The Lumina Micro 350 is very much the baby of NiteRider's compact torch family. It has just enough wallop in top to tackle semi-rural roads at typical club-ride speeds, while lower modes strike an excellent balance between performance and economy through suburban/urban contexts. However, peripheral punch is relatively weak, and the pedestrian charge times won't suit everyone.
Build quality is excellent. The CNC machined 6061 aluminium alloy housing will certainly withstand the odd spill while encouraging efficient heat dispersal, so its sensitive internals stand a very good chance of living long and productive lives.
Morale-sapping winter rain has made no impression whatsoever, but most plug-in rechargeables are pretty well sealed against the elements these days, so I gave ours a quick all-over, point-blank-range blast from the garden hose. It passed with flying colours, though a quick lick of silicone grease on the plug port never goes amiss.
As the number implies, it produces 350 lumens in the highest setting and features an automatic kick-down to conserve power once reserves dip to a certain point. (It's easy to get 'holier than thou' when it comes to charging discipline, but who hasn't been delayed due to a roadside mechanical, or discovered that a 'shortcut' was actually the long route home?)
Lumens, rather like megapixels, give an idea of output quality, but the lens and, in seeing-with contexts, diode quality have considerable impact too. Unleashing the full 350 provides a very pure pool of light, good enough for picking out the detail in semi-rural contexts to around 17-18mph. Oncoming traffic seemed aware of me from around 300 metres, although tended not to dip their beams for another 200.
Straying into Sticksville proper, you'll certainly be seen but 500 lumens upwards is my yardstick for hustling along unlit lanes and B roads. Fully juiced, it'll last nigh-on the full two hours quoted, which makes it good for longer commutes that take in these different locales.
Medium produces 220 lumens, and has more than adequate bite for the suburbs, while almost doubling burn times. Official figures say 4hrs, and I've had between 3hrs 53mins and 3hrs 57, which could be sufficient for a week's commuting or training without needing to recharge in between.
The lowest, power-sipping (steady) mode has, to date, managed 6hrs 43mins (that's 43 minutes more than stated) and while relatively impotent, seems fine for well-lit town work. Most of us will do this by default, but I'd recommend pairing with a blinkie in this mode.
Flashing is supposedly geared specifically towards daylight, another American theme seemingly being imported to these shores. It certainly comes in really handy on those dull days and nags quite nicely – other riders suggest it's visible at 500m, and similar on clear, starry nights, dropping to around 220m through town centres given competing illumination.
There's even an emergency mode called 'walk'. It's very much of the glimmer variety – on par with the halogen filament types of 25 years back, and will manage 20hrs 45mins.
The rubberised centre switch is well sealed from Mother Nature and easy enough to operate in gloved hand and on the fly. It also incorporates the battery life indicator.
And finally, the sturdy watch strap-style bracket lacks the outright convenience of wraparound rubber band types but is easily ported between bikes (remember to remove this when parking in the street to prevent someone helping themselves). It seems a decent fit on most race/trail helmets too. Previous versions had been criticised for an imprecise fit between torch and mount, leading to irritating chatter when riding across lumpier surfaces, but to date this hasn't been a problem with ours.
Nicely made and versatile torch type light with enough see-by prowess beyond the suburbs
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road.cc test report
Make and model: NiteRider Lumina Micro 350
Size tested: n/a
Tell us what the light is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
Niterider says: "Big things come in small packages and the Lumina™ Micro 350 is the proof. Smaller and more compact than the original Lumina series, the Lumina™ Micro 350 delivers a powerful punch with 350 lumens of light output."
I broadly agree, though it's underpowered for regular rural riding.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the light?
Lumina™ Micro 350
Lumen Output: 350
Run Time: 1:30 – 14:00hrs
Quick Charge Time: 1:45hrs at 1Amp
Normal Charge Time: 3:30hrs at 500mA
Reassuringly robust and weather-tight.
Very straightforward. Nice, user-friendly switch-gear, and a sensible bracket.
Watch strap design is very dependable and this season's version seems to have addressed the problem of "chatter" caused by vibration over rougher surfaces.
Reassuringly water-resistant and withstood my garden hose torture tests.
Run times are favourable and very accurate, but you need to bargain for 4hrs 30mins when recharging.
Easy to mount, remove and operate in gloved hands.
Tell us how the light performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Overall, the Lumina Micro 350 is a very competent and likeable torch lamp for those who like to inject a bit of semi-rural fun into their nocturnal riding. The lower settings strike an excellent balance between output and economy in urban contexts too. However, while the beam focus and purity is good, 350 lumens is underpowered for serious back road fun.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the light
Well made, good value and sensible range of settings.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the light
Peripheral prowess could be better.
Did you enjoy using the light? Yes
Would you consider buying the light? Underpowered for my needs but would certainly consider its more powerful siblings.
Would you recommend the light to a friend? Yes, although I would steer them towards its bigger siblings for longer-distance rural riding.
Use this box to explain your score
Nice light with few vices for general riding/commuting, but I'd go for its bigger siblings if you regularly ride any distance along unlit roads.
About the tester
I usually ride: Rough stuff tourer based around 4130 Univega mountain bike frameset My best bike is: 1955 Holdsworth Road Path and several others including cross & traditional road
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: cyclo-cross, commuting, touring, fixed/singlespeed, mountain biking
Shaun Audane is a freelance writer/product tester with over twenty-eight years riding experience, the last twelve (120,000 miles) spent putting bikes and kit through their paces for a variety of publications. Previous generations of his family worked at manufacturing's sharp end, thus Shaun can weld, has a sound understanding of frame building practice and a preference for steel or titanium framesets.
Citing Richard Ballantine and an Au pair as his earliest cycling influences, he is presently writing a cycling book with particular focus upon women, families and disabled audiences (Having been a registered care manager and coached children at Herne Hill Velodrome in earlier careers)