Posts Tagged ‘cycle lights’

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NiteRider MiNewt Mini-USB Tested

Tuesday July 14, 2009

These long summer days have been preventing me testing my new NiteRider MiNewt Mini-USB on the bike, in the dark.  It’s still pretty light at 10pm but I ventured out last night with the NiteRider strapped to the Dahon and headed of for a ride of about 3 miles.

The light fixed easily to the Dahon’s handlebar using the smallest of the three rubber bands.  The battery pack strapped neatly to the handlebar upright.  Then I was off.

The NiteRider is significantly brighter than my Cateye HL-EL450 and gives a much brighter and clearer view of the road ahead – which will also aid visibility of me and the bike.  Once mounted, the light could be swivelled left and right to adjust the direction of the beam, however vertical adjustment was more tricky.

You have to set the vertical ‘aim’ of the light prior to fixing the band around the handlebar, once secured it will hold fast.  If you try and push the beam down after fitting, then the tension in the rubber band slowly pulls the beam back to its original position.

So, set the vertical orientation of the light and then pull the band tight and the NiteRider stays pretty much where you point it.

I cycled on roads and paths which ranged from ‘well lit’ to no lighting and the NiteRider’s beam was clear and steady throughout the test.  The beam was well defined and bright at all times and had a significantly longer  ‘range’ than the Cateye.

Don’t get me wrong, the Cateye is a good light and it will stay in my saddle bag when I’m out for the day in case I don’t get back before dark.  However, if I’m going out deliberately for an after dark ride then it’ll be the NiteRider MiNewt Mini-USB that joins me.

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NiteRider MiNewt Mini-USB

Saturday July 11, 2009

So, I gave in and bought myself a NiteRider front light.  I’ve had my eye on one for a long time as they’ve always had great reviews, fit easily to the bike and produce a lot of light from a small package.

Having two bikes I was looking for a bright light which could be easily transferred between both bikes.  The NiteRider lights don’t require mounting brackets so they’re ideal for this  scenario.

NiteRider lights are not cheap, the MiNewt Mini-USB is the cheapest in their ‘LED range’ and mine set me back £72 at Wiggle.  There’s also a Mini-USB Plus model which includes a helmet-mount and extension cable.

The light itself is small, earning its ‘Mini’ title, at only 2″ long and less than 1 and a 1/4″ wide.  It has an integral mounting foot and it’s secured to the handlebar with a rubber o-ring (3 sizes included).  There’s a single cable (~10″) coming out of the bottom of the light which plugs securely into the supplied battery pack.

The Lithium Ion battery pack attaches to your bike with a velcro strap (not pictured below), there’s a rubber pad on the rear of the battery pack which ensures that the pack doesn’t move once in place.  The pack is a little over 3″ long by 1.5″ wide, and around 1 and 1/4″ deep so can fit neatly on the stem without much hassle.  There isn’t much to the battery pack, it has the socket for the light cable, the on/off switch and the mini-USB connector.  The latter is protected by a rubber flap which keeps if free from dust and water.

The MiNewt Mini-USB is supplied with a mains charger and a USB cable for charging from your computer’s USB port.  This is a great idea, especially if you’re going to use the light on your daily commute.  Keeping the USB cable in work will allow you to top up the battery’s charge  ready for the journey home.  Charge time (from empty) is 4.5 hours.

Build quality is excellent, from the lens to the cable and battery, it all looks great.  The brightness of the light is excellent and it completely washes out the beam from my Cateye HL-EL450.  The Cateye’s output has a slight bluish tint whereas the NiteRider is a brighter, cleaner, white light.  I haven’t been out cycling with the NiteRider yet, but I’ve performed the ‘in-the-house-in-the-dark‘ test and the ‘stare-into-the-light‘ (!!!) test.  It passed both tests well.  The NiteRider’s beam is wide with a centrally focused ‘hot spot’ – it’s significantly brighter than the Cateye, ensuring that you can see and be seen more.

Unlike the Cateye though, there’s only one mode on the NiteRider.  It’s either on or off – no high/low mode and no flashing mode.

Another independent review of this light can be found over on the Women In Training blog – I found this review useful as I made up my mind on whether or not to buy the NiteRider.

The Box

In The Box

Contents (battery velcro not shown)

Light and Battery (£1 coin for scale)

Cateye HL-EL450 vs NiteRider MiNewt Mini-USB

MiNewt Mini-USB Fitted To Dahon D7HG

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Knog Frog – Rear Light

Monday May 18, 2009

Two Knog FrogsTwo Knog Frog rear lights arrived today in the post from Tredz.

I decided to get these to improve rear visibility when cycling at night, primarily as I could point them to the sides.  Mounting them at the back of the bike with a sideways twist to cover the rear quarter approaches.

