I usually don't like to do product reviews, but I find the following deserves one because of the misconceptions it is facing.
I recently bought Flea bike lights by Blackburn. In fact, I bought a set a while ago already, but I lost one of the lights. This is easier than I thought because those things are damn tiny, and I'm not even sure if I lost it on the bike or somewhere else.
As I was pretty happy with the devices, I decided to replace the missing one and got myself a new set; this time the 2011 edition in contrary to the 2009 I had before.
There are two main differences introduced in 2010 and 2011: The USB-Charger was introduced in 2010 and replaces the included battery-charger so you can recharge the lights on any 5V DC power supply over an USB port. New in 2011 is an additional led under the lights buttons that shows the charging state.
Here's a picture showing the new USB-Charger on the left and the old battery charger (that can be attached by magnets to any standard battery) on the right:
The chargers attach to the devices by 2 magnetic pins that are quite strong, so you can safely put it in any USB port without fearing it might fall off, and you can attach any battery without having to care if the contacts are attached right. What's really amazing however is, that the charging electronics is inside the lights housings so you can use any DC source from about 1 to 5 V without any additional electronics. It even allows to attach a solar panel with USB connector (Blackburn themselves offer one, but there's a ton of other similar devices on the market). With the 2011 edition the new colored LEDs indicate the battery status and also when charging is complete.
Here's the complete set including straps and USB Charger:
As you can see on the pictures, the back-light has a clip that is not only used to attach it to one of the straps, you can also clip it to a belt or backpack which I find useful (great if you have a big backpack that might hide a light attached to the saddle, or if you're hiking without a bike at all). If you pull the strap tight enough, it works well and you can attach the light safely, and it stays in place.
The front light has no clip, only a rail for the strap. Here too, it has to pulled tight so the light keeps in place. It doesn't hold nearly as well as a proper hard mount, but due to the low center of gravity and the light weight it usually stays in place well enough.
Every light has a couple of modes:
For the front light, it is normal, high, flashing, off, toggled through repeated pressing of the button. The back light has normal, flashing, chase and off.
The normal mode is usually good to be seen and to light the road if it's not totally dark. In the high setting it is surprisingly bright and well enough to see in total darkness. Of course it doesn't compare at all to 20 times as big, 40 times as heavy and 5 times as expensive lights with multi-Watt LEDs and so on, but it a) doesn't claim so and b) isn't made for that. I've seen a number of reviews and opinions that state that the Flea sucks, because it isn't as bright as their 200 EUR lamp with a 1 kg heavy battery pack - if you expect that, move along and get real. If you drive in darkness for several kilometers every day and don't want to charge twice a week, these lights aren't for you. If you bike for fun and need a pair of good, light and practical lights, or just a backup light, try the Flea.
I've made some photos in total darkness, no artificial light (besides the Flea) around, no moon and clouded sky without stars, to give you an impression how bright the lights are. The pictures are slightly overexposed, so they seem a little brighter than they actually are, but it still is close to how you actually would see it:
I guess people like pro/con lists (at least I do), so here it comes:
- Bright (for the size)
- Long battery life (for the size)
- Innovative charging concept
- Not allowed as only lights (in Germany)
- No hard mount available
- A little bit on the pricey side
As usual, more pictures in my gallery.