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cheap Chinese lights?

Camcycle1974Camcycle1974 Posts: 1,356
edited October 2013 in Road buying advice
A guy I know bought a set of these off Ebay. 3800 lumens for £25! He's an off road biker so needs that power but would that power be too much for the road? There must be a catch as branded lights seem to cost a fortune in comparison.
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  • redveeredvee Posts: 11,922
    3800 is overkill for the road. I've recently bought a 2000 lumen Magicshine which is OTT also but the lowest setting is 200 Lumen which is all I need for my commute home at 2200 apart from the 1.5 mile unlit country lane where the 2000 Lumen is used.
    I've added a signature to prove it is still possible.
  • CuprasCupras Posts: 145
    My 1600 lumen is very bright even for my b road commute on farm tracks and a bargain at £17 delivered from the uk.
    The fact it has a battery pack and charger so I'm not having to buy them is a massive bonus.
  • I've got one rated for 1600lm too. I think I got it about £15-20 range. The light itself is good. But I don't really like the mounting as its not properly secured. They have a few mounting style on ebay.

    Anyway, 1600lm I think is more than good enough. Although my beam is quite focused. I saw some guys bought a different lens to disperse the light to be more useful. I think the only catch is the lifespan of these things.
    I've got for almost 2 years now without much issues, only problem for me is the mounting & the battery seem to be draining off itself even though it's unplugged and unused. Better make sure its fully charged before using.
  • kajjalkajjal Posts: 3,380
    The downside to the lights is very variable / nonexistent quality control and the batteries can be very poor. It is worth buying two so you have a backup as the last thing you want is one failing in the pitch black of night.

    Branded lights are better quality and more reliable.
  • Camcycle1974Camcycle1974 Posts: 1,356
    So, as expected really but they are so cheap that you could just buy another if it goes wrong rather than £200-£300 on a big brand one. Which UK site did you get the 1600L ones from please?
  • jordan_217jordan_217 Posts: 2,580
    Take a look at the Fluxient lights on eBay/Amazon. More expensive than the ones you've quoted but still cheaper than the offerings from Exposure and co. Mine was £65 and comes with a two year warranty from the UK Seller. (not sure how well that'll stand up but you never know...)

    Build quality is spot on and it came with UK charger, carrry pouch, battery, extension cable, bar mount/o-rings and helmet mount. I've yet to use all the batteries charge. I rode in to work this morning on largely unlit, rural roads and even on the middle setting (there's 3 levels of output, plus a flashing mode) there was enough light to ride at normal speed and I wasn't straining to see. My ride in today took just over 2 hours and there was no loss in the lights output during that time, though I did switch to the lowest mode once the sun was coming up.

    If you are based in Cambridge, as per your username then feel free to pop by my office and take a look. I'm just off Cowley Road, PM if you want.

    HTH
    “Training is like fighting with a gorilla. You don’t stop when you’re tired. You stop when the gorilla is tired.”
  • I've recently bought two Chinese lights for 32 pounds, so far so good. I've easily modified the head torch mounting to go on my helmet so for mounting biking a bonus. My friends have lights ten times the price with less power, run times are also impressive. I guess durability may be the issue but all else very good. For the money they are in a different class to " branded " lights.
  • antflyantfly Posts: 3,276
    If you are using bright lights on the road you should really have one with a cut-off, like car headlights, or you could be blinding anyone who looks at it. Unfortunately very few lights on the market have a cut-off. Philips do one, I have it and it's very good and puts the light on the road where you want it and it's relatively cheap.
    Smarter than the average bear.
  • johnmioshjohnmiosh Posts: 211
    Got mine from here http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/271124359186? ... 1439.l2649

    Advertised as 1800 Lumens, but is actually less than 1200. Also as there is no beam focus, some lumens are wasted, so you can't compare lights on their advertised capability.

    I use this as a high powered light, I leave it on full beam all the time, pointed downwards most of the time, but raise it for unlit country lanes. I also keep a bar mounted torch in case it fails.

    Good capacity lasts for 4 -5 hours on full beam, with similar recharge time.
  • slowbikeslowbike Posts: 8,498
    Cateye Nanoshot + (1yo) on full power:
    IMG_2081.jpg

    Ultrafire (cheap amazon torch with bar mount) on full power:
    IMG_2082.jpg
  • Camcycle1974Camcycle1974 Posts: 1,356
    Thanks for all the replies so far. The pics above are very useful as an illustration, the beam on the Nano shot + being much more useable. I will investigate some of the options above and probably opt for something with a higher rating than is actually needed to offset the "claimed" Lumen ratings. The Nanoshot is on my shortlist but for £100 want to be sure its actually better than one of the Ebay options. The bloke in my LBS seems to think anything over 300L is overkill for night rides whereas other I have seen say 600L is the minimum you should go for?

    Jordan, thanks, I might take you up on that offer.
  • Don't use them in the rain.
  • slowbikeslowbike Posts: 8,498
    the Nanoshot (not the plus) can be had for a little over £40 and is a superb light.
    I generally use my Nanoshot plus on 1/2 power - only going up to full power for some particularly crappy lanes.
    The Nanoshot plus is £80 from Hargroves atm.

