nitetfighter vs traditional brands?
Forgive if this has been asked before, but with the apparent quality, performance and price of these latest nitefighter lights, why would folks go with one of the traditional light brands?
I feel like perhaps I'm missing something.
I have a Trail LED XXX, Niterider 1800 race, and Serfas 1000 that all work well but all cost much more than a BT21. I bought a BT21 so I had an inexpensive light that I could lend to friends who wanted to try night riding.
I also wanted a lightweight light to mount on my daughter's helmet in addition to her bar mount light.
I'd ask the same question, why would someone pay so much for a "name brand" light when a good quality cheap alternative exists?
Well there are some reasons I can think of:
1 - Those name brand lights are still better in some way (beam patterns, driver functionality/features, mounts, higher quality battery packs, better craftsmanship, etc. . .) even if only slightly better. Some people can't afford to use something not totally reliable.
2 - Quite a few of the Chinese lights are flat out copies of the name brand lights and some people will not support that. (China has no copyright/patent laws to protect against this.)
3 - Some people are driven by brands. They have to have the brand names.
4 - The cheap Chinese lights have less quality control. Nitefighter has proven they are not immune to this, better than most of the others (if not all) but still have some issues.
Do you have the BT21 yet? What's your impression comparing it to the name brand lights?
Originally Posted by kf9yr
I do have the BT21. I haven't gone on a night ride with it yet.
My daughter is on summer break so we ride at 6am until school starts next week. We will do at least one night ride a week after that as we live in AZ and the afternoon weather is brutal in our area.
I'll add that the Chinese knock-offs are copies in style only.
Cheap aluminum alloys.
Nylon or other cheap wire sheaths instead of silicon.
Cheap, low MTTF switches and drivers.
Cheap circuit boards that have low vibration cycle ratings.
Low quality copper wires.
Barely enough threading for screws to grab onto.
Screws that are not long enough.
Outside threaded aluminum sections are too thin (mainly a flashlight issue).
Bezel threaded ends are too thin.
Threads not chased or lubed.
Threads are often mismatched (angle, rise) and loose.
Products rarely meet any IP rating.
Lamps are rated at the LED's max lumen, supplied drivers don't come close.
Not enough heatsinking to deliver the rated output without destroying the driver or LED.
Flimy bar mounts.
Too cheap to be worth returning, so few ever do.
So many bad beam patterns, unless you love a good thrower (not good for biking).
I've said it a thousand times, you get what you pay for. There are some asian mfg's that are improving their products, but those improvements are being reflected in the price. There's a reason a $205 Gloworm head costs $205, and it's not due to some conspiracy to make us pay 10x the value of a product. They use engineers that make good money because they come up with good designs, and use companies that provide quality parts that they can trust won't result in a ton of returns.
I am all for a bit of DIYing on a cheap overseas lamp to get some great output, but at the end of the day, the time it takes is worth more than the price difference for most of us, and you're still left with the deficiencies of the components you kept.
My preferred route for DIYing is purchasing stand alone components. Ends up being about the same cost as modding a deficient unit, and you get better quality components all around. I like to suggest two routes: Using copper end caps and unions to create a copper housing from scratch, or using these nice housings:
DIY LED Housing Heatsink Kit for Bike ATV DRL SUV or Headlamp | eBay
which look great and work well. Add a driver, LED, button, and wire of your choice. Last head unit I built ran me a total of $42, and ran at 3A reliably (while moving). As awesome as it is, my Gloworm XS head unit is worth every bit of the $195 I paid, as is the X2 that cost me $115.
I will suffer no butt-hurt fools!
You get a warranty and excellent customer service with the name brand lights. Plus you get programmable drivers, better overall quality and better output. Not to mention that the people who make the lights are making an honest living and providing you with an excellent product.
The thing with the cheap lights is that you end up buying a new light every few months. You say to yourself "Oh it's just another $30" and at the end of two years you have several hundred dollars of lightheads in a box. You end up as sort of a collector of these things. You might as well just save your money and buy one set of really good lights.
On the plus side of the cheap lights you can get into a night riding for under a hundred bucks just to see if you like it.
Wow, that's a nice and very inexpensive housing!
Originally Posted by bigflamingtaco
Theres 100 things i could say, but Yinding and Nitefighter are the "exceptions" to alot of the "chinese junk" rules (see that huge list above, it isnt lying). QC, cheap mount etc are true. But overall quality when its right is really good. Functionality is basic but works well. Nitefighter IS THE ONLY EXCEPTION to the battery pack rule though. They use brand name cells, I have personally confirmed (with pictures) the cells used in their packs, they dont lie about any of it. And they take other details into account like silicone internal wiring, proper gauge and mid quality battery connectors, everything properly machined and things are assembled correctly, and so on. They arent the brand name but they are 100x closer to brand name quality than 99.9% of chinese lights. Oh and they actually stand behind their products.
Beyond that, it comes down to budget. DO i need to spend $2-300 on basically a fancy flashlight, hell no. can replace these lights numerous times (though none I own of the chinese lights have failed me completely, but my yinding and nitefighters are the only ones to give me 0 issues thus far. Would I buy a brand name light, glowworm XS is the only one I would like to have and would ALMOST consider saving for. Only cause i like the looks and functionality of it. BUt since my wife would have my balls if I spent that on a bike light, Im building my own light that will actually put it to shame (except the programmable driver part, I have to have my driver programmed during assembly, but I got to set the programming specs).
