To see and be seen, on the bike, in the dark. Last winter I was sent a few sets of lights to review by the folks at Knog. Two things have happened in the intervening year. First, I have been horribly remiss in failing to write this review. Second, I have used the every-loving crap out of these lights.
The net result is that a marketing guy in Australia, where Knog lives, is probably wondering why he sprung for postage on a set of lights to the other side of the Earth. Simultaneously, I can tell you how it is to use these lights over the course of a full season.
The Blinder Road Twinpack ($139.00 70 lumens rear; 200 lumens front) is a set of visibility lights, the rear is a four LED vertical array with solid, sequential and blinking settings. The front is a two LED horizontal with similar settings. They are both USB rechargeable, with good charge life at the sorts of everyday settings I run with.
The mounts are tensioned elastic, which I really like since they will wrap over cable housing, around the bars and seat post in traditional positions or around the base of a set of wrapped handlebars, so you can move them around to suit your needs. I have used the front on the rear, when I failed to recharge, and I have moved the rear to face down from my top tube to mute the visibility effect for riders behind me on dark trail rides without, forgive me, blinding them.
I particularly like the rear light. I feel safe with it blinking away behind me. It is large and bright without being too large to fit under my saddle bag and above a clip on fender.
The good folks at Knog also sent me their Blinder Arc 1.7 ($64.95 170 lumens). This is a light I didn’t really get at first. It’s not bright enough to be a vision light, i.e. to illuminate the road/trail for riding purposes. As a single beam headlight, it gives good visibility, but not necessarily better than the front Blinder that comes in the Twinpack.
I like a 500-800 lumen headlight for vision, but what I really, really like is two headlights, and that’s where I found the Blinder Arc 1.7 useful. Because it shares the mounting system of the Twinpack lights, you can position it on the curve of a road bar to illuminate the surface right beneath your front wheel, with a brighter vision light cast further forward. This combo throws a long light patch that I really like. The Blinder Arc 1.7 turns out to be pretty useful, and at its price, a good value.
Fortunately for all of us, on-bike lighting has gotten brighter, smaller and cheaper since the days of water-bottle-sized batteries. There are a lot of options out there, and in the vision category, this is particularly exciting and freeing, letting us ride more nighttime terrain than we could ten years ago.
With so many lights on the market, I really appreciate the versatility of the Knogs. It makes them useful in many different scenarios. Too many light makers are focusing on brightness, which is good. We need that, but more time spent on mounting systems would increase the utility of their lights. Knog seems to get that.
If I had one knock on these lights, it’s the proprietary charging adapters. While small and clever, it would be ideal to use adapters that are compatible with other lights, either mini-USB or another standard.
One last note, these lights are all light, i.e. not heavy, relative to their competitors. I initially doubted their ruggedness, but a year later, and suffering the abuse of regular commuting, trail thrashing and having plastic hockey pucks dinged off them in the basement, by my kids, they’re going strong and show little wear.
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