    The cheap chinese lights can be good - but if you want to KNOW it's good then (IMHO) that's when you need a branded light.
  • jordan_217jordan_217 Posts: 2,580
    Thanks for all the replies so far. The pics above are very useful as an illustration, the beam on the Nano shot + being much more useable. I will investigate some of the options above and probably opt for something with a higher rating than is actually needed to offset the "claimed" Lumen ratings. The Nanoshot is on my shortlist but for £100 want to be sure its actually better than one of the Ebay options. The bloke in my LBS seems to think anything over 300L is overkill for night rides whereas other I have seen say 600L is the minimum you should go for?

    Jordan, thanks, I might take you up on that offer.

    No worries. I also have a Led Lenser P7 at work at the mo, that ouputs a claimed 200 lumens so you can compare the two if you get chance.
    “Training is like fighting with a gorilla. You don’t stop when you’re tired. You stop when the gorilla is tired.”
  • kajjalkajjal Posts: 3,380
    Don't use them in the rain.

    That's a very good point, all in one good quality waterproof lights are more convenient than having battery packs etc.
  • The three people in our club who bought 'cheap Chinese lights' have all had them fail and they've been binned. They might be powerful and cheap but they're total rubbish.
  • crakercraker Posts: 1,739
    I bought a 500 lumen torch off Dx for this winter - it's proved to be a non starter. It's mounted on the handlebars and changes mode every time you hit a teeny tiny bump (often). If you don't mind your torch cycling through hi / lo / long flash / short flash all the time it's excellent....

    I'm back to my original 900 lumen cree thing with battery pack. Over the years it's had new batteries (Tried 6 AAs, now on 2 x 18650s + 1 x playdoh pot for waterproofing) new cabling though-out and a replacement handlebar mount.
  • Camcycle1974Camcycle1974 Posts: 1,356
    Thought they sounded a bit too good to be true. I don't want to spend a fortune though so a Cateye Nanoshot or volt 300 would seem like a decent option.
  • slowbikeslowbike Posts: 8,498
    craker wrote:
    I bought a 500 lumen torch off Dx for this winter - it's proved to be a non starter. It's mounted on the handlebars and changes mode every time you hit a teeny tiny bump (often). If you don't mind your torch cycling through hi / lo / long flash / short flash all the time it's excellent....
    Thats the battery disconnecting briefly ... mine did that - I wrapped a bit of paper around the battery and inserted it back into torch - tested again on a bumpy commute home (different route that took in a fast descent down a fairly poor road) and all was ok ...
  • unixnerdunixnerd Posts: 2,864
    You're right about the cheap 18650 batteries, avoid. Get ones such as Panasonics, see Torchy the Battery Boy's site for batteries and chargers.

    As for the Cree torches themselves I think they're great and have no reliability problems with them even in torrential rain.
    http://www.strathspey.co.uk - Quality Binoculars at a Sensible Price.
    Specialized Roubaix SL3 Expert 2012, Cannondale CAAD5,
    Marin Mount Vision (1997), Edinburgh Country tourer, 3 cats!
  • monkimarkmonkimark Posts: 1,176
    Don't use them in the rain.

    I've been using one of the cheapy torch style chinese ebay lights for about 18 months now - daily commutes come rain or shine and it stays on the bike full time between october and whenever the days get long enough not to need it in spring. It's seen its fair share of rain/hail/snow and is still going strong.
    If it does fail I have another as a spare because they were 2 for £12 or something ridiculous like that.

    Hard for me to justify spending £100 on a light when similar performance can be had for under a tenth of that price.

    Perhaps if I were using it to ride remote off road trails then the possible reliability issues would count for more but as it's only used to light up a few dark patches across the park etc and I have a back up 'be seen' light to get me home in a pinch, I think the £6 light will suffice.
  • unixnerdunixnerd Posts: 2,864
    Perhaps if I were using it to ride remote off road trails then the possible reliability issues would count for more

    I do a lot of that, you always need more than one light source for safety so may as well be two Crees (I run a Maglite head torch too). Once I was stranded when my single P7 torch ran out of battery on a moonless night miles into the woods. I had a very dim LED head torch and it took me ages to get home. I think very few folk know what "dark" really is until they've come face to face with it.
    http://www.strathspey.co.uk - Quality Binoculars at a Sensible Price.
    Specialized Roubaix SL3 Expert 2012, Cannondale CAAD5,
    Marin Mount Vision (1997), Edinburgh Country tourer, 3 cats!
  • bartimaeusbartimaeus Posts: 1,812
    craker wrote:
    I bought a 500 lumen torch off Dx for this winter - it's proved to be a non starter. It's mounted on the handlebars and changes mode every time you hit a teeny tiny bump (often). If you don't mind your torch cycling through hi / lo / long flash / short flash all the time it's excellent....

