Reviewed: Blackburn Designs Flea commuter lights
How Much: $55 (Combo Package)
More Info: Blackburndesigns.com
The Flea front and rear commuter lights obviously get their name from their relatively small, flat appearance. But what isn’t immediately apparent is how bright these little buggers are—a claimed 40* lumens apiece.
In terms of utility, Blackburn hits the nail right on the head. Even though the Flea lights manage to retain a little bit of molded styling about them, they do so without wasting much material. Both lights come with a simple Velcro strap embedded with a silicone stripe that grips either a handlebar or seatpost. This makes for easy-on/easy-off functionality, which is key for commuters concerned about protecting their $55 investment.
In a nice nod to versatility, the rear light incorporates a snappy little steel spring, giving the user the option of ditching the Velcro in lieu of snapping the Flea onto the back of a bag, and making for one less light to remove from your bike when you reach your destination.
The Flea lights each use a 1.5-volt lithium ion battery, which is rechargeable via an included smart charger that, remarkably, is even smaller than the Fleas themselves. The charger can easily live on a keychain or in a pack or desk drawer, and it magnetically affixes to contacts on the Flea lights while its wires unfurl to magnetically connect to any 1.5-volt battery source—ie: any AA battery. Recharging hasn’t been this cool since the Flux Capacitor from “Back to the Future”—putting the Flea lights into a category of their own. Even the New York Times is talking about them.
Once charged, the Flea lights yield a reported 3 hours in steady mode and 6 hours in flashing mode; and 6 hours steady/12 hours flashing for the front and rear units, respectively.
Easy to find rubber buttons (even with gloved fingers) make toggling the lights on, off and through their different settings easy and painless. So, for example, when you’re in lit city traffic you can run the front light in flashing mode for maximum visibility, but when you’re along a stretch of dark bike path you can toggle off the epileptic-seizure-inducing flasher and crank up the brightness to actually see a little bit in front of you.
These are commuter lights, not trail lights, meant more to “be seen” than to see. But they’re well worth considering for anyone who commutes or ever finds themselves riding in traffic. Several different brightness levels and a flashing mode up front and a few different flashing modes in the rear make the Flea lights visible to even the most ignorant motorists.
*Editor’s Note: As the official Bike Magazine LumenMeter 2000-a-Tron is currently on loan to the German-language BIKE magazine, we can’t confirm the Flea’s lofty-sounding 40-lumen rating. But suffice it to say that the Flea lights are bright enough that you won’t want to spend much time looking right at them—and plenty powerful enough to make your presence known on the road.