Dorcy 3AA Bicycle Light and Tail Light

Dorcy continues to try and sway my preconceptions with new products that think outside the box.

Don't look at the bike.

Dorcy 3AA Bike Light

Meat and Potatoes

Why do I always receive bike lights in the middle of winter? Seriously, that’s the only time it ever happens. I actually got this light quite a while back, but I’ve been sitting on the review for a while now since I really needed to actually hit the great outdoors before I’d allow myself to formulate opinions. Good thing too, because I might have judged incorrectly otherwise. This winter has been brutal here in the midwest, culminating in our 4th ever coldest February since they started writing this stuff down! I like to consider myself the hardy type, but honestly, going out at night to ride a bike in in the snow, in negative temperatures, with even lower wind chill? I’m too old for that.

As soon as spring decided to actually show its face round these parts, I strapped on the Dorcy 3AA next to a previously reviewed bike light for comparative purposes and headed out into the (still chilly) night. Whatever you do, don’t look at the bike itself. I’m not proud of it. I’m not even certain it HAS a brand name. I’d love to have something better, but unless someone is feeling generous, this is what I’ve got.

3×1.5V lights are not generally my preferred domain. I’m not exactly sure where to point the finger, but I’ve never really liked that concept. On this particular model though, I haven’t yet had anything to complain about. AA cells are so much more adept at powering a light than AAA, that I suspect that makes all the difference in the world.

Dorcy’s main claim to fame with the 3AA Bike light is their unique take on beam shape. For this application, they have eschewed traditional flashlight beam shape entirely, instead focusing more on how best to meet the needs of the user (see what I did there?). The bike light looks absolutely nothing like the spot-corona-spill of 99% of the other flashlights on the market, but instead has a rectangular, even distribution of light. Not a true 100% floodlight, there is definitely some focus happening here. the light is being shaped and projected forward, and slightly down so that it specifically illuminates a wide swath of the road or trail in front of the rider. Dorcy has used some form of Cree LED (I can’t be sure which through the lensing) to provide the modest 220 lumens spread over this wide beam.

I suspect XP-G, but no guarantees.

Cree something-or-other

Not your parent's bike light.

Rectangular projected beam

220 lumens isn’t that bright. Really, this light’s entire beam was almost identical in brightness to the spillbeam of my backup light, but for most casual rides, your vision will adapt well to the available light and this will be plenty. I just wouldn’t rely on it for true death defying rides through aggressive terrain. Those require specialized equipment. On general around town rides or easy wooded trails, more output would be useful, but generally isn’t required.

User interface isn’t anything revolutionary. Not surprising since bike lights are designed to be activated when you have time and left on for a duration. I’ve seen a number of bike lights with UI that leaves something to be desired. The Dorcy 3AA is a two mode light, simply offering one constant on, and one slow flash visibility setting.You do have to cycle through both modes in order to turn the light off. The mounting clamp as well works great. It has a supposed “quick-release” function, but it is a little tricky to get working correctly. Not really a big deal though since the light only really needs to be removed from the bracket to change batteries.

What can I say? It works for the purposes it was designed.

Tailcap Activation

The Dorcy bike tail light is simply a 3x 5mm Red LED light that has an identical UI to the headlight. It shares the same ON-FLASH-OFF switch style that really can’t be complained about for these purposes. I would hate it on a handheld, multipurpose light, and it would be utterly unacceptable on a light claiming Tactical usages. However for turning on at the start of a night ride, and not touching again until you reach your destination, it functions adequately.

Constructive Criticism

My critiques of this light are relatively light. For claiming 220 lumens, it seems to be a little underwhelming. This is likely because I am getting so used to 1,000+ lumens on my lights, even the pocket carry options, but a scant 1/5th of that is a noticeable difference, especially when there is no central hotspot to draw your gaze. Comparatively speaking, the entirety of the Dorcy beam barely registers as brighter than the spillbeam of the secondary light I brought along for the ride. Viewed alone however, it still proves bright enough, certainly with dark adapted vision, to easily navigate all but the most treacherous trails you might traverse.

With the tail light, there is really little to mention here, since it is so simple in both form and function. I do have one gripe however. In order to change the batteries here, you have to remove the clear plastic covering that is tension clipped over the entire face of the light. This doesn’t seem like a big deal, but this plastic feels brittle to me, and I won’t be surprised in the least if it breaks before too many battery changes happen.

5mm Red LEDs. Not sure anything could be more energy efficient.

Clear plastic cover

Conclusions

I’m actually once again pleasantly surprised by the quality I’m seeing out of a major brand like Dorcy. More important than that, they seem to really be showing some innovative lateral thinking. Changing up what is expected, and stretching the imagination is far more difficult than simply making a quality product.

Provided for review by the kind folks at Dorcy.

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