The world's most in-depth and scientific reviews of outdoor gear

NiteRider Lumina 550 Review

This light not only is a great value but it has a super bright and even beam pattern.
NiteRider Lumina 550
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Price:  $95 List
Pros:  Bright, wide and even beam pattern, illuminated on/off switch, easy on and off handle bars, good value
Cons:  Short (1.5 hour) battery life
Manufacturer:   NiteRider
By Gentrye Houghton ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Jan 14, 2018
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74
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#5 of 16
  • Brightness - 40% 8
  • Beam Quality - 25% 8
  • Battery Life - 20% 5
  • Portablity - 15% 8

Our Verdict

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.


Compare to Similar Products

 
NiteRider Lumina 550
Awards  Top Pick Award Editors' Choice Award   
Price $95 List$225.00 at Amazon$109.95 at Amazon$187.99 at Amazon$114.99 at Amazon
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Pros Bright, wide and even beam pattern, illuminated on/off switch, easy on and off handle bars, good valueGreat beam distance and quality, lasts four hours in high modeWide even beam pattern, bright, illuminated on/off button, swivel mountVERY bright, wide and even beamWide, even beam pattern, multiple blinking modes
Cons Short (1.5 hour) battery lifeVery heavy, expensive and time-consuming to install and removeBeam could be more even/less narrow, battery life on the short sideCan get super hot, heavy, short battery life, 18-hour full charge time, requires two hands to take on and offMinimal swivel, short battery life
Bottom Line This light not only is a great value but it has a super bright and even beam pattern.This is your go to light for quality and distance of beam.This light is bright, swivels nicely and even has an illuminated on/off switch.This light has an extremely bright and wide beam but it does take a while to fully charge and can get hot if used for an extended period of time.Although it has a shorter battery life, it has a wide even beam with multiple blinking modes.
Rating Categories NiteRider Lumina 550 NiteRider Pro 1800 NiteRider Lumina 750 Light and Motion Taz 1500 Cygolite Expilion 850
Brightness (40%)
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8
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9
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9
Beam Quality (25%)
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Battery Life (20%)
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Specs NiteRider Lumina 550 NiteRider Pro 1800 NiteRider Lumina 750 Light and Motion... Cygolite Expilion...
Max Beam Distance (m) 146 m 175 m 180 m 144 m 147 m
Battery Life (hours) 1.5 hrs 3.8 hrs 1.7 hrs 1.6 hrs 1.4 hrs
Battery Type USB Recharge USB Recharge USB Recharge USB Recharge USB Recharge
Mount Options Handlebar/Helmet Handlebar Handlebar/Helmet Handlebar Handlebar/Helmet
Installation Tool-free Tool-free Tool-free Attached Tool-free
Swivel Mount Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Weight 180 g, 6.3 oz 500 g, 17.6 oz 182 g, 6.4 oz 220 g, 7.8 oz 174 g, 6.1 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.

Performance Comparison


A bike light doesn't just illuminate the road in front of you  it can significantly improve your odds of avoiding accidents.
A bike light doesn't just illuminate the road in front of you, it can significantly improve your odds of avoiding accidents.

Brightness


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.

Beam Distance Photos
Beam photo of NiteRider Lumina 550
Beam photo of Cygolite Expilion 850

NiteRider Lumina 550
Cygolite Expilion 850

Beam Quality


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.

Beam Diameter and Pattern
Beam photo of NiteRider Lumina 550
Beam photo of Light and Motion Taz 1500

NiteRider Lumina 550
Light and Motion Taz 1500

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.

Beam Diameter and Pattern
Beam photo of NiteRider Lumina 550
Beam photo of NiteRider Lumina 750

NiteRider Lumina 550
NiteRider Lumina 750

Battery Life


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.

Portability


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.

A side view of the Lumina 550 while mounted on a set of handlebars.
A side view of the Lumina 550 while mounted on a set of handlebars.

Best Applications


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+.

Value


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.

Conclusion


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