Review: Knog’s Blinder Road Lights

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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.

Knog Blinder Road head tail light review300513_678

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Knog Head Light Comparison

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.

Verdict:

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.

Highs:

  • 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

Lows:

  • 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.

Comments

Aaron - 05/30/13 - 5:14pm

I didn’t know they even had these! I am stoked on this headlight because I thought the original Blinder front was awesome but just not bright enough to see the road with. I dislike the bulky nature of other commercially available lights and I think this will fit the bill perfectly for my night commutes.

CXisfun - 05/30/13 - 8:18pm

I own a set of these and the review is spot on. I also have a 1500-ish Lumen NiteRider (can’t remember exactly which model) which is a great light, but bulky and a bit of a hassle to install. out on the road the Blinder is great. It doesn’t have the power I like for nighttime trail riding, but that’s what my other light is for….

Jay - 05/30/13 - 10:20pm

The straps on the Blinders are horrible. Yes; they attach quickly and allow a variety of mounting options. However, between me and my girlfriend we have had 7 lights fail in that the mounting straps tear through normal use. I am referring to the original 4 LED versions. At least this new version has replaceable strap but the system, despite its benefits, is junk. Eventually we gave up on going back to return them over and over again and I found a way to still use mine by cutting off the straps and wrapping a think rubber band around the bar and light. This makes me wonder why knog couldn’t have come up with a more robust system.

Sean - 05/30/13 - 11:34pm

Hi Jay, thanks for your comments and sorry to hear you’ve had such a bum deal with the Blinder’s in the past. Just to let you know that as of the November 2012 Blinder production run all straps and clasps were updated to create a tougher and more durable light unit. As of this production the failure rate of the Blinder 4 (or any other Blinder light) has dropped significantly to a minimal number.

We do still recommend that the Blinder 1, 4 and 4V are used on bars and posts with a diameter of 22-32mm, as any larger may compromise the usability of the light. However, if you do have any issues with your current lights then please feel free to shoot us through an email at peeps@knog.com.au and we will resolve any problems you have.

Pete - 05/31/13 - 10:31am

Any chance of Knog coming out with a strap to fit the aero seat post on my road bike?

I’ve had a heck of a time finding a tail light that fits the over-sized post and have resorted to attaching a small light at the top of the seat stay on the non-drive side of the bike. It sits too low and at an odd angle but is better than nothing.

Adam - 05/31/13 - 12:59pm

A strap for aero seatposts would be nice as well as a system to make the lights usable on wing style bars. I have an integrated stem/bar combo that is great during the longer days but a real pain during the shorter ones.

jay - 05/31/13 - 1:04pm

Sean – That is great to know, these definitely fell into that early production run. I will be in touch, thanks.

Like I said, I found a way to still use the lights because the light itself is pretty great! It’s simple, powerful and I love the USB charging. This made the issues more frustrating because the rest was quite good.

askar larkinyar - 05/31/13 - 3:33pm

200 lumens = riding home from work on a well lit street that you are very familiar with. anything else is just suicide.

fail!!!

plus it’s way too much money for that low of brightness. get a magicshine

Psi Squared - 06/01/13 - 12:04am

200 lumens…..hmmm. Whether or not it’s “suicide” is entirely dependent on the beam pattern and the illuminance as a function of position in the beam pattern at a given distance. Magicshines aren’t known for their optimum beam patterns. They use cheap lenses and cheap reflectors.

Steve Jones - 06/01/13 - 4:50am

What I HATE about these kinds of lights is having to cycle through all the flashing modes when I only really want ON and OFF. Enough to be really annoying sometimes.
So how many presses does it take?
Also I’ve got so many things I already have to charge that the very LAST thing I need are more things to plug into the computer.
And I bought several Knog products before. The charge sometimes dies on me just when I’m getting ready to ride home, even after only 2 or 3 nights use on a 30 minute ride home.
Not very reliable. Then every time the bike hits a bump, the light switches to flashing mode again! Aaaaaargh!

Zach Overholt - 06/01/13 - 8:41am

@Steve Jones, the lights stay on the mode you last had them, so no need to cycle through the modes unless you want to. Hold down to turn off and on. I know about the charging thing, but not having to worry about AAs or AAAs can be a good thing. I’ve heard that about Knog lights, but so far these have been dead reliable even after riding in major rain storms.

Kelvyn - 06/01/13 - 5:18pm

The Blinder is a great design poorly executed.
I purchased 4 at different times and have had countless warranty claims. All with broken straps.
Note: I was fortunate that mine failed in the garage and not lost out on the path.
To add insult to injury I had to rely on other lights while I waited for replacements.
With a draw full of other Knog designs that failed after riding in the rain, sadly I find it difficult to recommend Knog products.

Damian Fisher - 06/01/13 - 8:59pm

The knog range are great lights. However, the silicon strapes need to be significantly improved. Otherwise the lights are excellent in all other respects.

Michael - 06/04/13 - 1:37am

I looked at the tail lights at the store and almost bought one. Then I realized that as with other tail lights if you have a seat bag, it will block the light when attached to the seat post. And, the knog will not fit on a chain stay so that made it impossible for me to attach anywhere available on my bike. I don’t really understand this – don’t somewhere around 90% of riders have seat bags with their tools, tube, etc in it?

Zach Overholt - 06/04/13 - 3:10am

@Michael, I ride with a saddle bag on most of my bikes (it was removed for the pictures) and there is plenty of room for the light to remain visible. And I’m short. Don’t know what to tell you.

