By Gary Coyne
Price: $84.95 for front and back pair
Source: Bike shops, company website
Weight: 39g (each)
How Obtained: Sample from company
RBR Sponsor: No
Tested: 40+ hours
Super-Bright Lights Ensure Visibility in Low-Light Conditions
Whether you call them “exposure” lights or “to be seen” lights, once the sun is setting or still rising, you need them if you’re on the bike.
When I first joined my riding buddies for our earlySaturday morning ride with my new Knog Blinder 4 Lights on board, one of them commented as I rode up, “Man, That’s a bright light!” That unsolicited comment hit the nail on the head. These lights are indeed very bright. The headlight is rated at 80 lumens, while the rear (red) light is rated at 44 lumens.
Composed of four LED lights on a square platform (42mm x 42mm), these are rather unique lights. The red is actually a red LED, not a red-covered white LED. As such, the brilliance (“redness”) of the red light is remarkable.
The lights are self-contained, with silicon attachments and a clip built in to make installation (no tools needed) a snap. The rear red light’s strap has an angled pitch of about 70 degrees to keep it aimed at a proper angle on the rear seatpost. The front light affixes easily to the handlebar. And They’re 100% waterproof.
One thing to keep in mind is that these lights, albeit very bright, are not focused into a beam — so their ability to light up the road is minimal, at best. Also note that the lights” design directs light forward/rearward only, not to the side. If you want lights in order to be seen from the side, you will need extras.
USB Charging Has Advantages, Disadvantages
These lights rely upon internal Lithium polymer batteries, charged by USB. The obvious advantage here is that you never need to purchase batteries for these lights, while the obvious disadvantage is that if you forget to recharge your lights, you’re in the dark.
Charging is accomplished via the built-in USB dongle on the back of the lights. If you get two of these lights, it is impossible to charge the two side-by-side unless you also have at least one USB extension cord or two non-adjacent places to plug them in. At the location of the “on/off” button, there is a small led that shows red while charging and green when charged (about 5 hours for a full charge).
A shortcoming is the inability to track remaining battery life. When in use, the light will show red soon before the power runs out. In other words, there’s not much of a warning, and there is no way to determine how much battery life remains between a full charge and when the warning light comes on.
Modes Drastically Affect Usage Times
Both the front and rear lights feature five different light modes; interestingly, there is a variation on the 4th flashing mode between the red and white lights. After holding the power button for 2 seconds, the light comes on, and then each press of the button cycles through the various modes.
The rear, red light’s mode options include:
1. The steady “on” selection
2. Blinking, called fast flash (all 4 at the same time)
3. Blink-fade-away, called “Organic Flash 1” (here, there is a blink followed by a blink with a fade away of lowering intensity)
4. Blink-in-cycle, called “Organic Flash 2” (top-right, bottom-right, bottom-left, top-left)
5. Blink left-right, called Eco-flash mode” (the left two, then the right two)
The front, white light’s beam options are the same except #4:
4. Slow/rapid blinks (three slow flashes followed by 3 very rapid blinks)
Use times are, interestingly, all over the place, based on the mode. As one would expect, the continuous mode has the shortest use time, about 3 hours. The Organic Flash modes range from 6-7 hours, and the Eco-flash mode can last up to 50 hours. So if you want the lights to last a double-century, for example, stay in the Eco-flash mode.
If you don’t plan on using these during the summer months, you can put them into a “Storage Mode.” Instructions for how to do this can be found in the PDF manual (posted online at Knob’s website).
The Bottom Line
These lights are bright — brighter than any other “to be seen” lights I’ve witnessed. Besides the obvious fact that a blinking light will attract more attention than a steady light, a very bright blinking light is going to be seen better than a less-bright blinking light.
While best used for sunup or sundown times, I prefer to also use a “to be seen” light in addition to my “to see” light while night riding. The Knog Blinders are a bit heavier than other USB-charged lights, but the extra brilliance makes them worth the weight.
These lights are worth a look if you’re in the market for a good “to be seen” light for daybreak, dusk, or nighttime riding.
Gary Coyne is an avid road rider and regular commuter who enjoys solo and group rides in his hometown of South Pasadena, California.