Urban Velo

NiteRider Lumina 650 Review

NiteRider Lumina 650NiteRider has replaced their popular MiNewt Cordless series with the Lumina series, offering smaller, lighter, brighter lights at an even more competitive price. Like the previous series, the lights are wireless (with self contained lithium ion batteries) and are USB rechargeable. As you might deduce, the models are named for their light output in lumens—350, 500 and 650.

I tested the 650 lumen model, which is the only one of the three that comes with a helmet mount as well as a handlebar mount. At just 172 g, it’s surprisingly svelte. And it probably comes as no surprise that this light is bright as all get out.

NiteRider Lumina 650A few years ago I was doing a lot of nighttime mountain bike riding, and my go-to light was a 600 lumen NiteRider Moab. It was great, but having wires connecting lights to battery packs always seemed like a hassle, and I dreamed of the day when self-contained bike lights would be bright enough for trail riding at night. I’m happy to say that that day has arrived. I’ve been pairing up the Lumina 650 on my helmet with the 600 on my handlebar, and with both lights on low I was more than comfortable in the woods. On medium I’m hard pressed to out-ride the lights, even on fast downhills, and on high they’re almost too bright.

Obviously, on the city streets you’ll be able to see for blocks, and be seen for blocks as well. This kind of light has a tenancy to freeze cars at stoplights like a deer in a car’s headlights.

According to NiteRider, the Lumina 650 will run for 1:30 on high, 3:00 on medium and 5:30 on low. That’s a lot of run-time for a light this bright.

NiteRider has redesigned the handlebar mount, making it more stable and secure, yet just as easy to install as any of their previous models. I do have a slight nit to pick with the helmet mount, in that it’s excellent all around except that the quick-release interface has a tiny bit of play in it. If I’m not paying attention to it, however, I don’t notice the slight jiggle.

Pricing that starts at $89.99 for the Lumina 350, $109.99 for the Lumina 500 and $139.99 for the Lumina 650. Check out www.niterider.com

About Urban Jeff

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  1. Justin WinokurAugust 13, 2012 at 10:44 am

    Where is the USB plug? One thing I don’t like about my MiNewt 600 is the USB plug cover always comes open, but I don’t even see it here.

    Also, how does the beam pattern compare to the MiNewt 600 (which you reviewed before)? What about the Mako (I have a Mako 2 watt as well and think the beam pattern is subpar)

  2. Urban JeffAugust 13, 2012 at 8:17 pmAuthor

    Justin, the plug is underneath the light in the front. I never had the problem you speak of with the MiNewt 600. Personally, I almost always wish lights had a slightly wider, more even beam pattern but the MiNewt 600 was pretty good, and the Lumina 650 is quite similar, only a bit brighter.

    A Mako 2 Watt USB review is in the works.

  3. PaulAugust 15, 2012 at 9:43 am

    I just ordered two of these for urban and road riding. The idea of going for two is that I can run 400 + 400 lumens on medium and get 800 lumen output for 3 hours of riding. In short, I want to compete directly with the light output car headlights.

    So here’s my potential problem. Car headlights are well aimed to avoid blinding other cars. I’m concerned that just slapping these on my bars will be really annoying to others if they’re not aimed correctly. Does anyone have good aiming advice for very powerful headlights that will allow me to put on the lights, do a quick test and have confidence they’re set about right?

    I think we have a right to have just as good headlights as cars or motorcycles, but I want to be a good citizen, too.

  4. Robbie ShveldtAugust 15, 2012 at 11:58 am

    Why does Niterider not represent the brightness of their lights accurately. 650 Lumens of brightness from a single LED and li-ion battery cell is not even possible given the power circuits available. I’d be surprised if Niterider is even able to get to 550 lumens. I was hoping for something better from Niterider this year – looks like the same bulky light with an awkward mount and deceptive claims on their brightness. Will definitely pass on this one.

