Knog bike lights review

When most people think about buying a pair of bike lights they’ll usually head straight for the nearest pack of Cateye lights. However, they’ll be missing out on some pretty innovative benefits of the Knog lights. I recently bought a pair of Knog Strobes and was sent a rear Knog Skink to test for London Cyclist.

The innovative Knog lights

Knog lights in the snow

The Knog lights have been gaining in popularity. As evidenced by having a quick glance around (read: perve) at other peoples bike lights. After testing one out for a couple of weeks it’s easy to see why.

The first obvious advantage is in the material. The wrap around silicone material means you don’t need a bike mount. You simply pull the material and wrap it around your bike handlebars. This is great for zero setup and removal time. It also means if you have more than one bike you can switch your lights between the two in seconds.

The second advantage is the size. The Knog lights are pretty compact. In fact the Knog Strobes have to be seen to be believed for size. Even the Knog Skink is fairly small compared to similarly bright bike lights.

However not all is perfect in the world of Knog. Below I’ve reviewed each one individually starting with..

The Knog Strobe

The baby frog of the bike light world. This new 1LED “Strobe” version offers 25 Lumens of light and 80 hours of flashing battery life. For a front and rear set the damage is £13.85 (The best price I’ve found so far is on Amazon).

Would you like the good news or the bad news first?

Knog Strobe Rear Bike Light

Let’s start with the bad.

When I’ve been riding around with the Knog Strobe bike light in central London I’ve found it doesn’t quite offer enough light. At a similar price point a bottom of the range bike light from Raleigh which I highly recommend has 4 LEDs offering considerable more brightness. As a solution I recommend upgrading to the Knog Skink (see below) for more lumens.

The other problem I noticed comes from the lack of bike mount. As the light is placed so close to the handlebars the beam is interrupted by the brake cables. The only way to correct this is to zip tie down the cables. You may be more lucky on your bike and your cables may rest further down but for me it was a slight issue.

Knog Strobe 1LED bike light with the light on

Now the good news.

The Knogs are by far the most beautifully small bike lights I’ve ever owned. I love the quick setup and the forget about it operation. The lights weigh next to nothing and can easily fit in your bag or pocket. As a solution to the inadequate amount of light I’m opting to place two Knog Strobes on the front of my bike and use a Knog Skink on the rear.

wiggle Chain Reaction Cycles Amazon  

£17.54

£17.99

£13.85

 

The Knog Skink

At the higher end of the Knog bike light offering is the Skink. It is a 4-LED bike light providing 60 Lumens of light and around 220 hours of flashing light. The damage to your wallet is £9.99 for each light.

knog-lights-in-hand

This time let’s start with the good news.

Riding around London I felt comfortable with the Knog Skink bike light. It provides enough light to be seen. The different flashing modes provide good variety. Despite the larger size, setup remained easy and the light clipped on and off on my seat post in seconds. The light seems to be of excellent quality and I’ve not heard any reports of problems with water getting into it and so forth. Also in flashing mode the battery life is impressive.

Knog rear light turned on

Onto the bad news.

Like a typical English weather reporter of course I have some bad news to deliver. Fortunately it’s only a minor annoyance. Unlikely the Knog Strobe you cannot simply hold down the button to turn the light off. This means you have to cycle through the full range of lighting modes (of which there are 6) before the light goes off.

Other than that I couldn’t really fault the Knog Skink bike light and I’m impressed at the £9.99 price point.

wiggle Chain Reaction Cycles Amazon  

£16.99

£15.99

£9.99

 

Knog Strobe vs Knog Skink

I took some pictures at night of the two lights using the same camera settings. Unfortunately it doesn’t really prove much but I thought it might be of interest to some people.

The first blurry picture is of the Knog Strobe.

knog-strobe-rear-light-at-night

The below picture is of the Knog Skink.

knog-skink-at-night

Overall review

I’m a big fan of the design of the Knog Lights. Unfortunately, the super small Knog Strobe just doesn’t provide enough light to feel safe. However, the Knog Skink provides considerable light and offers many of the same benefits without quite the same level of portability.

A special thank you to Moore and Large and Today’s Cyclist who sent me the Knog Skink and another pair of Knog Strobes after they heard that my rear one was stolen!

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29 Responses to Knog bike lights review

  1. Louise 30/11/2010 at 2:48 pm #

    I totally agree with your review of the Knog lights. I have mounted Smart lights front and rear but really like to throw on a couple of extra Knog rear lights for extra visibility, such as a strobe on my helmet. I love the adaptability of them and would recommend them to any cyclist.

    • Tom 21/12/2010 at 6:32 am #

      Yeah I use the Knog Strobe as a secondary rear light attached to my helmet too. The Basta Superflash is my main rear light (attached to my seat post) with the Knog adding that extra bit of visibility up higher. I can’t fault it, it’s a great little product.

