The Bike List

Blackburn Super Flea USB front light £40

Tested by Neil Watterson, tester for The Bike List

I can imagine the marketing meeting at Blackburn when they were trying to decide on the name for this light: 'It's small, light and squat - what shall we call it?' 'Er, how about "Flea"?' 'It's good, but it's not quite right. How about the "Super Flea"?' 'Yes, why not? Lunch, anyone?'

And it is, indeed, an apt name for the light. It's a very small light, about the size of a matchbox, but slightly deeper. It connects to your handlebar with a fabric hook-and-loop strap and recharges from a USB port.

The 120 Lumen light, with a lifetime warranty, has two steady modes and a flashing with a claimed 1.1 hours battery life on full power and 3 hours on flash. The on-off button is illuminated to show how much battery is remaining - green more than 75%, orange between 25-75% and red sub-25%.

It's the sort of light you'd consider for commuting - it's easy to fit and remove, has a wide spread of light and is bright. I tried it as a light for an on/off-road night ride and although it wasn't a match for high-power lights, the brightness was adequate enough to cycle by on roads and cyclepaths. I only switched on my more powerful lights when the surface started to break up and the best line wasn't as clear.

So, from that point of view it makes sense as a commuting light. And being USB-chargable means you can charge it at work, using the company's electricity!

Of course, that's dependent on how far your commute is. I'm guessing that the runtime of 1.1 hours was decided upon on the grounds that most are 30-minutes or shorter, so you'll be able to cycle to work and back (or vice-versa) on one charge, and still have a little left in the tank.

And the runtime is pretty accurate - I hadn't read the spec before taking it out on its first night ride and was surprised when it started to dim after about an hour - normally, I expect lights to stay bright for longer. But then most lights are a lot larger, or their output is a lot lower.

I did find that although the Super Flea was stable when cycling along the road, or reasonably smooth surfaces, it started to point downwards when you're riding cross-country. This could easily be solved by putting a wrap of soft rubber around the bar then fitting the light - you'd then be able to tighten the strap up that much tighter as well.

The strap is just a single piece of hook-and-loop with a plastic eye at the end - a bit like an elaborate computer cable tidy - but it works. The only downside of the design is that I've found I needed to remove the strap to charge the light, so I have to put it somewhere - and with a desktop as cluttered as mine, it's easy to lose. And so is the charger.

No larger than a standard USB plug, the charger plugs into a USB port and the Super Flea attaches to it with magnetic contacts. The magnetic force is fairly strong, but I found it tricky to get the contacts lined up perfectly initially, having to adjust it slightly until the 'charge' light flashes.

A rubber band helps hold the Super Flea to the charger, but I haven't found it necessary to use. This band also includes a cover for the USB contacts when it's not in use. And, if you're one for using your USB ports quite a lot, you'll find you'll leave it out of the machine as much as possible.

A four-hour charge time does mean you'll have to leave it connected for half a working day, but I've found the combination a bit too large, so it can impact on the use of the other ports. When using my Mac with its stacked USB ports, for example, if I want to use both USB ports I can't use the headphone socket. The solution would be to use a USB extension cable to move the charger away from the base unit, but that would just add to the other clutter on my desk. That said, with a long 'tail' it may be easier to find the charger, which seems to enjoy playing hide-and-seek with me.

When the light is charged, it works very well. You can mount it on the handlebar or use the optional helmet mount to shine light on whatever you're looking at. To be honest, I've managed to use the light as a helmet light without the extra parts, but it's a bit hit-and-miss as to whether it's aiming correctly and does wobble around without the proper kit.

The 120 Lumen output is about right for the price, and the spread of light is good. When I use it as a helmet light to supplement my main handlebar-mounted light, I use it on low setting and the battery life then is extended to 2.5 hours, so I only need to charge it every other day.

At 45 grams in weight you'll hardly notice it's there, so even weight-obsessives can have a decent amount of performance and extend their rides into the evening. It may not quite be as light as a flea, but in headlight terms, it's not far off.

At a glance

Verdict A decent commuter light, but not for off-road excursions or for the chronically-untidy.
Value
Performance

Blackburn says:

Ultra-bright, ultra-compact, rechargeable AND with steady, flash and strobe modes--this Flea really is super. With 120 Lumen output this super-bright light is just what you want for riding the nighttime landscape.

Features

LED Fuel Gauge

The innovative LED battery fuel gauge/charging indicator is cleverly integrated into the power button of both the Flea and Super Flea lights. Now you no longer have to guess how much battery life is left, just follow the simple color code. Green = 100% - 75%; Orange = 75% - 25%; Red = 25% - 0%

Patented Magnetic Power Adjustment

Found on the Flea and Scorch lights, electrical current is passed through the magnets, allowing for a compact and watertight connection. In the case of the Flea lights, it allows for mounting in both horizontal and vertical USB ports.

Specification

  • Super-small - 2.20" Lx1.30" W x.90" H
  • Super-bright White CREE® XP-G LED
  • Brilliant 120 Lumen output
  • Rechargeable Li-polymer power
  • Easy hookup magnetic USB smart charger, waterproof charging ports
  • Versatile hook-and-loop strap mounting system
  • LED fuel gauge/charge indicator
  • 1 hr High, 3hr Std, 5hr flashing runtimes
  • 34 grams