My last experience with NiteRiders big 1200 rig left me with stars in my eyes, so I was eager to test a light that is a little more modest, a little less glam-rock, and quite a bit lighter on the wallet. On Friday night I got the chance to test out the MiNewt.350, a new and improved addition to NiteRiders 2011 series of bike lights. On the trail, on my bike, and in my hand, this little baby brought some serious firepower.
The Niterider MiNewt.350 punches out three brightness settings: high mode at 350 lumens, medium at 180 lumens, and low at 100 lumens with expected battery life of two hours, four hours, and nine hours respectively. As with all the other NiteRider lights, the MiNewt.350 has the sweet smell of high-quality manufacturing and durability. The rubber cables are thick and resilient, and the aluminum lamp housing has a sturdy feel and a nice coat of paint. This light is obviously made to last.
The 350 system doesnt include an extension cable or a helmet mount right out of the box so initially youll have to mount it to the bars. Using the included cables, the battery, which is about the size of a Hostess Ho Ho, has to be mounted on the bars or stem within about 8 inches of the light. The 350 light style uses rubber o-rings that wrap around your handlebars to keep the light mounted on, essentially rubber-banding it into place. The small mount under the headlamp is about the size of a quarter and is concave so it seats flush against the round tubing of your bars. The mount also allows the light to rotate so you can twist left or right a little bit to line up your beam. Bottom line, the system is designed so it can be attached and removed quickly from your bike – I was able to set up the light on my bike in about 45 seconds.
I took the MiNewt.350 out to my favorite trail, a 6-mile, flow country, roller coaster of roots and leaves that was perfect terrain to see if this light was going to hold up to real use in the back woods. At about 9pm, I pressed the ignition button. The 350s reflector seemed to offer a nice mix of a flood and a spot light, leaning a little bit more toward flood. When the beam was aimed about twenty feet in front of me, it lit up about eight feet of trail from side to side, and gave me a reasonably good impression of what was coming at my wheels. I did have some trouble with visibility on tight corners and hairpin turns, but I was able to ride through them as long as I went slowly. Without going into too much detail of my experience, the 350 alone was more than sufficient to get along on a cross-country trail, as long as you are riding carefully. However, without additional lighting, racing on this would be quite a challenge.
I am left with the impression that the 350 falls somewhere between a pro racing lighting system and the best commuter lighting system, filling what I call the fun zone. The MiNewt.350 will certainly serve your commuting needs because it is bright and extremely easy to install and remove from your bike but it also rocks the trails when the sky turns dark. It is tiny and light enough to carry in a cargo pocket or throw in your bike bag just in case your afternooner turns into evening under the dark canopy of the forest. Some riders may undervalue the benefits of ease of use and quality of build, but for me, at $199 MSRP and a mere 230 grams, the MiNewt.350 is a steal.
Thanks to the team at NiteRider for providing the light for review.