  5. PaulAugust 15, 2012 at 12:47 pm

    The industry does appear to have a problem with their lumen ratings. I like the MTBR.com bike light shootout (http://reviews.mtbr.com/lights-shootout-light-meter-measurements). You can see that the lux output of the Minewt 600 (the predecessor to this light) is just about right when compared to the stated output of other lights, even though it’s stated lumens (like everyone elses) is clearly well off. MTBR also shows beam patterns in case you don’t trust their lux measurements.

    MTBR explains that manufacturers usually claim lumens based on best case scenario ratings of the LED manufacturers rather than actual tests of output.

    Regarding mounts, I had the old NiteRider Minewt mount on my Minewt 250. It was awful. Yes, it was sorta easy to put on and take off, but it was difficult to get a solid hold on the bar and it ultimately popped off into traffic and I lost an otherwise good light to a passing car.

    The new Lumina mount looks very much like the mount I have on my Cygolite 180, which is easy to mount, but is also super solid and stable. If it really is that similar, it should be a good mount.

  6. Robbie ShveldtAugust 15, 2012 at 2:37 pm

    You can see in the comments at MTBR.com that the LUX isn’t really a useful indicator of brightness. The outdoor industry tests all the flashlights and headlamps with an integrated sphere to give accurate lumen outputs. There is no reason for a company to not test their lights accordingly. To report lumens without testing the lights is just not acceptable.

    My local bike shop just pulled Niterider from their offering because they had too many broken lights they had to return.

    It is possible the new mount will function, but it seems unnecessarily bulky and not convenient to take on and off. I am not a fan of the quick release option for lights because they inevitably get knocked off. I have lost so many bike computers for that reason.

    Will be curious to see if people end up wasting their money on these overpriced chinese made lights.

  7. PaulAugust 15, 2012 at 4:10 pm

    Just out of curiosity, Robbie, what would you recommend as far as lights are concerned? And I don’t mean what you would recommend the industry should do, but what would you recommend a consumer do if he needs to buy a light today? How should he decide what light to buy?

    The NiteRider lights appear to be following general industry practices, for better or for worse, regarding reporting lumen output. If all the others are doing the same thing, shouldn’t I just compare one light to the next rather than try to determine if the lumen output is correct from an engineer’s standpoint?

    MBTR wasn’t as clear about it in the page I referenced, but they were very clear that is exactly what they were doing in their 2011 shootout.

    “Please note that our Lux Measurement is only relevant to mtbr for the basis of comparing light to each other. The number has no relevance to the measurement of others.” (http://reviews.mtbr.com/2011-bike-lights-shootout/2)

    Regardless of the comments you read, when you look at the MBTR beam pattern page, this looks spot-on. The ones with the higher lux look brighter.

    I don’t think it’s that big of a deal if the numbers are off, as long as they’re off in relatively the same amount between manufacturers. As long as we have a pretty good idea that a NiteRider 650 is going to be brighter than a Cygolite 500 and a Cygolite 700 is going to blow away a NiteRider 350, we’re in pretty good shape.

  8. Robbie ShveldtAugust 16, 2012 at 2:49 pm

    General industry practice is a bummer. They’ve been able to standardize reporting for bike weights (i.e. do you include pedals in weight, hydraulic fluid, etc.?) or sleeping bags (what DOES that temp rating mean).
    For some reason bike lighting doesn’t feel the need to offer that to the consumers…
    Fortunately, some companies are offering legitimate reporting specifications – Lezyne shows you exactly what you’ll get out of a charge on their tech page of their website, and Light & Motion will as well. Both of these companies adopted the FL1-Standard that is used in flashlight/headlight industry – L&M put out a video on the testing: http://vimeo.com/43194006 that goes over it a bit. The Light & Motion page has a great beam test overlay feature that allows you to compare lights – for better or worse.
    These days, I like to support companies that don’t merely offload products from cargo ships and resell them. Which is what Niterider does. There’s a cool article in Outside Magazine about american manufacturing- discusses Princeton Tec and Light & Motion. There’s also a great video tour of the Light & Motion factory http://vimeo.com/43194005
    The information is out there – consumers should do a bit of research and know what they are going to get. If companies aren’t enthusiastically publishing this information, then I think they have something to hide. Lezyne and Light & Motion both seem to be looking out for consumers. If I’m voting with my dollars, those are the companies I would support.

