Vision and Visibility – Knog Blinders and Blinder Arc 1.7

Vision and Visibility – Knog Blinders and Blinder Arc 1.7

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.

Knog-Blinder-Arc-1.7-closeupThe 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.

 

Publisher’s Note: We’re having our first-ever reader pledge drive, which we’re calling the Freelance Fund. If you’d like to see even more content from us, we hope you’ll contribute. To support our efforts, just drop by here

, , , , ,

9 comments

  1. Mike C

    Your review of the lights sounds great and I also love having versatility when it comes to mounting options. Proprietary charging plugs? Not USB? In this day and age? That would absolutely stop me from buying them no matter how good they are. Mini or micro USB are THE worldwide standards. A re-design is in order or I fear that another good product may fail.

    1. Max

      I have the knog blinder front light and can tell you that it does have a normal USB charge connector. I think that the charge cable linked to by a previous poster is just a usb extension cable in case your usb ports are less accessible. I can only charge the blinder on my laptop with one side raised a few mm off of my desk but charging it from the front usb port of my desktop PC is not a problem.

  2. Les.B.

    I use front & rear flashers all the time, daytime too. On at least one occasion it likely saved me a crash. Cagers sometimes just don’t see us, especially if DUI.

  3. Weylandsmith

    I feel like this review, along with the rain jacket review you did a little while ago, skips valuable information. Since you reside in So Cal, you don’t have a chance to test this stuff in more adverse conditions, as Robot might in the Northeast. I think it would be much more helpful in the example of the rainjacket to hand this kind of product off to one of your contributors in someplace where it actually rains with some frequency – like Seattle. By the same token, a real acid test of bike lights of any stripe is whether you can operate the things with a pair of heavy weight lobster claw gloves or mittens when it’s below freezing – again something you’re not going to be able to test where you regularly bike. I can attest from personal experience that many lights fail the winter glove test.


    1. Author
      Robot

      @ Weylandsmith – You seem to have missed the by-line on the review. I did it. Acid was applied, as was water, snow and all the other junk that falls out of the sky here in New England. To your comment about operating the lights with snow mitts on, I tend to turn my lights on before I leave and then not mess with them until I’ve arrived, so this has not been an issue for me.

    2. Weylandsmith

      Color me embarrased, hadn’t noticed it was your by-line. I think the comment RE: the rain jacket still stands.
      I have a Light&Motion with multiple illumination modes, and it’s really difficult to change settings with gloves on. For a long night-time ride I set it to a lower level to extend battery life when I’m on relatively tame roads/trails, then switch to full illumination when needed. I sometimes have to take the gloves off to work the controls.
      To vent a bit, it’s not just lights, but any on-bike appliance that has buttons or other controls to work. It seems like most of the bike light or other bike accessories manufacturers/US sales reps are based in Cali and don’t deal with the weather conditions that a large part of the rest of the country does, hence there are design aspects that would be important in the Northeast or Northwest that simply aren’t on the radar.

    3. Padraig

      Weylandsmith: It’s true we don’t get a lot of weather in SoCal, but we do get some weather and we do our best to use those opportunities to put gear predicated on weather through its paces. It is not impossible to adequately review rain gear here, though it’s definitely hard. We hope you can understand that Robot has a proper day job and because that job isn’t with RKP, we can’t ask him to review every piece foul-weather apparel that comes our way. In fact, it’s pretty rare we can ask him to write a review at all.

  4. Ron

    I’ve found a few great lights, so allow me to chime in…

    Planet Bike Super Flash Micro – small, light, great battery life, USB rechargeable. I used one on my helmet with a regular Super Flash on the bike, seat post or seat stay. I used 2 AAA rechargeables on the regular, last a long, long time. Great brightness. The Micro is even better than the SF since it doesn’t need batteries.

    Serfas Thunderbolt. Easy to mount on bikes with weird tube shapes (such as my LOOK). Also nice on bikes that you don’t want to clutter with a mount.

    Front – Serfas USB 5 – small, light, BRIGHT for a be-seen light. Easy on/off. Very bright for a little light.

    For see-by lights – during NC winters I used a Lezyne Micro Drive on my helmet, a Mega Drive on my bars. During winter commuting a light on your helmet is huge, lets drivers know you aren’t a motorcyclist and when you turn to look both ways at intersections it really gets the attention of drivers.

    I also have put 3M black reflective tape on my crank arms. Can’t see it during day (black tape, black FSA cranks) but is bright white under a light.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *