Our testers love this light! It's reasonably lightweight and compact, and its beam is bright, wide, and even. The overall scores for the NiteRider Lumina 550 fell only five points short of being an Editors' Choice contender, with its main competitor being the previous winner, the Cygolite Expilion 850 as well as the NiteRider Lumina 750. These lights were neck-and-neck, with the 550 falling short in just one rather important category: brightness and beam distance.If you're looking for a fantastic light for pedaling around town that can quickly switch handlebars and take you to the trail, this is a great option to consider.
NiteRider Lumina 550 Review
Cons: Short (1.5 hour) battery life
Compare to Similar Products
NiteRider Lumina 550
|Price||$79.95 at Amazon||$99.95 at Amazon||$70 List||$57 List||$49.99 at Amazon|
|Pros||Bright, wide and even beam pattern, illuminated on/off switch, easy on and off handle bars, good value||Wide even beam pattern, bright, illuminated on/off button, swivel mount||Long battery life||Great value, bright beam||360-degree swivel, amber side lights add to visibility, easy on and off at the bike rack, excellent beam quality|
|Cons||Short (1.5 hour) battery life||Beam could be more even/less narrow, battery life on the short side||Very poor beam quality, tricky to remove from mount||Beam is more narrowly concentrated than other similarly powered lights||Not an especially bright or long beam, short battery life|
|Bottom Line||This light not only is a great value but it has a super bright and even beam pattern||This light is bright, swivels nicely and even has an illuminated on/off switch||Has a very poor beam quality, hard to remove from mount but it does have a long battery life||Great value with bright, narrow beam||Although this light has a 360 degree swivel, its not very bright and has a short battery life|
|Rating Categories||NiteRider Lumina 550||NiteRider Lumina 750||Cateye Volt 300||Cygolite Metro 400||Light and Motion Ur...|
|Beam Quality (25%)|
|Battery Life (20%)|
|Specs||NiteRider Lumina 550||NiteRider Lumina 750||Cateye Volt 300||Cygolite Metro 400||Light and Motion Ur...|
|Max Beam Distance (m)||146 m||180 m||130 m||120 m||110 m|
|Battery Life (hours)||1.5 hrs||1.7 hrs||2.9 hrs||1.7 hrs||1.5 hrs|
|Battery Type||USB Recharge||USB Recharge||USB Recharge||USB Recharge||USB Recharge|
|Weight||180 g, 6.3 oz||182 g, 6.4 oz||134 g, 4.7 oz||142 g, 5 oz||120 g, 4.2 oz|
Our Analysis and Test Results
A large majority of the bike lights on the market fall into a 'middle' catagory - not so wonderful as to cost an arm and a leg, but falling a bit short of the best available. The Lumina 550 does a great job of hitting a low cost mark, but scores closely to the top products. There were many lights that did not stack up to the Lumina 550, like the Cygolite Metro 550. Overall this light is a solid option and should be considered for those looking for a serious light under $100.
At 146-meters, the maximum beam distance on the 550 is impressive, scoring an 8 out of 10, and is not far behind the Lumina 750's 180-meter beam. The 550 is a great performer, and just a meter behind its closest competition, the Cygolite Expilion 850. The photo below shows how the Expilion 850, on the right, has a slightly broader and brighter beam. They're almost so close you can barely see a difference, but the difference that can be seen in the photo below is the peripheral lighting on the edges of the bike path.
This has one of the better bike light beams we've tested and scores an impressive 8 out of 10. Only the NiteRider Pro 1800 and the Light and Motion Taz 1500 score higher. The Pro 1800 is a heavy, expensive light that is really in a class of its own for mountain biking. The Taz offers a much better comparison. As you can see in the photo below, the 550 has a great beam, but the Taz is much, 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 of visibility.
The real shocker is that the 550 performs almost just as well as its more expensive sibling, the NiteRider Lumina 750, pictured below on the right. Our beam comparison tests revealed no substantial difference in performance between the two. Both are the essentially the same weight and share almost the same form factor. If you're on a budget, we recommend you save $20 and go with the 550.
We really would have liked to see a little longer battery life performance from this light. It only lasted 1.5 hours on high mode during our testing and scoring just a 5 out of 10. This was slightly better than most of its competition like the Expilion 850, which scores a 4 out of 10 and lasted 1.4 hours. NiteRider claims the light lasts 18 hours in the lowest "walk" mode, which is average for its class.
This light is fairly easy to mount on your handlebar; the long screw adds some versatility for different sizes among handlebars, but proved to be a little tricky on more narrow handlebars. 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 easier to take on and off than the Cygolite Metro models, which require some practice and strong fingers.
This is an all-around light for commuting as well as some minimal trail usage. If you're looking to do a little more mountain biking, an ideal setup would be to add our Top Pick for Helmets winner, the Light and Motion Vis 360+.
This light is a great value. See our Price Versus Value Chart to compare the relative value of each light tested. This is another reason to perhaps buy the 550 over the Expilion 850 as well as the Lumina 750.
If you're looking to save as much dough as possible, consider the Light and Motion Urban 350, which is our Best Buy winner. It doesn't have nearly the beam quality as the 550, but it can be found around $60 where the 550 is generally in the $70-100 range.
The Lumina 550 is one of the best value all-purpose bike lights we tested and just narrowly missed being a contender for the Editors' Choice award. We highly recommend it, especially if value and ease of getting on and off the bike are top priorities.
— Gentrye Houghton