- 4.5 / 5 Bee's Knees -
In the world of “be-seen” bike lights, it would be easy but erroneous to say that all models are created equal. Although you’re more likely to notice and benefit from keenly designed headlights of (say) 700lm or more, there is more that goes into be-seen lights than meets the eye…at least for manufactures who give a damn.
Now, the folks at Knog definitely give a damn, after all, the Aussies have a life expectancy 3 years greater than those of us who call the land of freedom-fries home and they’d prefer to spend those extra years on their bikes. They like their marketing hip, their lifestyles fresh and their products bold to impress. Personally I don’t ride with any be-seen lights because Knog themselves have outfitted me with enough lumens to make them unnecessary. But for those whom be-seen lights make sense for, there does need to be some logic in the ones you pick. Let’s start here, the Blinder Mini Niner combo.
Just as it sounds, this combo pack consists of a front and rear light of identical style in an ultra compact footprint sporting 9 emitters each. The only notable difference between the two lights besides their LEDs color and output is the orientation of the strap against its logo as well as the selector button. I love that the button on the front light is located on the bottom of the housing. It takes a convenient pinch to manipulate this guy. By contrast the rear lights button is side mounted which feels entirely appropriate. Output from the front light champions the rear at 20lm compared to 11lm. Intensity from both lights is more than adequate under the be-seen umbrella. Again with their micro footprint, riders couldn’t be more pleased with the minimalist design and limited real estate that each consumes. Both are terrifically light weight, offer ample water resiliency, are compatible with aero seatposts and require nothing more than a USB host to charge themselves in just 2.5 hours. Fit is universal for each and custom applications may be in the cards.
What makes these lights unique (and not just the Niner but also the Chippy) is their means of casting light. Unlike single emitter lights that typically offer the greatest intensity, this 9 emitter setup (or COB for the Chippy) provides a wider, more dispersed beam pattern that is less migraine-inducing to motorists. Don’t be mistaken though, these lights will draw every bit as much attention as a punchy single emitter. This concept of dispersing light is superior for most applications and especially within a group ride setting. Beam angles are claimed as follows: Dot 20° (1 emitter), Niner 90° (9 emitters) and Chippy 120° (numerous emitters). Each light features the same flash and constant settings but again provides different beam angles and different intensities at a given distance.
As mentioned before, I don’t own be-seen lights given my fortunate situation. Additionally, I advocate for higher output lights both for a riders safety and enjoyment. That being said, there are applications in which be-seen lights make lots of sense and in this circumstance, the Blinder Minis are one of the first I would recommend. These are among the most compact and power packed lights for their price-point, feature intelligent design and I can’t speak more highly of the Chippy and Niner for their wide casting light design.