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.
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.
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Make and model: Lezyne Micro Drive
Size tested: n/a
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.
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.
Lezyne's strap is good, but the cradle itself is awkward for removal.
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).
For a USB recharging light, the stated burn times are very good, and were accurately representing during testing.
Light levels and modes are very good.
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).
There are definitely lighter rear lights available.
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
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.
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