Stuff I like: Bicycle lights

If you’re looking for a gift for the cyclist in your life, here’s are the lights I’ve been using this year that have worked out well.

Lights

  • I really like the NiteRider Minewt Mini USB headlight. 110 lumens for 3 hours at under $100. You charge with any powered USB connection, the flexible band mount works, and the light has been rugged after nearly two years of use. the Minewt Mini is Nite Rider’s best selling light ever: in their first year, this light outsold all of NiteRider’s other lights combined. Drawbacks: No blink mode, and no battery charge indication, so plug it in each night to ensure a full charge because otherwise the light might stop shining with no warning.

  • If you want more light, battery indicator, and blink modes, I like NiteRider’s MiNewt X2 Dual. $280 for 300 lumens of illumination. A friend owns this light and it’s pretty blazingly bright.
  • For a taillight, I like both the Princeton Tec Swerve and Planet Bike’s popular Superflash light. Both lights retail for about $30.

    Princeton Tec Swerve light I love the fast flashing pattern of the Planet Bike Superflash, which has a single half-watt red LED and two smaller LEDs. The apparent brightness up close is more impressive, but Princeton Tec’s Swerve with its two half watt LEDs is more visible from a distance. Because I ride multiple bikes, I also prefer the Swerve’s more flexible mounting over the screw mounted bracket required for the Superflash. I think side visibility is better with the Swerve over the Superflash.

    Early production of the Swerve apparently had some cold solder problems — after enough jolts the light just stops working. Princeton Tec tells me the issue has been resolved, and my replacement light is still going.

    Princeton Tec started as a dive light company, so presumably they know how to make waterproof lights. I haven’t put a working Swerve light through a California rainy season yet.

    I’m currently on about my fourth Superflash, two of which failed after water exposure and one that I lost when it bounced out of its bracket. That’s over $100 out of my pocket for me :-(

Disclosure: I paid for the Superflash and Minewt USB myself. Princeton Tec provided a review sample of the Swerve for me to evaluate. I’ve also used lights from Cateye, Blackburn, Serfas, Knog and others. Cateye are solid and dependable but a little behind the curve in current LED technology. Serfas lights fall apart and stop working after only a few weeks.

Tell me: What are your favorite lights? I’m impressed with Dinotte’s offerings, though I’ve never used them myself. I’ve also seen some interesting homebrew setups while biking around Silicon Valley.

Coming up: Bike Apparel.

61 Comments

  • Eric
    December 3, 2009 - 6:26 pm | Permalink

    A buddy of mine got one a Magicshine 900It says it's 900 lumen, but he said it's comparable to a 400 lumen light. It also had a wide beam.For $89 it's not bad. The jury is still out on how durable it is. We'll see how it is after a season.

  • Eric
    December 3, 2009 - 11:26 am | Permalink

    A buddy of mine got one a

    Magicshine 900

    It says it's 900 lumen, but he said it's comparable to a 400 lumen light. It also had a wide beam.

    For $89 it's not bad. The jury is still out on how durable it is. We'll see how it is after a season.

  • Eric
    December 3, 2009 - 6:45 pm | Permalink

    Here's the beam from that Magicshinehttp://fonarevka.lux-rc.com/Road%202/Magicshine%20HA-III/High/8.JPG

  • Eric
    December 3, 2009 - 11:45 am | Permalink
  • Yokota Fritz
    December 3, 2009 - 9:02 pm | Permalink

    I had never heard of the Magicshine before — I might have to check that out.@Rapid Robert: Agreed about helmet lights. I dislike 'em, especially when they're pointed at my face.@Longleaf: My wife has a B&M bottle dynamo and light on her bike. Works very well and I should've mentioned that. Thanks for the reminder.@Tom: My daughter built a nice bright Cree XR-E light for a school project earlier this week. Total cost was under $30 I think.@Yauchzee: A friend was just bragging about his new Flea last night! I keeps his bike in a storage locker so I didn't see it, though.

  • Yokota Fritz
    December 3, 2009 - 2:02 pm | Permalink

    I had never heard of the Magicshine before — I might have to check that out.

    @Rapid Robert: Agreed about helmet lights. I dislike 'em, especially when they're pointed at my face.

    @Longleaf: My wife has a B&M bottle dynamo and light on her bike. Works very well and I should've mentioned that. Thanks for the reminder.

    @Tom: My daughter built a nice bright Cree XR-E light for a school project earlier this week. Total cost was under $30 I think.

    @Yauchzee: A friend was just bragging about his new Flea last night! I keeps his bike in a storage locker so I didn't see it, though.

  • Wuss912
    December 4, 2009 - 12:32 am | Permalink

    My magic shine is on order still i guess thats how free shipping from hongkong works (slow as hell)the thing i like about the swerve is it's got a real switch / know and is tactile. though my current day to day rear blinky is a 3 buck red led one that has been really hard to beat esp at an order of magnitude cheeper.

  • Wuss912
    December 3, 2009 - 5:32 pm | Permalink

    My magic shine is on order still i guess thats how free shipping from hongkong works (slow as hell)
    the thing i like about the swerve is it's got a real switch / know and is tactile. though my current day to day rear blinky is a 3 buck red led one that has been really hard to beat esp at an order of magnitude cheeper.

  • Lief
    December 5, 2009 - 5:30 pm | Permalink

    I recently bought a Dinotte 400L setup. The flash option is awesome, bolt on mount to the bike is rock solid, head mount option is the best I have seen, and it comes with two LiIon batteries. Sweet. I also have the superflash (x2) and I am developing a negative attitude because the thing can fall off. The faceplate and batteries together merely clipped on is a design that encourages it to pop apart when I hit bumps. I lost superflash #1 after it popped off for the second time. #2 popped off on a nothing bump. Now it has a zip tie safety measure. Not the best design choice for that result.

  • Lief
    December 5, 2009 - 10:30 am | Permalink

    I recently bought a Dinotte 400L setup. The flash option is awesome, bolt on mount to the bike is rock solid, head mount option is the best I have seen, and it comes with two LiIon batteries. Sweet.

    I also have the superflash (x2) and I am developing a negative attitude because the thing can fall off. The faceplate and batteries together merely clipped on is a design that encourages it to pop apart when I hit bumps. I lost superflash #1 after it popped off for the second time. #2 popped off on a nothing bump. Now it has a zip tie safety measure. Not the best design choice for that result.

  • Perry_elisson
    February 11, 2011 - 12:58 pm | Permalink

    I have a really old Dinotte as backup and a Magicshine on my old beater mtb. However – my two favourites are Lupine Betty on handlebars and Lupine Wilma on my helmet – they are 100% reliable and superbright

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