Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Nite Hawk Lights, out of business? Yup

I'm sometimes concerned about stuff I buy for cheap, especially on the internets. You never know if the folks you buy it from are reputable or not. I felt pretty confident about my purchase of a Nite Hawk bike headlight last year though from my LBS (local bike shop.) It was on a huge discount (about what it would be on line) and I could see why. It was the last one, in fact, there were only two lights from that maker left in the shop. So I guessed the shop had decided to stop carrying the brand. Then I noticed that the light's battery had 0103 stamped on the side, which I took to mean the date it was churned out at the factory. That's OK, it's old, but it still worked fine. It's not as bright as I'd like, and it doesn't have a helmet mount though. So I thought I would place a call to the manufacturer and see if I could buy a brighter light (or just a brighter bulb) and a helmet mount. In their FAQ, they listed a 1-888 number. Today I finally found a spare minute and called them, but the other side of the line didn't pick up saying "Nite Hawk Lighting, how may I help you?" Instead I just got "Hello," with a slight Canadian accent. Hmmmm.... Well, maybe there's a newer number elsewhere. Let's check out their Contact Us page, hmmm... No number there. (Do you see where this is going?) They show pdf's for all their manuals, so let's check there. Hmmm... It's a number that gives me "the number you have dialed is no longer in service." I checked multiple pdf's, figuring that they might have changed their number, but nope, they show the same number. I also went to the wayback machine to check the Contact Us page and I can see a number there, but it's the same one that I've called before. There is an email. I tried that and we'll see if it bounces or if it dies or if someone emails back. I guess buyer beware. There are still online places selling lights from these guys.

Update: Either there have been recent developments or my email started something at the ISP level. The webpage now simply states that the company is out of business. I did some more digging and found that they are part of a parent company in Canada that produces batteries, Infinity Trading Company. When I called a phone number listed for the General Manager, the other side responded "GS Infinity." I asked if they were still associated with Nite Hawk lights or if I had a wrong number, to which he stated "Wrong number." I looked up GS Infinity and they seem to be a company in the same town in Canada making (surprise) rechargeable batteries. It sounds like they started up the bike light/ headlamp business to move batteries but it didn't provide as much as they wanted so they shut it down. I can't say when that happened but probably earlier this year. All of the links to the site have gone down so I replaced them with ones from the Internet Archive's Wayback Machine. And yes, I guess I do have too much time on my hands.

Update #2: There are still a few businesses out there still selling Nite Hawk lights. The only one I would really trust would be www.batteryspace.com, and that's not from personal experience but just from noticing that they are selling them with a batterspace battery and charger.  They should be able to warranty that.

16 comments:

Steve said...

Considering how uncaring they were about the horrible construction of their lights, I'm not overly surprised.

I have a Nite Hawk K2 Digital Emitter which has the worst switch I've ever used on any product. No tactile response, very fiddly to use at the best of times and almost impossible when it's cold out and you're wearing gloves.

bullschuck said...

Yeah, but they sold those, with lithium-ion batteries, for about the same as the cost of a Dinotte with rechargeable AA's. I mean, at some point, you don't expect a Yugo to beat a Porsche in the quarter mile. Looking at how they started (as an arm of a battery company), they had above-average batts on below average lights.

Anonymous said...

I also bought a K2 Emitter a couple of years ago at MEC. The technology was very good, as I could ride in the pitch black and see the road clearly.

However, when it got cold the rubber switch cover got hard and couldn't be activated. The light also flooded in a heavy rain. When I contacted them, rather than take constructive criticism, they blew me off. So I wrote a pointed letter to MEC.

Good riddance to a bad business.

Anonymous said...

Its sad how horrid Nite Hawk's customer service was. As an ex employee of Nite Hawk i was often frustrated with the way they cut corners on their products and how they didnt fix obvious problems. For the longest time we knew the switches had problems. Cheap quick fixes work when tested in the shop, but once out the door, they didnt seem to care.

The guys who ran it didn't listen to the guys on the floor, who worked with the product every day. Suggestions to improve products were ignored and shutdown.

Anyways, i wasn't surprised when i heard they went out of business. Changing from purely Canadian built lights to Made In China was a big mistake. It made sense money wise but their quality dropped drastically, which was never amazing to begin with. Along with poor customer service and poor management (couldnt find people to work for them) it was easy to predict their demise.

Anonymous said...

I sell these lights, my place stopped carrying them, shitty units, im not shocked they're out of buisness

Cygo-lite is a decent replacment with a nice line up of products, Can't speak to their durability yet but funcionally they are great

Tom Raymond said...

