Lezyne Mini Drive LED Front Light   £49.99

6/10

Stylish, but not all that useful for anything but short commutes

Weight 95g   Contact  www.upgradebikes.co.uk

by rob_simmonds   January 14, 2012  

Lezyne Mini Drive.

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Lezyne's new family of lights are very pretty and our Shaun rated the Super Drive when he reviewed it, so how does it's little brother, the Mini Drive, stack up?

The Mini Drive is a compact wee thing with a bright and shiny silver case. It's a pleasing package although the chunky bracket means that it takes up more bar space than you might expect. Inside there's a single led, powered by a LIR123a li-ion battery. The battery is accessed by unscrewing the back of the light and replacements are cheap and easily available. Lezyne make a point of telling you this, which is unusual. Batteries in rechargeable lights are usually either bespoke or hard to get at in a your-warranty-will-go-up-in-flames-if-you-try kind of way. It's a nice touch and with a light that only has a one hour runtime on full power, potentially useful, although having to manage a recharging regime with such a small turnaround isn't my idea of a good time.

The battery supplied is only rated at 600a/h but there should be enough space inside the casing to accomodate a battery with a heftier charge should you want to upgrade, and given the runtime you might.

Lezyne quote 150 lumens for the Mini Drive. That's on the cusp of serious light territory, but the payoff is a distinctly modest runtime.

Being a torch style light the beam is a well defined spot, with a modest amount of side spill. On dark roads and unlit paths the main beam is just powerful enough to get by with but things tend to loom at you out of the darkness and I wouldn't fancy it on a proper back lane or a twisty descent. Lower settings are usable, but only on roads with a good surface or that you know well. Testing the various power levels on an unlit stretch of canal path I actually scared myself a few times as birds and rabbits appeared in front of me as if from nowhere.

This is an odd little light really, neither powerful enough for seriously dark lanes nor practical enough for commuting through the week. There's no side illumination and that runtime would start to vex me, even with the benefit of USB chargeability (with a pitch-black commute of around 30min I'd be charging it up pretty much every day). It might be useful as a supplementary helmet light, Lezyne don't supply it with a suitable mount as standard but there is one available. To be honest though on the road, you'd be better off spending a similar amount of money on a more dedicated commuter light or saving your pennies for a more powerful light with a better runtime.

Verdict

Stylish, but not all that useful for anything but short commutes

 

road.cc test report

Make and model: Lezyne Mini Drive LED Front Light

Size tested: Black

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?

Lezyne don't say, but it has two flashing settings, rather than the one that it's bigger brother the Power Drive has, so my guess would be that this is more in commuter lamp territory.

Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the light?

Blurb says - "Compact 150 Lumen light built for night riding. Uniform Power Beam reflector and lens assembly produces a dual purpose beam pattern that illuminates both near and far terrain without sacrificing visibility in either field of vision. 100% CNC-machined aluminum housing. High-capacity Li-ion battery is rechargeable and replaceable. Programmed with three steady modes and two high-visibility blinking modes. Comes with two durable Composite Matrix handlebar mounts (31.8mm, 25.4mm) with thumb screw for easy installation and secure attachment. USB charging cable included."

Rate the light for quality of construction:
 
8/10
Rate the light for design and ease of use. How simple was the light to use?
 
7/10
Rate the light for the design and usability of the clamping system/s
 
6/10

It's too easy to knock the light out of alignment when switching between settings.

Rate the light for waterproofing. How did it stand up to the elements?
 
8/10
Rate the light for battery life. How long did it last? How long did it take to recharge?
 
5/10

A bigger capacity battery might help, but runtime is poor.

Rate the light for performance:
 
6/10

Just about adequate for slow rides on unlit roads, but no concessions to commuter friendliness.

Rate the light for durability:
 
8/10
Rate the light for weight, if applicable:
 
8/10
Rate the light for value:
 
6/10

Well made and stylish but tiny size compromises performance.

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

Lezyne are coy about what, exactly, it is for, but it's not powerful enough to be a good light for unlit roads and it's pretty poor as a commuter light.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the light

Small and looks cute. USB chargeable.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the light

Runtime, lack of commuter friendly features and/or enough power.

Did you enjoy using the light? Not enough

Would you consider buying the light? Nope

Would you recommend the light to a friend? No

Anything further to say about the light in conclusion?

Doesn't quite do anything well enough to earn a regular place on my handlebars.

Overall rating: 6/10

About the tester

Age: 42  Height: 5' 8  Weight: er....85kg

I usually ride: Kona Dew Drop, Dawes Century SE, Carlton Corsa  My best bike is: Guess SC1 scandium

I've been riding for: Over 20 years  I ride: Most days  I would class myself as: Experienced

I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, Audax and long distance solo rides

 

2 user comments

Oldest firstNewest firstBest rated

Disagree with your verdict on this one.
I love my Mini Drive!

I have used a Lezyne Mini Drive LED Front Light on my daily 20 mile commute this winter. Flashing all the way there and back it has done the job. In fact I forgot to recharge it last night so it did 40 miles - albeit with a slight reduction in intensity toward the end of the ride. Not sure what you are suggesting is a 'short commute'!

I have a couple of miles without street lights and yes the beam is fairly narrow, but I augment it with a cheap NR Ultrafazor 5 which has a wide beam that I only switch on for the dark sections or when approaching a busy junction. I am willing to put up with the narrow beam because of the intensity. Perhaps the addition of a focus ring would allow you to adjust the beam.

I have been caught out with a light failure before and the roads are way too dangerous to be without a light so I always have 2 front and 2 back lights. No way would I regularly cycle forest tracks or a canal tow path with only one front light!

The main selling point for me was the USB recharge and the fact that it can be charged at any point in the recharge cycle. Perfect! Take the cable and charge at destination.

I honestly believe this light has helped me avoid a few incedents and definitlely less cars pull out from junctions in front of me when I approach with the mini drive flashing.

For the money, this light is great, and I am really pleased with it.

starchild's picture

posted by starchild [20 posts]
17th January 2012 - 23:46

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Glad your happy with yours Starchild, this is a cool little light, but If i'm spending this amount of money on a commuting light - I don't want an auxiliary blinky I want a main light. Indeed I do only want to run one light. If I need two then it's because neither are good enough to do the job on their own. You're also much better at sticking to a rigorous re-charging regime than most of the road.cc team, and this is certainly a light that demands that.

Rob tested the light on full power and the medium beam setting, on medium you get 90 mins but it is only really useful as a light for using under street lights and there are plenty of other USB rechargeable commuting lights that will give you similar amounts of round town light for less money and a lot more run time. If your commute takes you any distance out in to the proper dark you are, as Rob found out going to need more run time which at the end of the day means stepping up to something like the Mini Drive's big bro, the Power Drive.

Tony Farrelly's picture

posted by Tony Farrelly [4132 posts]
18th January 2012 - 0:33

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