Whether they’re “springing ahead” with daylight savings or “falling behind,” the workaday bike commuter often needs lights. Blackburn’s new Flea lights, a front and rear combo that costs $55, may be one of the smallest and most convenient commuting light sets available. The front light is minimal in weight, bright (rated at 40 lumens), and rechargeable with a USB port plug-in.
In my test, the Li-Ion headlight, which is comprised of four LEDs, did well on dark mountain roads in Mammoth Lakes, Calif., my home town. On the busier streets of Los Angeles, it was more than adequate during my test period of about five months.
About the size of a half-dollar, both the front and rear units are so small that they can be tough to find in a packed messenger bag. The rear light features similar technology as the front and is about the same size.
The recharging unit is just as small as the lights. It slides right into a USB computer port to charge, which is convenient. But you probably won’t have to take the charger with you, as the light runs about three hours before powering down. (I also picked up the solar charging unit, which worked well. Just leave it on a sunny shelf and let it do its thing. Nice!)
There are three modes on the front light, including standard, overdrive and flash. The cited run times are six hours on steady and 10 hours on flash. Weight? A scant 17 grams, according to Blackburn.
Side by side with the similarly-sized Knog Frog light, the latter doesn’t compare in brightness. But like the Frog, both Flea lights are easy to install and remove because each utilizes a Velcro strap to secure on. My one minor complaint concerned the Velcro band for the front light: It had a silicone strip on it to prevent it from slipping, but the strip detached from the strap early on in my test (a problem that’s been resolved, according to the company). The rear light also has a metal band thingie for riders who want to attach it to their courier bag or pannier.
—Stephen Krcmar lives in California. His semi-regular alleycat, Thus Climbed Zarathustra, is this weekend in Los Angeles.