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Verdict: 
A decent value, well-made light that's good for town riding and lower-speed unlit routes
Weight: 
81g

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.

  • Pros: Price, sturdy construction, decent beam
  • Cons: Run-times slightly lower than claimed

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.

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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.

NiteRider swift 500 front Light 2.jpg

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 best 2018 front lights for cycling and beam comparison engine

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.

Verdict

A decent value, well-made light that's good for town riding and lower-speed unlit routes

If you're thinking of buying this product using a cashback deal why not use the road.cc Top Cashback page and get some top cashback while helping to support your favourite independent cycling website

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?

Features:

- 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

Rate the light for quality of construction:
 
8/10

A sturdy, well-built light.

Rate the light for design and ease of use. How simple was the light to use?
 
8/10

Easy to cycle through the different modes, even with gloved fingers.

Rate the light for the design and usability of the clamping system/s
 
9/10

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.

Rate the light for waterproofing. How did it stand up to the elements?
 
10/10

Stood up to rainy rides with no problems and also a dunk under a running tap.

Rate the light for battery life. How long did it last? How long did it take to recharge?
 
7/10

Slightly lower run-time than that advertised, but still a decent performer for the price, comparing favourably with rivals.

Rate the light for performance:
 
8/10

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.

Rate the light for durability:
 
9/10

No problems here, fared well after multiple rides. Dropped a couple of times and still works fine.

Rate the light for weight:
 
8/10

At 81g it's pretty light.

Rate the light for value:
 
8/10

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?

Compares well with the beams and run-times of the Lezyne Micro Drive 500XL, which is £40, and significantly cheaper than the £89.99 Cateye Sync Core.

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.

Overall rating: 8/10

About the tester

Age: 42  Height: 196cm  Weight: 85kg

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