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  1. #1
    nimble biker
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    why are bike lights getting too expensive?

    why are bike lights getting too expensive?

    I have the feeling that bikers are being fleeced by light companies.

  2. #2
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    Re: why are bike lights getting too expensive?

    Nevermind..

  3. #3
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    Re: why are bike lights getting too expensive?

    Quote Originally Posted by JeffTN View Post
    I haven't bought the bike light yet, but I've bought several flashlights from Greg and they've all been top notch and comparable to pricier stuff. Great dude to work with.

    He has this now, but would probably be willing to listen to feedback if the MTB community wanted a custom model. .

    http://shop.gregmcgeeengineering.com...ht-Kit-011.htm

    (Coupon code TNMTE10 will net you 10% off on anything. )

    And yes, lighting in general is getting more expensive for the premium brands.

    You can find that mj clone for less than half of that.

    Bad attempt..............FAIL

    BUY AN ADD

  4. #4
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    Re: why are bike lights getting too expensive?

    Quote Originally Posted by knoob View Post
    You can find that mj clone for less than half of that.

    Bad attempt..............FAIL

    BUY AN ADD
    Huh? I'm certainly not gaining anything by posting that link. Just a customer.

    In any case, edited my original post to avoid the wrath of knoob.

  5. #5
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    Bike light have always been a ripoff. $200 minimum. The $30 lights from china are light years ahead of what we had 15 years ago.

  6. #6
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    I think it's a very specific market. The quality of these lanterns is great. But the price relative Chinese power are unrivaled. I like particularly Magicshine for its good quality, robustness, ease of use, power, reliability and reasonable price of course. Even if I had money Lupine is a joy, all quality, power and great user experience, the few second hand I had.
    Looking for power lights?, see here

  7. #7
    Rogue Exterminator
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    I hate to say buy the made in China clones but the reality is I paid $30 for mine and it is bright. The real deal is 3x as much money and still made in China and I just can not justify the ones that cost 10x much.

    I have a feeling that in the next few years we will see some price drops on these but for now, the China clones are where it is at.
    Just stick it in granny and start grinding.

  8. #8
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    Is this thread serious ?

    Bike lights for $$'s per lumen per hour have never been cheaper. There are way more people out on the trails at night these days as a result.

    The more expensive Chinese lights are possibly the sweet spot, for the better quality batteries, for me anyway. But hell, if you want to ride for less than 90 minutes off road, then 2 $30 specials off eBay will do the job very well.

  9. #9
    trail projectile
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    why are bike lights getting too expensive?

    Buy cheap Chinese knockoffs. I'm happy with mine


    I did buy a pricey serfas true 500 for my helmet. I hate wires.

  10. #10
    Rogue Exterminator
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    Quote Originally Posted by pharmaboy View Post
    But hell, if you want to ride for less than 90 minutes off road, then 2 $30 specials off eBay will do the job very well.
    I have run mine WAY longer than 90 min.
    I probably ran them for 90 min -2 hrs and then did it again the following week without charging for a total of 3-4 hrs over a 1 week period and still had life.
    Just stick it in granny and start grinding.

  11. #11
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    This thread is ridiculous. OP - go back and look at some threads a few years older and see what you could get for the same money then.

    J.

  12. #12
    Action LED Lights
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    The most expensive part of a descent light set is the Li-ion battery pack. The Magicshine knockoffs cut corners to get the price down to $30 and the battery is were most of the cutting comes from. They use untested, ungraded cells. If your lucky it will hold up. If your unlucky your like the guy in the "Exploding battery pack" thread.
    The other way the price gets so low is the fact that your buying directly from the manufacture who is operating out of a garage sized shop. (Literally, I've been there) They have a CNC lathe to make the metal parts and buy the rest of the components at the Electronics Mart, a giant electronics flea market. They operate until they start having to much trouble and then disappear or change names.
    My advise is to spend a little bit more and get a true Magicshine or similar light from a company/dealer that's been around for a while. The MJ-808U is only $85 and there has literally been millions of them sold.
    Jim Harger
    Action LED Lights
    www.action-led-lights.com

  13. #13
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    Pretty ironic when the Chinese knock offs are now the quality brand, and being knocked off themselves.

    I do agree on th batteries, the $30 lights are variable in battery power, and not waterproof either.

  14. #14
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    Price wise, it's hard to compete with large quantity mass production.

    Action is right about the batteries ... If a corner is going to be cut, it's the simplest way to drop the cost of a "we're making thousands at a time" light.

    OP,
    The price is what it is, and the market drives the price.
    The more one is willing to pay for a product, the more one will charge the consumer for the desired product.

  15. #15
    Action LED Lights
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    Quote Originally Posted by bikeabuser View Post
    Price wise, it's hard to compete with large quantity mass production.

