The Spok USB lights are the latest generation of Planet Bike’s popular Spok lights. Designed to be small and easy to mount, the lights have been modified to feature USB rechargeability to make them easier use. In this review we’ll be looking at the $40 light set which includes a headlight and taillight. This saves you a few bucks of the individual prices of $22 for each light and makes a good set of secondary lights to ensure you remain visible at night. Each light has a 270mAh Lithium Polymer battery and offers upto 20 hours of run-time or more in the Superflash setting. The Spok USB lights, as with other ‘be seen’ compact lights on the market, offer extra illumination at night without the weight penalty or bulkiness of traditional lights.
Compact and simple to mount, the Planet Bike Spok USB lights are a good secondary lights for extra safety when riding at night.
|Category||Bicycle Side Light|
|Retail Price||$40.00 ($22.00 individually)|
|Measured Weight (in g)||48 (24 each)|
|Likes||+ Improves nighttime visibility |
+ Lightweight & Compact Form factor
+ Courtesy and Superflash modes
|Dislikes||– Short mounting straps |
– Does not power off with long hold
– Finicky USB port covers
|Where to Buy (US)||Planet Bike|
As with other Planet Bike products we have reviewed, the Spok USB lights are prominently displayed on a thick cardboard backing without any unnecessary plastic or other materials. On the card you’ll find their usual red and white graphics with the full specs printed on the back.
In the box you’ll find:
- Spok USB bike head light
- Spok USB bike tail light
- Micro USB charging cable
- User manual
The Spok lights are designed to be quick and easy to mount, and as such both the front and rear lights use a simple rubber strap mount. The straps are wide with multiple circular cutouts to accommodate a variety of mounting locations. A simple plastic hook holds the strap securely in place. The lights also rotate a full 360 degrees on the mounts for extra flexibility. We found that we could easily mount the lights on our fork, seatpost, or frame with the straps. However, the straps are too short to mount the lights on a helmet. It’d have been nice if Planet Bike had included a body clip to allow the Spok USB lights to be mounted on backpacks or saddlebags.
FIT & FINISH
The Spok USB lights use a simple plastic pod style design with integrated rechargeable batteries. As the name implies, the Spok has been updated to be USB rechargeable and have micro USB ports on the rears. Although the USB rechargeability makes these lights more usable, the Spok USB USB lights are larger than the coin battery powered Spok USB lights. The headlight and taillights are nearly identical, aside from the fact that the headlight has a white opaque housing and clear plastic lens compared to the red housing and lens of the taillight. There are rubber covers to protect the USB ports, but found them to be really finicky to secure. Although the lights can be used in wet weather, the IP54 water rating means they aren’t rated for jets of water or submersion so care should be taken to avoid such situations.
To operate the lights, there is a single large rubber button on the top of the housing that is easy to press and has a great tactile feel. A single press of the button turns the light on, and cycles through the different modes. To shut the lights off, you need to press a fourth time to return to the off state. We often found ourselves doing a long hold to turn the lights off, which is how most lights operate, before remembering that you have to cycle back to off. With this design, there is also no mode memory as you can’t turn the light off in any mode. Once the battery is down to 20 minutes or less, the lights revert to a low battery flash pattern which can be easy to miss. With the lack of a battery status checker, we found that we would have to proactively charge the lights to avoid running low despite the generous run-times.
The Spok USB lights use a simple Fresnel style (i.e. the round rings on the lens) plastic lens which help focus the light forward. Despite the fact that both the headlight and taillight have the same weight and batteries, the headlight puts out 20 lumens versus the 5 lumens of the taillight. Both the headlight and taillight have three output modes: Steady, Courtesy and Superflash. Courtesy mode is a slow pulsing mode that we like as it attracts attention without blinding others. We can’t say the same about Superflash mode which is a high frequency flashing that also alternates between two output levels. It’s effective at drawing attention, but will also annoy any riders around you.
Planet Bike lists the headlight’s modes and runtimes as: Steady (5hr, 20 lm), Courtesy (8hr, 6-18lm) and Superflash (26hr, 20 lm). The taillight features: Steady (4.5hr, 5lm), Courtesy (7hr, 1.5-4.5lm) and Superflash (22hr, 5lm). As you would expect, the Spok USB lights are best used as secondary lights as they aren’t bright enough to be used alone. Particularly with both lights on Superflash mode, you’ll definitely stand out from the crowd. We don’t think they are bright enough for daytime use, but if you ride at dusk or lower-light situations, the Spok USB lights are handy to have.
Overall, we found the Spok USB lights to be compact and bright little lights. With flexible rubber straps and the ability to rotate a full 360 degrees, the Spok USB lights are great for ensuring you remain visible at night. With only 20 lumens on the headlight and 5 lumens on the taillight, the Spok USB lights aren’t a replacement for higher output lights but instead can be used as secondary lights. Their diminutive size and USB rechargeability means you can easily attach them to your bike and keep them charged. Although we wish they included clip mounts and had a battery status indicator, the Spok USB lights are great for supplementary visibility for night time riding.
Disclaimer: The product for this review was provided by Planet Bike. The views expressed on this website are solely those of the authors and are here to help people make an informed choice before a purchase. The authors or the blog itself does not get any monetary compensation from the product manufacturer or third-party websites/vendor links that are posted here.