The Knog PWR Trail is so customisable and versatile, it is brilliant. You can decide exactly which modes you want and how bright you want them to be, and the battery pack can charge your phone or Garmin on the go too.
- Pros: Smart wide beam works well on and off-road, choose whichever modes you want
- Cons: Having to scroll through all modes as standard
The PWR Trail feels very good quality; it has some weight about it, and not in a bad way. The CNC machined body means a solid build, and with a complete lack of buttons it's certainly resistant to the elements.
Straight out of the box it has six modes, with the Max, a 1,000-lumen solid output, lasting for 2 hours, a 550-lumen Mid with a 3hr burn-time, and a Stamina setting offering 80 lumens for 21hrs. The other three settings are strobe and flashing using either the three main LEDs and the nine smaller offerings in a ring around the outside, or a combination of the two. The Eco Flash just uses the ring lights and will last 300hrs.
The great thing about the PWR, though, is that you don't have to leave it set up like that, you can have it exactly how you want it.
Knog has an app called ModeMaker which you download to your Mac or PC, and from there you customise your settings – not just the modes either but the power outputs.
The PWR separates into two pieces: the battery pack (more about that in a minute) and the lighthead. Using the provided USB to USB lead, you connect the lighthead to the PC/Mac and open the app. Once you've registered the light and created an account you have full access to the mode selection available for your light.
There are the solid three mentioned above, plus another 13 that you can choose from, all flashing or strobing in various connotations.
On the app page you'll see your light on the top left and you literally drag and drop your chosen modes over from the choices on the right. Each one gives you a little demonstration of what the flashing pattern is, too.
Once added to the light, you can go in and tweak the power output, although obviously the brighter you make it the shorter the burn-time. On some you can also control the speed of the pulse or flash.
The only modes you can't adjust are the three solid options.
Whatever modes you have set up on the PWR, you have to scroll through one by one to get back to the start, so being able to customise this makes a lot of sense. For instance, if I was heading out on the gravel bike for a ride on the byways, tracks and wooded trails, the last thing I'd want to be doing is scrolling through a flashing mode like an outdoor rave. I'd use the app to add Max and Mid – the 1,000 and 600-lumen solid modes – and that's it: the brightest of the settings for anything massively technical and the lower for everything else, just flicking between the two as and when needed.
If you're commuting and don't need a massive amount of firepower for main roads and urban environments then just choose, say, the 600-lumen solid and two flashing/strobing modes, one turned up high for daylight use and the other duller for after dark.
Some of the patterns on offer have solid settings for the main LEDs and flashing for the outer, so you can incorporate these too.
It just makes so much sense and takes a matter of minutes to tweak and change.
On and off the road
The PWR Trail, as you've no doubt guessed from the name, is aimed more at the off-road market because of its wider, flatter beam than the more pronounced spot of a road beam, but it works surprisingly well on the tarmac too.
Off-road, the PWR offers loads of peripheral vision, flooding the edges of the track and the ground right in front of you with a balanced amount of light. It's brightest in the centre but it drops away smoothly so you get all of the feedback that you need from your surroundings, like tree roots and low-lying branches, without being dazzled from data overload.
I found the 600-lumen setting to be pretty much spot on for the majority of off-road work, unless the trail was downhill or surprisingly technical.
Out on the road things are pretty much the same, with the broad beam highlighting both verges of the road, even on two-lane single carriageway A roads.
I've been testing the PWR alongside the Strada RS, Exposure's dedicated road light, and while the Strada only pumps out around 200 lumens more on full power, I did notice that the brighter central spot made things much better for high-speed descending than the Knog. That's the only thing I'd really criticise, though, and to be fair it isn't what the Trail is designed for; after all, there is also a PWR Road, albeit with a 600-lumen max output.
You can see what I mean on the beam comparison engine, above.
The PWR has no buttons at all. Everything is controlled by twisting the lighthead by about 15 degrees and letting it return to its start point. A twist and hold for two seconds turns the light on or off, and a simple flick will scroll through the modes. It is really simple to use even with thick gloves on, much easier than a small button, especially on rough terrain.
One thing that would be good is if Knog could set the light up to be twisted either way, like Dave mentioned in his review of the PWR Road, so you could scroll up and down through the modes without having to go full circle.