    Action is right about the batteries ... If a corner is going to be cut, it's the simplest way to drop the cost of a "we're making thousands at a time" light.
    bikeabuser, just to make sure you understood what I was saying, the $30 knockoff are knocking off Magicshine who was a leader in the low cost market. Magicshine uses good quality BAK batteries and for an extra $17 you can upgrade to 5600mAh Panasonic batteries. The $30 Ebay lights are cutting corners, lots of corners.
    Jim Harger
    Action LED Lights
    www.action-led-lights.com

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Action LED Lights View Post
    bikeabuser, just to make sure you understood what I was saying, the $30 knockoff are knocking off Magicshine who was a leader in the low cost market. Magicshine uses good quality BAK batteries and for an extra $17 you can upgrade to 5600mAh Panasonic batteries. The $30 Ebay lights are cutting corners, lots of corners.
    Thanks for clarifying ... I had no idea you were referencing Magicshine's product line.
    I was just speaking in general, and agreed with you about batteries being the easiest way to cut production costs.

    And,
    It's not the only way to cut corners ... Pretty sure we're in agreement ... Many corners !!!

  17. #17
    nimble biker
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    I am skeptical of Chinese made lights. I preferred solid American made lights.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Picard View Post
    I am skeptical of Chinese made lights. I preferred solid American made lights.
    I can understand the mentality of the skeptic. Just remember that there are likely tens of thousands of the inexpensive Chinese made bike lights floating around and being used by cyclists everyday. If they were all complete rubbish it wouldn't take long before the word got around. As it stands, most people that own a Chinese light understand that they got what they paid for and are usually satisfied. Here or there someone will get a bad one, it happens.

    Batteries are another issue and yes many of the Chinese made lights are still coming with batteries that are 2nd rate. This doesn't mean the supplied batteries won't work it just means they usually won't last long or run as long as batteries that use better quality cells. If you get more than a seasons use out of one of these 2nd rate batteries then you've done well. Luckily you can replace the battery by buying a better quality battery from a reliable vendor. If you know these things going in than you know there are still ways to buy yourself a reliable bike light without breaking the bank. More vendors are now offering to sell just the "light head only". To people who already own good quality batteries that use compatible connectors. This is an added plus that can help save you money.

    About preferences; I prefer to ride a bike with a carbon-fiber or titanium bike frame. Unfortunately I can't afford one of those so I ride a bike with an aluminum frame ( handmade in Taiwan ). So far, the bikes I have work fine. The only upgrade I've done to my MTB was to replace the disc brakes to a better quality brake. If you can afford better than by all means, its' your money, do as you wish. In the mean time us po-folk are happy just to have something that works.

  19. #19
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    As mentioned, lights aren't getting more expensive

    As mentioned, in terms of "lumens per dollar per pound" they are better today than ever, and as also mentioned, the top-end lights are actually typically cheaper today than the old $450 "entry level" HIDs used to be.
    I make bikelights myself, including milled aluminum ones at home. The reason there is a "lower-limit" on LED based lights is simple, heat. (Old halogens or HIDs didn't have that limit, with halogens 10 bucks could get you as bright as you want (so long as you are willing to carry the battery necessary to power it).

    Halogens are still around today... cheap to buy and maintain, but inefficient (very low light to power used 15-20lm/watt "out the front"), and battery hungry. $30 plus battery to start with a decent "bike-light designed" version (cheaper for generic "lights" or DIY). Also fine with "plastic" housings (so long as enough air-gap or high enough thermal plastic to keep from melting at contact areas), meaning molded cases are fine (cheap to make). Bulb has a simple ceramic base, no heat management (hotter is actually better for halogen efficiency)

    HIDs are still around a little... expensive, efficient (lots of light for power used, 50-100lm/watt "out the front"), but expensive to maintain also (each bulb to replace runs in the high 2 to low 3-digits). Also not "on/off" friendly. Also "plastic friendly", meaning molded cases are fine (cheap to make). Heat can be a problem for ballast lifespan, but ultimately it's not a complicated housing to make well.

    LEDs are the current technology of choice. Equal or better to HID lights in efficiency, simpler (no ballasts), on/off friendly, and no maintenance (rarely break, and other than "major disassembly/reassembly with solder/pastes/etc," not really user serviceable for the average joe. Should last the life of the biker in usage barring abuse.

