Dorcy Hawkeye Tal Light

Dorcy Hawkeye Tail Light

When you get this tail light out of it’s packaging, you notice how large it is.  At 87mm x 50mm, it’s no skimp in the size arena.  And for most applications where you’re going to be using a tail light, this is not a bad thing.  It’s kind of the whole point of having a bright red light on the back of your bicycle.  You don’t want anyone to miss coming up on you and this light is going to let them know you’re in front of them.  This tail light also has the ability to be turned 90 degrees if you prefer your tail light to be viewed horizontally rather than vertically.  I’m not that picky, but it’s there if you want it.

I wanted to see the light on, so I grabbed the batteries that it came with (such a nice touch) and went to install them.  Dorcy needs to come up with a better way to get the clear face off of the base to insert the batteries.  It is ridiculously difficult to remove this clear cover and the entire time that I was trying to remove it, I was trying to not break the tabs or cut myself.  Just getting my fingernails in between the clear tabs and the base and putting pressure on the tabs to try and remove them hurt my fingernails (pansy!).  Once the batteries were wrestled in, the light worked great.  It was nice and bright and the reflective material helps the three internal LED’s illuminate the rest of the large body of the tail light.

Small plastic tab looks like it would be easy to break.

Small plastic tab looks like it would be easy to break.

There are three modes to this light: constant on, flashing on and off.  I love this.  Nobody needs to cycle through 10 different flashing patterns just because they are trying to turn their light off.  The button to cycle through the light modes is on the backside of the case and is not the easiest to access.  It would be nicer to have the button on the side of the case so that it was easier to access during riding.  I know that not everyone adjusts their light while riding, but even if you stop and have one foot clipped in, you may not want to completely unmount and having this button more accessible would be more convenient.

Power/Function Button

Power/Function Button

The mount is easy to place on your bike frame / seat post and comes with a couple of rubber spacers if needed.  The clip on the mount that holds the tail light in place is also easy to operate.  Just press it down and slide the tail light on / off the mount.

The design of this tail light is in stark contrast to the Dorcy Hawkeye headlight.  The headlight is a beautiful anodized aluminum piece while this tail light is all plastic.  It’s interesting that these are the only two cycling light products offered by Dorcy and they are so different in design.

I’ll be using it over the next couple of weeks and, as usual, will update this post when I have some real life experience with it.  Stay tuned and until then, check out Dorcy’s website for more information.

Update:

So after using this tail light a couple of times over the last few weeks, I’m left unimpressed.  I’m not saying that it’s a bad light at all.  It’s basic and it gets the job done and it’s what I expected.  Nothing more, nothing less.  I still wish that the button to turn the light off/on and change function were bigger and in a better location.  This is my personal preference, of course, but I can’t see how this wouldn’t be more preferential to the average rider.  Getting your hand back behind the light and finding the small button that sits flush with the back of the light was just inconvenient.

I didn’t notice any difference in the brightness of the light during my use over the last couple of weeks which means that the battery life is fairly decent for this light.  I would expect as much with it only running three, small LED bulbs.  Dorcy claims 100 hours with the light running steady and 200 hours when the light is blinking.  Very respectable for a tail light.

Long story short (TL;DR, for those in the know), this is an average tail light for people that aren’t picky.  If you don’t expect too much out of your light and you like Dorcy products (or aren’t particular about your brand), this light is going to work just fine for you.


I’ve been looking for a headlight for my bike that’s a bit brighter and when Dorcy contacted me about their 220 lumen headlight, I was all too willing to check it out.  The mornings are still pretty dark when I get up to ride and my current Serfas USL-5 only puts out about 70 lumens.  This sufficed when I commuted on roads with very little traffic, but now that I live in a more populated area, I want something that illuminates the road/path/etc in front of me more so that I can see and be seen better.

Dorcy 41-4001 in package (aka 'It's Little House').

Dorcy 41-4001 in package (aka ‘It’s Little House’).

