When you get up, it’s dark. You go to work and it’s dark. You come home from work and it’s dark. Sorry if that’s a bit depressing, but at this time of year it’s how it is. The problem with the darkness is that it’s harder to make out cyclists on poorly lit roads. It’s also harder to make out cyclists on busy roads where there’s lots of light pollution. Both of these hazards can be reduced by using visibility aids. Fhoss started off providing safety lighting to the construction industry and is now looking at how they can help cyclists.
At 5 litres the Fhoss Rucksack is the perfect size for putting your lunch, an extra layer, and some other small items without giving you backache. I’m considering putting a hydration bladder in it for longer rides in the Summer, so it’ll get used year round. In use it spreads the weight well due to the wide shoulder straps and additional webbing straps. The main zip is waterproof, and in fact the whole bag keeps the rain out really well. There’s a weak point at the top of the bag which seems to be a hole for headphones and might let in persistent rain. The Rucksack is made from a lime green nylon ripstop material and water just runs straight off.
The lighting panel on the Fhoss Signalling Rucksack works well. You can see the LEDs very clearly through the panel it sits behind. Even if the motorist behind you doesn’t understand what message you’re trying to signal, they’ll definitely see the light panel so job done. The remote control could do with better instructions on how to attach it to the bars, but if you’re used to attaching different lights and trip computers you’ll figure it out easily enough.
The Fhoss Tail Bag is a good size for a tool kit, spares and a rainjacket. It fastens securely to my saddle with velcro loops. Although it’s made from the same waterproof material as the Fhoss Rucksack, the large zip at the rear isn’t waterproof. You’d need to consider what you put in the tail bag, especially if you don’t have mudguards. The LED unit is quite well sealed so the water’s not caused any damage to it. Another difference to the Fhoss Rucksack is that the LED panel isn’t as clear through the orange material of the Tail Bag as it is with the lime coloured material on the Rucksack. In darkness the LED panel is visible enough to make a difference, but it struggles to compete with other cyclist’s lights and car headlights in the buzz of town traffic.
I like the idea of The Cord. it gives 360 degree visibility and it stands out on top of your head. Included in the box are 4 sticky-backed velcro wraps. The idea is that you stick them to your helmet and then The Cord is secured with the velcro wrap. It works, and it means you can take The Cord off for cleaning and replacing batteries. You can cut The Cord to size so it fits around a smaller head easily. I was also happy with the effect of The Cord either wrapped around my arm or attached to a loop on my bag. The Cord comes in several different colours if you’d rather not have blue.
I found the Fhoss Clip On Magnetic Light one of the most useful things here to compliment my current lighting setup. It fits in a pocket and will make a brilliant spare backup light for you, or ill-prepared riding buddies. I’ve used it clipped to trouser leg, back pocket, jacket collar, and the back of a woolly hat. It’s pretty secure and you can use the provided magnets to expand its possible uses. With 4 bright LEDs the Clip On is good enough to use as a main rear light (if you get it in red obviously). I’ll be getting a white one and a red one to use as secondary lights in Winter and emergency lights in the Summer.
When it comes to being seen, anything is better than nothing. Fhoss have got some really good ideas here, there’s something for everyone. I still use the Fhoss FiArmband that I reviewed last year, so durability is good. Personally I’m not so keen on the use of blue lights unless you’re an emergency vehicle, flashing white or red lights are just as effective. Fortunately The Cord, the Clip On and the FiArmband all come in several colours including white and red. I wasn’t so keen on the Seat Bag due to the LED panel not being as clear as the Rucksack’s LED. My favourite item is the Clip On Magnetic light, mostly due to its size and the multitude of uses I can think of. A combination of decent solid bike lights and a flashing light attached to either you or the bike, is a good way to be seen.
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