Cost: $150 MSRP ($110 online)
Weight: 190 g
How obtained: sample from company
RBR advertiser: no
Tested: 25+ hours
Bike light technology continues to change rapidly. New LED bulbs are generating more lumens for ever lower prices. One of the latest examples of this is the NiteRider MiNewt 600, a self-contained unit with a battery that is USB rechargeable.
Due to the larger and more powerful bulb, the entire light is larger than some of other self-contained units. As a result, the light is a little heavier and more noticeable on the handlebars. This trade-off is balanced by the amount of light output you get (more on this below).
There are three levels of brightness for the light, with battery times decreasing with increasing brightness. Claimed run times are:
- 600 lumens, 1hour 30minutes
- 400 lumens, 3hours
- 275 lumens, 4:30
I found the estimate for the high setting to be reasonably accurate; it was the one I used for most of my commuting.
Clamping the light to the handlebars is accomplished with a ratcheting friction clamp. This requires some degree of force to get into place and I found it allowed the light to move out of alignment. NiteRider will be replacing the mount with a newly designed screw clamp that will be available April 2012.
The light also features a low battery warning indicator that switches from a green to red LED when only 15% battery power remains. Recharge time when plugged into my PC was around 5 hours, on average.
The light also comes with a helmet mount. I never tested this but it looks like it would be secure. Again, however, with the light already being noticeably heavier on the handlebar than other lights, it might be a bit unwieldy on a helmet.
First impressions and on the road
The light appears to be very well made. The seals all seem tight and weather-resistant, although I (un)fortunately never got into a large enough rain storm to find out otherwise. In drizzle and light rain, the light operated perfectly.
I’ve been using another self-contained 250-lumen light for more than a year and found it adequate for the dark mornings — that is, until I used the MiNewt 600 for the first time.
As a comparison, I attached both my current light and the MiNewt to my handlebars and shone them against my garage door. The pictures show the difference, with the MiNewt (right photo) projecting a much wider and brighter beam.
While my other light does a good job of throwing light down the road, the MiNewt projected more light ahead and also provided a wider beam. My often very dark morning commute has one downhill section where I regularly hit 30mph.
Our local dog walkers seem to prefer black dogs and walk them while wearing dark clothes. The NiteRider unit meant I could finally see these folks before I was right on top of them – I’m sure we’re all a little happier about this. The light has also allowed me to spot road debris and obstacles before getting too close, allowing me extra avoidance time.
The only issue I found with the light was the supplied clamp. The ratcheting mechanism was difficult to fully tighten and the weight of the light sometimes caused it to rotate forward. On request, NiteRider will provide a different clamp with a more predictable and easier to use screw mechanism. From April 2012 on, the light will ship with a newly designed screw clamp that is expected to solve these issues.
Placing part of an old inner tube around the bars would provide more friction, something that has been suggested on the internet as a solution. Personally I would like to see a more reliable clamp on later models. The light was otherwise secure on the mount while also being easy to remove and bring inside for recharging.
The MiNewt 600 is the brightest light I’ve ever used. It throws a bright beam down the road and also has a nice wide spread that shows road debris and hazards. it’s definitely a “see” and not a “be seen” light. Balanced against other lights of this brightness it’s well-priced, with the only issue I found being the clamp.
Paul Smith regularly reviews products for RBR. He’s an avid recreational roadie who lives in thePiedmont area of North Carolina. He commutes often, and his car is worth less than any of his bikes. Click to read Paul’s full bio.