When it comes to cycling gear, I am usually a minimalist. Even during my days as a bike shop employee (read: discounts!) I kept it simple. My preference is for jerry-rigging (as seen in the head-tube camera mount that I built from hardware store parts) and temporary patching — my Dad taught me that duct tape could solve most of life’s troubles.
Nevertheless, I refuse to skimp on or “get creative” with bicycle lights. Keeping visible to cars, especially on the streets of the city, is something every cyclist should take seriously.
Knog, the Australian bicycle light manufacturer, also takes lights seriously. I recently purchased their newest design, the aptly-named Blinder, and after riding with it for the past month, I’ve found it a great choice for New York City.
The wristwatch-like clasp makes attaching and detaching this compact light from handlebars, seatpost or accessories quick and painless. Furthermore, the silicon strap grips tightly to most surfaces, allowing you to angle the light for your needs.
These lights are in the running for some of the brightest I’ve seen. (You might want to avert your eyes when you switch them on for the first time!) Each light has four LEDs: the white front light is rated at 80 lumens and the red rear light at 44 lumens. Blinders operate in five modes; my favorite is a series of blinks with a slow dim. The steady-state setting comes in handy for poorly-lit areas where, in addition to remaining visible, you need to light your path.
Forget battery purchases! This light’s sleek design includes a flip-out USB charger; a status light lets you know it’s charging. Every few days I remove my lights from the bike and charge them at work. Note: Knog claims three hours of steady-light or up to 50 hours in blinking mode. Depending on the length of your commute or ride, you may want to make regular charging a part of your routine, just to ensure you always have enough juice to get home safely.
One of my favorite features is the light’s built-in memory, which is sure to appeal to creatures of habit. The Blinder remembers the last light mode that you used. So, gone are the days of cycling through settings to arrive at your favorite.
At $45 each, these lights are a bit pricier than most compacts. But when you consider all their features and the savings on batteries, they are quite a bargain.
DIY and duct tape may suffice for solving some problems, but when it comes to cycling safety, the Blinder has me thinking that more sometimes really is more.
Knog Blinder Lights, 1.6 in. x 1.6 in x 2.4 in., $45 each