495 Days or 70 Weeks and 5 Days is how long I had to wait for my Copanhagen Parts Magnetic Lights Backed on kickstarter and what a pile of crap they turned out to be.
I backed these magnetic lights from Copenhagen parts on kickstarter because they looked cool and thought they’d make an excellent present. I had to wait over 2 years to get these, 495 Days or 70 Weeks and 5 Days to be precise.
This isn’t so much a bad post about kickstarter but more a ride of expectation vs reality. In short the lesson learn from this one was don’t get sucked in by the hype and ask questions before blindly backing a project like I did.
One of the more enjoyable aspects about backing the project on kickstart is that moment when something falls through your letterbox and you have no idea what it is. It’s like a present from your past self to your future self. This is exactly what happened to me with this particular product.
On March 22, 2014 I finally received my Magnetic lights from Copenhagen parts and like I said I had no idea it was going to arrive as I’d had no shipping confirmation, like everybody else who had funded this project incidentally.
To understand my disappointment, which you will no doubt pick up on them in this entire post it’s worth going through what I expected. The idea was simple. Mountable bike lights that would attach to any still framed bicycle with a solid LED beam. The solid LED versus blinking LED is quite important as in some countries, like mine, blinking LEDs are illegal.
Also there was the promise of four LEDs per light to give a bigger dispersal range off light. After all if I wanted a cheap set of LED lights I could go to my local paint store and pick up a set. Before I received my product I had splashed out $70 for one set of lights including international postage, quite why its international postage from me as I live in Europe still doesn’t make sense.
The experience of any products happens the moment you start to open it. How often have you been frustrated by blister free packaging which requires the world sharpest knife just to get out a simple product?
So taking a look at how well they have presented themselves on the kickstart a website and then taking a look at their own website my expectations were pretty high. it’s worth disclosing at this point I have been involved with several small start-ups myself so I’m more aware than most of what happens when you set an expectation and how you need to meet set expectation or you are setting yourself up for a world of hurt.
Okay so it might not be the end of the world to receive a scruffy looking jiffy bag with an obviously printed at home postage label in place. if you look closer there is no tracking information at all and given there was no tracking confirmation sent this could have been mightily awkward situation should the products not have arrived. The only one saving grace here is that that they did send this fire ML at the cost of €36 which equates, at today’s exchange rate, to $50. Again I can speak from experience that if they took the time to find a half decent courier they could have saved themselves some Euros and I for one would have preferred the extra many to be spent on the product rather than shipping costs.
This probably also explains the absence of any tracking confirmations sent by email as the service they used had no tracking facility. Couple that with their apparent lack of customer service I dread to think what would have happened if I hadn’t received my product in the post. Thankfully I received my expensive, blinking LED magnetic lights which cost me $70 all okay.
And for anyone who thinks this is a needlessly long whinge about packing and how things are sent, please let me know how you get on when you received something damaged in the post. No matter how painless the process to send something back is still requires a modicum of effort.
All of this could have perhaps been forgiven or at least the benefit of the doubt given if there had been some sort of invoice or a note to say thank you for your patience we are sorry but here is your product.
So what did I get for my $70 investment.
Putting aside the frustrating delays for which there was no good reason given let’s have a look at what you receive should you choose to order these lights.
Putting aside my distaste for poorly packaged products the magnetic lights have a nice feel about them, at least on the outside. The insides are a whole different, mass produced mess from China
The outer shell made out of milled steel has no sharp edges but where the magnet attaches to the steel shell looks like it could possibly peel away. Perhaps this might be a bad “one” but given the delays involved I wouldn’t expect any bad batches at this point in time.
in the middle of the magnetic area at the bottom of the lights you can see the small little switch which does the magic of turning the lights on or off when attached to your bike frame.
Once again another quality-control issue rears its head as the lights which turns the button on the front light seems to be harder than the rear light. I’m hoping that with a little bit of use it may loosen up somewhat.
If we go ahead our plan to use 4 LEDs, then the output will be 60,000 millicandelas or 60 lumens – superbright, or as we like to say, brilliant!
Alas the units that i received along with the fellow Kickstarters only had 2 leds per unit. Interesting as the world and dog knows led’s are practically tuppence although they deliver on their 300m range, then again most flashing led lights of a cheaper variety also manage this feat.
Granted it quite a clever idea to have a switch which turns the light on when the lights are attached to your bike. However it does make them completely useless in the daytime as there is no auxiliary off switch so for example if you write to work in the day and cycle home at night is the only thing you will be accomplishing on the first part of your journey is to run the batteries down in your lights.
Copenhagen parts do claim the following
The lights are about the size of a ping pong ball and can easily be fitted in your pocket when not in use on the bike.
This claim is more than disputable given the size and the weights of the lights to start with. Granted you can put these into a rucksack or bag no problems at all but that brings up other issues of keeping them away from sensitive electronic equipment such as mobile phones as those magnets are quite strong and as we all know magnets and is electronic devices are not normally a good mix.
But when used at night?
The only thing I have to say is that they aren’t bad and whilst they look good and might be smaller than their high Street competitors there is no real difference between these lights and the cheaper alternatives out there.
I did some fairly basic testing with these lights versus lights a fraction of their price. At one end of a failed I placed both sets of lights on offence and walked away and to my untrained eye they both seemed just as dim as each other.
Granted the Copenhagen magnetic lights might be smaller but that comes with its own set of trade-offs. The battery is certainly smaller but that comes at the expense of being more expensive and having a shorter lifetime. Like I said earlier a lifetime which is significantly reduced if you attach these to your bike in daylight time.
And just to rub salt into the wound the supplied battery is only for demo purposes only. She might get a couple of hours use out of your new lights but then you’re faced with more additional outlay.
Another claim from the Copenhagen parts team falls apart at the seams as both flights only have two LEDs instead of the proposed four on their kickstarter.
If I wanted a set of bike lights which contained a blinking LED I would have happily gone to my local shop and picked up a pair. I didn’t because I liked this project and their bold promises which seemed to, even with my limited knowledge of electronics, more than achievable.
As it stands these bike lights, albeit magnetic, have been an expensive lesson in wasting time and waiting for a product which has ultimately disappointed. Not just disappointing product wise but how the whole project was handled and the very fact that myself, along with other backers of the project, had to practically force information from Copenhagen part about the status of their project.
It’s an even bigger slap in the face when you check their website for future projects which have obviously got their attention and this has become a sideline. The only recommendation I have here is that I recommend you stay well away from these lights.
- At least they look nice.
- Once attached, stay nicely attached.
- Supplied with demo battery.
- No way to turn flashing lights off when being used in daylight
- I’m not the only one with negative feelings. See the Kickstarter Feedback page.