At £40 and with two AA batteries kicking out 200 lumens for 7 hours the Niterider Mako 200 front light looks like it should be a cracking little light. Sadly the truth is that it's crude and underwhelming.
What we have here is quite a chunky commuter light in sturdy black plastic. The whole front end unscrews, no bolts or screws required, to reveal the batteries. That's neat and very easy to use, even in the dark with gloves on.
The bracket is also simple but effective, with a basic ratchet that clicks into place and holds the light surprisingly well, even on fat bars. The outer case of the front part also has gills cut into the side, although they're more basking shark than mako.
Any additional side visibility is nice to have but these don't kick out very much at all, just a tiny bit of spill. Each side also has a teeny, tiny red LED but unless there is a teeny, tiny Roxanne touting for trade in the light body they don't actually do anything useful. The front of the light has a bit of clear plastic cowling though and that does offer some usable side visibility.
The LED itself is tucked in a deep silver cone. It looks suspiciously like a cheap torch set-up - a faceted cone to focus the light and no lens to speak of. The light it gives is also very torch like, a small central spot with a perfectly round and very dim halo. Under streetlights it's ok, but on unlit roads it can be quite disconcerting as the bright centre spot sucks in your eyeballs while destroying your peripheral vision. Pitch black country lanes are even worse because with no information at all outside of that central spot, hedges, sudden badgers and overhanging branches will all come as nasty and unexpected surprises.
Niterider claim 200 lumens but I suspect that quite a few of those have fallen out of the packaging because it's nowhere near as bright as the brilliant Moon Meteor I tested recently, which also claims 200 lumens. The fact that the (metal) Moon makes a nice handwarmer, while the (plastic) Mako lacks any kind of heatsink and runs stone cold also makes me suspicious... The Mako also lacks any fancy electronics, no runtime indicator, no mode indicator and no recharge facility (although there is a pricier Mako 200 USB variant). Nor do you get any warning when it's about to switch off.
There are just three setting, High, Low and a weapons-grade Flash that will probably get you pushed into the canal if you use it on a bikepath. Unsurprisingly it also cycles through off, although there are plenty of other lights that do this.
Runtime is a claimed 7 hours on High from a pair of AAs although the the Maplins 2500Ah batteries I used didn't last anywhere near that long. Runtime on lights with standard batteries can be notoriously variable and coupled with the lack of warning it means you'll need to carry a spare set and be handy on the brakes for those sudden blackouts.
If you can find the Mako 200 heavily discounted and need the flexibility offered by removable batteries then this might be ok for you, but it feels clumsy, crude and hopelessly outgunned by modern lights that only cost a few pounds extra.
Underpowered, basic and underwhelming.
road.cc test report
Make and model: Niterider Mako 200 front light
Size tested: n/a
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?
Blurb - "We understand lights are an integral part of your daily commute. Using a light can mean the difference between being seen or not by automobile drivers. Many of the 'entry level' commuter lights are nothing more than 'be seen' lights. Your overall safety and visibility should not be limited by your budget, that's why we created the Mako Series. The Mako line now offers five models and up to 200 lumens, not only allowing the cyclist to be seen, but allowing the cyclist to see as well. Our favorite feature is the side 'gills' emit a red light, which not only looks cool, but makes the Makos more visible. The Mako line is easy on the wallet and operates on 2 AA batteries (included). For 2013, we have introduced the new Mako USB rechargeable light for those who want to forgo changing batteries."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the light?
Hefty and reassuring rather than well made.
Large (lit) and easy to operate switch, easily accessed battery casing.
Surprisingly good and very easy to use.
Survived the garden sprinkler test.
Battery life will vary according to the weather and the quality of your cells. I think that the claimed 7hrs is optimistic.
I'd go as far as to say that I didn't feel safe using it on country lanes. The optics are really horrible.
Feels solid and has no fancy (and useful) electronics to go wrong.
Pretty bulky and heavy.
RRP is £40. For a light this basic that feels overpriced, especially when you can find the Moon Meteor online for less that £10 more.
Tell us how the light performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Practical and easy to use, but the optics are dreadful and the light is woefully underpowered.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the light
Easy access to batteries.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the light
Horrible beam, lack of useable light.
Did you enjoy using the light? No.
Would you consider buying the light? No.
Would you recommend the light to a friend? No.
Anything further to say about the light in conclusion?
Could be a reasonable light, but awful optics and relatively high price mean it's a poor choice.
About the tester
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