Lezyne Micro Drive rear light  £39.99

6/10

Plenty of light and useful modes, but idiosyncratic shape and mounting let it down.

Weight 66g   Contact  www.upgradebikes.co.uk

by oddbydefault   December 13, 2013  

Lezyne Micro Drive R

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With plenty of options and plenty of light, Lezyne's Micro Drive rear light does well in the visibility stakes, but a few design quirks mark it down.

Lezyne's Micro Drive rear light aesthetically complements the front version, but it's an odd design choice; the cylindrical shape of the main body is usually only found on handlebar mounted lights.

At 71mm with a 26mm diameter, it's about the size of a camera film canister (remember them?), and weighs in at 52g without the strap (74g with). An O-ring sealed threaded plastic tailcap screws off to reveal the integrated USB stick.

Charging time is about two hours from any standard one-amp USB wall charger, and about three from lower-powered ports. Lezyne have placed the USB slot at the very bottom of the cylinder, which means there is just enough clearance between the light and the flat surface your laptop will be resting on. However, the blinking LED that indicates charged status is face down. Handy if you don't want a dim green flash distracting you, but highly annoying if you want a quick check on how it's doing.

There are seven light modes ranging from 70 lumens for Daytime Flash modes, to 30 lumens on the standard modes, down to 5 lumens on Economy. Lezyne also claim 180 degree visibility with cutouts on the sides of the faceplate, but the amount of light thrown out immediately from the edges is pretty underwhelming.

From behind though, the Micro Drive does throw out a powerful amount of light from its single LED. There's the really useful Daytime Flash mode to start with; a super high powered flash for riding in high light conditions where you still want extra visibility.

It's an excellent concept, which is also a feature on Lezyne's Zecto Drive rear light. It's entered separately from the standard set of modes; holding the power button from off for five seconds allows you to chose between one of two 70 lumen flash modes; Daytime 1 (think morse code long dashes), and Daytime 2 (morse code dots). Both will see you through a little over three hours riding time.

They're incredibly bright too - the flash is easily noticed, even on a bright mid morning, and makes for an ideal added safety measure when riding on main roads with cars throughout the day. Turning the light off resets the Micro Drive to normal.

A two-second button hold turns on the light allowing you cycle through the various 'standard' modes. With a burn time of 8 hours at 30 lumens, you get a couple of flashing modes (with identical pattern to the Daylight Flash) and a nice gentle 'pulse' mode (more like a gentle fade), 'Blast' mode pumps out a steady 30 lumens for 4 hours. More than enough to get you to work and back.

The steady 5-lumen Economy mode - lasting a solid 24 hours on full charge - is still brighter than most of the little backup lights you'll find on the market. It works really well for club riding, and also as a handy backup mode if you've forgotten to charge up the light fully.

Lezyne have thought of this too - a quick press on the power button allows you to see how much charge is left without turning the light on. Different colours indicate 100%, 50%, 10% and 5% charge, which are also indicated when running the light normally.

It did take me a few days of fumbling around to settle into cycling through the different modes to mentally master the brightness, burn times, and order, but those multiple modes really do add valuable flexibility for different riding situations, and for finding a perfect illuminating combo with other lights.

The mounting bracket is an oddity though. The light body slots into a plastic cradle, and by slot, I mean snaps violently, albeit very securely. It takes a strong motion to snap the light out of the cradle while the mount is still attached to the seatpost, and it's really quite difficult to remove it if you take the whole bracket off the bike.

It's not the best design anyway; A Safe Memorable Place must be found for the tailcap whilst the light charges to stop it getting lost among desk junk, or rolling under furniture etc, as there's no other attachment facility when it's unscrewed.

Fixing of the the light to the seatpost is managed with Lezyne's familiar rubber ladder silicone strap - sturdy and stretchy, and allowing easy swap outs between bikes or quick removal at destination. The mount is beveled, ensuring the light points upward.

Once it's on though, there's over 8cm of metal poking out from your seatpost. Being this long means it can act like a cantilever; the whole thing can be pushed out of alignment, and mounting it just a few millimetres off centre can easily impact the angle which the light actually points. This problem is amplified by the fairly narrow beam and enclosed faceplate.

That said, the slim elongated design works absolutely brilliantly with saddle bags, as it neatly juts out underneath them, originating light from a sensible point away from obstruction. It also works well if you're limited on seatpost length.

