So now it’s here, the dark season — and with it the question of whether your bike actually has a sufficient lighting system installed? After all, you don’t just want to see something in city traffic, you also want to be seen by other road users!
The most obvious way to retrofit a lighting system on the bike would certainly be to buy detachable battery lights. However, these lights often do not look very good, and in addition, each retrofitted and additionally attached part usually messes up the original look of a bike.
Much more elegant — and not even much more complicated to install — is the LightSkin lighting kit. Here, the headlight and taillight are integrated directly into the handlebar and the seatpost, which is hardly noticeable when switched off. And yet it is a full-fledged battery lighting system, which is also StVZO-approved and can therefore be used legally on German roads!
LightSkin tail light in the seatpost
This is how it all began: already for several years LightSkins tail light in the seatpost is available, but initially without german StVZO approval. This has now been achieved, which can be seen on the seatpost by the two protruding LEDs at the top. These ensure that you can see the red taillight also from the side (and not only from behind). In total, five LEDs are installed, the lower three end flush with the surface of the seatpost.
For operation, however, not even all five LEDs must be visible: who must position the saddle very low, the rear light can also use only three visible LEDs. For this, there must then be at least a distance of 10.5 cm between the saddle clamp and the frame of the saddle.
The lighting is switched on and off via the second LED from above — it also serves as a button that can be operated precisely. All LEDs light up after the first press, and only the three of them light up after the second press. Pressing it again turns the illumination off. Despite this simple operation, one would like to have the option to save the favorite mode (five or just three LEDs). Especially when the seatpost is installed so low anyway that only three LEDs are visible.
However, the fact that fewer active LEDs are also more economical in terms of power consumption is shown by the specified runtime: it is 15 hours with three LEDs and 10 hours with all five LEDs activated. Power is supplied by the integrated battery, which can be charged via a small flap at the upper end of the seat post via mini-USB port. To protect this port from moisture, it is closed by a transparent cap — which is a bit tricky to open due to the small dimensions. We would also like to see a modern USB-C port here, where the plug could be inserted from both sides. However, these are rather minor flaws because you will know to pay attention to the special features after several uses anyway.
When the battery is empty, the USB port glows blue through its transparent cap — a clever solution that you can see well in the dark. The seatpost is charged via a conventional USB charger. The scope of delivery already includes a 2-meter USB cable, which can be used to charge the bike next to a power outlet. However, you are even more flexible with a Power Bank, so you can supply the LightSkin parts with power even far away from a power outlet. The charging process itself is completed after just under three hours.
LightSkin headlight in handlebar
Relatively new is the LightSkin handlebar on the market and thus of course the ideal complement to the just mentioned seatpost. From the 13 x 18.5 mm small lens shines the headlight with a luminous flux value of 150 lumens. Although this value is by current standards rather in the low range, but it is quite enough to see enough in the urban environment — and not just to be seen!
The handlebar itself is currently only available in a variant as a flat bar with 6 ° backsweep (the bend to the rear). However, interested parties can choose from two available widths of 64 and 70 cm. And who likes it even narrower, the handlebars can also be subsequently shortened to a width of up to 54 cm.
Seen from the riding position, the headlight lens is located to the left of the stem, and the button for switching the headlight on and off is then located on the right. Its pressure point is unfortunately barely noticeable — after all, you can see immediately whether the light turns on or not. Similar to the seat post, there are also two light modes here: the first press lights up the headlight in extra-bright mode, the second press switches to bright mode. After another press, the lighting turns off. However, the differences in brightness are more noticeable in full darkness. In twilight, you have to pay close attention to the gradation to actually recognize it. But the differences are also reflected in the runtime: Four hours is the light duration in extra-bright mode, whereas six hours in bright mode.
As far as charging is concerned, the advantages and disadvantages of the handlebars and seatpost are the same: a rubber cap protects against the weather from the outside, but it is also very difficult to use here. Here, too, there is only a micro-USB charging port, which also lights up in blue when the battery is running low.
A word about the installation: Compared to simple plug-in lights, the installation of the LightSkin components is of course somewhat heavier — but still so simple that you can do this even without much experience! With the seatpost, you usually only have to loosen three Allen screws (on seat clamp and on the saddle), then simply replace the old with the new seatpost. With the handlebars, four screws on the stem must be loosened, in addition handlebar grips and brake levers from the old to the new handlebars are changed; this process is also quite simple.
Whether for the handlebar or the seatpost: both LightSkin parts are unique and there is currently hardly a more elegant and inconspicuous way to integrate a bicycle light system. Of course, assuming you like the straight shape of the handlebar and also do not already use other special parts such as a suspension seatpost.
The operation of both components works smoothly, even though there is still some room for improvement. Light intensity and battery runtimes are okay, especially since you rarely do hour-long tours in urban use anyway. Also, you do not have to worry that you always have to carry the bike to a power outlet to charge the light system — a simple Power Bank solves this problem quite easily. Compared to detachable lights, which should always be removed to protect against theft, the LightSkin lighting system can remain on the bike without hesitation — it is permanently installed there.
In addition to the two handlebar widths, the seatpost is available in different diameters (in addition to the widely used 27.2 mm also in 25.4 mm and 31.6 mm). Thanks to the two color options in matte black or shiny polished aluminum, the parts can also be perfectly adapted to the look of your own bike.