A couple of years ago, Swiss company Velohub took to Kickstarter to finance production of its Blinkers bicycle lighting system. This March, the product became available for regular purchase, and we recently got to try it out for ourselves. Our verdict? It's everything you could possibly want in a bike light.
Blinkers consists mainly of a water-resistant head- and tail light, which quickly and easily pop in and out of magnetized brackets mounted on the handlebars and saddle rails. There's also a bar-mounted RF (radio frequency) remote, which is used to wirelessly control the lights. We found that attaching everything to the bike was straight-ahead and simple, although care needs to be taken not to over-tighten – we broke the headlight bracket when attempting to put it back on for some extra photos.
Upon initially installing the system, the remote needs to be paired to the lights. Once we discovered that this works best by starting with the remote between the two, as opposed to starting at the back and then going forward, this proved to be easy.
From there, every time you go out for a ride, it's just a matter of plugging each of the 180-gram lights into their brackets, which automatically powers them up. Depending on which of the remote's four buttons you press, and for how long, you can then do the following things:
- Set either/both lights to steady output (headlight: 100 lumens, tail light: 30 lumens)
- Set them to bright or low-output flashing modes
- Activate their turn indicators, in which a strip of amber LEDs on either side flash sequentially
- Set them to Emergency mode, in which all of the turn-indicator LEDs flash at once, like the four-way flashers on a car
- Activate the tail light's laser, which projects a sort of "safety zone" onto the road behind the bike (see photo below)
- Additionally, regardless of what function is selected, an accelerometer in the tail light will cause it to temporarily brighten to 100 lumens, whenever the brakes are applied
One 2.5-hour USB charge of each light's lithium-ion battery should be good for about two weeks of use, based on two hours of riding per day. The only thing to add here is that there's no way of checking the progress of that charging, or seeing when it's complete, other than to unplug the USB cable and then plug it back in again. The LED strips do display the current charge level, however, whenever you plug the lights into their mounts.
The remote's replaceable coin cell battery should be good for about 10 months.
On the road, the Blinkers setup was solid, rattle-free and easy to operate. The turn indicators can be switched off manually after each turn is made, or they can be set to shut off automatically within 12 seconds of being activated. We found it preferable to turn them off ourselves, as 12 seconds either left them on for too long after the turn, or wasn't long enough if waiting for a traffic light to change.
The rear laser is a 30-euro optional extra, and if we were buying the system for ourselves, we probably wouldn't bother with it. Not only does it use up the battery, but we're also not sure how much attention motorists would actually pay to it.
Minor quibbles aside, though, we really liked Blinkers. It's a well-constructed, sleek and user-friendly way of combining just about every type of bike light you'd ever have use for. Although cheaper packages are available (such as the one without the laser), the full system we tried sells for €199, or about US$237.
Product page: Blinkers
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