Staying seen when riding a bike is of paramount importance, not just at night but on dull days as well. When the days get shorter a good front light is a must. Lights can be separated into two categories, lights to be seen and lights to see. I was intrigued to see which category the Knog Blinder ARC 5.5 Front Light would fall into. .
Knog offer two Blinders, a 1.7 and the 5.5. This mid-priced front light is the most powerful in the range and was going to be tested in a range of conditions, in the rain, fog, early morning and at night.
Out of the box and my first impression was the Blinder was compact, although not particularly lightweight, tipping the scales at 150 grams which is nearly double that of the similarly priced Exposure Lights Sirius MK3 Front Light.
One of the light's main selling points is its USB rechargeable capabilities. All Knog USB rechargeable lights use a fold out micro USB plug, this allows you to literally plug in and charge through any device with a USB port- this is also hidden away and waterproof. Knog have addressed previous concerns with the awkward position of the plug and with the Blinder ARC 5.5 have included a USB extension cord. The Extension cord is a very handy touch that means you don’t have to struggle to get the plug into a laptop USB port.
Charging the light could not be simpler. The clear two-light display shows when the unit is charging, the battery level and when it is fully charged. Knog suggest 7 hours to charge from empty, which was about right and meant I was ready to go the next morning.
There are two options for mounting the Blinder ARC 5.5. The first is by using the included helmet mount kit, which attaches via velcro straps through the helmet vents, a tight and secure fitting that is ideal for commuting or mountain biking.
The second option is the handlebar mount, which uses Knog’s Silicone strap, fitting to a range of handlebar diameters. To stop the light from moving there is a sticky foam tape included for attaching to your handlebar. With the foam tape attached I put the light on and used the magnetic clip to secure the light in place. It is worth noting the magnetic piece is removable so you need to make sure it is sitting in the clamp. This is a bit fiddly but once attached was sturdy and secure.
One downside for this mount was because it is built into the light it means you need to unstrap both the mount and light when you need to recharge the device.
Six o’clock in the morning and it was still dark, perfect to test the light out for the first time. With four modes on offer, ranging from high to flashing beam, there should be a beam for every occasion. I was going to be riding in partially lit to completely unlit roads and even a few foggy patches. Time therefore to check out all the modes available.
In high beam, at 550 lumens, the light was bright, too bright in fact for lit riding in residential areas! I found the medium setting ideal for the unlit roads and low setting more than up to the task of providing a well dispersed beam onto the road in lit areas. The flashing mode was perfect for the fog with a pulse like beam, ideal for catching fellow road user’s attention.
The quality of the beam is one of the best out there, using a balanced beam and an optic design.
I was impressed with the four light modes and their range. A good indication of a lights range is to see how close you need to be to light up road signs, I found I was easily reaching a few hundred metres.
The only downside with the beam was, unlike some front lights, the side visibility was poor, not ideal for all-round visibility when commuting.
Where this light really stood out was its durability, over a week of rough Surrey roads the light stayed rock solid and in place, the tough aluminium casing was more than up to the task of protecting the light, even when I got caught out in a torrential downpour.
Even when the battery is running low, the Constant Current Drive Tech feature maintains the quality of beam. This is a great feature allowing you to use this light, right up until the dying moments!
Burn times are comparable with many lights in this price range and the Thermal Management system worked intelligently to alter the light output depending on my speed, emitting a lower beam at slower and a more intense beam at higher speeds. A neat touch when you are flying down a descent or sitting at a set of traffic lights.
In conclusion, the Knog Blinder ARC 5.5 Front Light is an impressive package, providing a high quality beam, a good range of modes, versatile and secure mounting options, a durable design and easy recharge capabilities.
What lets this light down are the slightly fiddly magnetic clamp and the all round visibility in an otherwise impressive light, ideal for commuting or training in a vast range of conditions.
Let us know you thoughts on the Knog Blinder ARC 5.5 Front Light or if there are any products that you'd like to see us test in the comments section below.
- Visible at distances of over 1000 metres
- Optic designed lens provides a balanced ratio of beam width and distance to safely illuminate you and the path ahead
- Total of 4 light modes
- Thermal Management: Automatically regulates the light output for optimum performance
- Silicone strap for handlebars 25-35mm in diameter
- Hard-anodised aluminium casing
- Price: Click to view
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