Knog PWR Trail 1100 review
Minimal-looking but feature-packed light that's brighter than the lumen count suggests
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The Knog PWR Trail 1100’s 1.7 hours on its highest setting is very even and bright. The ModeMaker app for customising your light modes is a bonus, the option of using the battery as a separate powerpack for charging other devices is nice to have, it’s easy to use with the twist action, it stays put on the bars and has a good quality look and feel. With its RRP of £119 it's slightly pricier than its direct rivals and the 1.7 hours of runtime is also slightly shorter, but the extra functionality, design and features more than compensate.
Even spread of light that’s very bright for 1,100 lumens
Twisting to change modes is easy with gloves on
Mount holds it secure, doesn’t need tools and isn’t too fiddly to swap between bikes
Programmable with ModeMaker app
Modular system means battery can be used as a powerpack
Doesn't switch to eco mode when charge is low
Fuel gauge could be more meaningful
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Knog was originally known for the funky frog-shaped bike light that wrapped its rubber legs around your handlebar and winked: with the Knog PWR Trail 1100 the Australian brand has got more serious but no less innovative.
We tested this light as part of a four-up group test, alongside the Exposure Strada MK10, the Blackburn Dayblazer 1500 and the Lezyne Macro Drive 1300XXL
The Knog PWR Trail 1100 is a modular bike light. It breaks down into the light head, the battery and the clamp, which are all are part of Knog’s PWR system that can be used with other components in the range to become head torches, helmet mounts, camping lanterns - and the battery itself can be used as a power pack to charge other devices if you’re away from mains power.
The PWR Trail 1100's maximum output is 1,100 lumens - which lasts a claimed 1.7 hours (1h 42min) and it comes with six preset modes, but you can plug it into Knog’s ModeMaker app and customise everything if you don’t like what’s on offer.
To switch between modes there's no switch - you twist the light head itself. This works well, especially with gloves, but it’s a shame it only twists one way: you have to scroll through all the modes before getting back to the one you want.
‘Trail’ suggests off-road but other than the name there’s nothing to suggest this light is not for Tarmac, and the slim cigar shape and relatively light weight seem well suited to the road.
The mount is a little bit fiddlier than a strap mount like the Blackburn’s or the Lezyne’s but on the other hand the clamp and thumbwheel design are less likely to break. The light is also held nicely in balance with no nosediving on rough roads.
The Knog PWR Trail 1100 charges via a standard micro USB cable and takes 3.5 hours to charge.
The battery indicator consists of four red LEDs on the side of the casing, one for each 25% of charge. These are perfectly effective, but it's a pity they're tucked away around the side of the light, and I also find a colour-coded 'fuel gauge' is more intuitive - one that's red all the time doesn't quite instil the same sense of urgency when it's down to the last bar.
The build quality is excellent - this CND'd aluminium light and its accompanying parts are really nicely made, and it's waterproof as you'd expect.
Knog PWR Trail 1100: the ride
The beam of the Knog PWR 1100 is suitable for any kind of terrain. It doesn’t have a concentrated spot; rather a broader distribution, lighting up potholes very effectively, but we also found it penetrated the darkness in the distance as well as any of the lights. We were able to descend with total confidence down twisty tree-lined, lanes at night.
The light was yellower and less stark than that of the other three lights we tested at the same time - which included the Exposure Strada MK10 SB. Despite the lower lumen count and the warmer light quality, brightness was superior to all except the Exposure. You can see in the gallery above how it compared when we rigged them all up in our studio.
When your time is up on full beam (we got just a few minutes under the claimed 1.7 hours) the Knog plunges you into darkness rather than automatically switching to lower power, and that’s a shame - but that’s really our only criticism of an otherwise cleverly designed, versatile, bright and feature-packed light.
At £119.99, Knog's offering is more expensive than the joint grouptest winner from Lezyne, but it does come with some neat extra features so is still a recommended option.
|Light||Leyne MacroDrive XXL1300||Knog PWR Trail 1100||Exposure Strada MK10||Blackburn Dayblazer 1500|
|Weight||226g (claimed 208g)||220g||228g (claimed 230g)||143g (claimed 140g)|
|Battery life (claimed)||2.5hrs||1.7hrs||2hrs||2hrs (lasted 2hrs+)|
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Simon Smythe is Cycling Weekly's senior tech writer and has been in various roles at CW since 2003. His first job was as a sub editor following an MA in online journalism. In his cycling career Simon has mostly focused on time trialling with a national medal, a few open wins and his club's 30-mile record in his palmares. These days he spends most of his time testing road bikes, or on a tandem doing the school run with his younger son.
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