

Keep 'em rolling,



Bikejuju said...

I'll be curious to see how it works out. In my case I think a) it would compete for space with the bag under my seat, and b) it might just barely charge enough on my morning commute, but maybe not. All day long my bike is in a dark bike storage room. Still, looks nifty, and solar is cool. For about the same price, I just today turned my ride into a "disco bike" by wrapping my frame with a turquoise bikeglow from and blinking all the way home.

Cyclin' Missy said...

I'm curious about whether it shines brightly and how long it lasts if it isn't out in the sun much. What if it's stored in a dark garage overnight then used for a morning commute? Do you have to charge it under a light indoors for the morning ride or does it hold a charge for a few days after being outside in the sun?

Also, how bright is it? Does it allow you to see ahead of you as well as making you visible?

Thanks for doing a review! I look forward to reading it. The price is definitely reasonable.

Kent Peterson said...

My bike sits out on my deck at home and in front of the shop at work, so it should get plenty of sun. Well, as much sun as we get in the Seattle area anyway! I think the light should hold a charge well, it lit right up when I took it out of the package and it had been sitting in a dark envelope for the few days of shipping.

I got the tail light model since I'm sure the front headlight version wouldn't put out as much light as something focused and more powerful, like a Planet Bike Blaze. But as a three LED tail light, it seems just as bright as the other non-solar lights I have. I think the front version would be a good be-seen but not so much a see-the-road light.

I modified the mounting bracket and the light is now in place on the yellow tailbox on my Monocog Flight. The bike has been sitting out on my deck in the rain all night and I just checked the light. It's bright and flashing.

So far, so good.


Bob said...

Hi Kent,

What's the weight penalty over a standard battery-powered 3 led light?


Brian said...


Given the amount of riding you do, why don't you use a dyno hub abd LED lights? Pleanty of light whenever and no recharging to remeber?


Kent Peterson said...


I don't have a scale with enough resolution to tell a difference and hefting the solar light in one hand and a Planet Bike Blinky 3 (with 2 AAA cells inside it) they feel just about the same.


Back around 2000 and 2001 I had a SON hub on my Bike Friday and my fixed gear PX-10. They worked fine but I was never that thrilled with them and wound up selling the hubs off to various pals. As near as I know, they're still going strong. Right now I have 4 bikes (16" wheeled Dahon, 700c Shogun singlespeed, 26" wheeled fixed gear MTB, and my 29er disk braked Flight). I'd be looking at $1000+ to deck all those out with SON hubs. And even with the efficiency of SON hubs, there is a bit of drag. And it doesn't give me any light at the campsite. And I spend some of my time under 3 mph on the trails. So SON hubs just aren't my thing.

Bike Lover said...

Why would we need solar light when we have the dynamo that could be attached to the rear wheel? I guess this would fetch you lot of light if you leave your bike outside in sunlight for a good amount of time and wish it wouldn't cloud or rain :)

Kent Peterson said...

Update: the light doesn't do well in the wet weather. Water seeps in and the battery drains. I tried wrapping the light in plastic, but water still seeps in. So I'm back to using Planet Bike lights.

Nelson Ralls said...

Hi Kent, I'm curious about the phone, did you punt on the Peek? -- Nelson.

Belgie said...

Nice and bright, different flash settings, great visibility, mounting needs a little improvement. If there's one piece of advice I can give is check your seat-post before using this light. The seat-post is the ideal spot for placing this since you want the flashing to be as high as possible. Unfortunately my Raleigh SC40 has a seat shock post which is far too wide to use the mounting :( The rear forks also do not accomodate the mounting so there are precious few places this can be done. Unfurtunately, this means my flashing light is relegated to operate from a plastic bag dangling from my seat