Sparse, a start-up brand of cycling lights based in San Francisco, makes a clean and refined product that truly lives up to the company name. The ultra-simple Sparse comes as a tail light and a front, spacer light that replaces a headset spacer to lie just under the stem. To build the brand idea and push the concept into production Sparse launched a Kickstarter campaign on 8 November.
Sparse has two differentiating selling points outside of simply illuminating your evening travels. First, the positioning of the light mounted semi-permanently under the stem and directly on the seat post helps deter theft through design, rather than some gimmicky, external mechanism. Even thieves with the proper tools are likely to be dissuaded by the multiple steps required for removal.
Besides the anti-theft aspect, the Sparse simply looks good. Marrying form with function, the sleek, machined metal body has been consciously designed to blend in with even the most modern bicycle silhouette. While bulky lights can disrupt a bike's clean lines and slim silhouette—an important factor to many strict aesthetes—Sparse's discreetly mounted fixtures seamlessly become part of the bike.
As for actual specs, the Sparse spacer light has three functions—on, off and blink—and fits both 1" and 1 1/8" steer tubes. The waterproof design keeps the elements out while a three-watt white LED illuminates the road ahead, and eight smaller, board-mounted LEDs (with one-watt total output) illuminate the rear. The tail light also features three modes—the on mode is a sustained, one-second blink cycle; automatic mode initiates flashing when motion is sensed, and ceases after one full minute of non-motion (and off is off). Both lights are charged via USB.