Verdict

The RRP of £40 is getting you the Lezyne CNC 'look' (the Micro Drive is available in silver as well as black, and can be purchased with the matching front light), but it's also getting you a very powerful rear light with a multitude of useful modes. The long body and awkward cradle are hugely different from usual all-in-one, hugging-the-seatpost rear light designs, but don't seem to offer any advantages to the typical rider.

The light comparator

If you have a nice big screen you can click here for the widescreen version (1400x1000px)

road.cc test report

Make and model: Lezyne Micro Drive

Size tested: n/a

Rate the light for quality of construction:
 
7/10

Generally, the Micro Drive demonstrates Lezyne's typical study construction and thoughtful design and manufacturing, but the tailcap seems comparatively filmsy, especially on the threads.

Rate the light for design and ease of use. How simple was the light to use?
 
5/10

7 light modes split between 2 high level modes, using one button takes some practice, but is easy enough to do. The USB charging is a doddle. Getting the light in and out of it's cradle is a slightly awkward operation.

Rate the light for the design and usability of the clamping system/s
 
5/10

Lezyne's strap is good, but the cradle itself is awkward for removal.

Rate the light for waterproofing. How did it stand up to the elements?
 
7/10

It's been through mud and rain and not been hindered. The O ring and cap provide a confidence inspiring seal, though it's not waterproof (Lezyne state water resistance only).

Rate the light for battery life. How long did it last? How long did it take to recharge?
 
8/10

For a USB recharging light, the stated burn times are very good, and were accurately representing during testing.

Rate the light for performance:
 
9/10

Light levels and modes are very good.

Rate the light for durability:
 
7/10

The strap and sturdy mental of the body will no doubt have a very long life, but I'm not convinced by the plastic tailcap (including the plastic threads and O ring).

Rate the light for weight, if applicable:
 
6/10

There are definitely lighter rear lights available.

Rate the light for value:
 
5/10

About average for the power and functions. It would be nice to see a high level of water proofing at this price.

Tell us how the light performed overall when used for its designed purpose

Very well.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the light

The different modes, especially Daylight Flash, and facility to run low power Economy for club runs and to extend battery life. Cable-free integrated USB stick was also a bonus.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the light

The whole cradle and and elongated design doesn't seem to offer much. The removable (and easily lost) tailcap is a definite design low point.

Did you enjoy using the light? Yes.

Would you consider buying the light? No.

Would you recommend the light to a friend? Possibly.

Overall rating: 6/10

About the tester

Age: 22  Height: 170cm  Weight:

I usually ride: Sabbath September  My best bike is:

I've been riding for: Under 5 years  I ride: Most days  I would class myself as: Experienced

I regularly do the following types of riding: cyclo cross, commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, audax

 

16 user comments

Oldest firstNewest firstBest rated

I've been running this all autumn and winter. It's superb. Hint to the tester, if your desk is that messy don't blame lezyne. It's a better system, for this size, than a rubber covered slot.

I've never once knocked mine off centre but I do agree its not all that easy to get out of the bracket.

But,for me, it's indispensable

posted by bendertherobot [251 posts]
13th December 2013 - 21:05

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I've also got one. Two things - run times I get aren't that good and angle of bracket means it tends to point slightly downwards (on standard road bike geometry) lighting up the road somewhat. Still a good light though. Do agree that its easy to knock so the angle is not straight back, but I guess is a problem with all rubber band-type mounts? (Like bendetherobot I'll be investing in some Fibre Flares to complement it.)

Pastaman

posted by pastaman [210 posts]
13th December 2013 - 21:59

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Surprised by this review. I've got one of these, as well as an Exposure Flare, on the back of my winter bike. Given it usually retails for around 35 quid and is every bit as bright as the Exposure, I think its a cracking deal.

posted by giobox [241 posts]
13th December 2013 - 22:08

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Quite a harsh review I think, there is a knack to removing it from the bracket involving twisting the lens end downwards and there is no need to master all the modes, only the ones you use.

A bigger issue for me is that it doesn't fit into all usb sockets, all the ones at one of my workplaces were recessed and I had no way to charge it.

The aftersales support from Upgrade is top notch, I urgently needed a part for a Lezyne light bracket once and they sorted it out, no fuss, no charge.

The biggest selling point for me though is that I had a couple of decent lights but I have maybe seven bikes that regularly get ridden in the dark, so I needed something with a decent output which I didn't have to buy batteries for and I could quickly swap between bikes.

If it moves too easily around the seatpost self adhesive velcro will fix it, maybe even blue tac.

It's not perfect, but it is very good, I would rate it an 8.5/10.

posted by drfabulous0 [273 posts]
13th December 2013 - 22:20

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Agree totally with the other commentators, this review is seriously harsh and a little pedantic on what is a fantastic light. I would hate to see anyone put off on the basis of this review.

