One Arizona law that is unlikely to hit the front page is the mandate of bicycle lights. A vigorous effort at curbing light pollution to make local telescopes more effective means many Tucson streets have no lights. In Tucson, if you ride after sunset, you are enveloped in a blissful, very dark desert night. Because of that bike lights are not only the law, they’re necessary.
“The MiNewt.250 Cordless has the greatest candlepower output per dollar of any NiteRider lighting system.”
Because we do a lot of night riding during the winter months here in Tucson I was excited to review the new NiteRider MiNewt.250 Cordless bike light system. The NiteRider MiNewt.250 Cordless bridges the gap between low powered, “compliance only” battery powered cordless lights and high end, rechargeable, often cumbersome lighting systems with enough candlepower to peel paint. It is also the easiest lighting system to use I’ve seen.
Brightest Light Output per Dollar.
The MiNewt.250 Cordless has the greatest lumen output per dollar of any NiteRider lighting system. It isn’t just about candlepower though. NiteRider lights use unique technology that make more efficient use of their light output, creating longer range, better visible light and a more efficient beam focus. Their circuitry also extends battery life and keeps the units compact and light weight.
Easy to use Quick Release Mount works on Aerobars.
One of the nicest features of the NiteRider MiNewt.250 is its utter simplicity. The light does not use a separate battery pack and is easy to mount on handlebars due to the innovative mount that accommodates nearly every handlebar diameter and configuration- including aerobars- without an additional adapter. The mount swivels to a 90 degree orientation to the bike and can be mounted under the aerobars as this reviewer has done. I love bikes with simple, uncluttered lines and the NiteRider MiNewt.250 adds a ton of light with very little clutter on your bike. The mount does truly quick release and install so you don’t have to spend time installing and removing the light. You quickly clip it on then clip it off, no tools, no hassles. On rough roads the light stays put.
One feature missing on the NiteRider MiNewt.250 Cordless mount was the ability to angle the light up and down when the light is oriented at 90 degrees to the bar you mount it on- as with mounting it underneath your aerobars with the clamps on the extension. That is a lot to ask from a simple mount at a value price and the mount does work well on aerobar extensions other than angle adjustment.
Charges from Wall Outlet or Computer.
The NiteRider MiNewt.250 Cordless recharges from an AC wall outlet via the USB charging cable plugged into the AC adapter or from a computer via the USB charger cable alone. Charging is a trifle slow, if you commute you want to plug the light in when you get to work. NiteRider’s website says a full charge can be had in four and a half hours. Once the light is fully charged the red LED on top of the AC adapter turns to green.
Four Light Levels.
There is four different beam or light levels on the NiteRider MiNewt.250 Cordless, one of which is a strobe. The light levels are arranged from brightest to dimmest so when you turn the light on it goes to brightest setting first. You’ll get about two and a half hours of light on the highest beam and four and a half on the lowest, plenty for even long commutes.
Effective Use of Light.
Cyclists shopping for lights tend to latch onto one metric: total lumens. The number of total lumens does not tell the whole story of how truly bright or how much visible illumination a light puts out. The reflector unit inside the MiNewt.250 does an excellent job of focusing a uniformly illuminated pool of light in front of the rider. Everything within the beam is evenly lit- a critical factor when commuting at speed or when riding on uneven surfaces.
The light is disbursed from and focused by a Borofloat glass lens. Borofloat is a Borosilicate glass made by Schott North America and featured in high powered spotlight and even sun beds. Borofloat maintains consistent optical density, is colorless and resists temperatures up to 450 degrees Celsius. This is especially important when using the light during the winter.
The benefit of the lens and reflector technology along with the light color is a high visibility, low shadow pool of light that allows riders to see surface irregularities quickly in low light conditions.
Bang for Buck: Why the MiNewt.250 is the Best Buy.
NiteRider sells two versions of the MiNewt Cordless light, the MiNewt.250 Cordless reviewed here and the MiNewt.150 Cordless. The MiNewt.250 Cordless retails for $129.95 and comes with the AC adapter, USB power cable, universal handlebar mount and a helmet mount for using the light on your bike helmet. The MiNewt.250 Cordless light has 250 lumens of light.
The MiNewt.150 Cordless retails for $99.99 and has only 150 lumens and does not come with the helmet mount. It does have slightly longer run times than it’s brighter MiNewt.250 Cordless big brother.
Given the 40% additional light from the MiNewt.250 and the helmet mount for only 24% more than the MiNewt.150, the MiNewt.250 is clearly the better value. Our early sales suggest consumers have picked up on that.
How it Works in the Real World.
I charged the MiNewt.250 Cordless from a wall outlet for the initial use. I plugged it in and left it under my desk for a few hours before my evening commute. Arizona does not have Daylight Savings Time so it gets dark here early. It took only a minute or so to install the mount on my aerobars. The mount is secure and was easy to adjust- zero problems. Even on poor road surfaces the light stayed put without rattling or excess vibration. Design of the handlebar mount is one of the many advantages on this unit.
I put the mount under my left aerobar extension since my cockpit is already crowded with a Profile Design computer mount and my aerobars are right next to my stem. The swivel mount is handy for this application. As I mentioned, you can’t adjust the up and down angle of the beam when the mount is turned 90 degrees. It doesn’t make much of a difference. No tools are required for installation of the handlebar mount or the light to the mount. You simply snap it on. A rubber gasket helps damp vibration making the light “jiggle” less as you ride and keeping the beam a little steadier. The gasket comes out when mounting in large diameter 31.8 mm bars. On my set-up the light rides under my aerobar near the base bars, keeping the cockpit clean.
The switch on the MiNewt.250 Cordless is a soft button with tactile clicks that is large and easy to actuate without looking. Even with mine mounted upside down under my aero bars the switch is easy to use while riding. You quickly learn the sequence of light beam strengths, with the most powerful beam coming on first, the next two decreasing in brightness. To shut the light off hold the button down for a few seconds, to switch to the strobe hold it down longer.
In the pitch black there is plenty of light to ride with confidence at 20-25 M.P.H. (40 K.P.H.). You won’t “over drive” the pool of light. Motorists see your light well in advance since it looks like a motorcycle headlight when viewed from a block or two away.
If there were two things I wish all light manufacturers could do: 1, use a lens to re-shape the beam pattern on the pavement from round to a wider shape at the bottom that concentrated toward the top, almost like an inverted “T” or even a triangle. 2, Develop a color of light that did not disrupt night vision outside the pool of light. Red lenses are frequently used in the military to preserve night vision but would not be safe for use as a headlight and don’t throw as much illumination. No one has that technology yet.
The NiteRider MiNewt.250 Cordless creates a new sub-category in bike lights with its compact, cordless design, reasonable price and high light output. For most triathletes and road bike commuters this is all the light they will ever need for long, dark commuted up to 50 miles. The light is easy to use and durable; I know having dropped it several times during the photo shoot for this review- still works fine.
The light I’m reviewing is the one I’ve kept to use for commuting here in Tucson and I would recommend this for any similar use after surveying three other light systems. If you decide on the NiteRider MiNewt.250 Cordless you won’t be disappointed with its performance.