DING FL1 Review

Aussie light innovators DING want to make you more visible on the road

Words and Images - James Raison


Commuters are about to get lit. Seriously lit. Adelaide-based DING have decided that downward is the next frontier for cycling lights. They've packed 2 lights and a lotta lumens into one package to make you safer on the road.

In the tin

In the DING tin you'll find the light, spare mount strap, storage bag, manual, micro USB cable, spare charge port cover, and GoPro mount adapter. It's a sensible spread that justifies the $159 AUD asking price. I've had to abandon multiple lights thanks to splitting straps so there's a potentially long life to be had with the FL1.

The downward facing light punches out 200 lumens

The downward facing light punches out 200 lumens

Form factor

It’s no surprise that the DING is the product of an industrial designer. This thing is solid to the point of being over-built. It lives inside an aluminium casing 85mm long, 55mm wide and 50mm deep. It’s a sizable unit and definitely at the large end of the spectrum for integrated light.

All of the plastics are very solid and the rubber mount strap is the chunkiest I’ve ever seen. There’s even a spare strap, not that I imagine it could ever break. A plastic enclosure snaps shut over the strap to make doubly sure it can’t come off your bars.

"Go" is the single button that operates the unit

"Go" is the single button that operates the unit

The mounting system stretches around your bars from underneath so the light hangs beneath them. I do like having lights under the bars but the DING’s largesse can make it hard to find a spot among the nest of cables already occupying that real estate. Once you find a spot it’s nicely out of the way. There’s a handy GoPro adapter included for anyone looking for alternative mounting options.

Operation

All light operation is done by a single button. Hold it down a few seconds to enter standby mode and the hit it again to turn the unit on. From there you have a whopping 9 light modes to cycle through. It’s a lot to wrap your head around, so I’ve taken the chart below directly from DING for you to soak up.

The single-button operation is nice but all the light modes have to be progressed through in linear order if you want to find another one. I like to ride with the lumens I need, and only give it full beans when required. So switching from say 50% front only to 100% front takes several mashings of the button - including the off setting - something that can be awkward if you begin a descent and need more light in a hurry.

Once the ride’s over you charge it by micro-USB behind a chunky rubber stopper.

THE RIDE

The DING’s party trick is integrating a 200 lumen downward facing light into a package with 600 lumens of forward facing lights. Its downward light pumps out a 3x1.5m beam that illuminates the front half of your bike and a patch of road around you.

The downward light makes you a lot more visible.

The downward light makes you a lot more visible.

It’s a light targeting the urban commuter market and it’s pretty excellent for that application. Up to 600 lumens point forwards and 200 lumens focused down makes you a rolling solar flare. With so many solid and flashing options you can always find a suitable light for your environment. The downward light splashes over you and your bike, making you very visible from the sides. Battery life is pretty good too and should see you through a few days depending on your commute length and what light mode you run.

So how does it go smashing through my local hills in total darkness? It’s ok. Bump it up to full power and you will get enough light to ride with vigour, but only just. One of the two forward facing lenses has a cover that disperses the beam so you’re mostly relying on the other solid beam. It will do the job, but it’s outclassed by most other lights with similar lumen outputs. That’s not an indictment of the light - quite the opposite. A commuter-oriented light that still works at speed on dark hills roads is impressive. 

Battery life is impressive considering it'll run at 600 lumens forward, and 200 lumens down. Charging is convenient as well thanks to its micro-USB input.

OVERALL

The DING is a light that nails its urban commuter focus. There’s a lot of light going forwards and down to keep you lit up in the city rat race. Battery life is good, the mount system is easy and even versatile with the GoPro adapter, and the casing is solid. This thing looks like it’ll take a beating. It’s far from svelte with its chunky form-factor and it’s not the best performance light but that’s fine. This is hits its target market quite well.

Buy: head over to the DING website to purchase.

Disclosure statement: This unit was sent by DING for review.