Frank - 06/24/13 - 8:49pm

I wonder if some of these places that do reviews get paid to say good stuff. I tried the Knog Blinder stuff earlier this year and they broke within a few months. I tried the Blinder 4 Square head light (purchased as a flasher not a main to see the road light) and the 4V Pulse; the 4 Square model the switch to turn it on and off failed in 2 weeks of use, I took it back and got another one, it too failed in about 3 weeks. Just about a day or two before the second 4 Square unit failed the 4V Pulse failed!

It didn’t really surprise me to tell you the truth, because when I removed the lights from the boxes and tried the switches they felt really cheap…and they were. I took them both back and got a refund.

The only positive thing about those lights is that in the flash mode they were quite bright, and due to the largeness of the light it showed up really well from a distance, but their not bright enough to be a light to see the road with, more of a to be noticed fast flasher light.

Zach Overholt - 06/24/13 - 8:56pm

@Frank, we would never accept any compensation for good reviews, this review stands as my honest experience. The Blinder Road 2s are in a different league than the lights you tried, and Knog is always working to improve their products. To be fair, you are talking about completely different lights. I’m still using these lights on a regular basis – at least 4 times a week, and they are still working flawlessly.

LesB - 07/22/13 - 3:43pm

You spec the rear light as 70 lumens. But when I go to the Knog web site the rear blinders are rated 44 lumens. Am I missing something?

kolella - 09/18/13 - 6:26am

Based on reading some reviews i’ve bought the kit with the front and tail light.
On my first trip i’ve lost both of them when traveling at 30 km/h over a road crossing paved with setts (cobbles) and tram rails. Saved the tail light but the front one was destroyed by a following car. In my opinion they ar both very expensive lights for such a poor fastening system.

Ash - 09/18/13 - 9:24am

I am by no means being sarcastic but just as a word of advice, it would be wise to proof-read the details and correct the errors before displaying the advertisement.
Isn’t 22-35mm somewhat of a skinny diameter for handlebars???
Relevant to your own opinion of the light i.e. it is “ON” of the …… which of course, should be “ONE” of the …..
And on closing a paragraph: ….. but that should be given. >>> WHAT???
I am interested in the light, however, my bars will require the rubber straps to be stretched to surround a diameter of 125mm which are my flattened dual tri bars.
I am interested to hear back whether the straps provided will make this possible?
Thanks.

Ash

Jarrod - 09/21/13 - 7:00pm

^ No 35mm diameter is a very thick handle bar. You can’t measure the diameter of flat handle bars…

Luke - 09/22/13 - 10:16am

haha…what Jarrod said…it’s diameter not circumference.
25mm diameter is about 109mm circumference fyi.

Pat Bowe - 10/01/13 - 3:57pm

Bought one, worked for one charge then stopped, took it back to the shop and they exchanged them as it was the first time they sold them. Got new lot but cannot charge for some reason. The are really expensive, I thought I was sorted for the winter but I think I was cheated. The shop didn’t give me the box so I have no come back. I was a fool to buy them without checking them but the shop recommended them as the best on the market, I should have known I presume they had the biggest mark up for them. Will never buy anything from this brand again. Need to go and buy new light for the winter. Shame on the Company.
Pat

Mat - 10/19/13 - 12:01pm

@LesB The spec is correct. You are looking at the Blinder 4v which is 44lumens. The Blinder Road R is 70lumens.

Takeabikeride - 12/05/13 - 7:26am

Just bought the Blinder Road 2 and Blinder 4 rear. I have had no problems charging either of these. For the commute home they work great. When the street lights aren’t there I can see the path well enough.

These are not lights for going fast through the woods in the dead of night. You want lots of lumens, watts etc for that rush. But for the commute home they are perfect.

Mounting is a bit more tricky, or can be if your set up is not straight forward. I have an extender off my front bar for my computer and bell and it is just a tad narrow for the front light strap. It fits but just. I will probably build it up with tape to get a larger diameter which will solve the problem.

I have a Rixen Kaul rucksack that fits on my seat post so no room for the light. I have a narrow rack so mounting the rear light on the rack is not straight forward. Since the rear right is angled for the seat post you can’t mount it on a flat surface. I took the helmet mount and fitted it onto the rear of the rack with cable ties and then put the rear light on that. Works fine. A bit fiddly getting the clasp behind the post but works fine.

Suppose these are work arounds.

I don’t have the helmet mount available now but I wasn’t going to use that anyway.

So far pleased with the lights and the convenience of not dealing with batteries.

Freddy - 01/26/14 - 3:11pm

These lights are very near close to perfect however, one thing missing and a real oversight is there is no indication of how much power is left in the battery or a flashing light that tells you the battery is low, which means at some point you will be riding without lights, kinda of annoying, why make a billiant bike light and miss something so simple.

Phil Bagley - 02/24/14 - 7:20am

I also had the Blinder 4 Led rear light and also had the same issues as some other reviewers. I used it on my commute to work. It was fantastic for two weeks, then broke (the strap was fine). First one of the 4 leds stopped working and now it will not turn on even after a full charge (green charging led).

I wish I had done more research before buying as many forums report similar faults. I urge you to buy something else. They look great, and operate well when working but it does seem I am not the only one who report a failure after just 2 weeks.

Hal - 07/23/14 - 2:20pm

I have 3 of these. First one worked great for 6 months. Second one failed after 6 weeks.
Replacement does not work at all. Would not turn on. It charged ok but failed to do anything.
I am NOT impressed
First one ……OK then fail
Second…….Fail
Third………..Fail
Will not buy again………

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