Don’t be fooled by their cutesy looks, NiteRider’s Lightning Bug 3.0 and Stinger set are very competent LED lights with great output and around 100hrs of life from a set of watch-type batteries.
Perfect snuggled up to the mile munching Audax or touring bike’s dynamo, they’re not waterproof in the fully immersed sense but have sniggered at autumnal downpours and close-range tickling from the garden hose. As well as being a useful secondary set of lights for venturing out in to the dark, these are much more of the be seen rather than see by variety - so they'll also work in an urban setting too. However, while the Stinger boasts some clever touches, performance and build quality are good rather than great.
Available in a choice of six cheery colours (black, blue, green, pink, red and white), the Lightning Bugs comprise a durable plastic outer shell while the LEDs, switch and other vulnerable electrical components are set inside a weatherproof silicone with bug caricature legs. These simply loop around the bars and hook securely to the shell.
Their tactile yet positive switch is easily operated wearing thick winter gloves, yet doesn’t accidentally engage in bags or pockets. Ours has been a godsend in times of malfunctioning main systems, managing 52 hours in high beam and 97 hours in flashing from the original batteries. Roadside replacements don't call for melodrama but are near impossible to perform wearing gloves.
The Stinger is a half-watt LED light encased in a hefty silicone body. This casing fits both round and aero seatposts and will even sit aboard the seatstays. Weather sealing is excellent thanks to the silicone but means battery replacement is more involved. The lens incorporates a positive push on/off switch easily operated in gloved hands but doesn't accidentally engage in a jersey pocket or bag.
Output is good rather than great with a straw pole suggesting I was visible from around 350 metres on a moderate to cloudy night. That said, while peripheral illumination seems markedly better than some designs with greater surface areas (especially tackling major roundabouts and secluded rural junctions), it is very much a secondary safety light.
Well sealed back up or secondary light set
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Make and model: NiteRider Lightning Bug Combo - Front and Rear lights
Size tested: n/a
Tell us what the product 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?
"Introducing the Lightning Bug and Stinger Taillight, these lights were designed with the same quality and attention to detail as our high end bike lights. Whether you’re out for a quick spin around the block or a cruise down the boardwalk the Lightning Bug and Stinger help you be seen".
No quibble here and the 3.0 is more powerful than you'd imagine.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
"The Lightning Bug comes in 6 different colors and you can choose from a 1, 2 or 3 LED version. The Stinger Taillight operates off a powerful ½ watt LED, allowing you to be seen from a half mile away. Whether you’re out for a quick spin around the block or a cruise down the boardwalk the Lightning Bug and Stinger help you be seen".
Lightning Bug is Powered by two CR2450 watch type batteries, 1/2 watt Stinger by a single CR2032 cell.
Broadly to the same high standards I've come to expect from NiteRider.
Excellent, the Lightning Bug tempered by a good but not great Stinger sibling.
Both have resisted heavy rainfall and passed my hosepipe test without any problems.
39g (Lightning Bug), 48g (Stinger)
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
The Lightning Bug is a really fun, bright light capable of resisting the worst weathers and just powerful enough to see by on high beam – even along partially lit lanes. The Stinger slips effortlessly around most seatpost profiles/diameters but while output is attention grabbing, it's very much of a contingency standard compared with the brand's other models.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Combination of funky design, frugality and impressive output.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Nothing, although the Stinger lacks the presence of other NiteRider tail lights.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Age: 36 Height: 1m 81 Weight: 70 kilos
I usually ride: Rough Stuff Tourer Based around 4130 Univega mtb Frameset My best bike is: 1955 Holdsworth Road Path and several others including cross & traditional road
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: cyclo cross, commuting, touring, fixed/singlespeed, mtb,
Shaun Audane is a freelance writer/product tester with over twenty-eight years riding experience, the last twelve (120,000 miles) spent putting bikes and kit through their paces for a variety of publications. Previous generations of his family worked at manufacturing's sharp end, thus Shaun can weld, has a sound understanding of frame building practice and a preference for steel or titanium framesets.
Citing Richard Ballantine and an Au pair as his earliest cycling influences, he is presently writing a cycling book with particular focus upon women, families and disabled audiences (Having been a registered care manager and coached children at Herne Hill Velodrome in earlier careers)