    As above - wrap the cell in electrical tape to make it fit more snugly. If you are using unprotected cells they are shorter than protected cells and may need to be spaced to avoid momentary loss of contact which is what switches modes... this is an issue with the 501b torches. I use a couple of rare-earth magnets on the -ve end of my cells, especially if bar mounting lights, as a mode change while hitting a tech section is not a fun experience. Not had any problems since.

    dscn8129_zpsd208c161.jpg
    Vitus Sentier VR+ (2018) GT Grade AL 105 (2016)
    Giant Anthem X4 (2010) GT Avalanche 1.0 (2010)
    Kingley Vale and QECP Trail Collective - QECP Trail Building
  • unixnerdunixnerd Posts: 2,864
    As above - wrap the cell in electrical tape to make it fit more snugly.

    This really helps reduce vibration, I do it myself. If the battery is hard to remove afterwards gently flick the torch (but not in the direction of your best ornaments!).
    http://www.strathspey.co.uk - Quality Binoculars at a Sensible Price.
    Specialized Roubaix SL3 Expert 2012, Cannondale CAAD5,
    Marin Mount Vision (1997), Edinburgh Country tourer, 3 cats!
  • bartimaeusbartimaeus Posts: 1,812
    Here's my MTB basic light set - an £8 XM-L2 501b and a £15 XML-U3 C8 powered by 18650 cells reclaimed from laptops.

    Ignore claimed 'Chinese' lumens as they are fiction... if you are interested you can see the theoretical max lumens at different amps here. My "1800 lumen" XML-U3 draws 2.5 amps full power so is max 800 or so lumens, but that is still VERY bright.

    As a guide I find that running both of these on MEDIUM power is enough light for riding technical trails at night, and will give 2.5+ hours on one cell. If you grease the threads the lights will stay waterproof and they are very reliable if you check the assembly (e.g. make sure everything is done up properly).

    But I'm not sure that these are necessarily the best lights for commuting.

    On LOW power they are fine, but that's not enough for a dark road at speed, so what to do if a car comes? Well changing modes is done by cycling through the modes so you may end up blinding a driver with the super-bright fast strobe followed my bright SOS mode, and on HIGH they are ludicrously bright with a very unfriendly beam pattern for oncoming cars. I usually switch my head torch to LOW and keep my bar light on MEDIUM... and if a car comes I dip my bar light by tipping it to point at the ground in front of me.

    dscn8131_zpsf3a4fa40.jpg
    Vitus Sentier VR+ (2018) GT Grade AL 105 (2016)
    Giant Anthem X4 (2010) GT Avalanche 1.0 (2010)
    Kingley Vale and QECP Trail Collective - QECP Trail Building
  • I've been running two cheap Chinese torches 501b bought on recommendations from the MTB Buying Advice thread for over two years now - all weathers commuting on rough roads and they are faultless. If you stick to the tried and tested 501 and 501bs (rather than multi emitter and MagiShine clones which can be hit and miss) you won't go wrong and you will save a fortune (you could even save up for a Ku Ku penthouse) - all the wisdom on this topic is here:

    viewforum.php?f=20005

    Just make sure you get mounts that fit road bars and decent 18650 batteries (that said the two Ultrafires I got with my first torch - viewtopic.php?f=20005&t=12660193 - are actually fine).
  • OuijaOuija Posts: 1,386
    sooguan wrote:
    I think the only catch is the lifespan of these things.
    I've got for almost 2 years now without much issues, only problem for me is the mounting & the battery seem to be draining off itself even though it's unplugged and unused. Better make sure its fully charged before using.

    Worth noting that you shouldn't leave a Lithium Ion battery fully charged as it stresses the battery and reduces the lifespan. Leave it half charged and only charge it before your going to use it.

    Also worth noting that many of these Li-Ion batteries or packs have protection circuits built into them (due to their sensitivity) which constantly draws a current from the battery, hence the reason the battery appears to go flat when stored over time (and you should never let a Li-Ion battery go flat as it may refuse to charge again).
  • Camcycle1974Camcycle1974 Posts: 1,356
    So, after much internet trawling I found what I was after. A small, usb chargeable light with a good output for less than £50. Its a fluxivent u2 mini from torchy the battery boy off amazon. 1000 lumen (so about 600 actual) small but with a good beam and easily attached to different bikes. The light comparison tool on his site is useful. Will report when I get it but quality looks far higher than the cheap Ebay ones and no heavy, cumbersome battery pack.. Just under £50 posted
  • overlord2overlord2 Posts: 339
    Got 3 Cree-t6's last year. Added my own light splitter to the front to widden the beam. Added my own proper cam mounts with a bit of simple DIY'ing. Put the batteries in an old water bottle sealed in plastic.

    Used through all winter no problems. Probably £500 worth of branded lights bought for £50.
  • unixnerdunixnerd Posts: 2,864
    Worth noting there are two types of the external four cell 18650 battery packs. The old one just puts the batteries in a nylon case and isn't very waterproof. The later type (available for at least two years now) has a well sealed silver plastic case with an LED charge indicator, worth paying extra for.
    http://www.strathspey.co.uk - Quality Binoculars at a Sensible Price.
    Specialized Roubaix SL3 Expert 2012, Cannondale CAAD5,
    Marin Mount Vision (1997), Edinburgh Country tourer, 3 cats!
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