In this month’s product picks we feature rear lights and a bike computer from Knog, a clever bag for carrying a suit to work, paraphernalia from Fyxo (including NOS Briko sunglasses from the 90s), and a high-powered light for less than $100.
Knog Blinder Lights
Knog has taken advantage of LiPo (lithium polymer) battery technology to improve the output their rear lights. The new generation of lights, called Blinder, feature 4 red LEDs and deliver 44 lumens of output. The Blinder lights are available in two basic versions, one with a square 2×2 array of LEDs and the other a rectangular 1×4 array. Both versions have 50 hours of burn time when flashing and 3 hours when steady. The Blinder features an alloy faceplate while a mounting strap and clip is integrated at the rear. A USB plug also flips out at the rear of the light for charging the battery. The whole unit is waterproof and the contacts of the USB plug are gold-plated to resist corrosion. To guard against accidental activation, the on/off button must be held for 1-2 seconds to operate the light; the button also features a battery indicator that lights up when it’s time to charge the unit. Both versions of the Blinder are available in a variety of colours and/or patterns.
See the Knog website for more details and online purchases.
The Blinder lives up to its name: 44 lumens of output work quickly to burn red holes into your retina. The unit is simple to attach to the bike and will fit most seat posts, though the silicone strap will struggle to stretch around a thick aero post. I really liked the concealed USB plug–there’s no need to hunt for a cable to recharge the unit–but plugging it into a USB port on a computer can be tricky if there are other cables plugged in nearby (a USB extension cable easily solves the problem if you have one handy). The on/off button is much easier to operate on the 2×2 model since it is larger and on the side of the unit compared to the small button at the top of the 1×4 unit. The battery indicator does warn you when the power is on the wane, but it’s much harder to see it on the 1×4 unit due to its location at the top of the unit. The only significant drawback of a light this bright is that it will annoy your early morning or night time riding buddies when they’re following you.
Knog N.E.R.D Wireless Bike Computer
Knog has taken their fondness for silicone casing and applied it to the bike computer to render the N.E.R.D. The N.E.R.D is wireless and comprises a magnet for the front wheel, a transmitter that wraps around a fork blade, and the computer/receiver that wraps around the handlebar or stem. There are three N.E.R.Ds available, named for the number of functions they perform: the N.E.R.D 5 provides current speed, trip distance, total riding time, an odometer and a clock; the N.E.R.D 9 also measures trip distance, average speed, and maximum speed, plus it has a relative speed gauge and a scan function that scrolls through the data while in use; and the N.E.R.D 12 adds a backlight, a trip meter and odometer for a second wheel, and calculates distance travelled per day. All N.E.R.Ds measure current speed up to 199.9 km/h (120.0 mile/h), are 100% waterproof, and available in 6 colours.
RRP: 5 function N.E.R.D, $54.95; 9 function N.E.R.D, $69.95; 12 function N.E.R.D, $89.95.
See the Knog website for more details and online purchases.
The N.E.R.D wireless is a contemporary take on bike computer design. The bold square unit attaches easily and sits neatly on the handlebar or stem, depending on the orientation of the computer unit in the silicone case. The magnet and transmitter are just as easy to fit and it only takes a few moments to get the computer running. The functions are fairly intuitive to use for anyone that has had experience with a bike computer. There is a simple one function button that is activated by pressing on the bottom third of the screen–no, the screen isn’t touch-sensitive, it just makes the unit rock onto the function button at the base of the computer. A quick press of the button advances the display to next piece of data at the top of the screen; holding it resets the computer for the next ride. Once riding, the computer updates the current speed every few seconds with an interesting scrolling effect that may take a little time to get used to. Otherwise, the computer delivers all the data in a no fuss manner. All told, the N.E.R.D is well thought out and it works well, though I think too much of the screen is given over to the relative speed gauge, which uses two bar graphs to compare current speed with the average rather than a simple up/down arrow or +/-.
I’m sure most of us have at some point rolled up a freshly pressed set of clothes in order to transport them to work or an event. It’s not a foolproof strategy but it does minimise unsightly creases. The boys at Henty have applied the same thinking to develop the Wingman, a suit bag for commuters that prefer to ride a bike rather than the bus. When unpacked, the Wingman looks like a standard suit bag, with a coat hanger at the top for packing the clothes. Once packed, it rolls up like sleeping bag and two plastic ribs that run the length of the bag prevent it from collapsing and creasing the contents. All the rest of your gear (shoes, undies and toiletries) is stowed in a tubular gym bag that attaches to the core of the roll. There are another two pockets on the outside of the suit bag, one of which holds a rain jacket to protect the Wingman, while the other has a few slots and pockets for pens. A single shoulder strap runs the width of the bag while a second hip strap helps secure the Wingman at your waist.
