So after a nasty accident about 6 months ago, I became really paranoid about being visible on the road (I was on the losing end of a hit-and-run in broad daylight on a Sunday afternoon, so definitely more paranoia than the general post-accident jitters). And since my front light disappeared during the accident, when my concussion wore off enough that I could string together more than just a few sentences, I trotted over to The Bike Lane to get a replacement. Now I had been using the ubiquitous Knog Frog lights ever since I started biking in the city to some general success, but I found that either the strap would rip and the light would fall off, or the battery would just fade out over time and it was a pain in the ass to go find (or just remember to go find) the hearing aid batteries those suckers run off of. Plus I never felt like those lights were all that bright, even with a fresh set of batteries.
So the guys over at The Bike Lane gave me only one suggestion for a blindingly bright light that would ease my knee-jerk reaction to swaddle myself in head-to-toe retroreflective and multiple police issue Maglites: the Knog Blinder. And when they say “blinder” they mean sweet-jesus-holy-crap-my-eyes-i-just-got-caught-directly-by-a-gigantic-photographic-flash amount of light. Another bonus to these buggers, they don’t use the standard watch/hearing aid batteries; they are rechargeable via any basic USB port.
USB charging, now that’s an idea I can get behind. I mean, who amongst us doesn’t have at least something that you have to jack into your computer to power up so it isn’t have much of a stretch to just jam your bike light into the side of your computer as well. And it means you can forgo all the disgruntled stops at a 24 hour Walgreens or Jewel at 2am looking for those damn expensive batteries. As you can see above, the back side of the actual light folds open and the thin little tab pops up and can be inserted into any USB port.
When the light is charging, there’s that little red light that appears on the back, which will switch to green when the light is fully charged. I’ve found that unless you’re diligent about charging regularly, it is best to stick this thing in for like 8 hours or so and let it soak up as much juice as possible. So like….leave it in while you sleep, or confuse your coworkers by having it dangle on the front of the 10 year old PC at your shared work station.
Another thing about that little red charge indicator light, and my only complaint about the Knog Blinder: it is the bane of my night time biking existence. When the light is about to cease to function, the red light pops on to give you a heads up that you’re gonna be sans-blinky in the near future; except that the time from when the red light pops on to when the whole light turns off is not enough time to scuttle your butt back to a power source. At most, I think it’s lasted me like 2 minutes and then shut itself down, leading to some awkward requests when I reach my destination to plug this weird looking thing into some acquaintance’s computer. Part of that is my own damn fault for not charging it with a disciplined regularity, but I’ve discussed this “feature” with some fellow riders and it is the only complaint that comes up.
But before I deter you from thinking about purchasing these lights, let me tell you why I LOVE my Knog Blinder and wanted to write this review.
- The silicone straps and closing mechanism have held up, and I never worry that being a bit rough with my handlebars will knock it off while riding. But it also takes one easy movement to pop it off when I lock up and stuff it in my pocket.
- 5 different light patterns to choose from. I usually have it on the fast strobe just due to personal preference, but if I find myself charging down a pothole riddled/street light-less side street, the solid light is strong enough to serve as a head light that I won’t end up riding blindly into one of these:
- The on/off button only works when you hold it down for 2-3 seconds, so you won’t accidentally turn it on when you toss it into your bag and unknowingly drain the battery, which I’ve found happens all too often with my Frog light and then I have an awkward strobe light coming out of my messenger bag when I go to pull out my phone when some QT is giving me their number. So no awkward messenger bag disco light show will happen with these things
- And the price is round abouts $50 (Knog lists it at $44.95, but taxes and blah blah blah). I know at first I balked at the price too, I mean it’s just a light and that’s kinda pricey, but the guys at the Bike Lane were like, well you never have to buy batteries for it ever, so I feel like the price is justified over the life of the light.
I’m super picky about what I buy for my bike, like in a curmudgeon you-kids-git-off-mah-lawn type level of picky, but I’ve been diggin the Knog Blinder for the 6 months I’ve had it. And as someone who has to drive to work (or moan and groan and hissy fit every time I have to get behind the wheel) and doesn’t get back to the Logan Square area until after dark, I can definitely tell when someone has one of these buggers on their bike from at least 2 blocks away, which in turn makes me feel better when I’m biking because it gives me a small sliver of hope that the drivers out there who aren’t looking out for cyclists might notice this damn bright and obnoxiously blinking light coming at them.
My overall rating would be a solid Buy It at a 8.5 out of 10.
And legal shtuff: I didn’t get paid to write this review or receive anything for it. This review was written just because this product has worked great for myself and I thought I’d pass that info along to the rest of y’all.