Kickstarter Review : Copanhagen Parts Magnetic Lights. 2 Years waiting to be disapointed
Oh Copenhagen Parts how you managed to disappoint me on my first ever backed Kickstarter Campaign. I backed their magnetic bike lights as that's exactly what I needed and plus supporting smaller companies get a leg up makes me feel kinda good. Shame that I had to wait just over 2 years for abject disappointment.
Just to make one thing clear here this isn't a moan about kickstarter but more a tale of expectation vs reality. Almost all of which Copenhagen Parts fails on. There's also a very valuable life lesson to be learnt, don't get sucked in by the hype, ask questions, get a feel for not only the product but the company as well before jumping in to back.
MAGNETIC Bike Lights: Brightening Bike Lanes Worldwide Pledged : Sep 8 2012 Funded : Sep 21 2012 Estimated delivery : Dec 2012 Received : March 22, 2014
On the morning of March 22, 2014 and mysterious package landed on my doorstep. I could see it was from Denmark but I have no idea what it was as normally when something like this arrives I at least get some shipping notification and the tracking number. The tracking number is especially handy if the package was to have got lost.
Inside the mysterious package were my bike lights a product diet long since given up on after waiting 450 + days for delivery. there is an old saying which goes along the lines of "under promise and over deliver" with this particular kickstart a project it seemed they had done the reverse.
To understand the disappointment it's worth taking a look at the kickstarterto get an idea of what was actually promised. The idea was simple. Mountable bike lights that would attach to any steel framed bicycle with a solid LED beam. The solid LED versus blinking LED is important as in some countries, like mine, blinking LEDs are illegal. There was also talk of the battery being rechargeable via a USB but this fell apart quickly in the project updates.
For LEDs were promised per light give a bigger dispersal range off light. After all if I wanted a cheap set of LED lights I could have gone to my local pound shop and picked up a set. Anyways I had invested $70 which included international postage (somehow Denmark to England is classed as international).
If you pop across to the Copenhagen parts website it is actually nicely designed. This obviously been some design influence along with their engineering "skills". 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 when you take a look at just how well presented they are on the Internet my expectations were reasonably moderate. Decent packaging, an invoice and perhaps a note to say "sorry for the delay but your support is appreciated". Disclosure 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 zoom in on the picture you can see two things. Number one than it cost them €36 to send the item to me and number two, there is no tracking information.
This could have led to a mightily awkward situation as Copenhagen parts don't seem to be responding to any feedback on their Facebook page or contact forms or their kickstarter page.
Whilst I am impressed that they did send this by ML in the cost of €36 which equates, at today's exchange rates, to $50 I would have much preferred this money to have gone into the design and development of the real product. This just reeks of desperation to get the product out of the door and stop people complaining.
The rush to get this product out of the door and into the hands of customers probably explains the lack of any invoice or small note acknowledging their lengthy delay. 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 With no damages.
And for anyone who thinks this is a needlessly long whine 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.
okay, so at this point I think I've made my feelings clear about how frustrated I am with the delay but not only that, the lack of customer service. Let's have a look at what you receive should you choose to order these lights.
One thing just occurred to me whilst we writing this review. Is that both the lights are angled. Now, you want an angled lights your rear light which makes sense given the nature of most bike frames. So why did they not make a straight light for the front of the bike to go on the head stock?
Anybody get the feeling that the two lights are exactly the same but all they've done is change the plastic cover?
These are fairly weighty lights and this still has been finished off and reindeer to a very high standard But as you can see in the picture above the glue used to attach the magnets to the steel frame has been done in a very sloppy way.
This is fairly worrying because what happens if water gets inside the unit? I severely doubt there's going to be a repair and replacement programme coming any time soon.
Granted this might be a "one-off" but given the delays involved I wouldn't expect any of these and would assume the highest standards of quality control
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!
More blinking disappointment
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 such as 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 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?
First impressions were initially poor. The lights on my MacBook Pro battery indicator was brighter than the LED lights. It turns out that we have to buy our own batteries to get the full effect of the lights.
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 added outlay.
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. At least if I was to buy them from a reputable websites or high street store I would have some feedback and support.
I didn't go out and make a different purchase this was an attractive project and hearing only the positives of a Kick starter based project the promises seem more than achievable even with my limited electronically knowledge. 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.
Seem's this experience is proving very similar to those on the Facebook page of Copanhagen Parts. We'd like to hear from anyone if you've heard from them.