Knog Boomer Rechargable rear light  £31.99

7/10

Bright, useful, stylish and easy to charge, but the mount can slip

Weight 40g   Contact  www.todayscyclist.co.uk

by Shaun Audane   February 10, 2011  

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Bright, brash and now USB chargeable, Knog’s Boomer is certainly bright enough for city and suburban streets and dark lanes with reliable output and charge-times- it even survived five minutes continuous onslaught from the garden hose but so do many others and the silicone bracket is neither secure, nor particularly versatile when it comes to mounting the rear version tested here – we've also included technical details of the front though because USB recharger apart it is identical to the Boomer front light we've already tested.

What we have here is the brand’s well known silicone sheath (pink, blue, red, white, black and grey are all available) embossed with the Knog logo. The rear is designed to slip around the usual complement of seatpost diameters but the clasp was prone to coming adrift, requiring some gentle patting to remain seated around narrower 26.0 to 27.2 types. Annoyingly the Boomer doesn’t readily entertain rear rack or accessory mounting. The front mounting is a similar wrap-around affair for your handlebars, which will handle standard and oversized units. The guts of the unit, that USB connector, are tiny-smaller than your average memory stick, proudly on display through a clear casing.

It's that USB connection that sets this new version of the Boomer apart from its non-rechargeable predecessor. It docks straight into the computer port, the end is protected from dirt, damp and the ingress of water by a polymer cap and a full charge takes roughly four hours. The fact that you can stick the Boomer straight in to your computer to charge it sets it apart from competitors such as the Blackburn Flea and the Electron Backupz USB – both impressive lights (particularly the Flea) but both dependent on small and all too loseable adaptors – we know because we've lost the one for the Flea, a light which is partiuclarly fiddly to recharge. That's not the case with the Boomer, it plugs in easily to a desktop, laptop or a USB adapator and because it's small it should fit between anything else you've got plugged in at that back of your computer - something that can be a problem for bigger lights with built in USB connectors.

The Boomer lamp consists of a high-powered central LED pumping out a claimed 55/30 lumens (front/rear) with two smaller siblings either side on the rear for improved peripheral visibility. Engaging the light and toggling between the four (strobe pulse, random strobe, steady) modes can feel remote, especially in heavily padded winter gloves but is easier than I expected from the saddle.

Output is generally very good with a very bright beam, see below for our comparative graphs of the front light. It's not as bright as the Blackburn Flea at its centre, but with a useful beam spread (wider than the Flea's) in all modes -easily sufficient for round town and okay for the odd rural lane; simply adjust the settings to suit purpose and/or economy. Weather seals are fairly robust, surviving a really concerted blast from the garden hose and repeated, torrential cloudbursts alike, although it's important to make sure that the silicone housing is properly seated. Anecdotes suggest the earlier generation were susceptible to vibration, causing erratic shut-downs/start ups but to date, regular and spirited green laning (which is a hard test for what is basically a commuter light) has had no obvious effect on this one.

Our rear light has seemed prone to annoying phantom engagements in pockets and bags, although we had the same issue with the non-USB unit front light we tested. and Knog assured us it was a faulty batch, replaceable under warranty. That's the most likely explanation here too – this is an early production light as was our previous test model. Another possibility is that this this could have inadvertently been caused by one of the USB Boomer's clever features, its in-built battery protection. This light uses a Li-Ion battery and which if you are not going to be using it for extended periods of time is best left at 50 per cent charge to preserve the battery life. To help you knock it back to 50 per cent in these situations simply charge the light up to 100 per cent and hold the button down for five seconds which turns on the light and shuts it off when the battery runs down to 50 per cent. Clever, but possibly too clever if this is why it turns on when shoved in to your bag with a load of other commuter gubbins.

On list price the Boomer stacks up pretty well against the competition, the Electron Backupz we reviewed recently being £34.99 list although it could be found for a lot less online – something which could also be said about the USB Boomer's non-rechargeable sibling which lists at £24.99 but can certainly be found for a lot less than that. The front Boomer USB is a couple of quid more than the rear, at £33.99. Given that these type of lights are so often discounted it is harder to judge them on value, although we would say that judged on their list price all of the USB rechargeable back up lights are pricey. 

Verdict

Undeniably bright, stylish lights that will certainly get you seen - drops a mark for repeatedly turning itself on when carried in a bag, and while the price isn't out of line with other USB rechargeable back up lights, and the all round performance better in terms of useable light and ease or re-charging - the price of all these lights is quite high. A good light though, not with the out and out brightness of the Blackburn Flea, but with a wider beam pattern and a much easier re-charging process, the absence of a road.cc review of the Blackburn Flea USB is a tribute to how easy it is to lose the Flea's recharging adaptor...

road.cc test report

Make and model: Knog Boomer Rechargable light

Size tested: Pink/Black

Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?

