Review: Knog Blinder Arc 5.5 Road Cyclist Light
- by Christopher Jones
- Published: 16 April 2014
When Knog released their highly anticipated high powered lights, us Aussies were enjoying long and warm days. Early morning starts on the bike were already bright and this made it hard for the Blinder Arc 5.5 to really shine through – pun intended. The Arc is a new generation of light from Knog designed to let you see and not just be seen. Now that the cooler and darker months are coming to Australia, it is time to gear-up; the Arc light will appeal to both road cyclists and commuters.
High powered lights tend to run with external battery packs, but Knog have balanced weight, unit size, and light output to create the self-contained Arc 5.5. It fits really well on the road bike handlebars and doesn’t take up too much cockpit real-estate. It has a great look which will complement your high-tech race bike; the predominantly black coloured aluminium and rubber unit has the option for a black, blue, red, or silver “front” to colour match your bike.
The light is 10 centimeters in length and the front section, which houses the lens and CREE LED, is aluminium with ridges to dissipate heat. The rear half is silicon rubber and incorporates 1 switch on the top (on/off and light modes), a small LED to indicate the battery charge, a USB Plug, and, underneath, the mounting strap.
One simple button for on/off and toggling the light settings
The clasp with magnetic fastener and USB connect opened
The USB extension lead and mount for smaller diametre handlebars
Knog include a small USB extension lead to make it easy to connect and recharge the Lithium Ion battery; charging takes about 7 hours. There are four light modes: a long press turns the light on/off, and a short press scrolls through the light mods. The high beam is 550 lumens and provides about 1 hour 50 minutes run time. There is a medium and low beam plus a flashing mode, the latter will provide about 17 hours run time.
A quality Cree XM-L2 LED is the heart of the Blinder Arc 5.5
Two straps are provided to suite 25 – 30mm and 30 – 35mm diameter handlebars. My handlebar tapers from 32 – 35mm and I used the larger strap. In mounting the light, the Knog Blinder Arc wins points by improving on the clasp mechanism - Bicycles Network Australia previously reviewed the Blinder Road 2 and on a few occasions the clasp unbuckled when riding over big bumps and the light fell off. Both the Blinder Road 2 and the Arc lights now have a mount where the steel clasp has a magnet and, after hundreds of kilometers, I didn’t experience problems.
I do have to take a few marks off, however, due to movement of the light; on big bumps or rough surfaces I found the light slowly tilted down and I would have to adjust it back every so often. I spoke to Knog about this and they are updating the model with thicker silicon straps to resolve this. They also provide a fix: when mounting the light, it can be angled down 45 degrees and after the clasp is fastened, the light is angled up to the desired position. This helps prevent it from turning.
When the Arc 5.5 first arrived there were still plenty of sunlight hours each evening, which meant that I just used the Arc 5.5 as a flasher. It’s quite a bright flasher and other vehicles would show courtesy when I was approaching rather then dangerously stealing into my path.
Even with other devices mounted, such as a cycle computer or sport camera, the Blinder Arc uses the handlebar space well
To give the light a real test I planned a rare late night ride and, despite a full charge, the light died after 8 minutes! I had a good backup light and changed my route to well lit streets, but something was wrong. My review light was one of the first out of the factory and Knog identified a handful of lights with battery issues. They have since modified the production to eliminate this. Knog also sent out a new light quick-smart.
The high beam is where this light really comes together. Although any light is welcome in pitch black riding conditions, more light and better light allow you to ride at the speed you want with confidence. The Arc 5.5 is a warm light with a nice even spread of light. Many other lights have a pronounced hot spot and cast a very ‘sterile’ light which makes it harder to visualise contours in the road surface.
While the photo barely does justice, the road surface is well lit and the spread of light is balanced
The Arc felt more natural and the spread of light showed you what you need to see. In comparison with other lights that have a brighter hot spot, it doesn’t shine as far into the distance, although this was certainly not a deficit in my view. That said, for fast downhills at night you will certainly err on the side of caution or go for a much bigger lighting rig. As you would expect, the light is completely waterproof (IP68) and a side effect of the silicon rubber is that it attracts dust, but it can be easily washed clean.
The Blinder Arc 5.5 bicycle light retails for $129.95 and faces a bit of competition from other lights with the same light output at a lower cost. The advantages that the Knog provides is a good product lifetime, great customer service if there are issues, day to day convenience, a good light beam, and of course, style.
For more on the Blinder Arc 5.5, visit knog.com.au.