I have a NiteHawk Pro Dual 12V SLA that I bought from Jamie and them in 2006 and never had a problem with them. It's a shame that they went out of business, because now if my bulbs or anything pop, I'm out of luck! No parts available now.

But anyway, NiteHawk to me was a good company, when I had problems with the lights, Jamie and them helped me out, plus fixed stuff if need be. I neve had one problem with them in the 3 years that I dealt with them. Even after they quit making my light system, I was still able to buy the parts, such as batteries, harnesses, light bulbs, chargers, and so forth.

Terry said...

Sorry to hear they are out of business. I bought a nitehawk AL-X emitter in 2003 and it has worked with no problems at all. Didn't like the switch, but it appears to have loosened up with age. The best thing about this light is the fact I can change the 4 AA batteries when I am on a multi-day biking event like Paris-Brest-Paris and can't stop to charge batteries.

Will said...

I bought an older Viper/Raptor SealedLeadAcid lighting system awhile back that I've been very happy with (other than being as heavy as a brick!) ... but now I'm finally having problems with my wiring harness. I'm not sure if its the switch, or somewhere else in the circuitry.

Does anyone have any suggestions about whether I should short the on/off switch pigtail, or other possible mods to it?

And/Or does anyone have any ideas where I can get a backup wiring harness?

(Hey - Maybe some kind soul out there would give me their harness rather than just toss it in the trash, Yeah!
WLS5@live.com :-)

I only just found out today that they went out of business. I'm sorry to see that ...
Will

Anonymous said...

I have one of their dual systems, used it for years while I was riding. Bulbs can be replaced with various wattages in the MR-11 series. Their battery weighed a TON, so I clipped on to a small SLA that I kept in the trip bag. It weighed less and lasted longer. Yeah, the switches are fragile; mounts are hokey. Don't want to do brain surgery if one ever breaks. Will probably fab my own mounts for more durable switches then. Ditto for the wiring harness.

Jennifer said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jennifer said...

Does anyone know of a place where I can buy a replacement for 'part number 3501 6V Ni-MH automatic charger' for my husband's Nite Hawk?
My email is jensagatorfan@gmail.com.

Thanks in advance for any help!
Jen

Anonymous said...

trty MEC for parts. they still have some kicking around.

firecap said...

Jennifer,
If you find a 3501 charger, please let me know. My light & battery are fine but the charger bit the dust. Email jmcgowa4@rochester.rr.com

Anonymous said...

Yes Night Hawk was owned and run by the same owners as GS Infinity. Both companies operated out of the same warehouse. The switches were thrown in the freezer and then tested. Then the switch covers were applied with silicone that did not block moisture and hot glue that did not work as a sufficient adhesive. The internal problems with the switches were not only caused by short cuts taken by the owners but also from a poor choice of Chinese partners who also tried taking short cuts they didn't think Night Hawk would notice. they would leave out something small and seemingly unimportant (like a washer, internal thickness of plastic or metal parts) which on mass production level saved thousands of dollars for the chinese manufacturer they chose to do business with.

MattyB said...

I have a Nitehawk light system (I believe the model is the Prowler- a single-light 15-watt halogen with a water-bottle NiMH battery) that I bought in 2002-ish. The battery pack wouldn't hold a charge anymore and after reading the postings here, I decided to see if I could fix it myself. I carefully cut open the original battery case, bought 5 4/3 AF 4500 mAh NiMH Batteries (item 15738) from onlybatteries.com and soldered the tabs together. Fit the new cells inside the old case and sealed it shut with polyurethane adhesive. Once I had received the batteries it was about an hour's work to completion. I ordered cells with pre-soldered tabs to ease installation. Opening the battery case was probably the hardest part- it is not meant to be opened... but that's why there are Dremels. Note- it seems that some battery suppliers add additional charges haz-mat charges for NiMH cells while others don't- be sure to shop around. I ended up finding the best deal by searching for "4/3AF 4500" in Google shopping. BTW- this battery-replacement episode is the first I have ever had to service/deal with this light set since I bought it. I read the horror stories here, but I don't have one. These have been really good lights.

Anonymous said...

+1 for being satisfied with the quality of my Nite Hawk headlights. I purchased one of their 6v SLA systems (halogen headlight) about 7-8 years ago for use while commuting, and it worked so well I purchased a second one.

The main "weak point" in the system I have is the way the connector to the battery is engineered. Bought them on sale through Nashbar years back, and was one the better purchases I've made.