When I moved to Portland, OR this spring, one of my top priorities was upgrading my biking setup. My bike stayed in the closet for most of the pandemic, but after relocating to one of the country’s best bike cities, I was eager to explore on two wheels. First, I swapped my heavy vintage Bridgestone mountain bike for a sleek State All-Road gravel bike. I stocked up on a patch kit, multi-tool, lube, and saddle bag. The last thing on my fixer-upper list was to sift through my gear box in search of my old bike lights. But with daylight lasting as late as 9 p.m. in the summer, I put off the chore for another few months. Then the Thousand Traveler Magnetic Bike Lights hit the market, and I had to try them.
I’m a big fan of Thousand’s stylish helmets, so I wanted to find out for myself how the brand’s new accessories fared on city streets. After a few weeks of testing in the City of Roses, here are my takeaways.
What It Is
Thousand is best known for its retro-inspired bike helmets, the Heritage and Chapter. The designs include creative and convenient features like a magnetic fastener, vegan-friendly straps, and a bike lock portal, so you can lock your bike and your helmet securely with a U-lock. Now the brand is applying that same attention to detail to bike lights. The Thousand Traveler Magnetic Bike Lights just launched in July 2022.
The lights ($70 for a front-rear set or $35 for one) mount to your seatpost and handlebars with a stretchy rubber loop fastener (as long as your post and bars aren’t larger than 35mm). Each light is about the size of a golf ball, and they can toggle between solid beam, flash, and eco flash settings. The front light delivers up to 250 lumens, while the back has a max of 80 lumens.
The best part: The lights use a magnetic attachment system, so they pop right out of their mounts when you’re done riding. This allows you to take your lights with you—so they don’t get stolen—without dismounting the entire mounting fixture (and remounting it every time you ride).
The lights are also rechargeable via a built-in USB-C port (a charge cable is included), and they’re water-resistant against light rain, which will come in handy once Portland’s sunny season comes to an end.
Why We Like It
In any size city, bike theft happens. If your whole bike isn’t stolen, smaller components like wheels, helmets, panniers, and lights can go missing if they aren’t locked down. Beefy bike locks can help deter theft of your bike, but until the Traveler Magnetic Bike Lights, the only way to prevent the theft of lights was by taking them off and putting them back on every time you ride.
I love that these new lights make that step a little bit easier. Because they’re so compact and lightweight, I stashed them in my backpack when I went to the climbing gym, and they even fit in the pockets of my shorts while I ran errands downtown.
That said, if I ever forget to take them off my bike and they did get snatched, I’d only be out $70 for the pair. At $35 per light, they’re on the affordable end of the bike lights spectrum.
Some bike lights have many different settings and buttons, which can add distractions to a ride. The Traveler Magnetic Bike Lights, however, are simple and straightforward. Each light has three settings (controlled by rotating the light itself), a convenient magnetic mount, and a hidden USB portal on the backside for charging. The three colors—Speedway Creme, Stealth Black, Thousand Navy—are minimalist while still allowing you to customize your look.
Now that I can procrastinate digging through storage for my old bike lights, I plan to use these as my main front and back lights for riding in the city. Let’s hope they last me many seasons (like my Thousand helmet has).
The magnetic mount requires some fiddling at first. It’s possible to attach the light to the mount upside down—you’ll know if the indicator markings don’t align on the light and the mount. Regardless, the light still functions properly even if you mount it upside down.
Additionally, the lumen output (depending on the light setting, 30, 100, or 250 in front and 10, 35, or 80 in back) is perfect for riding in the city, where there’s spillover light from traffic, businesses, and streetlights. But if you’re planning to ride unlit roads or trails, you’ll definitely need more powerful lights; consider a model with a minimum lumen rating of 400.
[$70 per set; explorethousand.com]Get it
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