Thursday, January 17, 2013

Guest Product Review: NiteRider Headlight and Taillight

By Kyle Brooks

For my early morning commutes to work, I typically get on the road by 6:00 am, and from fall through spring that means riding in the dark for much of my morning ride. In these conditions, good lights are needed not only to see the road, but also to be seen by car traffic. When I was shopping for lights, the folks at Century Cycles recommended the NightRider MiNewt 600 Cordless and the CherryBomb taillight. I’ve used them for a year now and I’ve been really happy.

The MiNewt 600 Cordless is a great light. Being compact and completely self-contained, there is no external battery pack and no extra cables. The clamp for the handlebars can be installed or removed easily with no tools. Both of those features make it ideal for anyone who has more than one bike, as it can be moved from one to another with no trouble. There is also a helmet mount if someone wishes to use that option. The light has four settings: High at 600 lumens, Medium at 400 lumens, Low at 275, and “Walk” which is a flashing mode. The run time ranges from 1½ hours on high, to over 4 hours on low. This light output and beam quality of this light is fantastic, even on the low setting. My experience with the headlight is that the low setting is plenty bright enough to see and be seen when I’m riding on city streets where there are already streetlights and more. The medium setting is actually bright enough to use on unlit back roads, so the 600 lumen high setting is like a bonus.

Since I got this headlight, NightRider has actually replaced it with a new model, the Lumina 650, that puts out even more lumens at the highest setting (650 vs. 600) while still running up to 1½ hours on high. From comparing the two side by side, it seems that the new model keeps what was good about the older one, and makes a few improvements. The new version is slightly smaller and lighter, yet slightly brighter at the same time. The new handlebar clamp still seems easy to install, but also looks like it would be even more secure than the old one – although I never actually had problems with slipping on the older model.

The CherryBomb taillight is available in a 1/2-watt and a 1-watt version (I have the 1 watt version) and operates with two modes: steady and flashing. It takes two AAA batteries. The taillight is highly visible – almost blinding if you look right at it (which I really don’t recommend – you’ll be seeing spots for a while afterwards!). It is also designed in such a way that it offers good visibility from the sides as well as the back. The mounting hardware included allows it to be clamped onto a seat-stay or a seat-post. Or without the mounting clamps it could be clipped onto something such as a saddlebag or a back pocket. I actually modified the mount on mine slightly so it could be securely attached directly to a rack-mounting eyelet on my seat-stays without needing the supplied clamp. NightRider claims that the run-time on flash mode is up to 100 hours.

Although the run-time on the CherryBomb is excellent, and I am totally satisfied with the light in every way, if I were buying a new taillight right now, I’d probably get NightRider’s Solas rechargeable taillight. It actually is a 2 watt light with four modes, including a “low-steady” mode that would be good on group rides. The run-times range from 4½ to 36 hours, depending on the mode being used. Being USB rechargeable, I’d love to be able to eliminate the waste of dead batteries going to landfills.

All in all, the lights I’ve been using by NightRider seem to be well designed and well made. It would be hard to go wrong with them.

About the author: Kyle Brooks lives in Akron with his wife and two daughters, and works as a teacher in Medina. He has a collection of bikes, mostly vintage or classic styled steel road bikes, and even keeps a couple of bikes on display in his classroom. He maintained a bike-to-work average of 57% from August through December. His favorite bike shop is the Century Cycles store in Peninsula, though the new Medina store is super nice.

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