Review: Knog’s Blinder Road Lights
Thanks to the humble LED, bicycle lighting has jumped light years ahead since the days of halogen and even HID bulbs. Lights are more compact, run cooler, and have the possibility of producing a tremendous amount of light. Knog has been known up to this point for their “to be seen” lights, not more powerful lights “to see with.” With the introduction of the Blinder Road line of lights however, that is all in the past. The Blinders promise a surprising amount of light in a small, self contained, rechargeable package.
Flash through for the verdict.
One of the main features of the Blinders would have to be the ease of use. Simply put, if lights are easy to use, then you are going to ride at night more instead of worrying about wires, mounts, and batteries before your ride. The Blinder Road front light comes with two interchangeable straps to use for 25.4/26.0 or 31.8 handlebars with the latter the correct size for the included helmet mount as well. The straps simply click into place, which is effectively the only adjustment offered for the mount. The stretchy silicone rubber strap will adapt to fit different diameters to an extent, and the plastic/metal buckle quickly and easily cinches things down. During testing the headlight was constantly switching back and forth between a 25.4 bar on my townie and 31.8 bars on my road bikes and still has a snug fit. I’ve even tried it a few times on our 35.0mm Deda bar and it’s a stretch, but it fits.
Really, the only issue we’ve run into with the headlight strap is if there are brake cables in the way of the light. The strap is plenty strong enough to hold the light in place over the roughest roads, but if there is a brake cable constantly pushing up on the light it can move it out of place. If you run into that, you can either run the light upside down or resort to the helmet mount. On normal road bikes this wasn’t an issue, but on my frankenfixie with a high rise bar it was possible to have an issue – though it was fixed by moving the light to the other side of the bar.
The rear light has an identical strap system, with the exception of it only having one strap size. Again, during testing it went from one extreme to the other from a 27.0 post to 31.6 with no issues. One criticism of lights with similar attachment mechanisms have always been that there is no angle adjustment – while that is a valid argument the lower and brightest LED on the Blinder Road tail light is visibly angled upwards to be inline with oncoming traffic and the other three LED’s lenses actually shift the light upwards 15°. After installing it on multiple bikes, unless you are mounting it on an extremely slack seat tube we see no reason for further adjustability of the angle.
This photo was taken from about 50 feet back, and there is certainly no mistaking the piercing beacon of light. In fact, while out night riding for the first time with the Blinders I had a random guy flag me down to ask what tail light I was using because “it was the brightest light he had ever seen,” – a first for me. He also mentioned he had a 1200 lumen head light so he was familiar with high powered bicycle lighting and wasn’t just some guy expecting the output of a $5 Wal-Mart special. The head light didn’t impress him as much, but the tail light he had to have.
From the side you can see there is actually a good bit of illumination, though more of it is from light on the surroundings than the sliver of light in the center of the tail light. Every bit helps though.
Light from the headlight comes in 8 flavors shown from left to right, top to bottom: Low Narrow, Low Wide, Low Dual, High Narrow, High Wide, High Dual, and High eco flash with Low eco flash not pictured. High eco flash leaves the narrow beam steady and flashes the wide beam, while low eco flashes both lenses in an alternating pattern. At a claimed 200 lumens, the Blinder Road front light is certainly not the brightest bulb in the shed, but that’s not the point. Considering how compact the light is, and how quickly you are able to attach more than adequate lighting to the front of your bike for true night riding, the real power of the Blinder is in its convenience. I’m not sure I’ve ever ridden as much at night around town as I have with the Blinders simply because they make it so easy. At no point during the testing was I concerned about not having enough light or not being seen, either. I would like to have more light for mountain biking at speed than the Blinder Road provides, but that should be a given.
The Blinder Roads aren’t perfect, but they’re pretty darn close – at least for convenience. Ultimately they take the hassle out of going for a night ride, or eliminate the worry about your evening ride turning into a night ride. Many times while sneaking out for a quick evening ride I would grab the head light (the tail light was already on the bike) and stash it in my pocket just in case the ride went long. Otherwise, evening trips to the grocery store by bike were made possible with the lights which can be installed or removed in less than 30 seconds meaning worries of theft were null and void.
Battery life for the rechargeable LiPo batteries was excellent for the rear, and ok for the front. Even after the battery indicator lights turned on, I never ran out of juice before getting back home to recharge. Figuring that I rode with the rear on anywhere from 3-7 times a week (I use it during the day too, since it’s plenty bright to get drivers attention even in direct sun) only needing to charge it about once a month was awesome. With the head light, even running at full power on high battery life was still better than claimed, and generally provided about a week’s worth of night riding depending on the rides. The charging through the USB tab is fairly slow, but other than that the rechargeable nature is welcomed.
If you want lights that provide enough light to ride safely, and are super easy and clean to install on the bike the Blinder Roads are a safe bet.
- At 200 lumens for the head light, and 70 lumens for the tail light there is more than enough light for safe night riding
- Rear is one of the brightest tail lights we’ve seen
- Silicone strap and buckle system is lightening fast and easy to install
- Rechargeable LiPo batteries provide plenty of juice
- Includes 2 straps for 22-35mm bars, helmet mount, and USB extension cable
- Completely waterproof – validated with multiple road rides in complete downpours
- Many different modes
- Compact and light weight
- Rear light has no clip for attaching to bags or jersey pockets
- Silicone strap has no adjustment which can be an issue in rare circumstances
- Buttons, especially the rear can be hard to operate when wearing gloves
- Light beam could be slightly more diffused, hot spot in center of beam is very bright
- USB recharging is a bit slow at around 5 hrs for completely dead battery
For more specifics on colors, sizing, and availability check out our first post on the Blinder Roads.