Canute has ridden 30,500+ miles on his ‘n’ bikes since 2013. He writes about bicycles and bike gear. He believes bikes will save the world.
If You Ride a Bike, You Need a Tail Light
I’ve ridden with a tail light on my bicycle for many years now, and I currently own several different types. In this article I’ll review one of my favorites, the Ascher Model HJ-045.
Note: no matter what kind of riding you do—from commuting, to recreational, to serious gravel grinding—you should always ride with a tail light, both day and night.
That’s right…even during the day you should use a bright, flashing tail light on your bike, and maybe even on the back of your helmet.
There are many articles across the internet that discuss the rationale for riding with lights during the daytime, so there's no need for me to expound here. In addition, I’ve listed at the end of this article links to a couple very good pieces on the topic. The long and short of most of those writings is this: if you ride with a flashing tail light—day or night—you improve dramatically the ability for drivers to see you.
In my book, anything we can do to improve our chances of not being hit by a car is a good thing.
Ascher Model HJ-045 Bicycle Tail Lights
When I was searching for replacement tail lights, I was interested in four things: reasonable price, good quality/reliability, ease of use, and no requirement to change batteries every few months.
At $14.99 for a box containing a pair of two (with free shipping as an Amazon Prime member), the Ascher lights are an outstanding value. The tail light I was replacing (the Princeton Tec Swerve) was purchased many years ago in the Navy Exchange at Pearl Harbor, and it also was available on Amazon. However, at $24.99 for one (and with a requirement to replace its two AAA batteries occasionally), I just couldn’t see spending the extra money.
I was more than willing to pay $7.50 each for the Aschers; I considered that price to be very reasonable. Indeed, at least one reviewer who’d already purchased the Ascher tail lights felt the same, going so far as to say, “At this price, nobody should be riding without them.”
I couldn’t agree more.
“At this price, nobody should be riding without them”
I haven’t owned these lights for nearly as long as I have owned my Princeton Tec Swerve. I bought them in October 2020 and have used one or the other (or both) of them most every day since then. Most of my rides are between 1-3 hours these days since I no longer commute.
Still, it’s noteworthy that I haven’t had a single issue with the lights, and I have ridden with them day and night, in the rain, in the snow, on smooth pavement, and on bumpy gravel and rough double track trails. They are small and sturdy, and they hold firmly in place with the silicone mounting straps that come with the lights.
I find that the charge on the Ascher lights will last anywhere between 4-5 rides for me, sometimes more depending (of course) on how long I’m out and about, and also which mode I’m using (i.e., steady or flashing).
I’m hopeful that over time my positive experience with the lights will continue, and I intend to update this review accordingly if there are any newsworthy developments. I am very confident, however, that I will remain pleased, particularly since the company stands by their product, noting in their ad that you can buy with confidence because they “will solve [any problems] for you as soon as possible.”
Ease of Use
The Ascher HJ-045s charge with a micro-USB charging cord (two are included; one for each light). The chargers are standard-sized micro-USBs, which I really like because it means I am still able to use just one cord to charge nearly all my bicycle-related electronics. I can charge my Garmin GPS, Nite Rider headlight, LG Tone Bluetooth headset—and now my Ascher tail lights—all with the same cord. For my purposes, that is super convenient, since I do not need to charge every device every day. It also means I only need to use one cord from the kitchen-counter charging station my wife and I share…and that’s also a major plus, of course.
The units also mount easily with the included silicone strap, and they can be rotated 90 degrees for a horizontal or vertical presentation depending on your preferences/needs. I mount them almost exclusively in a vertical orientation because of my different bike setups. Here’s how I have the light mounted on two of my bikes:
And here's what a horizontal mounting of the light looks like:
The light in its mount can also be ‘clicked’ left/right or up/down depending on the vertical/horizontal mounting orientation, and I find this to be useful for setting the proper “seeing height.” However, this feature also can be used to orient the light so that it angles outward/inward. This might be useful if you are riding with the lights mounted to the back of panniers, as just one example.
The light has only one button, so it couldn’t be easier to operate and turn on/off. One push of the button and you’re in business. I can even turn it on while I’m on the go…and I can do it with gloves on, which is a big plus when riding in chilly weather.
There are four operating modes, each of which is entered with successive pressings of the button.
- First push = Full Bright
- Second push = Half Bright
- Third push = Slow Flash
- Fourth push = Fast Flash
This 30-second video shows the light in each of its four operating modes:
Operating Modes - Ascher HJ-045 Tail Light
I like to use the Fast Flash option during the day because I think it’s more attention-grabbing for car drivers. I use the Slow Flash option at night because, although I think it is equally attention grabbing in the dark, I also believe it is less of an annoying nuisance to drivers. That’s purely speculation and personal preference, however, and opinions on that topic are likely to vary wildly and passionately, so I’ll just leave it at that.
Pros and Cons of the Ascher Model HJ-045
As I mentioned at the outset, when I was looking for replacement tail lights to run on my bicycles, I was evaluating three things: price, quality/reliability, ease of use and no requirement to change batteries. The Ascher tail lights checked all those squares for me. In summary, then:
- The price is right for a set of two sturdy tail lights, two strong straps and two micro-USB charging cords
- To date, the lights have been reliable. They are study and compact, and appear to be of high quality. I really like the company’s “buy with confidence” philosophy
- Easy to mount and operate in four different modes; can attach in numerous locations on your bike, helmet or back pack
- No more replacing batteries
- This light is not quite as bright as my Princeton Tec Swerve. It's not a con for me personally, but if you’re looking for a “super bright” light set up, the Ascher might not be for you
Buy or Don’t Buy?
For my money, the Ascher HJ-045 bicycle tail lights are definitely a ‘buy.’ It’s hard to beat the price for a set of two of these, and they are sturdy and flexible in both their mounting and operating options. That makes them right for me as a companion to the other tools and techniques I use to make myself more visible to drivers out on the road.
Still, some riders might want more lumens out of their tail lights, and for those who do, there might be better, more expensive options out there.
Happy, safe riding, my friends!
Articles on Why You Should Always Ride With Lights on Your Bike
- 5 Reasons You Should Always Ride With a Bike Light
- You Have No Excuse Not to Bike with a Light, Day or Night
Ascher USB Rechargeable LED Bike Tail Light 2 Pack
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2021 Canute Limarider