Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Product Review: Nite Rider Evolution headlight

I finally got the chance to put my new headlight to the test last night. On my way home from Daily Dose, my usual route is through a lot of residential and some lightly developed parts of town. Most of these places lack street lights, and with the overcast haze, last night provided the perfect opportunity to really see how well my Nite Rider Evolution does.

I have to say that I'm pleasantly surprised. While my old Blackburn Quadrant LED light would cast a bright reflection off of reflective street signs, and throw enough light onto the ground to see potholes in time to avoid them at speeds around 10 MPH, I knew I was going to need more lighting for my faster road bike.

I'd describe the Nite Rider's beam as a rounder pattern and about half the brightness as a single motorcycle headlight. For speeds up to about 25 miles per hour, it provides more than ample see-ahead distance on pavement. It brilliantly illuminates road signs, and from far away, is much more eye-grabbing than my LED headlight.

I would have had to spend a significant amount more to get the "Smart" version with electronic voltage regulator, variable brightness and flashing mode. The pay-off wasn't worth it for my application. Between last night and the past few dark morning commutes, I've noticed that cars which would normally pull out in front of me from side streets are now stopping to let me pass.

I still have some more testing to do, as I haven't gotten the chance to see how it does on a dark or dim bike path yet. It's likely that in the coming weeks, I'll find myself on one of Indian Creek, Mill Creek, or Turkey Creek streamway trails near twilight. None of these are lit after dark, as technically no one should be on them. They "close" at dusk and open at dawn but there's no way to enforce it, or if there is, they choose not to.

Update 1: On August 12, the NiteRider's bulb burned out right after I'd charged the battery and was testing it in my apartment. It turned on with only a blink. Diagnosis: the bulb is burned. I'm a little disappointed that it didn't last longer, but NiteRider is sending me a free replacement bulb, so I'm not terribly concerned. They said that a burnout this quickly is highly unusual. From a use standpoint, this light is nothing short of amazing. I've taken it out on morning commutes, midnight rides, off road, through tunnels, and anywhere else you can imagine needing light. It is good to see with, and more than bright enough to make you easy to see for traffic.

I'd recommend this light for anyone who is commuting, enjoys riding until the sun goes down, or may often find themselves out on the bike before or after dark. It doesn't last long enough for long night rides. When I went on a nearly 40-mile after-dark trip with some friends, I had to conserve my NiteRider's battery and rely on LED lighting for times when we were in the suburbs and under the street lights. The NiteRider proved itself very well once we got out into the pitch black rural farm areas.

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Anonymous said...

Thanks for the review. I haven't had the need as yet to buy a light, but I've been keeping my eyes open for one just in case. I sometimes ride late into the summer evenings and get caught with the sun going down faster than I expected. Probably would be good to have something just in case.

Sirrus Rider said...

I have the Digital evolution. My feelings echo yours. My one nit is being beholden to Niterider for $100 batteries that lose life over time. I'm tempted to give a bottle generator or a hub Generator a try; however, I'm not sure I want to give up 10 watts of light for 3 watts.

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