  9. PaulAugust 16, 2012 at 4:24 pm

    The lights just arrived, and though I haven’t ridden with them yet I thought I’d add a few initial observations.

    1. The light is significantly smaller than the old MiNewt series. This is not so easy to tell from the pictures above, but it was quite obvious right out of the package.

    2. The reason the mount looks so chunky is because the light is so small. The mount appears to be thinner than the previous MiNewt series mounts, though its design may make it stick out more when actually mounted.

    3. The mount has much more swivel room than the previous MiNewt mount. In fact, it can go more than 90 degrees to either side. I’m guessing this won’t be a big deal to most people, but it’s important to me because I mount my lights in an unconventional location that needs the swivel.

    4. The USB location and cover are a big improvement. The cover’s snug fit and the USB location at the bottom of the light minimize the chance for water seepage. This is much more confidence inspiring for rainy rides than the previous MiNewts.

  10. GrahamAugust 21, 2012 at 6:24 am

    Will the older 600 model fit into the new style mount??

  11. PaulAugust 21, 2012 at 10:31 am

    Graham, several sources that sell the Lumina mount say that it will work on the older MiNewt as well, but I didn’t see this on the NiteRider site and I have not personally tried this. After riding several times with the new mount, I can confirm that it’s much, much better than the old one, but it does stick out some at the bottom, as represented in the pictures above. This is not a problem for me, but it’s worth mentioning as the only downside I can find.

    I also wanted to mention my personal experience after several rides with the new lights. They work very well. I was able to easily ride at 30+ mph downhill with a great view of every pothole and manhole cover. It was almost as good as riding during daylight. Just as important, the cars entering the road from side streets very obviously noticed me far in advance and stopped merging to let me pass. Just this morning, using the flashing mode during daylight, a car gave me a short honk and then a thumbs up. I feel much more visible, both day and night, and that’s one of the best defenses in traffic. (note that I used two of these lights at night and only one during daylight).

    It also looks like the beam pattern is more even than other lights I’ve tried. Compared with my 180 lumen Cygolight, it doesn’t have as much of a hot, white center. Not perfectly even, but significantly better. But it is a circle. There was no attempt to flatten or otherwise shape the beam.

    I can’t compare theses lights to others of similar lumen output, these are my first, but I can say with some confidence that getting good, bright lights is worth every penny. I’ve gone from $20 department store lights, to lights in the 200 lumen range, to these, and each time I felt a big jump in both visibility of the road, and my visibility to other traffic. I think I got a lot of bang for the buck with the NiteRiders, but I’d recommend to anyone who’d listen that getting any light at 600 lumen or above would make a huge improvement in their cycling safety. High lumen lights shouldn’t be considered a super light, but a standard.

  12. Urban JeffAugust 21, 2012 at 8:51 pmAuthor

    Yes, Graham, it will.

  13. GrahamAugust 23, 2012 at 4:59 pm

    Thanks guys. I think I’ll be upgrading my MiNewt 600 mount this autumn!

  14. JohnAugust 24, 2012 at 9:54 am

    I have been a fan of the original minewt line since the 250 first cam out. I now have two 250s and a 600. My personal experience with the original handlebar and helmet mounts have been great. I commute to work on some of the roughest roads using several bikes and never once have any of the lights come loose or popped. If the light beeam slides down, it means you have not snapped the mount on tight enough. Just give it another good hard squeeze. I love the simplicitiy in the design.