  2. Alex 30/11/2010 at 2:49 pm #

    Agree with your conclusion that the small strobe ‘frog’ is not bright enough for a city environment. I have found the battery life is less than ideal as well and the watch-type battery is not as easy to replace as a couple of AA or AAA from your local hardware shop.

    • Andreas 30/11/2010 at 3:01 pm #

      They’re definitely cool looking little things but functionality is better on the Skinks.

  3. sarah 30/11/2010 at 3:01 pm #

    i disagree with you saying that they are not east to turn on in a bag. i’ve recently run out both the front and back light now by finding them on in my bag the next day. i only had them a couple of weeks as well.
    the old knog versions came in cases which stopped this happening, but the new version come stuck to a card wrapper and have no protection to accidentally turning them on.

    i’m a knog fan but am considering going back to cateye purely in this basis. the knog lights take those annoying flat watch batteries which cost about £7 each. Each light needs two batteries so they are just too expensive to run out!

    • Andreas 30/11/2010 at 3:02 pm #

      Yeah the watch batteries do work out expensive and that’s definitely someone buying the Knog Strobe should consider.

      • Tom 30/11/2010 at 3:43 pm #

        I also have had problems with these accidently turning on in my bag – more so than conventional lights.
        Overall I like them as backup lights, and occasional lights if I’ve just quickly running down to the corner shop. But for longer commuting I use bigger and brighter Cateye’s.

        • Andreas 30/11/2010 at 5:05 pm #

          Hmmm I seem to be the only person who has never had these turn on in my bag..

  4. Balint 30/11/2010 at 3:17 pm #

    I’ve been using a Knog Skink for a while now and while I’m satisfied with the light output, it is far from waterproof (the original unit had to be returned because it stopped working after a rainy ride to work) and the battery replacement is a pain, I managed to rip the rubber body.

    • Andreas 30/11/2010 at 3:31 pm #

      That’s interesting to read. I’ve been out riding with mine in the rain and everything seems okay so far (guess it is in a fairly sealed position under the seat). Will keep an eye on that and see if I have the same problems.

  5. Neil 30/11/2010 at 4:26 pm #

    I’ve had a set of frogs since early autumn and found them ideal as a safety light in low light conditions, but would not rely on them in winter. I still have the rear light clipped onto my bag and I’ll use it as an emergency 2nd light if the battery on one of my others goes flat.

    I’ve found them to be pretty water resistant having used them a couple of times in very wet conditions.

    The batteries have lasted reasonably well I think and I have a couple of local poundland type shops that sell that type of battery for a couple of quid so don’t really see that as a much of an issue to owning them.

    All in all I’d buy again as they are useful in certain conditions, provide several mounting options and they look cool.

  6. Adam 30/11/2010 at 5:38 pm #

    I use the Frogs (now called strobes?) as extra lights flashing on the front and a red one on the back of my helmet if I’m wearing it. But I only use them as extra light in addition to something more powerful. As you say, they’re a bit weak on their own but good and attention grabbing in flashing mode as a second light. I’d also agree the batteries are expensive if you buy them individually from a shop (Maplins = £3.50 each and you need two per light !) but they are available online in packs of 8 or more very cheaply from places like 7 day shop or ebay.

    The larger lights are better on batteries as you can use AAA rechargeables which saves money, but the Bullfrog (now discontinued? ) is far from waterproof, as I discovered too late after mine stopped working when water got in and corroded the inside circuit boards and wires. It lasted less than a year and was too fiddly to fix so got thrown away. The front larger lights are also not keen on a lot of rechargeable batteries and go dim very quickly when the power in the battery goes to slightly less than full. A shame as it means constantly feeding it with non rechargeable alkalines, which although they can be recyled, are not very cost effective or environmentally friendly.

    All in all not that reliable as main lights. Also useless in anything but street lit conditions as they’re nowhere near strong enough to light the road in front of you, but I wouldn’t expect them to be at the relatively low price.

    I have however recently got another rear one (not sure why!?) and am hoping it lasts longer. It’s the Gekko and it’s snugger design would suggest that it’s a bit more waterproof. I’m hoping that it is! As someone already mentioned though it does have a habit of getting turned on easily in your bag, which means carrying extra batteries.

  7. Simon 30/11/2010 at 6:10 pm #

    The Knog Frogs are the older models whereas the ‘Frog Strobe’ is the newer version with the square lens rather than the tiny round led which used to poke out of the silicon (I use mine for map reading on long dark trips).

    These are definitely ‘extra’ lights and should not be used alone. The bigger models are OK – my favourite has to be the Boomer, though

  8. Adam 30/11/2010 at 8:31 pm #

    The link to the small lights on special offer earlier in the comments is for the previous model of Frog and not the new frog Strobe.