Pushing the red tab on the side of the body allows you to separate the lighthead from the power pack, and when you look at the end of it you'll see a connector for the lighthead, a Micro SD for charging, and a USB slot. This is because the 5000mAh battery pack can also be used as a power bank. Knog claims that you could use 50% battery life powering the light and then charge an iPhone up to 75% on one charge – and do you know what, that is exactly what it did.
In fact burn-times have proved to be very precise throughout, with a little leeway for weather conditions. The four LEDs on the side of the body let you keep an eye on how much battery life you have left.
And if you aren't going to be using your lights it's an ideal thing to pack in your bag to top up things like GPS devices on long rides.
Where the lighthead connects to the battery pack is a small rubber ring which does the job of keeping out any water. I've used the PWR in some heavy downpours on and off-road, and it has been put through the usual bathroom shower test, with absolutely no issues at all.
The bracket is an adjustable clamp type device which will accept round handlebars from 22.2mm diameter up to 31.8mm, and once in position it stays put. The light slides onto it via a groove and you have two seating positions; once in place, just tighten the thumbwheel and it's locked in situ.
The light slides onto the bracket on its side, which allows you to position it directly above or below the stem – great for having the light shining out from right above your front tyre.
When it comes to value, you are getting a lot for your £109.99. I was really impressed with Cateye's Volt 1300, which admittedly has a higher output but none of the functionality that the PWR has. It is heavier, too, and costs an extra 20 quid.
Lezyne lights always tend to offer good value for money too, and its similarly powered Macro Drive 1100XL costs just £70. It does have an annoying selection of modes that you have to scroll through, though, which obviously the Knog does away with.
On the whole, I think the Knog PWR Trail is a great light if your riding takes in a little bit of everything.
Great light for on and off-road use with loads of customisation and brightness
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Knog PWR Trail Front Light
Size tested: Peak brightness: 600 lumens
Tell us what the light 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?
Knog says, "PWR Trail is a modular bike light. But it's not JUST another bike light. Not only is it a high power headlight, but simply take the product apart and you have much more. A lighthead for other PWR bike and camping lights, plus a PWR Bank to charge devices that is also the battery for all products in the PWR range. The PWR Trail outputs a max 1000 lumens, can run for up to 300 hours on Eco Flash mode, uses an elliptical beam for broader road coverage, can be mounted both on top or under the handlebar (mount under your Garmin), or your helmet, incorporates twist mode operation (turn the light on and off twisting the lighthead - no buttons) and gives you the option to program your brightness and runtime through our ModeMaker app."
I think it is a great light that is well made and easy to use.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the light?
LIGHT OUTPUT : 1000 Lumens
POWER BANK : 5000 mAh
DIMENSIONS : 128 x 35mm Ø
WEIGHT : 230g
FITS HANDLE BARS : 22.2mm - 31.8mm Ø
WHAT'S IN THE PACK : Light, Side Mount, Gimbal Shim, USB Cable
Stood up to everything I could throw at it.
Decent burn-times for the outputs and a recharge took around four hours depending where it was plugged into.
Tell us how the light performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Great output and beam shape for both on and off-road use.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the light
Being able to choose the modes I wanted.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the light
Having to scroll through all of the modes chosen.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
Cheaper than some, more expensive than others with the same output, but the Knog is very well made and has plenty of extras.
Did you enjoy using the light? Yes
Would you consider buying the light? Yes
Would you recommend the light to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
A really great light that is more than a light. It does a good job of lighting up the trail and road, plus I really like the ideas that it can be a charger and being able to tweak the settings.
About the tester
I usually ride: This month's test bike My best bike is: B'Twin Ultra CF draped in the latest bling test components
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, club rides, sportives, fixed/singlespeed
With 20 years of road cycling and over 150,000 miles in his legs it's safe to say Stu is happiest when on the bike whatever the weather. Since writing his first review for road.cc back in 2009 he has also had a career in engineering including 3D-CAD design and product development, so has a real passion for all of the latest technology coming through in the industry but is also a sucker for a classic steel frame, skinny tyres, rim brakes and a damn good paintjob.
His fascination with gravel bikes is getting out of control too!