12th February 2017
50 Gibson Street
Upon discovering that the place that I had intended to go for breakfast this weekend would be closed, I decided to take the opportunity to share a cosy breakfast in bed. Stumbling upon the delicious sounding ‘Eggs with pancetta wrapped avocado soldiers’, I set off to pick up the necessary ingredients. Purely by “chance” this takes me past Cottonrake Bakery and I can’t help nipping in to pick up one of their signature black pudding sausage rolls, just in case my chef skills aren't quite up to scratch…
When I look back through my breakfast blog, I feel that I speak about the world of design a lot and the thoughts that pop into my head over the course of a week. When I’m sitting in work one night, I find myself holding my bike lights and just appreciating them for the physical objects that they are. As a result of this, I decided to write purely about the physical characteristics of the product and essentially perform a review.
Firstly, I should mention the thought process behind the purchase of these lights. After the unfortunate event of having my brand new set of lights stolen from my bike within just two days of owning them, I had to re-evaluate the criteria for buying bike lights. The previous lights had a clumsy mechanism for removing them from the bike (although this obviously didn’t bother the thief) meaning that it wasn’t practical for me to remove them each time I locked my bike up. When searching for new lights, I was looking for a set that could be easily removed but still have a strong enough hold that I wouldn’t have to worry about them falling off. The lights that I selected, the Exposure Trace lights feature an extremely simple clip-in system, meaning I can quickly pop them off whenever I hop off my bike.
The action of releasing the lights from their holder appears obvious and simple but upon further inspection we can see that a lot of consideration has gone into the design. The bulbous part of the lights invites you to pull it up; which in turn lever the rear end out of the bracket. On the rear light, the side exit aids you in levering the light away by placing your thumb on the bracket.
The ease with which I can remove these lights and throw them in my pocket leads me onto my second point. Just look at how small they are! The brightness that these lights put out is quite astonishing for their size. Coming under the ‘be seen’ categorisation for bike lights, they offer up a brighter beam than a number of their larger competitors. They have a certain cuteness to them which is rarely found in the cycling world and it makes their astonishing power ever more amazing.
Consideration of the user is shown throughout the features on the lights. I quite like how the makers weren’t afraid to be explicit with instructions on the product itself, realising that bike lights aren't something that should require an extensive operating manual.
On the underside, the simple use of a stopwatch icon to represent time and minimal abbreviations to represent Program, Constant and Flashing all provide the user with the essential information required.
The clever traffic light system that the lights use to signify battery usage is one of my favourite features. A subtle flash of Green, Amber or Red when the lights are turned off signifies the remaining battery levels.
Unfortunately the charging experience for the lights bring me on to my only gripe about the product. Although this features a rather nicely designed flat cable mirco-USB and the ability to charge them from my laptop is a godsend. The fact that an intermittent flash from the light is constant throughout the charging process appears unnecessary - especially when I’m in the library. I would propose that a few flashes occur at the beginning to signify that a successful connection has been made and then a solid green light to signify 100% charge. Gripe aside, the rapid re-charge time of the lights is quite astonishing.
As I write this post I sit with one of the lights in my free hand. The quality and robust feel that the lights have is another testament to the manufacturing precision. A majority use of metal within a set of lights is a welcome addition and the subtle ribbing on the body gives the lights a really pleasing feel. Quite hard to describe through words and photos but these lights really do feel solid and re-assure you of their robustness.
Safe to say that I am more than happy with the lights as they have exceeded my expectations in both performance and user experience. Due credit has to go to my dad for finding them online and encouraging me to buy them in person. The lights find the perfect balance between minimal design, powerful performance and simplicity, which comes together to result in a product that I never want to be without on my bike - achieving their ultimate goal of simple safety.
Thankfully my breakfast goes down well with the critic, but the stiff competition from Cottonrake just manages to trump me this time.