Instead of dumping one giant, unwieldy gift guide slideshow on you this year, we’re spreading out our annual gift ideas over 12 Days of Crossmas, and going a bit more in-depth for each product. Need something fast? A digital subscription to Cyclocross Magazine or a subscription combined with our latest issue are two quick, easy options to get something in the lucky recipient’s hands.
(As always, we’re never paid to feature such items, so you can trust someone on the CXM Pit Crew likes these products).
Blackburn Wayside Multi-tool and 2’Fer and Central 700 Lights
Looking for some smaller items for your teammates or cycling friends and family members that they would thoroughly appreciate? Blackburn Design has been producing cycling accessories for decades and continues with innovative, well-designed products.
Building a better multi-tool or cycling light is like building a better mousetrap. It really needs to have a significant feature to make it a must-have in a sea of options. For some, that means complete refinement like with the offerings from Silca. For most riders though, a feature that makes riding that much more enjoyable is the ticket to making a product desirable.
Blackburn came through in that regard with the Wayside multi-tool, 2’Fer LED light and the Central 700 headlight.
Blackburn Wayside Multi-tool
The Wayside multi-tool is admittedly not one riders would typically carry for fast road rides or casual commutes. However, for those who love adventure rides, gravel grinders or have long commutes over varied surfaces, this could come in handy.
Most multi-tools have 2.5mm to 6mm Allen wrenches attached to the tool and maybe an 8mm to tighten pedals too. Other more expansive multi-tools for trail-side use may have a chaintool, spoke wrench and a torx T25 as well, maybe making them a bit more cumbersome than otherwise intended.
The Blackburn Wayside has removable Allen wrenches from 2 to 5mm with ball-ends for reaching bolts at odd angles, like those commonly found on derailleurs and brakes, allowing for real trail-side repairs. The attached 6 and 8mm Allen wrenches are hollowed to remove some unneeded weight, and there is both a T25 and T30 along with a screwdriver. The Wayside also has a chaintool and spoke wrench, but it’s the other included tools that set it apart.
There’s a wire clip to hold a chain together while pushing the rivet in, a pad spreader for hydraulic calipers and a deeply scalloped knife that can act as a wood saw should things get really hairy!
With judicious use of aluminum and some plastic (for holding the removable Allen keys) the Blackburn Wayside is only about a half centimeter wider and 25 grams heavier than other less-equipped multi-tools.
MSRP: $35 USD.
more info: blackburndesign.com
Blackburn 2’Fer Twin LED Light
Blackburn continues to produce well thought-out lights too. The 2’Fer is a small (4cm X 2cm) twin LED light that can switch between tail light and headlight duties, a really bright concept.
In headlight mode, it puts out 60 lumens, which is not enough to really see the road with, but allows riders to stay safe and be easily seen with either a steady beacon or a flash function that fades bright to dim without ever really going too dark.
The tail light setting turns on twin red LEDs that put out 20 lumens either in a steady or flashing mode that also fades bright to dim and is easily seen from at least a couple of blocks away.
While a good primary light for more urban commuting, the 2’Fer makes for an excellent backup light in case of emergencies. We used the headlight mode at a campsite while walking about and in a tent and its 60 lumens is perfect for that or even around the house while hiding out and waiting for Santa.
MSRP: $25 USD
more info: blackburndesign.com
In headlight mode, Blackburn’s 2’Fer produces 60 lumens making it a great back-up light or urban commuter option.
Blackburn Central 700 Headlight
700 lumen lights are becoming more and more common. And it makes sense since the output is great for all but the darkest settings and the lights still come in relatively compact, easy to use sizes. In fact we awarded the Cateye’s version, the Volt 700, an Editor’s Award this summer.
Blackburn’s 700 lumen offering is the Central 700 Front headlight. We reviewed the Central 700’s bigger sibling, the Central Front Smart Light, in our summer light roundup. And the Central 700 Front may be even better.
The Central 700 is brighter and features a user replaceable battery pack. It is more than adequate for night riding on known trails and roads, even when handlebar mounted, thanks to the wide, seamless beam pattern.
The Central 700 also has side-lighting to make riders more visible in traffic, something a lot of high output lights don’t have. There are 5 modes that you scroll through with the illuminated button on top that also acts as a ‘fuel gauge” to monitor remaining battery charge. When you power down the Central 700 and turn it back on, it is in the same mode that you shut it down in.
The rubber-strap mount is secure, but a bit awkward to attach when pulling it up since the light is mounted atop it. But that is a minor inconvenience. Since the mount is similar to any number of POV cameras or other devices, there are plenty of aftermarket options available if you want to upgrade.
The battery is USB rechargeable and we applaud Blackburn making it user replaceable. It is a 2800 mAh Li ion battery, but Blackburn made it proprietary by having leads at one end that plug into a connector in the light body, so standard cells cannot be simply used. Understandable as this assures performance and safety for the typical user, but it means getting spares for the office or to throw in a commute bag from Blackburn. One annoyance is that not every standard micro USB plug fits the tight, rubber sealed charging port. Bummer.
It’s also a little duplicative to offer a pivot when the normal use case allows for you to strap the unit onto your handlebar and adjust the angle just based on how you strap it to the bar. The pivot helps for helmet use, but the way the mount is created, keeping the light and weight suspended above the bar, makes it easy for the light (and therefore the light pattern) to shake during bumps.
A fully-charged battery lasts just over an hour and a half when on maximum output. There is ample warning as the power wanes. When the illuminated button turns red, that’s the signal to head home or start to dim it. Simply push it and the Central 700 automatically goes to minimum output to get you home before shutting down completely.
MSRP: $100 USD
more info: blackburndesign.com
The business end of the Blackburn Central 700. Big light in a fairly small package.