Friday, April 22, 2016

An Exercise in Good Design and a Copy

Subtitle: An old Skool Copy: Msde in china

Marcus and the Clone

The story starts with the premature failure of my Knog Blinder Cycle light.   This has failed after about 9 months of gentle use  (well, not used in Winter at all) and I opened a support case with the Australian Knog, who have promised to send a replacement under the 2 year Warranty.

It's been 2 weeks and nothing has arrived and since Marcus is now down to one rear Cycle Light, my sense of paranoia kicked in.   I need a working backup!

Cycling Light Parameters

Some of the features I look for in a Rear Cycling Light

- Red Light, 
Since white is illegal in most EC countries

- Ability to have a constant not flashing light.  
Again, flashing is in fact illegal in most EC countries, but saves a lot of power.   Since I'd rather be legal the light needs to have a solid light mode, ideally with varying levels of output

- Ability to have a really powerful rear light
Be easily seen and in bad weather conditions turn up power to be clearly visible even at distance

- Waterproof
Mounted on rear frame stay or seatpost it is going to come in contact with a lot of spray

- Rechargeable
One of the most important features.   Non removable battery means waterproofing is easier and your running costs are basically zero.

- USB recharge
A micro USB would be prefered but so far I've only found full size and mini USB.    Min USB gives a small socket that needs to be waterproofed.

- Can be operated with Gloves on
I always wear cycling gloves, not only as weather protection, but also get knocked off and hit the tarmac protection too

- Fast to apply and remove to Bicycle
Less time dithering about at beginning and end of a ride.

All three lights shown below meet the above criteria.

Even More Parameters

Of course, it's not all about functionality.  A good light would also

- Look Cool and chic

- Be interestingly different

- Not overheat

- Have a decent lifespan

Moon Comet and the Clone

The Failed Knog Blinder

The Moon Comet, which I still love, and still works

The Moon comet and the Clone light that arrived.  Can you see the problem!

The Problem
The Clone light that arrived had one rather major problem.

It attaches to the rubberised clip via an interlocking plastic square on the body of the light.

For the Moon Comet that square is not screwed on, it's a part of the moulding of the body of the light.  It cannot fall off.

But for the Copy that arrived, it actually fell off (thankfully) after I mounted the light and I was wheeling the bicycle outside.


The Fix

Was obviously to disassemble and then find a longer self tapping screw and screw the plastic square back more convincingly.

Here is re re-screwed light.  And,  it survived the first morning ride, since 2 weeks and counting, no replacement Knog Blinder arrived in the post

A word to the Cloner
You charged me 5 GBP including postage from China to Switzerland for this light.

That is simply astonishing!  So, bravo for that.

However I suggest you further optimise your design.

- Mould the square plastic mount to the top of the light.  As per Moon comet design.  You will also save one small self tapping screw.

- I suppose keep the 2 other cheapo self tapping screws that fix the light together.  The moon comet has more decent hex screws, but ordinarily they will never be opened.

- Get a grip with the labelling.

3.7V 500mAh
Made in China

Come on!

To remind everybody of the cost differentials

China clone - 5GBP including postage
Moon Comet from Wiggle UK  - 20 GBP
Knog Blinder - 60 Euros (45 GBP ish)

Waterproof LED rear light, ebay