RRP: $179.95 with free shipping
See the Henty website for more details and to buy online.
The best measure of any bag is that it can accommodate your every need, even when you’re not aware of it. The Wingman is one of those bags. As I put the Wingman to use, I seemed to find another pocket perfectly sized for my needs. I was also delighted to discover the rain jacket just as I was wondering if the bag was waterproof. Packing the bag is easy and intuitive, and the gym bag that sits at the core of the roll is very generous and likely to fit all your gear. I won’t promise you that your freshly pressed Italian suit will come out looking as it went in–my eye is not that critical–but everything I put in the Wingman came out looking fine to me and ready to wear. There was only one shortcoming: while the single carry strap makes the whole bag simple to use, it does mean that one shoulder must bear the majority of the load. I didn’t have any trouble while carrying a pair of jeans and a couple of t-shirts, but add in a jacket, dress shoes, and a few toiletries and your shoulder might start complaining if your commute takes longer than 30 minutes. The shoulder padding and hip strap can be swapped around if you want to use the other shoulder, but it takes a couple of minutes to finish the job. Regardless, I found the Wingman was comfortable to wear and while it wasn’t as stable as a backpack, it was quite stable on my back, even when I was out of the saddle.
If you’re unfamiliar with the website, Fyxomatosis is a blog and a photo gallery that also organises unique events (Melburn Roobaix). Throughout all of its activities, Fyxo is devoted to the beauty of bicycles and the motto, “Life is too short to ride a shit bike.” The Fyxo store has a vast array of goodies for sale, much of which is oriented towards urban cyclists. Roadies will delight in novelties such cycling figurines, NOS (new old stock) Briko sunglasses from the 90s, cow bells, and Australian-made chainrings. The latter can be had in what seems to be every size and format known to man (though 11 speed appears to be lacking for the moment); in addition, Fyxo offers custom engraving of the rings to commit a slogan/mantra to your bike.
RRP: Briko zen sunglasses, $129-49; cow bell, $12; single cycling figurines, $15, 6-man gruppo, $69; 1/8 inch chainrings, $89; custom chainrings, $99 (add another $40 for custom engraving).
See the Fyxo website for more details and to go shopping.
Fyxo is a thrift store for cyclists. Take a browse through their online store catalogue and I’m sure you’ll pause over at least one or two items. As for the items on review, the cow bell is very effective, it has a good weight and fits the hand well for easy volume control. It comes with a lanyard but I wonder if a wrist strip might be more functional. The chainrings are crafted with a lot of attention to detail, the perfect item for a single-speed build or classic road bikes. I found the figurines were steady on two wheels and readily positioned on slight slopes, but I couldn’t get any to hold a wheelie. Fyxo is well ahead of the next wave of nostalgia for cycling memorabilia so invest in a set of NIB (new in box) Brikos now before prices skyrocket and reap the benefits in the years to come. Every order comes with bonus postcards featuring Fyxo’s finest photography.
Fyxo 1000 light
Fyxo has teamed with Xeccon to bring a high-powered front light to market for just $79. The LED pumps out 1400 lumens and has a run time of at least 3 hours on full power. The light has another two run modes, half-power, and flashing. The power button is positioned on the back of the light and doubles as a simple battery indicator. The Fyxo 1000 comes with a battery pack, mounting hardware for handlebars and helmets, a charger, and an extension lead.
Available from the Fyxo store.
This light has awesome output; I blinded oncoming pedestrians and impressed my fellow commuters on a ride home one night. The lamp unit is easy to mount but not the most sure-footed device resulting in a noticeable rattle and a mild strobe effect when riding on rough or uneven surfaces. The battery pack has two long velcro straps that are fairly versatile for mounting the battery, plus the extension lead ensures that it’ll reach the lamp from anywhere on the bike. The charge time is reasonably short too, just a few hours to get the green light on the charger. Take care when using the flashing mode in unlit areas, the effect left me a little dazed. This light is all value.