25% BRIGHTER THAN OTHER HI-POWERED MINI LIGHTS ON THE MARKET

4 FLASH MODES AND CONSTANT

80 HOURS RUN ON FLASH MODE

30 LUMENS".

Bright yes but not sure I agree with the 25% brighter claim

Rate the product for quality of construction:
 
8/10
Rate the product for performance:
 
7/10
Rate the product for durability:
 
7/10
Rate the product for weight, if applicable:
 
7/10
Rate the product for comfort, if applicable:
 
6/10
Rate the product for value:
 
6/10

Did you enjoy using the product? Yes

Would you consider buying the product? Possibly

Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes

Overall rating: 7/10

About the tester

Age: 37  Height: 1m 81  Weight: 70 kilos

I usually ride: Rough Stuff Tourer Based around 4130 Univega mtb Frameset  My best bike is: 1955 Holdsworth Road Path and several others including cross & traditional road

I've been riding for: Over 20 years  I ride: Most days  I would class myself as: Experienced

I regularly do the following types of riding: cyclo cross, commuting, touring, fixed/singlespeed, mtb,

 

4 user comments

Oldest firstNewest firstBest rated

Sounds like this one is better made than some of the other Knog lights. I've had several now that either fail in light rain, switch off at the slightest bump in the road or both (one of which was the standard Boomer, bought just last week, and which has already failed). The designs are great, but I wish they'd sort out the build quality (though it sounds like they might have done with this one).

posted by step-hent [704 posts]
11th February 2011 - 10:05

27 Likes

Have you had more problems with front, or rear lights step-hent? Or have both types let you down?

Tony Farrelly's picture

posted by Tony Farrelly [4160 posts]
11th February 2011 - 10:10

29 Likes

Looks good though I think I'd rather get the non usb Eletron Backupz ones... Could get 6 for the same price as the Boomer and look like a Christmas tree at the same time!

posted by Sarah_andthepus... [13 posts]
11th February 2011 - 16:24

32 Likes

Hey Road.cc

I'll get commenting!

The review on the Boomer USB is well balanced - thanks (of course i think think that our lights are awesome value for money but ... )

As a note - the Boomer USB is waterproof (hence it will kill the hose tests... we have this nifty jig here now that emulates rain and road spray over 90 hours)... We are committed to all our new gen lights (like the Strobe and Boomers) being fully up-to the water mark.
- - -
On your other point of turning on in your bag or pocket - this would most likely be the switch being depressed by other objects in the bag or pocket - (Although we now use mechanical switches that are more challenging to depress - you still should be aware of this possibility) - it is definitely not to do with the early issues that our first batch of battery Boomers experienced. - All in all the Boomer USB is a super robust - possibly the most robust and practical light we have designed to date for city riding....

Our electronics engineer was especially interested in the comparisons your reviewer made and shot this email through to me explaining his electronics and optics logic - (thought you might be interested)

--------------------------
I like this test, and the way it is set out, although it can be a bit confusing at a glance. It should be viewed alongside the beamshots to get a full understanding.

If you look at the smart light and topeak, you see that the intensity is low on the chart, and concentrated in the center. This is also illustrated well in the beamshots - you can see the beam is small, and so is the intensity.

The flea has an impressive intensity. This shows up in the graph, with the huge spike in the center of the graph. However, also note that the spike is quite narrow. When you look at the beamshot, you can see that there is a very bright area of illumination in the centre, but no side illumination at all. This is annoying if riding in the dark, as you have no idea of what is around you except directly in front of you. It is even worse for being seen, as people directly in front of you are nearly blinded, but you have very little presence on the road to people who are off centre from where your light is pointing. Also note that the flea has a 'super' output mode that gives maximum brightness, but a runtime of only 1hr ... you can be sure that they tested in this mode.

Maybe I am biased, but I like the result shown here for the boomer. From the graph, you can see that the intensity is higher than all but the flea, but that it is spread over a wider angle as well. This is demonstrated in the beamshot as well. The intensity in the beamshot looks good, but the side illumination is better than all the other lights. I would much prefer a bit of side view when riding on a dark bike path ... I like to see overhanging branches, and paths to the side. Certainly when I am in traffic, I would like to think that cars turning out from a side street might see some of the off centre illumination that you get from a boomer (and a frog strobe is pretty good in this regard too).

Finally, it is worth noting that we are always driving improvements - and while the Boomer USB is an awesome light - on the next gen Boomers we will look at some things like a brighter LED, and adding a 'boost' mode where we run the LED flat out to get maximum brightness with reduced runtime... this seems to be a good way to get good test results whilst still providing a more realistic mode for good runtime. Although we could achieve the peak brightness of some lights ... this is not our intention as we also need to concentrate on our superior optics that spread the light out to the places where it is most needed.
--------------------------
Thanks
Mike

posted by bikemassive [2 posts]
13th February 2011 - 22:38

29 Likes

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