The New MOB The Face vs. the Blinder 4
The Blinder MOB collection includes five different models, all of which include a mixture of LED technologies. Of the MOB collection, The Face is the most similar to the Blinder 4 we tested. With the same $45 price tag and a very similar look, users of the MOB collection can also expect the same brightness and size. There are, however, some key differences in the two models. Check out the new version here, left, compared to the model that we tested, right. Then, keeping reading for all the details!
Here's a summary of the key updates:
- Straps — One of the main updates to the MOB line was the interchangeable strap, allowing for more variety in mounting and ease of swapping between bikes.
- Fit — According to the manufacturer, the MOB lights now fit aero designed seatposts and oversized handlebars, which they consider to be a substantial upgrade in comparison to the Blinder 4.
- Power Button — It seems KNOG heard us loud and clear! The Face has an updated power button that protrudes more and has better tactile feedback, hoping to increase user friendliness. We haven't tested this model yet, though, so while we can't speak to how well it actually works, we're excited to see this update.
Because we haven't tested the MOB The Face just yet, the rest of this review continues to reflect the Blinder 4.
Most bike lights under $50 shoot a laser-like beam of light in a small area far into the distance or barely any light at all. Though this can be useful for seeing the road condition if you're moving faster than 15 miles per hour on bumpy or dirt roads, we've found that this type of beam pattern performs poorly in urban areas because it's not effective at making you visible to other people. It also feels like you're looking down an endless tunnel — it's mentally taxing.
Through field testing in New York City, Washington, D.C., Ann Arbor, Michigan, and Seattle, Washington our testers found that lights with a wide, even beam pattern catch the attention of drivers much better than lights with a narrow, long distance beam. Thus, we feel that lights with wider beam patterns (like the Knog Blinder 4) are safer.
The Blinder 4 has a whopping 7.9 ft wide beam diameter (measured at 1 meter). It is highly effective at dispersing light to the periphery and catching the attention of people in front of and to the sides of you. This is the Blinders single greatest attribute and the primary reason that our testers found this to be the "safest" bike light under $50.
The photos below show the beam pattern of the Knog Blinder (left) and Bell iPulse HD (right). Note the difference between the Blinder's wide beam and the iPulse's very concentrated beam.
That said, the Blinder is not nearly as wide or powerful as the Metro 400 as you can see below. The Knog is even, but lacks the power of the 400.
Beam Diameter and Pattern
Knog Blinder 4
Cygolite Metro 360
The Blinder has four high-powered LED lights that are much brighter than typical "old school" LEDs found on lights like the NiteRider Lightning Bug 3.0. As described above, each LED is designed to disperse light across a wide area, not send it far out in front of you. Because of this, the Blinder scores a very low 2/10 in our maximum distance test and our maximum lux test (see the table above for results).
Compared to the Metro 400, the results are dramatic, as seen in the chart below.
Beam Distance Photos
Knog Blinder 4
Cygolite Metro 360
The Blinder is a dream come true for students, bike commuters and road cyclists because it is very compact (approximately 2 cubic inches) and lightweight (only 1.4 ounces). The Blinder ties with the NiteRider Lightning Bug 3.0 as the most portable light we tested. In comparison, many high-powered bike lights are three times heavier and three times larger than the Blinder.
The light is extremely easy to use. You can attach it to your handlebar with the rubber strap either loosely or tightly, an advantage over non-adjustable lights like the Knog Skink and NiteRider Lightning Bug 3.0.
The Knog Blinder 4 (left) is one of our favorite small safety lights. Compared to full-size lights like the NiteRider Lumnia at right, the Knog offers a fraction of the light output. But for riding on relatively well lit streets and paths, the Knog's flashing mode is visible to on-coming traffic, and offers the benefit of a very small, easy-to-use light, that is quick to take on/off the bike.
Recharge the Blinder in a USB port by flipping the USB out from under the bottom of the light. We've found that the built-in port is compatible with most computers and chargers, but a USB extension cord can make some ports easier. Being able to recharge the light with a USB is very convenient because you don't need to carry extra batteries with you or spend time buying batteries. Further, it allows the light to be charged from portable battery packs and solar panels, which some people use for bicycle touring.
This is the only light that costs less than $80 with a battery charge indicator light. This feature allows you to estimate the time left in order to determine when it's necessary to charge it. Green = full, Yellow = medium, Red = low
The Knog Binder plugs directly into USB ports without the need for a cord. Note the charge indicator light on the bottom right (red shows low battery).
Our only complaint with the Blinder is its small power button. It would be easier to turn the light on and off, especially with gloves on, if the button was larger.
The Blinder has a regulated light output, meaning that its brightness remains constant over time until the battery runs out. In contrast, many inexpensive bike lights are unregulated — their brightness declines over time, thereby diminishing the performance of the light. The chart below plots beam distance and battery life and shows the difference between the Blinder and the unregulated Cygolite Expilion. The Blinder's battery lasts for about 3.5 hours on steady mode and about 5 hours on blink mode.
The Knog Blinder is by far the most affordable bike light (of the 20 we tested) with a USB rechargeable battery. (The next cheapest light with this feature costs around $60.) The rechargeable battery is a HUGE ADVANTAGE compared to lights with disposable batteries because it's much more convenient to use and because you can save a lot of money over time.
The Knog Blinder's regulated lithium-ion battery delivers a consistent light level for 3.6 hours (on steady mode). Many other lights are unregulated and their light level declines rapidly over time, which reduces their performance.
Rechargeable battery cost savings calculation
We measured each bike light's battery life according to the ANSI FL-1 standard. Using this, we estimated the cost of operating each light with disposable batteries for 80 hours, our guess at the average annual time an occasional rider uses a front bike light. Battery cost estimates range from $2 to $47 per light per 80-hour period. Taking the average of all lights with disposable batteries, we estimate that the Knog Blinder's rechargeable battery will save most people between $15 and $45 per year, compared to a light with disposable batteries.
This light is an OK value. The Metro 400 is a much better value because it scored so much higher and only costs $10 more.
This is our highest rated ultralight light and wins our Top Pick award. If you have the money, we highly recommend buying this and using it in conjunction with a bright and powerful light like the Cygolite Metro 400 or the Cygolite Expilion 850.
There are several different versions of this light. We tested and recommend the Standard version. If you purchase this light, we suggest selecting the Standard option because it's slightly brighter than the other versions that have different beam patterns and/or diffusive coatings on the LEDs.