Just comes down to how much you want to spend and how important brand name and longevity vs cost are. But even the best lights can fail at the wrong time, just lower the cost, the chances go up. And always carry a spare.
BTW op, if you wanted a low weight light for your daughter, yinding would have been better, have one for my sons helmet cause they are noticeably lighter than bt21 (which is my go to helmet light)
Trek Marlin 29er
Like It, Love It, Want Some More Of It!
bigflamingtaco, most of what you say is true of "Cheap Chinese knockoffs", but not true at all of Nitefighter (and perhaps a handful of others) the brand this thread was started about.
Originally Posted by bigflamingtaco
Another point is that sure those name brand expensive lights may last forever, but the way technology is moving they'll be "old tech" before too long at which time you may be looking at the next costly name brand light. At least with the cheap lights you don't feel like you lost money investing in something that became outdated. You just move on to the next one.
Personally I enjoying tinkering with these lights as a hobby. I collect them too. I moved into bike lights out of the flashlight world. With bike lights I at least feel like I'm dealing with something I have practical use for. With flashlights, most of them just sit on a shelf (not to say bike lights don't sit on a shelf either). Because it's a hobby, I don't mind spending $30 here and there spread out over time totaling hundreds of dollars.
Another aspect of it is the community we have here around the topic of cheap lights. We review lights posting pics and info and share which lights are worth buying, which are good with mods, which are good out of the box, and which are junk not to waste money on.
I'm not moving on to name brand lights any time soon. I've always been a "bang for the buck" guy and I just don't see the name brand lights doing it for me.
How about a light built my a fellow mountain biker?
I have been building my Amoeba high performance LED bike light for over 7 years now, hanging out in the light forums and offering them to people who are interested. I purchase high quality parts (switches, cables, batteries, chargers) that I can stand behind for years. If you ever have a problem with one of my lights, just get it back to me and I will get it repaired and right back out to you. I am always using the latest and greatest LED's long before the big name manufacturer's and Chinese are using them. I can upgrade any light I have ever built to the latest and greatest LED offerings, no need to buy a new light every time the next new LED is released. I can do a standard mode (on or off) model or a multi mode w/strobing model using quality TaskLED drivers. I offer many different mounting options including using Vancbiker's awesome GOPro adapters.
If interested, shoot me an email to the address in my signature.
I've not had my hands on a Nitefighter, but in making adapters to try to fit them, I find that they are machined pretty much the same as all the other Chinese lights. Pretty loose tolerances. From the original case dimensions I was provided for the BT21, I'm now on my third set of looser adapter tolerances to make sure they will fit all housings. In trying to make a BT40S version I am finding two different "styles" of bases.
Originally Posted by garrybunk
Dump,,, many years ago when I started night riding most of the lights I was aware of and had read on MTBR were brand names. Then a huge knock off of Lupines Tesla was available,,,, the MS for about a fifth the cost. The threads were huge and primarily positive of this new product. So despite my collection of top end products I purchased one, which at that time were sold with some very sketchy battery's,,,, just to see what the hype was about. I think I was the only one not impressed with the beam and the output as the max output was equal to a 30% output setting on my Lupine Wilma I had at that time (yes I know were dealing apples/oranges),, but brand name Killed this light even at half power. Plus beam quality was much better as well on the Wilma. That five year old light is still running with the same battery and still holds it's own against many of today's lights.
Now,,,, today some of those lower end lights have come along way,, multi emitters for one,,,better battery's etc. Thanx to those who have taken the time to test and review, and recommend good products with good battery's some seem like a very good deal and if I was starting out now and was on a budget would feel more confident purchasing than before for sure.
I'm not a tinkerer,,, and just want a quality light backed by a quality vender or retail company,, or fellow rider who builds quality lights that will take care of me well after my purchase if needed. I also like the idea that I can contribute to some one making somewhat of a decent living and not living in poverty.
So for me,, I just want to ride and make it home safe and know my (over priced)lights did the job no matter the temperature or other weather conditions or of the thousands of miles they have held up,, for me I prefer certain brand names if for no other reason,,, piece of mind,,, oh and ridicules performance!!
Thanks for the thoughts all... makes sense.
Have both (cheap-o Chinese and better named brands) and my take after a lot of night riding is that when you want high-quality hassle-free use, go with the better brands (you get what you pay for). My primary set is Gemini from action-led and they are high-quality, have a warranty, and are what I use for occasional endurance racing and general fall/winter night riding . I have some of the popular cheapies that are discussed on this site ad-nauseam for extras that I still use from time to time. They have actually been v. reliable but plenty of folks I ride with have had niggling issues with their cheap lights. If you are a light nerd (no offense) and enjoy the modding and tinkering, I can see the allure. I got into them just to see how cheap of a setup I could get and still have fun (because I am a bit of a nerd myself!); my cheap set is a Yinding and a SSX2. But at the end of the day, the better brands are what I would recommend for most folks. My complete Gemini setup was ~$275. My complete cheapie setup was around $75. I will also say that in the cheapie-realm, there are some seriously crappy lights ($15 ones off Amazon) vs. better ones (Yinding, Nitefighter, etc.) so go with what folks seem to be talking about here.
Geologist by trade...bicycle mechanic (former) by the grace of God!
2012 Specialized Stumpy EVO 29 HT
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