NiteRider is an American brand with an impressive portfolio of bike lights, including the Lumina 350, a sturdy and compact front light with a range of brightness options. For commuting and city riding there are other types of light which are better, but the Lumina 350 is very good for most types of leisure cycling on the road.
The 350 in the name refers to the lumens. NiteRider also make 550- and 700-lumen models. For general road riding on dark roads, a 350-lumen beam is plenty bright enough to see where you're going. And plenty bright enough to warn on-coming cars of your presence, although for extra attention-getting you might want to combine a fixed beam with a flashing light.
The Lumina 350 has five modes. As with all lights, the brighter the beam, the shorter the battery life. Your options are: High (a claimed 2 hours of battery run-time); Medium (4 hours); Low (6 hours). There's also a flash mode and a very low-power mode called 'walk' that lasts for 21 hours. Even that is pretty good compared to some of rubbishy lamps we used to put up with before LEDs were invented.
On my test rides, the quoted battery run-times were correct for the High and Low modes. In fact the light lasted for almost 7 hours in the Low mode. When the battery is almost drained of power, a red warning light comes on and, whatever mode you're in, the light switches atomically to Low.
The beam is wide and circular, which means also illuminating tree branches overhead if you direct the beam as far down the road as possible. If you point the beam down, to get more light onto the road, then of course you can't see so far ahead, but that's an issue with any light with a circular beam (as opposed to a horizontal oval beam, which some riders find more useful). For more on this, including a diagram of the Lumina's beam, see the great road.cc comparative light test widget, below.
It's worth noting that the beam points ahead only. It cannot be seen from the side, which makes you less visible to car drivers pulling out from side-junctions. Again, this is a feature of many lights of this sort.
The Lumina 350 has a rechargeable lithium-ion battery. Recharging is via a mini USB port on the light. The Lumina comes with a USB cable, which you can plug into a computer USB or a wall charger. Recharging time is a claimed 4.5 hours. I found it nearer 5 with the light plugged into a computer, but that's an acceptable variation.
The Lumina 350 is a handlebar-mounted light, and the mount is easily attached to your bars without needing tools (which also means it's easy to nick, so you might want to take the mount as well as the light itself with you when parking your bike).
The mount stays firmly in place '' there's no drooping as you ride along '' while also allowing you to alter the horizontal angle of the light and point the beam slightly to the left or right.
The light unit slides easily slide into and out of the mount, when you need to take it inside for re-charging for example. However, the easy-sliding fit has a disadvantage: the light unit vibrates slightly in the mount. It doesn't shake loose, even on bumpy roads, but this vibration may irritate some riders (like me). On the first test ride, I spend a distressing hour checking valve collars and mudguard bolts before I worked out what was causing the noise.
In the event of the light getting knocked loose from the mount (if you're unlucky enough to fall off in the ice, for example - a catastrophe recently suffered by your humble author) the Lumina's casing is strong and sturdy. A few more deliberate drops on the workshop floor further confirmed that the Lumina is reasonably durable.
The recommended retail is a penny under 90 quid, discounted to £80 or less at some bike shops and the usual on-line stores.
There are cheaper front lights available from NiteRider and other manufacturers, and there are many brighter options with longer battery life if you're an all-night audax rider or after-dark mountain biker going hard on single-track. Likewise, if you're a commuter on city streets that needs to be seen, rather than see, there are better lighting options to tell car drivers that you exist. But for general cycling in winter, where you're making pre-dawn starts or coming home in the dark, and need to see where you're going for just an hour or two – perhaps using flash mode for the bulk of your ride – then this Lumina 350 is an ideal combination of compact size and bright light.
Sturdy, bright and compact front light, ideal for long audax and leisure rides.
road.cc test report
Make and model: NiteRider Lumina 350 - Front Light
Size tested: Black, Front light
Tell us what the light is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
Bike front lights fall into two main camps: those to help you see where you're going on unlit roads and bike paths; and those to alert other road-users to your presence even if you're riding in well-lit city streets, or riding your bike during the day. The Lumina 350 is designed for the former, although in its flash mode it does the other job too – although there's no side illumination.
The manufacturer's website says this: 'Building off the widely popular Cordless Series, the USB rechargeable Lumina raises the bar for self contained lights. Available in three models, the Lumina 350, 500 & 650, guarantees there's a light to match both your budget and performance needs.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the light?
The NiteRider website goes on to say: 'Luminas feature a new, lightweight body combined with increased thermal properties, ensuring a brighter, longer lasting LED. All Luminas feature a newly designed handlebar mount making certain it remains rock solid whether on the trail or pavement.'
Overall, construction seems very good. The outer casing of the light is strong and protects the light well. The mount is also well made in that it grips the bars tightly. However, the light unit is not held totally tight in the mount, causing a vibration noise that might irritate some riders.
The light was very easy to use. There's a big button on the top of the casing. It's easy to switch the light on or off or toggle between modes, even while wearing thick gloves.
The mount grips the bars tightly, and is easily attached without needing tools (via a finger bolt) which also means it's easy to nick, even if you take the light itself with you when parking your bike. (Although it's not too much of a drama to undo the mount as well.)
Waterproofing is very good. The light has been used in stormy weather and didn't miss a beat.
Battery life is a claimed 2 hrs with the beam in High mode, and a claimed 6 hours with the light in Low mode. In tests, these were about right. Recharging is as claimed 4.5 hours. With the light's UDSB cable plugged into a computer, recharging time was nearer 5 hours, but that's an acceptable variation.
Performance is very good, in that the Lumina 350 provides a good illumination for night riding on unlit roads. All-night audax riders or after-dark mountain bikers will want something with brighter beam or longer battery life, or both. Likewise there are better options for commuters on city streets that need to be seen, rather than see.
Durability seems good in that the light has easily survived a couple of tough impacts.
The claimed weight is 172g. The road.cc scales had it as 169g for light and mount. The light unit on its own is 134g. For the level brightness produced, the Lumina is a light and compact option.
At £80 to £90, this is not a bargain, but on a par with lights that are similar in battery life, brightness, size and build-quality.
Tell us how the light performed overall when used for its designed purpose
While this might not be the best light for commuters or hardcore all-night riders, the Lumina 350 performs very well for general weekend cycling in winter, where you're making pre-dawn starts (or coming home in the dark) and need to see where you're going for just an hour or two – perhaps using flash mode for the bulk of your ride.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the light
Compact size, quick fit, easy re-charge, bright enough for unlit roads.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the light
The irritating vibration noise where the light unit is slightly loose in the mount.
Did you enjoy using the light? Yes.
Would you consider buying the light? Yes, and then wedging the slightly loose fit with a piece of cardboard.
Would you recommend the light to a friend? Yes.
Anything further to say about the light in conclusion?
Overall, this is a very good light for leisure cyclists, an ideal combination of low bulk, bright light, tough build and easy operation, and on that basis it might score a perfect 10. However, the vibration noise is irritating, and in an ideal world the beam could be a more useful oval shape, while the price, although fair, isn't a bargain. Together these negatives knock off a couple of points, giving an overall score of 8.
About the tester
Age: 51 Height: 5ft 10 / 178cm Weight: 11 stone / 70kg
I usually ride: an old Marin Alp, or an old steel classic My best bike is: an old Giant Cadex (can you see a theme here?)
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: A few times a week I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: touring, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, Trail riding - aka rough-stuff (off road on a road bike)