    I use one of those left on the forks of my bike at all times, just in case I’m caught out later than expected and didn’t bring or forgot lights. Not great on their own but at least you’re legal? And if it disappears then it’s relatively cheap. I wouldn’t leave any other more conspicuous lights on my bike when it’s locked up in public but a small frog on the forks doesn’t seem to have caught anyone’s eye in the year that it’s been there though.

    • Andreas 01/12/2010 at 1:26 pm #

      Removed that comment so as not to confuse people.

  9. @JamesLacey 01/12/2010 at 1:08 pm #

    Good post… I unfortunately bought the super small Knogs only on Monday and, like you, have been disappointed by their brightness – still, better than not having any lights at all!

    More annoyingly, I bought them from Evans at twice the price of Amazon.

    I’d love to know if anyone has had any innovative ideas about securing them to the bike rather than having to remember to take them off? I feel like the loop & hook gives a good locking point with a cable tie or something…?

    • Andreas 01/12/2010 at 1:28 pm #

      Doh – always check Amazon first! Though Evans will happily match the price of Amazon so you can also just show them a picture of the Amazon price and say “look!”

      I’ve not had a play around to see if I can secure them permanently to the bike though I have a feeling someone would pinch them – its what happened to me when I left the bike in Shoreditch with one on the back.

      I’ve seen a few people secure the big lights using heavy duty black tape to the handlebars.

  10. thereverent 01/12/2010 at 2:30 pm #

    I use both on my new commute bike.
    The strobes are good as a back-up to my main cateye lights which are on constant beam. As you say on a bike with flat bars the cables do get in the way a bit, so you have to be careful where they go.
    Too weak to be main lights (at least in London) they are useful for being so small. I haven’t had them turn on in my bag, but thought it might happen so pack them carefully.

    The Skink I use as an extra rear light. I saw one on another bike one night riding home and thought the LEDs were so bright, so I looked it up. A big bonus was that as there was no space on my seatpost (with my main light on it) It would mount on the right seat stay.
    It could be used as a main rear light, but I always double up front and rear with lights.

    • Andreas 18/12/2010 at 2:37 pm #

      That’s the main thing to realise about the Knog Strobe bike lights is that they don’t constitute a main light, especially not in winter low-light conditions. Though as a backup you can’t beat them.

  11. phil 02/12/2010 at 12:01 am #

    i can’t say i would rush out to pick one of these up as my main lights. i’ve got a great rear light that was cheap and can be seen miles away liek wise for the front its the same. however i do like their design and it is true about how easy the look to attach. i use the cycle computer and it was very straight fwd much better mounting than normal ones. so yeah i guess like the rest, i’d see them as a back up but not my main one.

  12. Lenny 09/12/2010 at 5:44 pm #

    I really like them, shame about the poor light on the front… might give the skink a go though looks good!

  13. Mike 10/12/2010 at 10:59 am #

    The Skink is a great light, especially aesthetically, but it is definitely not waterproof. At least three times over the past 6 months I have got to my destination to find I can’t turn the lights off as the button has stopped working. By removing the batteries and drying the inner workings I have managed to get them working properly again, but it is a definite annoyance.

    • Andreas 18/12/2010 at 2:34 pm #

      Thanks Mike. Can see myself putting this tip to good use in a heavy downpour. Will wait and see..

    • Ste 07/01/2013 at 10:28 pm #

      Have to say that I’m disappointed in the Skink Rear light, not water resistant at all despite appearances. Failed after three rides (not raining). I cannot recommend it. Moisture has damaged the switch, making it inoperable. Happy with my Knog Beetle Front though, for now that is reliable.

  14. Graham 06/06/2011 at 12:28 pm #

    I have just bought a front and rear Knog Frog Strobe and delighted with the product.

    I’ve bough them as a back up to my mine lights though.

    So I can now have two lights on front and rear. I didn’t have to worry about whether they would fit. They are small and due to the stretchable straps so fitting was a doddle.

    As a second light OR a backup in case the main one fails they are a brilliant investment.

  15. Pippy 27/11/2011 at 11:36 am #

    I have the Knog Strobe front and rear lights, the batteries are a

  16. Pippy 27/11/2011 at 11:38 am #

    I have the Knog Strobe front and rear lights, the batteries are annoyingly expensive in most places, but in London, there are plenty of ‘pound’ stores, where you can usually pick up a pack of 6 cheaply.

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  18. Geoff pollard 28/12/2013 at 10:34 pm #

    I have purchased a number of knog Skink lights and found that when used in dry conditions they are great. Unfortunately, in wet conditions I have found that they let moisture in and either stop working or won’t switch off. The cure is to take the batteries out and dry out the battery holder, either on a radiator or with a hair dryer. They also go through batteries at a rapid rate and, as I use Lithium batteries, this starts to get expensive.

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