The Blackburn Flea Solar 2.0 4 LED USB front light is perfect for touring and audax since it can be charged using the sun's energy - but has a USB option, an absolute godsend in dwindling daylight. However, despite these gizmos it's starting to feel dated, dare I say impotent alongside the latest generation of eighty lumen plus rivals.
High quality plastics house four super-bright Nichia LEDs, fed by a Li-on cell. Incorporated within the winter glove friendly diamond shaped switch is the brand's easy read 'fuel-gauge' battery indicator. Used properly, this not only reduces the likelihood of being plunged into darkness but counteracts damaging overcharging too. So far so good...
Not so impressive is the crude but effective Velcro backed handlebar or helmet straps , which feel distinctly low rent and need to be removed to charge. Two tiny magnets protrude from the light's base, connecting to the docking station, which you either plug straight into the nearest USB port or solar panel, James Bond style. Undeniably a talking point, this latter technology is best employed during bright sunny days, since overcast November skies meant full charges took six, sometimes seven hours.
Output and runtimes are distinctly average, not the sort I'd be comfortable relying on should disaster strike, but having said that, the crisp white beam nails driver attention at around 200, maybe 250 metres on a clear night and has made a very effective pairing with the brands' Voyager 2.0 commuter lamp in flashing modes, especially entering the flow of traffic, or alerting pedestrians along shared paths.
58 minutes is close enough to the hour quoted for its highest setting, two hours, forty two (standard) and but five hours seemed unattainable on the low setting. Even with direct USB fuelling we've managed four hours and thirty three, twenty minutes less using solar energy, which is disappointing.
Clever light with reasonable output but starting to show its age.
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Blackburn Flea Solar 2.0 4 LED USB front light
Size tested: Black
Tell us what the light 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 Flea 2.0 front light comes packed with features at a great price
- Micro size rechargeable Li-Ion powered head light
- Uses four super-bright Nichia LEDs
- Innovative charging system using any computers USB drive
- Flexible and compact mounting design
- Three flash modes: Normal, Flashing and Chase
- Run times: 6 hours (steady) and 12 hours (flashing)
- Weight: 17 grams
- New Fuel Gauge technology with Indicator LED
- GREEN charging solution using environmentally friendly Solar Energy
- Patented innovative charging system using any standard USB port or included solar panel
- Charged using your computer or the Sun
- Solar panel can even charge some USB devices
- Blackburn no-quibble lifetime warranty
Broadly agree,although solar charging wasn't particularly effective, even during prolonged periods of strong winter sunlight.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the light?
Ultra compact rechargeable Li-Ion headlight
* 4 Super-bright White Nichia® LEDs
* Includes USB charger AND solar charger
* Flexible and compact mounting system
* 1 hr High, 3hr Std, 5hr flashing runtimes
* LED fuel gauge/charge indicator
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%
Adequate rather than amazing - disappointing given Blackburn's usual standards.
Fine in everyday service and the "no quibble" replacement policy certainly adds peace of mind.
Performance lags behind its beefier sibling and I've never managed the full five hours claimed, regardless of charging method. That said, the "fuel gauge" seems accurate.
Good relative to size and as a contingency/dynamo companion but showing its age.
Tell us how the light performed overall when used for its designed purpose
There's no doubt the Flea commands driver/pedestrian attention to a reasonable distance and better than its forty lumens might suggest. We're very much in contingency territory and run times between fuel ups weren't particularly generous.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the light
Characterful design, good output relatice to size.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the light
Modest run times and solar chrge isn't overly practical during winter.
Did you enjoy using the light? Yes.
Would you consider buying the light? No.
Would you recommend the light to a friend? Possibly.
About the tester
Age: 38 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)