Thursday, January 12, 2012

Rear Rack Taillight Standardized Mounting Dreams Made Real

Flashy light at bottom must be adapted to mount to rear rack like reflector does, period.

I have a longstanding obsessive dissatisfaction with the poor mounting choices available for putting good, commonly available flashing taillights on rear racks. I know that hub generator lights permanently attach and have good alignment and security, but I am probably too paranoid to leave hundreds of dollars of lighting equipment exposed out at the bike rack, day after day, particularly to my semi-ugly commuter converted 22 year old mountain bike. I've tried various gimmicks, and I'm sure that somewhere out there is a Sho-Yabusa MegLED CRUXRak with custom pinpoint light mounting systemTM (that will be impossible to maintain or replace in three years, however, because nothing else will be compatible with its 2.7mm mounting studs), but look: the plain old reflector above attaches to the rack perfectly, although it's not easily removed. So I decided I would be OK with leaving a cheaper, yet good, flashy light attached out at the bike rack, if it could be attached firmly like the reflector, and, would result in good alignment such that it shines the light backwards in the right direction. 

A PBSF with LT7309 rack adapter is not a combination I have tried yet. It would have been next, if this didn't work. The light I'm trying here has the advantage of being about $10 cheaper (on sale, without the adapter, although prices vary wildly), and is also intended by me in this particular instantiation to be left on the bike when it's parked, which the PBSF LT7309 combo is not since the light only clicks into place. Perhaps I could epoxy it into the adapter. Oh, and I also like the looks/performance of the PDW lights, which also have a rear rack adapter available. Regarding the adapters, though: I own taillights from about four different manufacturers already, neither of which currently is PDW or PB, all of which appear to have slightly different clip dimensions, ergo, slightly different rear rack clip adapters. Arg: I own two rear racks. Should I buy the same manufacturer adapter for both racks and be doubly wed to that manufacturer's rear flashies? Or, buy different ones, and have my lights be non-compatible between my two bikes? Or, buy one with a light, then decide I want to try a different manufacturer's light, and not be sure if I need to spend the $6 to purchase the adapter for the rack, too, or if it would be a waste of money since it will fit the one I already have?

I don't know if you have checked, but there are not many modestly priced bright flashy lights available which come with a standard rear rack mount. Which is odd, to me at least, because I have several plain old red reflectors that came ready to mount on the rear rack like the one in the photo. One screw and it's on good. I think you can buy add-on brackets for some rear flashers, too, but they have some poor reviews. I have experience with one surprising example: the rack mount for my Nitrider Universal Taillight is almost impossible to adjust to point in the right direction. It would be much easier to just bend the rack than to point that in the right direction. All I want is a rear flasher with a good, solid, standard rear rack mount in the package. (By the way, I have several good seat post mounts that work well for rear flashers, but they are not useful when a bag is on the rear rack).

This is the problem I have with ALL clip-based bag mounting flashy light attachments (in addition to the varying clip size and shape): they do not result in the light pointing backwards within a few degrees of horizontal and vertical, for optimal visibility, when bag mounted. I have tried, and also seen, many schemes for flashy light bag or helmet mounting that end up with the light flopping around and/or pointing every which way but backwards. I grew weary of my earlier hacked bag mount, which was much fussier than I liked. My flashers need to mount in a sturdy manner to my rack where they belong. It's not airplanes, police choppers, or worms who need to see your red flasher, it's cars behind you.

Adapted! Sturdy!

I used the small screwdriver to remove the clip, then used a rotary tool to cut holes the right size for the mounting bolts. Insert bolts, remount clip, done!

For no good reason whatsoever, I chose to add rubber washers as bumpers. Hmmm.

Mounted to rack. As it should be. A taillight rack wrong has been righted.

Very happy with the result. Road test in progress. You can recognize me from among the handful of other bicycle commuters in Phoenix as the one with the rack-mounted flasher which points directly backwards, as it should. No plans to buy any add-on manufacturer-specific rack adapters, ever. Instead, it's drill baby drill, I'll standardize 'em myself.


  1. Nice hack!

    I like rack mounted or fender mounted lights much better than seatpost lights, because stuff carried on the rear rack, or coats hanging from above can too easily obscure the seatpost. Lets' not even talk about the crazy angles that lights mounted on clothing reach.

    My rear rack doesn't have the same kind of mounting bracket on it- it's just a large smooth tube, so I've settled on a cateye bar which has a horizontal mounting option. I guess it's removable/ stealable, but I'm not that worried about it. I wish that there was something with the intensity of a PB or PDW flasher that was horizontal, but the Cateye bar is fine for now.
    I'll be posting soon on a hack for helmet mounting a PBSF.

  2. I know this isn't about rack lights per se, but have you seen the PDW Fenderbot? It's battery powered and bolts on to a fender. With a plastic fender it requires drilling in two spots. They're not as bright (1/2 watt) as some of the other blinkies, but I like where it positions, won't be obscured by bags, and is not easy to remove. They go for about $25.

  3. I like the mount and will retain this post for reference. However, I keep my reflector mounted there, so it might be of limited use to me to know except I'm sure it'll come in handy in an unexpected way. Headlights have mounting problems as well...

  4. niiiiiice!!!!!! i'll bookmark this one for the spring when i get the commuter bike back on the road permanently. right now the snow and ice is winning that battle every second or third day......... steven

  5. adventure! I did notice those nice PDW lights including the fenderbot. I seem fully stocked with taillights at the moment, but plan to try out some PDW models when I need to restock.

    Steve I was tempted to hack the flasher into the reflector for a 2 in 1, but there are better solutions already available. I went with a fender reflector mainly to stay technically legal.

    cycler I do have a cateye rear light which has a nice symmetrical mounting that let's you turn it horizontal or vertical. I keep looking at it and turning it over in my hands trying to figure out how to affix it to my rack. Zip ties, and/or 3m dual lock may enter the picture soon.

    steven just keep telling yourself that the snow and ice have a certain ethereal quality to them.

  6. Also, my Cateye TL-LD610 has a nice continuous adjustable tube mount strap that seems like it would wrap around a tube of most sizes including down to a rack tube. I haven't road tested it yet, though, so I don't have experience with how well the theory works in practice.


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