Posts Tagged ‘a battery light for classic bikes’

no identifying features

Here are two of my vintage/classic bike tail lights, both “unswitched” – the first is unbranded, made of a thermosetting plastic that looks a bit like black bakelite. I believe it was Australian made but I’m not certain. It is about as simple as you can get, relying on screwing in the cap to make contact between the bulb and “D” cell battery via copper tracks that mate at a certain point of  rotation. This light is to be fitted to my old speedwell bike, and has polished up nicely with metal polishing paste on all external parts.


bulb and contacts

the neat bracket is obviously designed for a seat stay

on my speedwell diamond frame

The second is the Eveready, made in the UK, of aluminium. This one is slightly more robust in build and the lens doubles as a rear reflector. I may be fitting it to my loop frame Speedwell when it is finished – it needs a tidy-up, as the alloy has oxidised in places.

it’s working

the rubber washer prevents shorting the battery on the spring

the reflector/lens

The main disadvantage with both these lights is that the large battery tends to rattle around when the light is off and may also turn on at times because of this. Some tweaking with rubber washers should help with this issue. Alternatively, I can remove the battery till needed as these bikes won’t get a lot of night use.

The “D” cells back then must have been mostly insulated on the top (+ve) terminal as the holding spring will short out the modern “D” cells via the terminal plate, unless this part is insulated.


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woohoo! – they’e working

Vintage Eveready battery bicycle torch (L) and Australian army torch (R).

showing the rear mounting of the eveready

In a previous post, I showed an old Eveready army style torch that could be fitted to a bike light bracket. The batteries were supposed to be a No. 701A, however I couldn’t find any info on them online.

original packaging

I was playing around with a couple of “D” cell batteries yesterday and something jogged my memory. A quick search of my box of bits came up with these adaptors, and the original pack off one of them tells the story. Whatever the 701A was, these plastic and copper adapters were designed to upgrade the torch to take the new-fangled (sic) “D” cells. From the wording, it would seem that the old 701 battery came with the copper tracks on it, as a complete unit, and now it’s only necessary to buy the “D” cells once you have the adaptor.

The adaptor with “D” cells fitted is shown below :

the side copper track is for the bulb, the top one for the switch, which is screwed down to make contact

Here are some pictures showing how the working light fits two of my bikes :

speedwell “popular” loop frame

the loop frame speedwell has a bracket as part of the headset group

mounted on an accessory bracket on front hub – speedwell diamond frame

the same bike

front view

Next up, a working vintage battery powered tail-lamp…

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On the subject of tail lights for classic bikes, the most elegant tail light to my mind is the integrated dynamo powered light on the Gazelle Toer Populair, where the light body is brazed onto the guard – I just love to look at it … and it turns on and off from a switch on the back of the headlamp that is within easy reach while riding – superb!

The built in capacitor means that you have around 5 minutes of tail lighting grace after stopping.


gazelle – magic!


Most bikes don’t come fitted with such luxuries though, and while there are many after-market battery varieties that are quite functional, they usually look as ugly as sin on a classic bike.

That can’t be said about the Portland Design Works “Fenderbot” because it is both functional and stylish, provided that your bike is fitted with mudguards – which to my mind is the proper “bike” word for fenders ( I mean, what does a bike fend off anyway?). “Mudguard-bot” however, is nowhere near as cute a name, I’ll grant you that!


a hot bot


Though I have been using a very bright Tioga “Dual Eyes” light on the rear of my Road King bike, I wanted something more integrated that wasn’t hanging off a cheap looking clunky bracket. The fenderbot fits that brief, looking good even when not in use, somehow seeming both traditional and modern in appearance. It combines a decent safety reflector (no batteries needed as it steals the light given off by cars!) with a neat little 2-mode battery LED.

While nowhere near as bright as the Tioga it’s said to run for up to 200 hours. The clear plastic upper shell both gives a modernist look at the “works” inside and allows good visibility of the light from the sides as well as the rear.


from above


There is a simple little push button on the upper rear of the light, above the reflector to operate it while dismounted. Having the light right at the rear of the bike also means that it’s less likely to be obscured by luggage on a rack than (for example) when fitted onto a seat post.


side view – it actually looks better than in the photos too


You need to drill two holes in the mudguard to fit it, and PDW thoughtfully include a template for this on the backing card. If your mudguards are steel like mine, they can be difficult to drill.


the hole template

The way around this might be to mark the holes through the template first then put a piece of cut thick dowel behind the guard going with the curve and on a firm surface, then using a hammer and a pointed punch make two small indents for the holes. These will provide a start point for the drill without having the bit sliding everywhere and marking the guards.

Other than that, it’s a simple job to fit.


lit for commuting


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