When I opened up the box from Dorcy International, I was pleasantly surprised to see that the light came with it’s own set of batteries.  I’ve always thought that it’s cheap of companies to sell a product that uses batteries and not supply you with a set of batteries that is probably only going to cost them a couple of bucks (or less).  Moving along, though.

The packaging is nice.  Definitely something that you would expect to see sitting next to other bicycle headlights.  I say this because Dorcy specializes in flashlights and hand held torches.  Once past the cardboard and PET packaging (not much of a struggle), I was met with the final product.

My first reaction was to how heavy the unit felt in my hands.  It’s solid.  A nice feeling if you don’t mind the added weight on your ride.  The whole unit (with clamp) is 185 grams.  Quite a bit more than the 37 grams that makes up the Serfas light I’m using.  The housing of the Dorcy light is machined aluminum and the do a good job of it.  It’s got a nice design and when removed from the handlebar clamp, it actually feels pretty good in your hands.  This is, of course, the second intent of this light.  It will double (as most bike lights do) as a flashlight.  This one just looks like a regular flashlight when it is off your bike.  I think that this is something that Dorcy does well.  This light transitions from one function to the other without looking awkward in either.

There’s a lot of wins for the Hawkeye so far.  Depending on your perspective and the type of biking that you do the pros and cons listed so far can sway your vote either way.  Here is where I feel that the unit falls short despite how you intend to use it.  The handlebar mount has a notched pull strap and a screw tensioner to make sure that the unit is tight on the handlebar.  This is where the overall weight of the design of this unit is a hinderance.  Because the unit weighs so much and because you are going to be riding a bicycle (typically not smooth riding), the headlight is going to be exposed to vibrations.  To accommodate these facts, Dorcy has to include two systems to make sure that the light stays in place.  The nice thing about this design (and most headlight handlebar mount designs) is that you don’t need to remove any existing handlebar hardware to mount the clamp.

I’ll be using the headlight for the next couple of weeks and will update this post with my thoughts.  Until then, check out more about Dorcy on their website.

Update:

I took a couple of night rides over the last two weeks to test out the Dorcy headlight and see how it fared against my current headlight.  My initial impression when I turned it on was great.  I was shining the light against my fence to see how bright it was and at 20 feet, the light was bright and lit up the necessary space in front of my quite well.  I was liking it so far!

Dorcy lighting up a fence!

Dorcy lighting up a fence!

Serfas lighting up the fence.

Serfas lighting up the fence.

As you can see from the images above that the Dorcy light is much more focused.  I was looking forward to a much better lit path.  But, as I got started on my ride, the intensity of the light just didn’t seem as much on the trail.  I’m not sure if my senses were dulled from the brightness that was cast on the fence or if the square light was changing my perception.

I stopped and took a couple of pictures of the light beam that was cast from both lights as a comparison.

Dorcy cast pattern (no laughing!)

Dorcy cast pattern (no laughing!)

Serfas cast pattern

Serfas cast pattern

As you can see, the Dorcy light puts a significant amount of light down on the path in front of you (albeit in an odd pattern).  The Serfas that I’m accustomed to using just didn’t put down as much light as the Dorcy.  And when you compare 70 lumens to 220 lumens, you would expect as much.

The square pattern was still something to get used to.  I wish that I could see a Dorcy headlight without the square pattern to compare it to a more standard pattern.  I think that it would be interesting to see the differences and to know why they chose the square pattern.

This light, being the beast that it is, will drain it’s batteries quite quickly.  Dorcy is stating only 2.5 hours and I bumped up against this.  I noticed the light dimming after extended use and will have to change the batteries for my next ride.  If you have a set of rechargeables ready, then this won’t be an issue for you.  For those of us that don’t have rechargeable batteries, this is going to have you going to Costco and getting the bulk pack to keep your commute well lit.

Overall, this is a great light.  It’s got a solid build, a great design and lights the path up nicely.  It’s going to cost you some batteries, but for running 220 lumens, this shouldn’t come as a big surprise.

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