Probably the worst rear light design in the world…

August 23, 2009 at 22:38 | Posted in bicycles | Leave a comment

I was in the outlet Kathmandu store at Birkenhead point the other day, and noticed that had a cycling rear light reduced to $10 from $30. I usually have two lights on my bikes, and only have one on the new one, so I bought it. I wasn’t expecting much (their cycling stuff is pretty cheap and nasty), but I though might do the job for $10.

I couldn’t see much of how it worked, as it was in one of those plastic packages that is virtually impossible to open, with most if it obscured by cardboard. So when I got it home, and managed to open the packet (you know the sort of thing; plastic that is almost impervious to normal scissors, and which forms razor sharp edges which slash at you as you attempt to rip the thing open in frustration). The next step was to put batteries into it.

This was no simple task. Apart from the challenge of getting the light itself out of the holder (which took me a few minutes to work out), in order to change the batteries you have to remove three screws. Three tiny tiny screws. Luckily, they also provide a tiny tiny screwdriver to do this with.

Here is one of the tiny tiny screws, together with the tiny tiny screwdriver, photographed with a one dollar coin for scale:

And here is the whole light. That back panel has a waterproof seal on it, which is almost impossible to keep in place whilst you do up the tiny tiny screws with the tiny tiny screwdriver.

I can just imagine being out on the road at night, perhaps in the rain,, and needing to put new batteries in the thing, and reaching into the tool bag to get the tiny tiny screwdriver, and then undoing those tiny tiny screws, putting them aside whilst changing the batteries, and then putting them in again with the tiny tiny screwdriver. Or more likely never seeing them again as they roll into a crack in the asphalt.

It seems amazing to me that it wasn’t cheaper to simply mould the back plate with a more conventional clip or slide-on cover. Surely those tiny tiny screws, and the tiny tiny screwdriver, are more expensive both to manufacture and assemble.

As if that isn’t enough, the way it attaches to the bike is a bit odd too. Rather than a fitting that tightens around the frame by turning a screw, it has a kind of rubbery strap which has to be pulled tight. This works very poorly. And it’s also worth noting that the bracket that holds the light relies on friction to stop it drooping, rather than having notches where the parts mate in order to hold it firm at the desired angle.

And the whole thing is just so fugly. Somehow I don’t see me using this.

So if anyone wants a weird rear light, complete with a tiny tiny screwdriver, let me know. It’s free to a good home.


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