The Bike List

NiteRider MiNewt.350 LED front light £200

Tested by Matt Swaine, tester for The Bike List

There is an escalating arms race taking place on the dark country roads around my home. Over the winter months cyclists have been strapping increasingly powerful lights to the front of their bikes, leaving blinded motorists in their wake. And I admit that I have bunny hopped right onto this rather appealing bandwagon, with a 4 LED Hope light set that pushed out enough lumens (the measure of brightness) to send cars swerving into the ditch to avoid me. 

So I was singularly unimpressed when I first took possession of this diminutive light from Nite Rider. It looks exceptionally good: it's well engineered and seems durable enough to withstand quite a bit of rough treatment. But how could something that size be relied upon to light up the roads on late night rides?

At just 232g, it nestles neatly in your palm and even with the Li-lon battery pack and lead it will easily slip into the back pocket of your jersey. Setting it up on your bike is simplicity itself - a rubber O-ring goes round the handlebars to lash it into place and the battery pack sits on the handlebars or crossbar secured with a Velcro strap. Switch it on and you have three lighting options. The brightest setting of 350 lumens gives you just over two hours run time, medium beam (180 lumens) gives four hours expected battery life and the lowest setting (100 lumens) gives a possible 9 hours. And on the battery you have a blue light that turns red to warn when the battery is getting low. 

The light itself at 350 lumens is very impressive. It's obviously not as powerful as my 4 LED Hope light, but it weighs far less and the beam is superb - a nice mix of broad flood beam with a crisp pool of light in the middle for a detailed view of the terrain ahead. On the off road section of my ride home, I tend to tilt the beam just a few metres in front to get a clear idea of the terrain and it allows me to ride quickly and confidently over quite dodgy paths. Then when I hit the roads I shift that up to make sure oncoming traffic gets the full benefit. And I can happily report that I saw at least one car driver squinting as the light strafed his windscreen and I've watched plenty slow to a respectful crawl, clearly unable to identify me as a humble cyclist.

It takes just 4 hours to charge up the battery and it's exceptionally easy to remove the light from the bike, which means I don't waste time wrestling with fixtures and fittings in the bike shed. Being so light the MiNewt.350 is ideal for helmet mounting but these fixtures don't come with the box. In addition it would be useful to have an extension cable to allow the battery pack to be located on different parts of the bike.

That said, there is very little to fault this excellent lighting system. For weight conscious road riders and commuters it is excellent. It's light enough to throw in a pack in case you get back later than you expected and it is exceptionally practical and easy to use. It is also one of the sleekest looking lights around, guaranteed to draw admiring glances from other cyclists. It's beam isn't strong enough for dedicated late night off road riding, but for anything on the road it is absolutely superb and by hunting around you can find it at a price that means you are definitely getting exceptional value for money.

Buy from www.chainreactioncycles.com

NiteRider says:

The MiNewt.350 is the first "compact" LED lighting system to utilize a high powered, multichip LED. This new LED produces 350 lumens. That's a 75% increase over last year's MiNewt! With a headlamp weighing in at a lightweight 82g, the MiNewt.350 offers an out-of-this-world power to weight ratio. That's like stuffing a V8 into a Miata. Instead of 2 light levels, the new MiNewt now features 3, allowing you to further manage your run times up to 9:00 hrs, making certain to shine tirelessly through the night. Weighing in at less than 240g the MiNewt.350 is a perfect choice for handlebar or helmet mounting.

FEATURES

  • Multichip LED 
  • 350 Lumens
  • Low Battery Indicator
  • 3 Light Levels - High/Med/Low
  • Flash Mode
  • Lightweight - 232g
  • 2 Cell Li-Ion Battery 

SYSTEM INCLUDES 

  • LED Headlamp
  • Li-Ion Battery
  • Handlebar Mount - Fits up to 31.8mm
  • 4 HR Smart Charger
  • Custom Reflector

Find out more www.niterider.com

At a glance

Verdict Brilliant lightweight illumination that punches through the darkness despite its diminutive size
Value
Performance