I’ve been aware of Knog products for years. Their Interbike booths have been places of wonder to visit each year, sometimes less for the products themselves than the presentation. One recent booth wasn’t so much a trade show exhibit as it was the 32-headed love child between a Euro disco and a roomful of architectural dioramas. I could have spent the whole night there.
But we’re talking about lights, or at least, we’re meant to be.
I’ve dealt with my share of blinky lights that pierce the darkness with the hope that they’ll remind drivers to go around rather than over me. Honestly, some aren’t all that bright. Most of the rechargeable ones I’ve encountered have batteries and/or charging systems fussier than my three year old (and I wouldn’t wish that on anyone except maybe one former girlfriend), while a great many of them are difficult to mount—even to a jersey pocket.
If you’d told me 10 years ago that one day four LEDs could be produce this much light, I’d have laughed until I snorted. The first time I turned the Blinder 4 Cross (a front light featuring white LEDs) on and turned it around to look at it, I turned it back around with all the haste of someone releasing the wild animal that has just bit them. It was brighter than some gifted kids. The front light is rated at 80 Lumens which, on paper, isn’t a lot and by not a lot I mean less than a night light, but my experience actually riding with this light is that it’s a good deal more useful.
On those mornings when I leave the house when it’s still pitch dark and there’s no glow on the horizon (it’s happened a few times in the last week), the Blinder 4 Cross has thrown enough light to actually help as a headlight. I didn’t set out with that desire, mind you; there was enough light being cast by the streetlights that my only concern was being seen by drivers. That the Blinder 4 Cross could actually illuminate the road in front of me was a real surprise. Of course, if I was traveling faster than about 12 mph I outran the light thrown, but I have enough uphill on the way to the start of my ride thatI was moving pretty slow. On full burn, Knog says the Blinder 4 Cross will last for three hours. I’ve gotten about a week’s worth of use from a single charge and all I need the light for is getting to the start of the ride, so that sounds about right to me; I get a week’s-worth of use from a single charge. It has four other settings and if switched to the Eco Flash a single charge should last 50 hours.
The Blinder 4V (a rear light featuring red LEDs) throws 44 Lumens which, again, on paper is absolutely dim. Dim, that is, until you actually stare directly into the flashing lights which generate enough light to spark seizures in the dead. Like the front version, the Blinder 4V offers five modes of use, ranging from steady (three-hour burn) to the 50-hour run time on the Eco Flash.
Charging these things is a snap. There’s a flip-out USB plug so that you don’t need a special charger, yet another outlet or anything fancy. Just plug it into your computer for a few hours. For those of you who are commuters, the ability to charge both your lights during your workday is useful like beer after manual labor.
Both lights come in a variety of colors and even styles to match your bike and your personal sense of style. At $44.95 apiece, these things ain’t cheap, but when I think back on what I’ve spent for other lights in the past, these are a good bit more useful, as evidenced by their clamp system. I’ve heard criticisms of the rubber bands that Knog uses for mounts on their Blinder-series lights. I can see how with repeated mountings (if you shift them from bike to bike as I do) they may eventually break. And at nearly $50, that would be a colossal frustration. Sure, you could strap the light to your bar or seatpost with a couple of zip ties, but really? What I can say is that if you’re switching them from bike to bike, the clamp system is pie-easy and wit-quick. In the past, moving lights was time consuming enough that I’ve had to appoint a single bike as my early morning winter bike.
Final thought: As bright as they are easy. If only kids were like this.