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The NiteRider Swift 500 is a very good all-in-one light that will happily see you through your well-lit or slower speed winter commutes and rides. It's sturdily made, light, easy to operate and good value. The run-times are slightly below those advertised but otherwise it's a solid purchase.
It's a small step up in power output from the Swift 450 we tested in 2017, though it's very similar in form and function (and to the Swift 350 reviewed back in 2016). The only obvious change between the 500 and 450 is that increase in lumens.
The Swift 500 has five modes. Three are static, activated by pressing the single button down for a second, then pressing the button again to cycle through the three modes (100, 225 and 500 lumens).
The fourth mode is a flashing setting, which you activate by holding the button down for three seconds. One more single click accesses the fifth mode, a low-light setting which runs for a claimed 25 hours at 20lm. To get back to the static modes, you press the button once more.
Battery levels are slightly less than claimed but it still fares well. In the 100lm mode I got around 6.5hrs before it went into battery-help mode (the button LED turns red) and a further 1.5hrs after that. This is an hour less than the claimed run-time of 9 hours.
On the 500lm setting it lasted just shy of the advertised 1.5hrs. These run-times are in the same ballpark as other 500lm lights such as the Lezyne Micro Drive 500XL (review to come) which has a claimed 1hr on the 500lm setting, and the Cateye Sync Core's 2hrs claimed (again, full review to come).
The beam has a good spread (about a road's width) and on the lower static setting is more than bright enough for well-lit town riding. NiteRider also emphasises its use for daylight running when in flash mode (run-time is a claimed 9.5hrs). On the highest static setting it is perfectly adequate for riding along an unlit canal towpath at night. In that setting the beam reaches about 10m ahead, so isn't suited to high-speed riding along country backroads or trails. On unlit roads I felt fine up to about 10-15mph but much faster than that was less comfortable. But it is a £35 light and compares well with the beam from similarly priced rivals such as the Lezyne Micro Drive 500XL mentioned above (£40), though is not as good as the significantly pricier Cateye Sync Core (£89.99).
The Swift 500 didn't make it into our beam test this year, but you can compare the Lezyne and Cateye using the link below – and the Swift 450 is in last year's selection.
The rubber mounting strap is really easy to use, even with gloved fingers, and it keeps the light securely in place. It also swivels so you can refine the direction of the beam.
The construction of the light remains the same as the NiteRider Swift 450 and Swift 350 – it's tough, and water-resistant to IP64 standard.
The LED on the button flashes red when charging via the supplied USB cable, and turns blue once fully charged. A very handy feature is that you can lock the on-off button by holding it down for seven seconds – great for preventing that horrible moment you realise it's been on in your bag all day!
Not only is the Swift 500 brighter than the 450, it is also £3 cheaper. It weighs about the same, too – 81g on the road.cc Scales of Truth versus 80g for the 450 – and it's lighter than both the Lezyne (118g) and Cateye (94g) mentioned above.
A decent value, well-made light that's good for town riding and lower-speed unlit routes
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road.cc test report
Make and model: NiteRider Swift 500 Front Light
Size tested: 500 lumens
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?
NiteRider says: "The NiteRider® Swift™ 500 delivers everyday reliable performance in an economical ultra compact head light. Sporting features like an easy on and off handlebar strap mount, low battery indicator and to top it off, it's USB Rechargeable; making it the perfect light of choice for commuters and cycling enthusiasts.
"Although small in size, make no mistake; the Swift™ 500 packs a big punch with a maximum light output of 500 lumens! Powered by an internal Lithium Ion battery, in Walk Mode, the Swift™ 500 can run for up to twenty-five hours before it needs a charge."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the light?
- Highly durable design made with fiberglass reinforced plastic
- Smooth 500 lumen beam pattern in an ultra compact and lightweight design
- Innovative Collimator Lens – optimizes your field of view
- Built-in, easy on and off handlebar strap mount
- 4 Light Levels plus 1 Daylight Flash Mode
- Fuel Gauge / Battery Level Indicator
- FL1 Standard IP64, dust and water-resistant
- Convenient USB rechargeable
A sturdy, well-built light.
Easy to cycle through the different modes, even with gloved fingers.
The clamp secures the light really well, and it's easy to attach and detach the light from the bike. The light can also be swivelled to direct the beam.
Stood up to rainy rides with no problems and also a dunk under a running tap.
Slightly lower run-time than that advertised, but still a decent performer for the price, comparing favourably with rivals.
The Swift 500 performs very well and has a decent beam considering it's small and pretty light. While fine for town riding and slower-speed unlit routes, the light isn't suited to faster unlit ones, but then it is only £35.
No problems here, fared well after multiple rides. Dropped a couple of times and still works fine.
At 81g it's pretty light.
Compared with other 500-lumen lights, £35 is pretty good value considering its performance.
Tell us how the light performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Performed very well.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the light
Small size, lightweight, solid build, easy to use.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the light
Run-times are slightly lower than advertised, but still good for the price.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
Did you enjoy using the light? Yes
Would you consider buying the light? Yes
Would you recommend the light to a friend? Yes, if for town riding or unlit slow-speed routes.
Use this box to explain your overall score
The NiteRider Swift 500 is good value, can be attached and detached quickly, is easy to use even with gloves, is small and light and has a good beam for town riding and unlit routes at slower speed.
About the tester
I usually ride: Trek Fuel EX9.9 2012 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: commuting, touring, club rides, mountain biking, audax