The Micro Drive 500XL follows in Lezyne's tradition for making high-quality aluminium cased front lights that are easy to use and perform well. However, while it could be a good option for many people, Lezyne makes even better models that significantly improve on its weak points without costing much more.
Pros: High build quality, quick recharge time, effective Day Flash mode
Cons: Low run-times, better options from Lezyne for not much more
There's no arguing that first impressions of the Lezyne are very positive. It is very nicely made, with a beautifully finished CNC-machined aluminium case and large rubber end plug. This protects the built-in usb stick recharging point, which means there's no need for cables – you simply plug it straight into any usb charger. The light beam itself comes courtesy of two hi-powered LEDs, and there's a very sturdy silicone rubber strap for attaching it to the handlebar.
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For £40 (and many retailers sell it much cheaper), it's a very classy bit of kit with lots of well-thought-out details, such as the mounting strap being bolted to the light case, meaning no faffing around with either O-rings or screwdrivers. While rubber straps might not be everyone's cup of tea, this is simple to use and, crucially, holds the light in position very securely, even on skinny 25.4mm bars.
Lezyne says the Micro Drive 500XL comes in at 118g, although we measured it at just 93g. In either case, while it's not necessarily the lightest front light on the market, its performance to weight ratio is still pretty good. And let's face it, at this kind of budget the target market is commuters, who aren't so bothered about saving a few grams absolutely everywhere.
Switching the Micro Drive 500XL on involves holding down the rubberised button on the top of its case, with each subsequent push cycling through the options. There are nine settings in all, ranging from the full 500-lumen 'Overdrive' to the barely-there 15-lumen 'Femto'. Run-times vary from one hour for the most powerful, to 35 hours for the least. However, probably the most useful settings will be Blast mode (300 lumens/1hr 45mins run-time) or Enduro (150 lumens/3hr 30mins run-time). There are also two 75-lumen flash settings (14hr run-time) and a 75-lumen pulse setting (13hr).
> Buyer's Guide: The best 2018 front lights for cycling
The Micro Drive 500XL shares some features with the Lezyne Lite Drive 800XL we tested recently, so it faces the same criticism that cycling through setting selections on the go is a bit of a chore. However, I would say that with this 500-lumen model being aimed more at urban riders, it's possible that its users might not need to change settings quite so often, and the Race Mode (which alternates between just 'Overdrive' and 'Economy') is particularly useful on a typical commute.
With a potential 500 lumens to play with, the Lezyne's beam is decent, especially considering its size. It's certainly better than the similarly specced and priced Cateye Volt 500XC. Particularly effective is the Micro Drive 500XL's consistent and smooth illumination pattern right across its full beam width. There are no ridges, stripes or concentric rings here – just nice, clear light from the centre to where it starts to fade at the beam edge. The beam is wide enough to illuminate the road sides, too.
Day Flash and weatherproofing
Aside from head-on vision, another smart detail is that Lezyne has machined a little half moon shape in the case edge each side of the lens, meaning the Micro Drive 500XL can be seen from the side. It's not a big deal, but it might help people to spot you.
Talking of other road users, Lezyne has also created a very effective Day Flash setting, which uses the full 500 lumens and offers 7hr 30mins of continued use. As most cyclists know only too well, broad daylight is no guarantee that anybody else is going to see you, but the Micro Drive 500XL's Day Flash should be enough to get you noticed. If it doesn't, I don't know what else will.
When it comes to weatherproofing, the Micro Drive 500XL has IPX7 levels of water resistance, meaning it will withstand almighty downpours. Thanks to the hefty rubber bung that protects its usb recharging point, it even withstood a fairly aggressive shower test, too. For anything short of underwater cycling, it'll be fine.
But that leads me to one small area of potential improvement – and this is something that applies to many cycle light manufacturers: where to put the charging point's rubber bung while charging. The bung on the Micro Drive 500XL is plenty big enough to remain obvious when removed, but it's still possible to knock it off a desk or lose it under the sofa in the course of the time it takes to fully recharge. Even car designers have worked out somewhere convenient to place the fuel cap for the minute or two it takes to refill.
Then, let's look at the light's run-times, because one hour on the brightest setting seems pretty low and reinforces the suggestion that this might be a good commuting product but not much more. Admittedly, the two-hour recharge time is nice and quick, but with only 60 minutes of ultimate power at your fingertips, you're not going to be tempted to venture too long or too far into the dark.
In summary, then, the Lezyne Micro Drive 500XL is a very well made light with decent performance and at a good price. However, with only a £17 hike in RRP, you could have the Lezyne Lite Drive 800XL, which comes with more power and longer run-times.
Fairly priced and very well made mid-power front light that will suit commuters
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Make and model: Lezyne Micro Drive 500XL
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?
My opinion is that this is a light aimed at commuters and people who will spend a relatively short or set time riding at night.
Lezyne says: "Multi-purpose performance LED cycling light. Compact, durable and heat-dissipating CNC machined aluminum construction. Ultrahigh-output LEDs delivering up to 500 lumens. Optional Overdrive Race Mode toggles between Overdrive and Economy modes only. Mode Memory function returns to selected mode after turning off. Enhanced MOR (Maximum Optical Reflection) lens with built-in side visibility. Integrated cable-free recharging USB stick. Versatile strap securely mounts to all standard bar shapes, including aero bars. Advanced Li-Poly battery for superior run-time."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the light?
Max lumens: 500
Weight: 93g (Lezyne claims 118g)
Max run-time: 35 hours (in Femto mode)
Recharge time: 2 hours
Colours: Silver / Black
Rate the light for quality of construction:
Very well made and sturdily built.
Rate the light for design and ease of use. How simple was the light to use?
Almost too simple – with nine different available modes, cycling through them all became a bit annoying.
Rate the light for the design and usability of the clamping system/s
Very easy but surprisingly secure rubber clamp.
Rate the light for waterproofing. How did it stand up to the elements?
Stood up to everything I threw at it.
Rate the light for battery life. How long did it last? How long did it take to recharge?
Not particularly impressive – only an hour's use at full power. Even on the second setting – 300 lumens – it still only offers 1hr 45mins of use.
Rate the light for performance:
Pretty good beam strength and shape. On a par with the best rivals at this price/power.
Rate the light for durability:
Rate the light for weight:
At less than 100g, it's nothing to complain about.
Rate the light for value:
It compares well with rival brands; in comparison with some of its own sibling products, not quite so good.
Tell us how the light performed overall when used for its designed purpose
It performed well and would be a good main or second light for commuters with relatively short journeys.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the light
General ease of use and build quality. Race Mode – cycling between just two modes – and Day Flash are both very useful, too.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the light
Chunky rubber bung for usb charging point has to be stored safely when light is recharging.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
Well priced or on a par with rivals' products. Not quite so well priced in comparison to Lezyne's own Lite Drive 800XL.
Did you enjoy using the light? Yes
Would you consider buying the light? No
Would you recommend the light to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
Although the Micro Drive 500XL could be a good option for many riders and particularly commuters, Lezyne makes even better models that don't cost much more but which significantly improve on the Micro Drive 500XL's weaknesses.
Age: 39 Height: 6'0 Weight: 16 stone
I usually ride: Islabikes Beinn 29 My best bike is: 25-year-old Dawes Galaxy
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: commuting, touring, sportives, general fitness riding, mountain biking, leisure
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