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Blackburn’s aptly named fleas are one of the most exciting contingency LED lights I’ve used in a long time thanks to tiny dimensions, robust construction and a claimed output of 40 lumens each. Powered by a 1.5 volt rechargeable Li-On battery complete with a unique micro-charger increases the wow factor but charging from 1.5 volt AA batteries is a double edged sword: fantastic as you’ll find them pretty much anywhere but pricey if regularly charged from disposables.
Despite minute size and occupying nominal handlebar/seatpost space, sensibly sized rubber switches mean they’re incredibly user friendly, reliably toggling between modes (Flashing, static and on/off) even wearing winter gloves. Before use, hold the switch down for twenty seconds to exit demo mode and a full charge takes around four hours. This rewards you with a retina-burning beam of white or red light that even the most myopic of motorists couldn’t fail to notice.
These are of the “seen by” rather than “see with” variety but would be fine for slipping into a jersey pocket for those late summer rides on the best bike or commuting in well-lit urban areas combined with additional reflectives. All things being equal, full charges earn you between three (static) and six hours (flashing) from the front and roughly double that from the rear. The robust design shows no obvious weaknesses for weather to penetrate, although our test model’s charger developed a mysterious fault, refusing to work after two charge cycles. This would be covered under the firm’s lifetime warranty in a consumer context, but the fragility of the charger – and the likelihood of misplacing it – is a bit of a worry.
Given the level of performance, they’re great value for money secondary lights, especially combined with upmarket rechargeable or dynamo lighting systems but while there’s no denying the ingenuity of the micro charger, I would’ve preferred it as a contingency method and have a wall or USB unit for everyday use.
Great design spoilt only by the slightly vulnerable charger.
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Make and model: Blackburn Flea front and rear light set
Size tested: n/a
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?
The fleas are minute but super powerful LED lightset not specific to any partiicular cycling sub group with a unique micro charger that can sit on a keyring and charge the li-on batteries from a 1.5 AA battery.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
The fleas deliver a relatively enormous 40 Lumen output, weigh 40g a pair (including fitting kits). They enjoy a burn time of between three and six hours from a full charge and the unique microcharger allows them to be charged from any 1.5 volt battery.
Astonishing-especialy from such a tiny lamp.
Generally excellent but our charger gave up the ghost very quickly.
Very easy to use-even wearing winter gloves.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
The output and quality of light is surprisingly good but it's of the seen-by rather than see with school of LED. However, given it's intended as a secondary system I have no complaints and they're great for late summer rides on the best bike should dusk creep up on you.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Solid build quality and generally excellent design.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Our test model's charger leads me to beleive it should be supplied as a contingency, rather than primary means of charging the Li-On batteries.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? With an improved charger
Would you recommend the product to a friend? In the main, yes
Age: 35 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,
Shaun Audane is a freelance writer/product tester with over twenty-eight years riding experience, the last twelve (120,000 miles) spent putting bikes and kit through their paces for a variety of publications. Previous generations of his family worked at manufacturing's sharp end, thus Shaun can weld, has a sound understanding of frame building practice and a preference for steel or titanium framesets.
Citing Richard Ballantine and an Au pair as his earliest cycling influences, he is presently writing a cycling book with particular focus upon women, families and disabled audiences (Having been a registered care manager and coached children at Herne Hill Velodrome in earlier careers)