The Cygolite Metro 400 earned our Best Buy award because it is a great light for commuting if you are on a budget. While there are many $10-$30 bike lights out there, if you look at our ratings and beam tests you will see that lights in that price range tend to have weak beams and are our lowest scoring lights in almost every category. The Metro 400, on the other hand, scores relatively well in comparison to other lights within the same price point, and consequently was a top contender for our Best Buy award. It narrowly missed the award due to a couple small differences in beam quality and some portability issues when compared with the Light and Motion Urban 350. If you're looking for a great light and don't mind a slightly more narrow pattern for your daily commute, then this is definitely a light to consider.
Cygolite Metro 400 Review
Cons: Beam is more narrowly concentrated than other similarly powered lights
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Our Analysis and Test Results
With a pretty good beam for the price, the Metro 400 is a great value with excellent brightness compared to similarly priced lights. Lacking in some extra options, such as a helmet mount or side lights, we feel the Metro 400 is a good fit for urban commuting where ease of removal and a quick charge are valued higher than extreme power. For those looking for a stronger and more versatile option, check out our Editors' Choice award winner the NiteRider Lumina 750.
The Cygolite Metro 400 blows away the budget lights in terms of brightness. It scores a 6 out of 10, and almost doubles the beam distance compared to the Knog Blinder Arc 1.7. The Metro 400 illuminates up to 120-meters away, while the Knog Blinder falls in at just 62-meters. You can see in the photos below that when compared to the Metro 400, on the left, the Knog Blinder seems to barely illuminate the bike path during our testing.
Take a look at the beams of the very similar Cygolite Metro 550, which cost slightly more and shines just a tad bit further at 127 meters. We gave both lights the same brightness score. Overall our sense is that the 400 is a better value since it is less expensive and almost as bright.
Again, the Metro 400 is a strong candidate for our Best Buy Award, but the real difference came down to its beam pattern. To be considered a high quality beam, we are looking for a pattern that is evenly lit and floods our peripheral view. This light scores a 6 out of 10, while the Best Buy winner, the Urban 350, scores an 8 out of 10. As you can see in our beam diameter and pattern comparison below, the Metro 400, on the left, has a narrower beam pattern, which allows the beam to be projected about 10-meters farther than the Urban 350. The Urban 350 illuminates to the edges of your peripheral better, allowing you to see more of the road and your surroundings. This wider beam is also a trade off for a slightly more shallow beam.
You can also see how the differences in these two pattern affects your ability to see your surroundings in a beam distance comparison between the Metro 400, on the left, and the Urban 350.
The Cygolite Metro outscores the Urban 350 when it comes to battery life. While the Metro 400 lasts only about fifteen minutes longer than the Urban 350, you can see in our battery life versus beam distance comparison chart that they both remain fairly consistent in terms of distance through their longevity. However, the Metro 400 begins to lose light intensity around the time that the Urban 350 goes kaput.
The Light and Motion Urban 350 and the Cygolite Metro 400 were virtually neck-in-neck until our portability results came in. The Metro 400 fell short in this category, scoring only a 6 out of 10, mostly due to the difficulty of removing the light from the mount while standing at the rack.
The mount is easily installed, but the light itself is difficult to slide on and off the mount and requires two hands. Specifically, it takes a bit of practice and strong phalanges to operate the release mechanism. For some people this is not a problem, but for anyone with weaker or smaller hands, or if you're wearing thicker gloves, this could be quite an issue.
This light excels for commuters on a budget. It performs well within our tests without breaking the bank!
This is one of the best value lights we tested, if it had scored a little better in regards to ease of removal at the bike rack, it probably would have been our Best Buy winner.
This is the light to get if you're on a budget and you want something bright, with more of a spotlight beam pattern. However, if you're commuting and find you'd rather have a beam pattern that extends well into your peripheral, check out the Light and Motion Urban 350, which we ultimately like better.
— Gentrye Houghton