The other benefit of these little lights is that they are simple and quick to attach and remove and they don’t require any mounting hardware.  Simply place the rubberised body of the Frog against the bike and pull the integrated rubber o-ring around the frame and hook it over the Frog’s in-built hook.  That’s it.  Simple.  To remove just pull the o-ring and it’s off.  Quick and easy to move between bikes.Knog Frog - Mounted, Top View

The Frog has a super-bright red LED and operates via pressing the top of the light.  First press turns the LED on, second press switches to flashing mode and a third press turns it off.

The batteries are replaceable (CR2032) although they should last a very long time in flashing mode (160 hours quoted).

A great safety light to supplement your main lights, they’re only £5.76 each and come in a range of colours.  Need a front light too?  Don’t worry as there’s a front Frog too.  Need a brighter set?  There’s the Bullfrogs!

More pics over on my Flickr pages.

Knog’s website is here: Knog.com.au

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Cateye HL-EL450

Thursday August 21, 2008

As mentioned in an earlier post, having fitted the Cateye TL-LD150 I was contemplating getting a ‘real’ front light for the Dahon.  Having been cycling now after dark, I decided to buy myself a Cateye HL-EL450.

Two reasons for this: 1) It’s brighter and intended as an illumination light as opposed to the LD150 which is more of a ‘safety’ light; 2) Some parts of my proposed* commute are dark and in part unlit by street lights.

[* Still haven’t actually commuted to work on the bike yet!!!]

I bought the light from Tredz, as I had done with the LD150, P&P is free, and before long it had arrived.  The box was very small and the light itself is only around 95mm in length.  It’s a very clean design with only a couple of Cateye logos and a rear sliding switch.

The switch slides to the right, where it selects the mode of operation, before sliding back to the centre position under the influence of a spring.  Sliding the switch once turns the light on, to the last selected mode – in the case this morning, constant light at full brightness.  Slide the switch to the right again and the it enters the reduced brightness mode. One more slide and the light starts flashing on and off.  To turn off the light, you slide the switch to the right and hold it there for three seconds. 

There’s a small red push button on the switch slider which, when depressed, allows you to slide the switch all the way to the left which ‘locks’ the light into whichever mode is currently selected (off/high/low/flash).  This is a good idea as your light won’t accidentally turn on in your pocket or bag during the day.

So, what’s the first thing that we all do when we’ve bought a new torch or light?  Turn it on and point it at our eyes to ‘see’ how bright it is!  The HL-EL450 is bright!  As it’s an LED light, it produces a beam with a slight blue tint, appearing ‘cleaner’ than an incandescent bulb beam.  When you’re selecting a Cateye light, their Beam Comparision chart is a useful aid to the selection process, although the HL-EL450 has not yet been added.

Build quality is very good and the light feels solid and reliable.  The small size and sleek design mean that it’ll easily slip into a pocket or bag without too much inconvenience.

Now, the only negative thing I’ve currently found.  The handlebar fixture was rubbish.  The light comes with Cateye’s H-35 quick-release bracket, which can be seen fitted to the light on Cateye’s product page.  When I tried to fit this to the D7HG’s handlebar it just wouldn’t hold.  The quick-release lever kept popping open and it just didn’t seem to be able to grip the handlebar tight enough.  As a result, the light just wobbled and slipped.  The H-35 bracket was removed and discarded.

Back to the trusty Internet and this time to Wiggle to purchase the optional H-34 Flex Tight Bracket (again free P&P).  This bracket is a more permanent fixture and its design ensures a tighter grip on the handlebar.  Fitting it was quick and easy and it holds the HL-EL450 securely in position.  My photos of the bracket below and on Flickr show that I have yet to cut off the excess ‘flex’ and once I’ve finalised the positioning I’ll get rid of it as suggested by the fitting instructions.

The light slides easily on to the H-34 bracket and clicks securely into place.  Once on the bracket, the light can be rotated left and right to 90 degrees if you need to fine-tune the direction of the beam.  Removing the light is simply a press of a button and off it slides.

This is a great commuting light offering brightness, quality, small size and affordability.  If you cycle long distances after dark then you may be after something even brighter with a wider beam, but for shorter commutes on roads with street lights, then this is a good option.  Also, being LED technology, the flashing mode gives you that additional safety option.  As for my bike, it now has the the bright HL-EL450 and the LD150 – the latter operating in its flashing mode.

HL-EL450 - in the box

HL-EL450 - in the box

H-35 Bracket

H-34 Bracket

H-34 Bracket Fitted

H-34 Bracket Fitted

HL-EL45 Fitted

HL-EL450 Fitted

More photos on my Flickr account

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