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Blackburn Flea front and rear light set



Great design spoilt only by the slightly vulnerable charger.

At every product is thoroughly tested for as long as it takes to get a proper insight into how well it works. Our reviewers are experienced cyclists that we trust to be objective. While we strive to ensure that opinions expressed are backed up by facts, reviews are by their nature an informed opinion, not a definitive verdict. We don't intentionally try to break anything (except locks) but we do try to look for weak points in any design. The overall score is not just an average of the other scores: it reflects both a product's function and value – with value determined by how a product compares with items of similar spec, quality, and price.

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Blackburn’s aptly named fleas are one of the most exciting contingency LED lights I’ve used in a long time thanks to tiny dimensions, robust construction and a claimed output of 40 lumens each. Powered by a 1.5 volt rechargeable Li-On battery complete with a unique micro-charger increases the wow factor but charging from 1.5 volt AA batteries is a double edged sword: fantastic as you’ll find them pretty much anywhere but pricey if regularly charged from disposables.

Despite minute size and occupying nominal handlebar/seatpost space, sensibly sized rubber switches mean they’re incredibly user friendly, reliably toggling between modes (Flashing, static and on/off) even wearing winter gloves. Before use, hold the switch down for twenty seconds to exit demo mode and a full charge takes around four hours. This rewards you with a retina-burning beam of white or red light that even the most myopic of motorists couldn’t fail to notice.

These are of the “seen by” rather than “see with” variety but would be fine for slipping into a jersey pocket for those late summer rides on the best bike or commuting in well-lit urban areas combined with additional reflectives. All things being equal, full charges earn you between three (static) and six hours (flashing) from the front and roughly double that from the rear. The robust design shows no obvious weaknesses for weather to penetrate, although our test model’s charger developed a mysterious fault, refusing to work after two charge cycles. This would be covered under the firm’s lifetime warranty in a consumer context, but the fragility of the charger – and the likelihood of misplacing it – is a bit of a worry.

Given the level of performance, they’re great value for money secondary lights, especially combined with upmarket rechargeable or dynamo lighting systems but while there’s no denying the ingenuity of the micro charger, I would’ve preferred it as a contingency method and have a wall or USB unit for everyday use.


Great design spoilt only by the slightly vulnerable charger. test report

Make and model: Blackburn Flea front and rear light set

Size tested: n/a

Tell us what the product 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 fleas are minute but super powerful LED lightset not specific to any partiicular cycling sub group with a unique micro charger that can sit on a keyring and charge the li-on batteries from a 1.5 AA battery.

Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?

The fleas deliver a relatively enormous 40 Lumen output, weigh 40g a pair (including fitting kits). They enjoy a burn time of between three and six hours from a full charge and the unique microcharger allows them to be charged from any 1.5 volt battery.

Rate the product for quality of construction:
Rate the product for performance:

Astonishing-especialy from such a tiny lamp.

Rate the product for durability:

Generally excellent but our charger gave up the ghost very quickly.

Rate the product for weight, if applicable:

40g pair.

Rate the product for comfort, if applicable:

Very easy to use-even wearing winter gloves.

Rate the product for value:

Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose

The output and quality of light is surprisingly good but it's of the seen-by rather than see with school of LED. However, given it's intended as a secondary system I have no complaints and they're great for late summer rides on the best bike should dusk creep up on you.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

Solid build quality and generally excellent design.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

Our test model's charger leads me to beleive it should be supplied as a contingency, rather than primary means of charging the Li-On batteries.

Did you enjoy using the product? Yes

Would you consider buying the product? With an improved charger

Would you recommend the product to a friend? In the main, yes

Overall rating: 7/10

About the tester

Age: 35  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)

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bivvy | 8 years ago

You must be an exception, or very unlucky. Did you have a rear mudguard? If in a certain position a rear light can get a lot of spray from a wet road. It's far worse than a heavy shower and lasts as long as the road is wet!

Tony Farrelly | 13 years ago

So, did you get replacements on warranty? These do come with a lifetime warranty - poor sealing is going to be a bit of an achilles heel on a rear light in the UK though. I see that the lastest version on the Madison website seems to have done away with the micro-charger in favour of solar charging instead

radar | 13 years ago

I was one of the lucky ones to win a set of Fleas in a Schwag giveaway here. Great looking lights, love the recharging - either from a battery or, as I preferred from a USB port. A year down the line and I have had three rear lights fail on me, all due to water getting into the light body.

In summary: a great light if you live in a desert, not so good if you live here in the UK.

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