Made in America or I Lost My Taillight

On a cold and crappy — but not rainy at least — Saturday, Nancy and I went on a 18-mile ride near BWI. I was trying out my new Tailrider bag and had put my Light and Motion 180 Taillight on the bag. As noted in the heading of this post, the light leaped off the bag and out of my life.

The L&M light is a great taillight. Bright, decent battery life, made in America, and better looking than your average rear light. I got it directly from L&M after I sent back my third L&M 180 Micro when the On/Off switch broke yet again. As a set of quick side notes, L&M’s Micro has a faulty on/off switch design. If you review the reviews on Amazon, this is a pretty common complaint. I would heavily recommend taking a pass on this light. However, L&M has great customer service. Each time it broke, they sent me a new one and I shipped back the broken one. I cannot say enough positive things about their customer service. So when I contacted them about the third death, they offered me the regular 180 at a decent upgrade pricing. I pulled the trigger and lived happily ever after. Until Saturday, that is.

So I have this thing where I try to buy American if given the opportunity and the price difference is not substantial. I buy American jeans, socks, shirts, sweaters/wool, and bike parts and bags. So I fire up Amazon when I get home and look for the L&M 180 light. There it is. It is a great light as I said, but is it worth a 3x markup ($89.99)? It gave me pause. So then I go to Bike Light Database and The Sweet Home. Neither recommend the L&M 180. They like it but they note its price and that there are other lights that are just as good for a lot less. As another side note, both of these sites were extremely helpful in my search.

It saddens me that an American company cannot make a great, high quality taillight in this case that is not at least somewhat competitive in price. I am not saying lose money on the deal but I should not suffer a degree of sticker shock that I felt. I ended up picking the Cyclolite Hotshot for $28.48. This is over $60 cheaper and gets as good of reviews.

I will review more adequately once I have received it from Amazon and used it a few times.

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3 thoughts on “Made in America or I Lost My Taillight

  1. I LOVE my cygolight!! My family says they can see it blinking 2 miles away. I’m looking at ordering another one. It recharges quickly. There is no warning when it loses battery power….it just goes off. My Nightrider headlight at least gives me warning. I love them both though.

  2. Hey, Nathan here – creator of The Bike Light Database. Just wanted to clarify that I do recommend the Vis 180, I just recommend it as the high-end option. To quote from the “best taillights” page, “The Vis 180 is by far the nicest taillight we’ve reviewed… At $100 retail price, the light costs more than most would be willing to pay, but if you can afford the price you get your money’s worth.” I also wouldn’t categorize other lights as being “just as good”. There are many other lights which are more than good enough, but good enough does not equal the best.

    I do agree that the Vis 180’s clip-on mount for attaching to saddle bags, etc. is not super secure, and because of the light’s solid design, it’s a bit heavier than others and more likely to bounce off. However I do use the Vis 180 as my main taillight when I’m not testing others for a review, and I’ve never once had it even come slightly loose in its slide-in mount. As you pointed out, L&M’s support staff are very helpful – if you tell them your light fell off due to the clip not working with your bag, I would be surprised if they didn’t offer you a heavy discount on a replacement.

    All that being said, the Cygolite Hotshot is a fantastic light, especially for the price, and I’m sure you’ll be happy with it. However there’s no question that the Vis 180 is a better bike light for people willing to pay the price. If cost were no issue, I would not hesitate to buy the Vis 180 over the Hotshot. When it does come to more competitively priced lights though it is indeed frustrating that there are no good American options. There’s DiNotte, which is even more ludicrously expensive, and the Vis 180 Micro is really underwhelming – especially for the price! I’ve talked with the engineers at L&M about the button design a few times and have yet to get a clear answer on why it has so many problems. Hopefully they’ll fix that in a future iteration.

    A new kid on the block with American-made lights is the Orfos Flare. It started as a kickstarter project and is now for sale to anybody. They’re made by an engineer up in Seattle, and run about $120. I haven’t gotten to try one out myself yet but everything I’ve read about them makes them sound great. However they use a magnetic mount, so they wouldn’t work any better with a saddle bag than the Vis 180 does.

    • Nathan

      Great response! I agree that the Vis 180 is an amazing light. You make a good point that they very well may have offered me another one at a discount as a replacement. I did not ask for one since I believe that is was my fault that it came off not theirs. It is my belief that it is a design that does not work well with that particular attachment unless you are always very careful. I do not qualify as very careful. Most people would not have the same use case as I have with that particular bag. The standard L&M attachment is rock solid and idiot proof as are bags with different light tabs.

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