    SO having said all that, why are "top-end" LEDs so expensive? Batteries are part, but above $30 per pack for cells/circuitry of good quality, they are all pretty standard fare, so start with that.
    Next LED and optic/reflector - $10 per emitter (that's actually high).
    Finally, "housing", and that's the problem... LEDs don't like heat (their own heat), for either lifespan, or efficiency. So that has to be removed by the housing. If you want weatherproof, the housing must be sealed (therefore no airflow reaches the back of the LED area). So now you must mount the LED to a highly heat-conductive backplate. But you also must have a ton of directly-connected metal (preferably silver, copper, or aluminum with a ton of surface area exposed to ambient air (preferably moving). So you are now looking at either a milled or cast aluminum housing, with a non-electrically conductive, highly heat-conductive (or non-contact with LED contacts) backplate, with a lot of heat-sinking surface and mass around it to keep the LED in optimal temp ranges.
    THIS is why LED lights cost a lot more than their "primary" operational components. Also keeping in mind waterproof switches, good quality cable connectors (which are ridiculously overpriced for waterproof, figure $10 per light per connector end even in volume, ugh...), good battery housing if separate from the lighthead, o-rings, optical grade, preferably scratch resistant and anti-reflective coverglass for "reflector" models, etc....
    Ultimately though, it's not materials, it's design, labor, and manufacturing of the housings that keep them pricey. If you want a 6" aluminum smooth surface tube light, no problem at all, can be done for probably $20. If you want a 2" long by 2" diameter triple-led light with enough surface area to adequately extract the heat required, now you are talking milling, fins, copper backplate, etc. That is all expensive to do. I have a 1" deep by 1.25" diameter solid aluminun light with copper backplate that hte LEDs are direct soldered to (copper is also milled to prevent LED electrical contact) that runs 3x optics (MR-11 format), running at 750ma (roughly 7 watts total). It required about 4 hours on the mill (manual prototype), with a CNC I could probably turn out 1 per hour (after spending $1000 on CNC mill conversion). I also need my backplate (or use retail MCPCBs for less efficiencY). If I want to anodize it (to make it "marketable/pretty" that's going to add more... So to make 1 light "production style" would cost me over $1000 parts and materials and conversion costs for CNC.
    If I make 1000 triple-LED modles, then the mill conversion parts will be covered to the tune of $1/light, but of course machining costs are still there, and best case I can make 8 per work day, so to MAKE those 1000 lights will take me 4 months. If I sell them for materials costs (say $70 total), and add $10/light for profit, then I will make $10,000 every 4 months... or $40,000/year.... it'd be a decent living, but I'd certainly never get rich that way. That's at $80/light, doing them at home in my garage full-time. If I need to make more per unit time, I'll need another mill, someone to run them (payroll costs), a place for all this at some point (property rental costs), etc.... to buy a high-quality, high-output, triple-LED light made in America, for $100, is amazing that it's even possible. But that would be a bare-bones, not sexy looking, functional and well-made light with no extra frills or features (never even discussed the "mount" which also needs to be made, so add another $10-30 depending on quality/design of that, if extra mounts, carrying case, etc, add another $10-50-whatever depending on features)...
    $30 - battery/basic electronics (charging circuit/current limiting circuit)
    $10/emitter
    $20 - housing/heatpath materials.
    $?? - Design/engineering/testing

    Hope that helps clarify why a good, bright, quality, LED bike light costs "so much" (although no more than HIDs did 5 years ago and without the maintenance issues, so keep that in mind)

  20. #20
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    I was just trying to figure out what I have bought and used for bike lights since I started night riding. From the lights that I could remember and the cost of each I came up with a total of over $2,600 in front lights, not included tail lights. I have never seen lights cheaper or seen more lighting options than there are now. In the early 1990's I shelled out about $300 for an awesome Cygolite 30 watt halogen light which ran for about 45-50 minutes on high power. It consisted of one 10 watt flood bulb and a 20 watt spot bulb. I was king of the night back then with that kind of output. So in my experience, lights aren't getting too expensive, they always were expensive and now are getting less expensive.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by christexan View Post
    even in volume, ugh...
    High volume in my book, means farming out what you have limited capacity to accomplish om your own

    I worked (designer) for a company that produces these, with a filter package inside.


    One connector was $5.50 each due to a standing order for 5000 units per year for the next 5 years, while another in their line was $750 each, due to the client only needing 2 per year.

    They machined/assembeled in house, but sent stuff to CA. for plating, and fr many years purchased contacts.

    Quantity of production allowed them to keep their cost down a make a profit.



    Everything you said is true, and it's a very good explanation, but mass quantity is mass quantity, and a CNC workcenter can (basically) run 24/7 once a design is fed to the machine.

    And that's probably why some of these clones are seling so cheaply.
    They steal a design via reverse engineering, then have machine shops bid for the housing fabrication job.

  22. #22
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    If the original poster had referenced the top end stuff (Lupine, etc), he might have had a point. A single light that cost more than my bike is too rich for my blood.

    Then again, I'm riding cross country style rolling terf. Perhaps if I was riding 50+ K/Hr down twisty technical track, I might feel differently.

    But the light he liked to was just another Chinese clone, with all the overstated specs (an XM-L T6 just isn't that bright). You can get virtually the same thing for much less.

    Personally I'm riding with an $80 XM-L U2 spot on the helment, and a $45 wide dual XM-L U2 on the bars. I feel I've got lots of light on the trail - more than I need, but happy to have it all.

  23. #23
    nimble biker
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    I don't mind paying high price for high end stuff however there is a limit on that amount. This is a LED light not a Range rover.

  24. #24
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    Question... what exactly makes bike lights so different ?
    Why not strap a quality flashlight on your bars ?

    Is it the throw ? spread of beam ?

  25. #25
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    I guess the battery change every bit, since light must be powerful, open the scope and focus but not too heavy with autonomy. Except for city lights, a spotlight is almost always better. Low weight on the handlebars with more power and autonomy.
    Looking for power lights?, see here

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