In theory, an upgrade of Lezyne's own Hecto Drive 350XL with an added 450-lumen mode, the Micro Drive 450XL proved puzzling in test as it didn't actually seem any brighter. Curiously, when ordered by output in the road.cc light comparison engine, the Micro Drive 450XL showed an almost identical output and spread to the (£12 cheaper) 350XL. However, the 'Overdrive' feature, which allows you to switch between full power and a 'dipped' setting, is a definite bonus that you may consider worth the extra outlay.
The Overdrive label suggests that Lezyne expects most of the work to be done in one of the seven other modes – four steady, two flashing and a pulse setting. Indeed, if you want to access Overdrive – or rather, Overdrive Race Mode – you need to go through a special procedure, namely, from 'Off', holding down the button for a full five seconds. Once selected, you have the choice of full power/Overdrive, for short bursts on dark paths, or 'Economy' mode (75 lumens), and I found it pretty useful when popping out onto the street-lit highway and into the traffic. Like the main beam and dip of a car.
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Depending on how much time you spend in either mode, you could in theory squeeze four hours or so from the battery. Unhelpfully, the short battery life in Overdrive means the battery indicator starts to show an amber warning almost as soon as you switch it on, but it never left me stranded so I stopped worrying about it. To exit Overdrive Race Mode (and the light will turn back on in this mode if it was the last one you used), you again hold the button down for five seconds.
The two side-by-side LEDs provide a beam that is only slightly flattened from the circular, but the light is even and the spread is good, which helps a lot on unlit roads.
Of the regular modes, all were bright enough for traffic and the brightest adequate for unlit roads. On full power it is considerably more than adequate. Side visibility is very good, and the light is shielded above to stop it shining into your eyes as you ride.
The three flashing or pulsing modes all operate at 75 lumens, which is plenty enough to make you visible, and reassuring in fog or in low sun conditions. With 10 hours of operation available in flashing, that should see you through a week or so's commuting, even if you forget to recharge it during the day. Charging is achieved without cables, though you have to plug in the light upside-down, when the charge indicator light is then pointing downwards. Recharging was reasonably brisk, at a smidge over three hours from flat.
The chunky rubber USB cover is a snug fit and did an excellent job of keeping water out, though it isn't permanently attached to the light so you have to be careful not to mislay it. Even so, I much prefer these cable-free charging systems because the integrated USB stick is easy to wipe clean if it does get contaminated (I've lost a couple of cable-charged gadgets when water has got into the USB socket and damaged the fragile electronics).
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The build quality is excellent in the current Lezyne style, with a CNC-machined aluminium casing that is both robust and light. The light is permanently attached to its mount and strap and you have to twist the head unit to gain easy access to the hook for the band. I found the strap secure and the light stayed pointing the way I pointed it.
My main gripe was with the on/off/mode selector button, which seemed very difficult to hold down hard enough when the light is mounted on the bike. Flicking though the modes thus becomes a bit of a chore, not adding to road safety as you are looking for longer than is sensible at what's happening on the handlebar instead of on the road in front. It's even trickier during the daytime when you can't see the light shining on the road as a guide to which mode you are in.
As a general point I would rather have fewer modes that are quicker to scroll through than a welter of options. This light does have a memory mode, so if you have a favourite setting it will turn back on in that, until you change it. This helps reduce the amount of button-pushing required, but even so it wasn't an easy light to use on the road. Overdrive Race Mode cuts down your choices to just two, which can help – but you pay an extra £12 for it over the Hecto Drive 350XL.
A good light, and Overdrive mode is useful, which may tempt you to splash out the extra £12 over the Hecto Drive 350XL
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Make and model: Lezyne Micro Drive 450XL
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 says: "Multi-purpose performance LED cycling light. Compact, durable and heat-dissipating CNC machined aluminum construction. Ultrahigh-output LEDs delivering up to 450 lumens. Optional Overdrive Race Mode toggles between Overdrive and Economy modes only. Mode Memory function returns to selected mode after turning off. Enhanced MOR (Maximum Optical Reflection) lens with built-in side visibility. Integrated cable-free recharging USB stick. Versatile handlebar strap secures to round and aero bars. Advanced Li-Poly battery for superior run time."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the light?
MAX LUMENS: 450
WEIGHT: 99.6/90.6g (with strap mount/without strap mount)
RECHARGE TIME: 2hrs (1A) / N/A (2A)
Composite Matrix -
"Maximum Optical Reflection" Optics
Intelligent power indicator
Overdrive Race Mode
Rate the light for quality of construction:
A single-piece CNC case is simple and strong and keeps the water out.
Rate the light for design and ease of use. How simple was the light to use?
Too many modes to scroll through and the button was difficult to push. It all got a bit distracting when trying to ride. Better in Overdrive mode, where there are only two options to choose from.
Rate the light for the design and usability of the clamping system/s
Simple to fit, and secure, though some riders may prefer a slide on/off design.
Rate the light for waterproofing. How did it stand up to the elements?
No trouble here. The chunky rubber USB guard fitted tightly. Don't mislay it, though.
Rate the light for battery life. How long did it last? How long did it take to recharge?
I found battery life pretty much as Lezyne describes, so adequate in the standard settings. Overdrive is best reserved for short bursts if you need more than an hour.
Rate the light for performance:
Good wide spread, and bright. There are some useful modes among the plethora included.
Rate the light for durability:
As described, the quality build, materials and sealing seem to be paired with durable electronics.
Rate the light for weight:
The solid construction necessarily makes for some additional weight, but given the robustness it's hardly an issue.
Rate the light for value:
Around £12 dearer than the Hecto Drive 350XL, over which it sports the Overdrive setting. That ability to click between full-power and "dipped" setting may be enough to tempt you into the extra outlay.
Tell us how the light performed overall when used for its designed purpose
This is meant to be an upgraded version of the Hecto Drive 350XL, the extra function being the ability to switch quickly between 450-lumen overdrive and a low setting. This was quite useful but difficult to access, and the road.cc beam comparison engine couldn't find any difference between this maximum setting and the 350XL's. It was also difficult to use on the road, with the heavy pressure required to operate the button. Otherwise it seems a well-made unit, with plenty of power, decent battery life and a reasonably quick recharge.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the light
Bright, wide spread of light and good battery life in the flashing modes. Fairly quick and unfussy charging.Overdrive mode gives you the ability to flick between "full" and "dipped" (or it would if I could push the button!)
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the light
The difficult-to-press button. Too much scrolling through various modes for my liking.
Did you enjoy using the light? Yes, if I didn't have to switch between modes while riding.
Would you consider buying the light? No
Would you recommend the light to a friend? No
Use this box to explain your score
It's a well-made and good light in its own right, and toggling between just two settings in Overdrive Race Mode is definitely useful. If you like the sound of that, you may well be tempted to splash out the extra £12, but don't expect it to be significantly brighter. With a few other niggles, especially the difficult-to-press button, I would call this a good light but not "very" good, so I'll give it a 7.
Age: 51 Height: 6'2 Weight: 73kg and rising
I usually ride: Cannondale CAAD10 My best bike is:
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, sportives, general fitness riding, mountain biking
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