    Glad to hear the new light is compatible with the old mount. Now I just wish I had an excuse to ge me a lumina 650. :-(

    My only request for improvement is a better battery life indicator. When I’m still 10 miles from home and the switch turns red, I switch to low power and prey.

  15. JohnSeptember 10, 2012 at 5:34 am

    “These days, I like to support companies that don’t merely offload products from cargo ships and resell them. Which is what Niterider does.”

    I was just there. NiteRider does not do that with their rechargeable lights. Accept for the Mako.

  16. PakSeptember 27, 2012 at 5:09 pm

    I am happy with my MiNewt 600 except one thing – It generates enough emf that interferes with my wireless computer. NiteRider is fully aware of it and they told me they couldn’t do anything about it. I can either use a wired computer or go digital wireless. I wonder if the new Lumina improves on that.

  17. Josh SweetbackOctober 26, 2012 at 11:57 pm

    A few weeks with the Lumina 650 and I’ve concluded that this thing is amazing. Way more light than necessary for trail riding and in city riding, with street lights…. it’s hilarious.

    This replaces the 10 watt halogen Niterider that I’ve nursed along for years. SOOOOOOO much better.

    It mounts securely to 31.8 bars with ZERO problems. (It has shims for smaller bars, but you’re a cheap bitch if you’re still using anything else.)

    It comes with a helmet mount, but I haven’t used that.

    Charges in 3-5 hours with the included USB plug into a computer monitor. If you need it charged faster, plug it into the wall outlet to USB charger that every phone for the past 10 years has come with. If you don’t have one of those, ya, you’re an even bigger bitch.

    The really funny setting is on blinking on city streets. Cars going the other way think you’re some sort of emergency vehicle. People walking towards you think you are an asshole. People walking away from you think a UFO is about to land.

    Better to be an asshole and be seen than to not be seen and get run the fuck over at 1am.

  18. AbneyNovember 20, 2012 at 8:04 pm

    Just used the 650 as a Helmet light(s) in the Baja 1000, actually had 3 of them on there. We got 13th Overall Motorcycle on bike number 101x a KTM. My section was 5.5 hours total, all at night, so I used 2 for the first half on normal power and when they went down to lower power near the last hour of my section (read up on them you’ll understand), I clicked the third one on full power. They worked great, and absolutely no issues! For me, no extra battery, small compact, light weight, LED and LI-ION and price were all important features.

  19. pimpbotNovember 22, 2012 at 8:57 pm

    I hear what you are saying about Lumen inflation. Manufacturers have been fudging the numbers for years.


    That said, remember we’ve all been happy with 200 Lumen halogen lights for years. Those lights cost fout times what these lights cost, weighed five times as much, took up a water bottle cage on the frame, had cables running all over the place going ‘ting ting ting!’ against the frame and had finicky expensive batteries that would only last two to three years of real world use.

    It’s super hard to whine about the performance of modern LED lights. No cords, sub 200 gram running weight, still way brighter than those old dual beam halogen lights, and in theory, the ‘bulbs’ never die.

    Plus, cigarette lighter USB car chargers are like $5. IIRC, the cig lighter charger for my NiteRider Digital Pro 12e was like $65.

    I have a MiNewt 2x Dual 700 (in deep storage ATM) and I gotta say, the thing is WAY bright. I run it on low or medium most of the time, along with a Magicshine on my helmet (on low most of the time).

    Anyway, these Lumina 650 things are so cheap, I might just buy two of them because getting my other lights from storage is such a monster PITA. I have to empty my small shipping container storage Pod to get to them. Heck, I’ll just sell them when I get them back out.

  20. MilesJune 10, 2013 at 10:54 am

    I recently purchased the 350 and its wonderful when it’s working. I turned it on high and after half an hour it was dead. So I figured that was fine and have been trying low!! Half the times it’s dead before I get home and it less then an hour ride. Anyone else having the same problems? This is horse ****

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