Nashbar Taillight Repair—and Other Bike Tips.
Fixing things yourself can be so very satisfying. Thing is, you never expect to have to fix things that are brand new. Still, these lights are super bright and the price was right. Plus, shipping them back would have cost more than it was worth, even though Nashbar was more than willing to make an exchange or effect a refund. So I took it on myself to repair them and I will give you the instructions on how to do it yourself.
When I bought the first two, I found right away that one didn’t work correctly. I replaced it with the second one and put the bad one aside. Almost right away I ordered some more. During that time I checked some product reviews on Nashbar’s website and found I wasn’t the only one having problems with this taillight. Some reviews mentioned the lights being dim, where others said it would turn off by itself.
These are the super bright rear lights that Nashbar offered under their own brand name. I notice now that they no longer list this particular light on their website. I guess so many people had this same problem that they discontinued them, as opposed to redesigning them to be trouble free. You might be able to find them for pennies at swap meets and bargain bins. I’d buy more if I could find them this way.
My problem was after some riding (vibrations to the light) it would turn itself off. They would come back on by pushing the button, but with some additional riding, off again. That seemed weird, but I quickly realized that the on button on a unit like this controls the circuit, as opposed to a power switch inline between the battery and the circuit. An easy disassembly brought the needed fix to light.
The main body holds the two batteries and retains the small metal strips that transfer the power to the circuit board. These strips touch the circuit board at two raised solder joints. When the board is screwed in place, the power connection is suppose to be made. I found these solder spots were not tall enough (rising high enough from the circuit board) to make a good connection. So the easy fix is to add a small amount of solder (on the back of the circuit board) so it is about a millimeter (or less) higher than before.
While you are doing this, inspect all the other solder joints on the board. If you find any that were not soldered correctly in the first place, redo them with a little solder. Do it quickly so as not to overheat the component that is connected there. You are often repairing things more with your eyes and touch, than with the tools themselves. Use a magnifying glass if needed and take your time as you proceed.
This is quick and easy to do. Be careful not to add too much solder or to overheat the joint during the soldering process. Reassemble the unit, check the light and you are done. On one of the lights I tried to reform the small metal strips outward instead of adding the solder. The metal snapped at the part that makes the contact. So I added (by soldering) two short jumper wires from the strips to the board. This was a little harder, but ensures a good connection. If the other lights fail again, I will add jumper wires to them too.
So now all four work great, are very bright and haven’t failed once during riding. I might even have a few more in a box somewhere (I’m not sure how many I bought). If there is one thing I don’t like about these is that the battery life is not as long as other taillights I have. I figure this is because they are so bright that they just use more power. I have at least six other brands and types of rear taillights on our many bikes and none of them needed any repairs.
I always use Duracell batteries in our front and rear lights, They seem to work the best and seldom leak. We use our blinking lights (front and rear) in the daytime as well as the night. We have a pair of NiteRider rechargeable headlights that we use during night-time rides that easily transfer between bikes. But even still, we use the small LED front lights on blink mode when our bright headlights are being used.
Every now and then, if a light doesn’t work, you might need to clean the contacts on the ends of the batteries with a pencil eraser. Also clean the contacts where the batteries touch. Sometimes the battery connection in the light can be bent back so far it won’t make a solid electric contact. They can usually be reformed, but could break if pushed too far, so be gentle.
If your batteries leak, then it might ruin the light. Often some cleaning with baking soda and water can clear out the leakage, then polish the contacts with an eraser or fine sandpaper. That just might bring it back to life. It’s worth a try to save it, as throwing out repairable items is not good for our environment (or your wallet).
Here is one more thing worth considering. As much as I love my Planet Bike rear lights, they do have a minor drawback that you should know about. The main unit that holds the batteries and the lights can come loose from the holder shell that attaches to the bike. This has never happened to me, but some friends have had this occur. To keep from losing the light, I use a tie strap to hold them together. One strap would normally do the trick, but I had short red ones that required two used together (check the photo). Make sure to use flush cutters on the straps ends to prevent sharp edges that can cause some bleeding.
Some of these tips might work for other bike accessories such as cycle computers, electric horns and ? Plus general household items that use batteries could have similar type problems and easy fixes. It is always worth the time and effort to repair things rather them replace them. It makes you feel good too.
Keep those lights blinking, Turbo Bob.
“The bicycle is something to every person. Something else, that is. To me it is, for starters, movement, music, departure, arrival, design, poetry, art, health, fun. But most of all, it is this incredible machine that involves two wheels, a pipe frame, handlebars, seat, hanger (if that’s the spelling of the word), pedals and chain. You get on this simple machine, you hold the handlebars, you press down on the pedals with your feet, and you go.”—William Saroyan.