I cannot even estimate how many times I’ve read a story about a cyclist getting hit by a car, where the story features a comment along the lines of “the cyclist, who was not using any lights, was travelling eastbound…”
A couple of months ago, I made a commitment to start using lights on every road ride. Sure, if I’m just bombing around the mountain bike trails, I’m not running lights. But if I’m riding on road, whether day or night, I’m running lights. I decided to develop 2 setups, for road riding.
Rear-facing red flashing light.
Headlight of some sort.
Separate, forward-facing, flashing white light. I adopted this after seeing just how much a flashing white light aided in cyclist visibility, when I was driving my car and came across a cyclist riding at night.
Rear facing, flashing, red tail-light on bike.
Separate, rear-facing, flashing, red tail-light on helmet. I adopted this for three reasons: a) redundancy, after having my standard taillight die on a long gravel night ride; b) the general concept of increasing visibility with 2 separate lights; and, c) I strongly believe that a separate light on the head has a disproportionate impact on visibility. On that latter point, the head is at a different (higher) height, tends to move around, signals intentions to turn, etc.
In the coming weeks, Axletree is going to work on a taillight pledge–working to increase the visibility of cyclists and prevent cyclist accidents. More on that another time.
Running lights a lot means using a lot of batteries…or using rechargeable lights. I decided that rechargeable made sense. With the crazy rides we do, in all weather, I wanted something waterproof. And bright. With long run times.
Where do you find bright, waterproof, rechargeable, durable visibility lights? (I’m not talking ‘seeing’ headlights…I’m talking ‘be seen’ lights). Answer: Knog Blinder. (More precise answer: your local bike shop).
Here’s the kit I settled on:
4 LED Blinder 4 Circle
This can be configured in multiple ways, with either solid illumination, or 2 or 4 leds flashing in different patterns. I use it on the handlebars–works equally well on drop bars and flat bars.
Knog Blinder 1 Cross
This uses a single LED flashing to the rear. I’ll show more details on the attachment below, but the flexible silicone strap that is used to attach it very easily wraps around part of just about any bike helmet for secure mounting.
Knog Blinder 4V Pulse
This mounts easily on the seatpost or seat stay…or on a backpack, if desired. 4 red LEDs, and can be set to solid, flash, ‘running’, or a number of other 2 or 4 LED patterns.
As far as mounting go, all use a flexible silicone strap and little metal buckle to attach to whatever you’re strapping to.
It’s very easy to use, very flexible, and surprisingly stretchy. Because it’s silicone, it is kind of ‘sticky’ and stays in place when you strap it on a bike.
On-Off-Mode duties are controlled by a single switch at the top of each light. I will say that controlling the mode with gloves on, in the winter, can be a bit challenging given the placement of the switch. On the other hand, the placement of the switch prevents accidental activation or de-activation…given the choices, a secure placement as Knog selected makes sense.
They are USB rechargeable…which is super-nifty. I use an old powered USB hub to charge mine.
That also conveniently charges my Garmin, camera, etc.
When they’re low on battery, a tiny red LED illuminates on them. When they’re fully recharged, it glows green.
Battery life has been very good. I have not run them dead, though I have run them down to the red LED being illuminated. My practice has been to ride them for a week, and charge them on the weekend. I’ve easily put 10 hours on them without an issue…although I use lower energy settings (typically alternating 2 flash on the headlight, ‘running’ 1 flash on the taillight, and flashing on the helmet-light). About the only use that they would likely not suffice for is multi-day trips where you’re riding at night, for multiple nights in a row. Based on experience thus far, I’d be pretty confident running them all night for 1 night.
Recharging is a snap. On the 1V, the usb recharging plug is built into the mount.
That’s it on the back of the pic.
On the other 2, there is a little USB charging tab that folds out of the back of the light.
Waterproofness? I’ve had ‘em in snow, downpours of blinding rain, creek crossings, and various other torture tests. No issues. At the recent Gore/Knog demo I attended, the Knog rep had a 1 LED light flashing in the bottom of his bourbon glass. They are waterproof.
I’ve had no durability qualms after a few months of use–the silicone straps hold up well, and stretch easily around weird shapes (like a Mukluk seatstay, a Madone seat mast, or a the edge of a helmet, or a backpack strap).
Brightness? They’re bright. The 4V up front is not quite bright enough for headlight use…but plenty bright for visibility. I’ve tried to take pics to show how bright they are, but ended up either under or over-exposing each shot. They are visible from a long ways off. I could get all lumens up in this joint, but I think a better measure is rider opinion. They’re bright…bright enough that on the high impact settings, they’re annoying to ride around (if others are using them). That’s an important point–they have nice, low-speed flash options that prevent you from giving other riders seizures. That cannot be overlooked. And they’re bright–you can see them from a long ways off, on the road.
Eric, over at Transit Interface, took this beautiful photo of the taillight in action.
The Knog lights are rugged, useful safety equipment. They’re also elegant. They’re elegant in design, in control, in mounting, and in simplicity: no more wasted batteries. The USB rechargeable design is super commuter-friendly and, for riders like me, is easily accommodated with a garage USB hub (available for about $10 at a store near you).
They’re a worthy piece of kit to consider. And if you look at price (at your local bike shop), consider that over the long-term, you won’t be replacing batteries.
It being Christmas Eve eve and all, I suspect that if Santa had a set of Knog Blinders, he likely wouldn’t have needed Rudolph. Merry Christmas (or other seasonally appropriate greeting) to you and yours.