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NiteRider Lumina 550 Review
Cons: Beam could be more even/less narrow.
Battery Life (hours): 1.8 hr
Battery Type: USB rechargable
The NiteRider Lumina 550 is one of the best and best value bike lights we've tested. It's reasonably lightweight and compact, and its beam is bright, wide, and even. This light just barely missed Editors' Choice award because the Cygolite Expilion 800 has a wider and brighter beam. However, the Lumina is easier to get on and off the bike, and can often be found for $60 less than the 800. It's a close call. If you want the best beam, get the 800. If you want a beam that is almost as good and a better value, go with the 550.
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Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
This has one of the better bike light beams we've tested and scored an impressive 8 out of 10. Only the NiteRider Pro 1800 and the Expilion 800 scored higher. The Pro 1800 is a heavy and expensive light that is really in a class of its own (better for mountain biking). The Expilion offers a much better comparison. As you can see in the photo below, the 550 has a great beam, but the Expilion is much wider. This gives the rider better peripheral night vision and, some argue, improves your safety by offering on-coming traffic a broader illuminated area to see.
The real shocker was that the 550 performed just as well as its more expensive sibling, the NiteRider Lumina 700. Our beam comparison tests revealed no substantial difference in performance between the two. Both are the same weight and share the same form factor. We recommend you save significant cash and go with the 550.
At 142 meters, the maximum beam distance is impressive, scoring an 8 out of 10, and is just behind the Expilion 800's 160-meter beam. The 550 is a great performer; it's just a little behind its closest competition. The photo below shows how the 800 has a broader and brighter beam. Again, the biggest difference that can be seen in the photo below is the peripheral lighting on the edges of the bike path.
The light is very easy to mount on your handlebar. After installing the slide-on mount to your bar, you just slide the light onto the mount and it locks in place. To remove it you simply press down on the rear lever and pull backwards. It is very quick and much, much easier to take on and off, than the Expilion 800, which requires much more practice and finger strength. This is a key area where the 550 beats the Expilion. If you are wearing big gloves or have weaker hands, the Expilion 800 can be a reall chore to remove.
This light lasted 1.8 hours on high mode in our tests and scored a 4 out of 10. This was slightly better than most of its competition like the Expilion 800, which scored a 3 out of 10 and lasted 1.4 hours. NiteRider claims the light lasts 18 hours in low mode, which is also average for its class.
This light is very good value. This is another reason to perhaps by the 550 over the Expilion 800 (you save up to $60). Is there really that much difference between the two? If you are really concerned with the best and widest beam, then yes, we would go with the Expilion 800. However, if you are more concerned with value, then the 550 is the way to go.
If you're looking to save as much money as possible, consider the Cygolite Metro 360, which is our Best Buy winner. It doesn't have nearly the beam quality as the 550, but it can be found for $45-60 where the 550 is generally in the $70-80 range. The photo below highlights how while the Metro 360 has a bright beam, it is much narrower and of lower quality.
The Lumina 550 is one of the best value all-purpose bike lights we've tested and just narrowly missed the Editors' Choice award. We highly recommend it, especially if value and ease of getting on and off the bike are top priorities.
— Chris McNamara
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