Blackburn Flea USB+Solar lights£39.99

Tiny size and usefully bright

BikeRadar score4/5

Blackburn's miniscule Flea lamps are surprisingly powerful for their size and you wouldn't think something weighing just 19g could kick out so much light. 

The four-LED arrays won't burn holes in the night like proper lighting systems but as an emergency backup on training rides or for commuting, they're just the ticket.

The front light's supposed 40-lumen maximum output is decidedly modest even if the manufacturers' claim is accurate, but it's just about bright enough to slightly light up the way in front of you as long as there isn't too much ambient light – and at low speeds. 

In terms of visibility to traffic, both the front and rear are highly effective, especially in flashing mode, and reassuring to have on your bike if you tend to ride towards the end of the day. Viewing angles are fairly narrow, though.

It's a small detail but useful nonetheless: the short hood on the front light keeps you from getting blinded when you're out of the saddle and over the bars: it's a small detail but useful nonetheless: the short hood on the front light keeps you from getting blinded when you're out of the saddle and over the bars

Both lights attach to a wide variety of bar, posts and helmets via the included silicone-backed Velcro straps, which are long enough to handle most oversized aero-profile handlebars but might fall short on some more aggressively proportioned integrated seatmast designs.

The rear light has a stout metal clip which is handy for attaching to jersey pockets, jackets, bags and the like. In fact, it's so secure that it can be a little tough to attach at times but at least you won't have to worry about it falling off. 

Burn times are approximately three to five hours for the front (Overdrive is only available for just over an hour, though, so use it wisely) and six to 10 hours for the rear (depending on mode and temperature).

Charging options are highly flexible when the on-board Li-ion rechargeable batteries finally run out of juice. Our USB+Solar version includes both a tiny USB-powered charger to run off of your laptop or desktop as well as a small solar charger if you're out in the field. 

Both the front and rear lights are tiny: both the front and rear lights are tiny

Charge time for the USB widget is about two hours but the solar panel can take up to seven depending on lighting conditions. Even so, it's a handy option if you're  on a camping trip, for example – and it also works with other USB devices such as some phone chargers and GPS handhelds (though not with Apple's iPhone). Owners of other Flea variants can purchase the solar charger by itself for US$15 or the USB charger for just US$5 (UK prices TBC).

For an extra US$3.25, you can suck whatever life is remaining out of spare batteries with the optional 1.5V charger. Just connect the magnetic leads to the appropriate ends and the Flea will pull whatever power is left – a good way to extract a bit more use out of batteries that don't otherwise have enough juice to power more demanding devices.

Suggested retail price for either the front or rear USB+Solar kit is £39.99 (US$39.99) while the USB-only (or 1.5V-only) version is £24.99 (US$29.99) – rather costly but not unreasonable, all things considered.

If you anticipate using them a lot, the cost will be easy to justify: you'll save quite a bit in replacement batteries and the solar charger is handy to have around if you frequently travel into the wilderness.

Optional on the flea usb+solar kit is a separate charger that   draws power from any 1.5v battery: optional on the flea usb+solar kit is   a separate charger that draws power from any 1.5v battery

James Huang

Technical Editor, US
James started as a roadie in 1990 with his high school team but switched to dirt in 1994 and has enjoyed both ever since. Anything that comes through his hands is bound to be taken apart, and those hands still sometimes smell like fork oil even though he retired from shop life in 2007. He prefers manual over automatic, fizzy over still, and the right way over the easy way.
  • Age: 40
  • Height: 173cm / 5'8"
  • Weight: 70kg / 154lb
  • Discipline: Mountain, road, cyclocross
  • Preferred Terrain: Up in the Colorado high-country where the singletrack is still single, the dirt is still brown, and the aspens are in full bloom. Also, those perfect stretches of pavement where the road snakes across the mountainside like an artist's paintbrush.
  • Beer of Choice: Mexican Coke
  • Location: Boulder, Colorado, USA

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