I have been stopped by at least half a dozen riders and 2 car drivers to ask me what make the light was, such is the impact of the visibility to anyone following. As for charging - personally I love the USB feature. It fits a treat into an iPhone type plug with the lead removed and I have found it is typically charged in around an hour or less after a 3 hour ride. Why do you need to see it flashing, can't you just leave it and take it out when you need it? And as for losing the cap? Come on, that's a really soft criticism. Tidy your desk!

The cradle for attaching the light takes a bit of getting used to (maybe 2 uses?) just make sure you snap it right into the vey end and away you go. I have never had mine come loose despite coming off the bike last winter. As for removing it? Just push down on the light whilst holding the cradle with the other hand and it releases with ease - perfect if you want to take it off during the cafe stop.

I use mine on flashing mode, so jut a couple of presses of the button and away you go - hardly rocket science.

I was so impressed I bought the matching front light and would award this an easy 9/0 - best rear light I have tried, beautifully made with a quality feel.

posted by sorebones [104 posts]
14th December 2013 - 0:00

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Harsh review, this is a great light.

The secure bracket is the way it is because it's predecessor was too short and the light could fall out. My original light was lost this way, but upgradebikes replaced it foc with a new light and new mount, and it is secure as anything. Doesn't move on my road or CX bikes, even when blasting down my farm track on the CX. I would buy this again in a second, and the backup from the distributor is great.

I give it a 10

posted by Helidoc [5 posts]
14th December 2013 - 0:26

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@oddbydefault

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posted by oddbydefault [91 posts]
14th December 2013 - 14:45

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It *is* a good light - (3/5 is above average), but I really do believe there are better designs.

It's very easy to get hung up on the brightness of a rear light alone, which seems to be what most of the people in the comments like about the Micro - but I've rightly complimented and highly rated its output and flash patterns, which I think are excellent.

However, there are other lights out there that offer equivalent, but - in my opinion - more ergonomic designs with, for example, better side visibility, and better charging options (without removable parts, which really is not good design practice, even if you're an organisational neat freak like I actually am), and which is a bit less fiddly.

It's a big and constantly improving market; I'm not saying it's a bad light, only that it's not the best.

@oddbydefault

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posted by oddbydefault [91 posts]
14th December 2013 - 14:49

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And I disagree. I commute with this light. When I reach work it takes a second to remove. Then it takes a second to reattach. That's an excellent design. That it has to be removed from its cradle is a necessary evil to that design. It takes a second to remove from its cradle in the manner described above. It unscrews easily. It charges easily and quickly. In fact I'd say the only issue is that the indicator, when flashing, faces the wall.

As to side visibility. Really? You simply don't run single lights like this if you want side visibility. Yes, others do that better, but unless you get something like the L&M 180 (which isn't even all that good) you're not going to get very much to stop someone pulling out on you. That's where fibre flares and reflective sidewalls come in. In any event, if you look here it's MORE than acceptable!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-AJig3H5OhY

I've done thousands of miles commuting in the dark now and gone through many rear lights. This one is my favourite.

posted by bendertherobot [251 posts]
14th December 2013 - 16:47

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Lucky I didn't write the review, because I'd have been a damn sight more rude about it. Ludicrous piece of poorly thought out MAMILbait. But hey, CNC machining and 70 lumens!! Party

If anyone wants the one gathering dust in my big box of lights, drop me an e-mail. Free to a good home, just stick a few quid in your charity box of choice.

Rob Simmonds's picture

posted by Rob Simmonds [251 posts]
15th December 2013 - 2:45

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Tidy. I'll have it. Fiver to save the children?

posted by bendertherobot [251 posts]
15th December 2013 - 9:06

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Drop me an e-mail with your address.

Rob Simmonds's picture

posted by Rob Simmonds [251 posts]
16th December 2013 - 11:15

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Will do when in later!

posted by bendertherobot [251 posts]
16th December 2013 - 11:46

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Too many modes but otherwise a superb bit of kit.
The mounting has got more secure of late, because some people lost their lights through not clicking them into the mount properly. You can't have it all ways...

posted by andyp [806 posts]
16th December 2013 - 13:13

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No e-mail, so I guess no-one wants it!

Rob Simmonds's picture

posted by Rob Simmonds [251 posts]
28th December 2013 - 14:13

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dropped you a mail rob.

posted by garethpemis [3 posts]
28th December 2013 - 20:47

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