Shines in the city, but less on the trails
Quite a few veteran night riders have a warm spot in their hearts for American company NiteRider, manufacturer of bicycle lights. This is mostly due to its HID model, launched over a decade ago, which stood then at the forefront of technology (and price range). The HID boasted the illumination power of a BMW and water bottle shaped batteries, whose place they indeed took on the frame.
Like all manufacturers of premium sports lighting systems, over the years NiteRider switched to the more advanced LED technology, and today offers a catalog that includes dozens(!) of lighting systems – from lights that offer a modest beam for relaxed urban riding, to MTB-oriented floodlights that shoot out thousands of lumens for long hours of challenging riding.
For this review, we received one of the more modest lighting systems, the Lumina Micro 350, intended for urban riders who are forced to tackle off-road sections in the dark as part of their daily route. As usual, before the eyes-wide-open night ride test begins.
Features: battery strength indicator light while riding or charging, dust- and water-tight (not for swimming), built-in USB plug enables charging via a standard cable.
Charge Time: 3:30 hours via a computer USB socket, 1:45 hours via modern USB connector (> 500mA)
Accessories: Handlebar securing mechanism with quick release, USB charging cable.
On the trail:
The Micro 350’s new handlebar clamping mechanism was a pleasant surprise. This model has abandoned the obsolete screw-top mechanism of old in favor of a broad rubber band. While it is a bit awkward to thread into place, it simplifies the process and, most importantly, provides a better grip on the bars.
As an urban light mounted on the handlebars, we found the wide, circular beam sufficient even if not optimal. As long as the ride is not in complete darkness, even the lowest intensity (90 lumens) provided ample illumination while informing pedestrians and drivers of our existence, without blinding them.
On dark dirt paths we switched modes between medium (200 lumens) and high intensity (350 lumens). The former was more than adequate, and allowed us to track the ground ahead even at high speeds. On choppy trails, the new clamping mechanism displayed its advantage over the old one, and the Micro 350 stayed firmly fixed in place without shaking.
When plugging the Micro into the laptop, we discovered the charging time took over three hours. Following that experience, we used a dedicated charger that shortened the charging time to less than two hours.
For serious mountain-biking, we moved the little Lumina to our helmet, thanks to a dedicated light mount (a tubular design that imitates the handlebar), which fortunately came with the helmet. Connecting the helmet adapter to the handlebar clamp positioned the Micro 350 very high up, which is less than optimal. It should be noted that a designated helmet clamp comes with Lumina’s more powerful and expensive models, so it’s quite possible the manufacturer simply did not intend the Micro 350 model to be used for these purposes.
Barring the inconvenient mounting, the light functioned well as a head light and performed as expected on singletrack. As usual, for night rides we recommend installing an extra light on the handlebars and the efficient use of lighting intensities, mainly because riding in maximum illumination power will drain the battery in an hour and a half.
We sampled the flickering light for only a minute, and it works as intended (shooting approximately 200 flashing lumens, we guess), as does the weakest lighting intensity (20 lumens), which the light switches to when the battery is almost exhausted – for example, after an hour and a half of maximum intensity.
The Lumina Micro 350 is a small, lightweight bike light which provides good illumination for urban/rural use as well as for relatively short one-night rides. Additionally, it can serve as a secondary headlight for night riders, when coupled with a designated helmet mount which is not provided.
For better: lightweight, strong, compact and airtight build, internal USB connecter, easy switch between illumination modes, average charge time.
For worse: lacks a designated helmet mount, user cannot replace internal battery, round beam is less than optimal, but works.
|Weight:||(including handlebar clamping mechanism): 130 grams|
|Dimensions:||length 85mm head 33X28mm|
|High intensity||350 lumens: 1:30 hours|
|Medium intensity||200 lumens: 2:45 hours|
|Low intensity||90 lumens: 4 hours|
|Low intensity for walking||20 lumens: 14 hours|
|Flashing||over 14 hours|