Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Blaze bike light a disappointment

A while ago, I wrote about a Kickstarter project that I backed to create a new bike light. Finally the product is finished and my light arrived through the post last week. I've been really looking forward to this for some time, here's a picture of the light finally in my hands!

The light looks and feels nice, but once I started trying to use it my initial enthusiasm started to disappear as I realised there were several flaws with the product.

First, the light charges via USB which is a good idea, however the charger attaches to a couple of points on the top via a magnet. The magnet isn't very strong and the connector can easily be knocked or even fall off on its own. The slightest movement of the cable will detach it. A stronger magnet, or perhaps a lip around the charge point is needed.

Second, when trying to fit the light to my bike it became quickly apparent that the bracket won't fit easily on my handlebars. The bracket is a metal ring with a hinge on one side and a screw on the other side. A rubber insert goes inside the metal ring with the idea of giving a secure fit. Several sizes of rubber insert came in the box, which is a good idea, but the ring itself is too small and even with no rubber insert it won't clamp shut securely on my centre of my handlebars. On road bikes, handlebars are thicker in the middle where they attach to the stem. The only way I could get it to fit was to peel away some of the bar tape and clamp it round the narrower part of the bars away from the stem. Although it fits here it prevents me from riding holding the top of the bars, I can only hold the hoods or the drops.

Third, the image projected by the laser has changed. The original image was really good and was a fairly decent representation of a person on a bike. The actual image is a fairly stylised image of a bike, but with no rider. Maybe its personal taste, but I don't really like the new image.

Fourth, the retaining bolt in the mount was of very poor quality. After only a few minutes riding the light came loose and started wiggling from side to side on the mount. I stopped to have a look and saw the bolt that tightened the light onto the mount. A quarter turn with an allen key and the head sheared off, meaning the light was no longer firmly attached to the mount. I had to put it in my backpack to continue the journey. Luckily, due to the amount of time it took to fix the mount (see point 2), I had set off late and there was enough daylight not to need the light, otherwise I wouldn't have been able to continue. When I arrived in the office I had a look at the mount and was able to unscrew the detached thread by hand, which shows how little torque was required to shear off the head. Clearly no quality control had been applied to the mechanism to attach the light to the mount. This evening I'm going to have to leave work early in order to get home before it gets dark.

Lastly I have to mention the timeline for the product. The Kickstarter project started in November 2012 and was funded and started in December 2012. The original plan was to deliver lights to backers in April 2013.

  • In March there was an update the the lights would be arriving mid-summer.
  • In June there was an update that the new target was to deliver at the beginning of September.
  • In July we were told "you will have your Blazes this Autumn".
  • In August we were told "you WILL have your lights later this Autumn (late Oct)".
  • In September there was an update that the lights would be us for Winter.
  • In November we were told they might be with us for Christmas, but we weren't to get our hopes up (trust me, by this time my hopes were definitely down).
  • In December were were told it would be mid January.
  • In January we were told that they were on the way and mine finally arrived in February.

To be honest I could deal with the lateness so long as there weren't so many updates with broken promises. If the original plan was to have them sometime in a year or so, then I wouldn't have been so annoyed. As it is the lateness combined with the fact that the product has several serious and obvious flaws means I am left disappointed.

I originally paid £60 to back the light but the retail price is going to be £125. At that price I'd expect a good quality product. To me the acid test would be this; if I'd bought the light at retail for £125 would I recommend it to a friend? Unfortunately the answer is a definite 'no'. If I bought this at retail I'm afraid I'd have boxed it up again and sent it back for a refund.

Monday, 13 January 2014

Quick update!

Its been a while since I posted. I am super busy at work and the blog hasn't been on my radar. I'll try a bit harder this year!

Now that we're in 2014 I thought it would be nice to look back over last year to see how far I've been. According to Strava I've ridden over three thousand miles, which is pretty good.

At the end of last year I also joined a club, Thames Velo. I've been on a few club runs and they seem like a friendly bunch. Hopefully it will encourage me to ride a little more outside of commuting.