Sunday, November 10, 2013

NiteRider Mako 200 Front Light

Together with the new NiteRider Solas 2 Watt USB Rear Light that I bought for my new Avanti Inc 3, I also got a new front light to go along with it.

This is the NiteRider Mako 200 Front Light, which is the same brand as the rear light. Also bought from Hup Leong. What I like about this light is the matte black finish, which matches the matte black frame of the Avanti Inc 3 very well.

There were two models of this Mako 200 light, the 2xAA battery powered version, and the USB charging version. The USB version is much more expensive ($80+ compared to $48) than the 2xAA battery powered version. Also, the runtime of the USB version is half of the AA battery powered version. Due to these reasons, I decided to get the cheaper AA battery version, and use my own rechargeable AA batteries instead.

NiteRider Mako 200 Front Light

Uses 2xAA batteries, and with 2 steady modes + 1 flashing mode.

Comes with a handlebar clamp, which was not very good. 

Although the clamp is secure, the tightening knob will slide off the clamp when overtightened. There is no stopper for the knob, so basically you can just tighten the knob until it pops out. Not a good design. I found that the trick is to tighten the knob and try moving the clamp. As long as the clamp is tight on the handlebar, there is no need to tighten the knob any further (even though it still feels loose).

Large ON button on top. The same button is also used to cycle through the lighting modes.

1 x bright LED at the front, with a lens and reflectors.

Profile at the bottom of the light for sliding onto the handlebar mount. Twist the top half of the light to change batteries.

Upon unscrewing the top, the 2xAA batteries are revealed. I will just use the available batteries till they are dead, and change to my own rechargeable AA batteries.

Red side lights visible through the grilles at the side. Not very bright though.

Visible hotspot in the centre of the beam. There is a cutoff at the top to prevent the light from blinding the user.

Weight of the front light including batteries.

 The light mounted on my handlebars. I had to clamp it at the transition area between the centre 31.8mm diameter portion and the 22.2mm diameter portion at the ends, as the clamp was too small for 31.8mm, and yet too big for 22.2mm. Poor design.


Overall, I feel that the brightness to price ratio is quite OK. However, the other aspects such as the handlebar clamp and material quality is not so ideal.

The light is mainly made of plastic, and there are very visible flash marks and flow lines on the cover. This shows that the molding quality is not very good.

Although the weight of the light is quite OK at 130 grams, I am not sure why it looks so bulky, as there seems to be quite a bit of empty space in the plastic casing, both at the LED half and also the battery half.

The handlebar clamp is not well designed as the tightening knob does not have a clear stopper, which can lead to over-tightening if not used properly. The clamp size is also not ideal as there is no extra rubber adaptor, which means that it cannot fit 31.8mm or 22.2mm nicely.

As for the lighting modes, the flashing mode is quite irritating as it flashes fast at about 4 times per second. I tend to use that on the roads as the visibility is very good. However, when I go onto the park connectors or to areas with pedestrians, I will switch to the low steady mode to avoid annoying other people.

Plus Points:
1) Brightness to price ratio is OK.
2) Easy to use button.
3) Decent battery life.
4) Easily swappable batteries means spare batteries can be used.
5) Does not cause electromagnetic interference with my Cateye Strada wireless speedometer.

Downsides:
1) Poor clamp design. Secure but usage is not intuitive.
2) Handlebar clamp size is not well designed, does not fit onto every part of the handlebar.
2) Looks bulky.
3) Poor appearance due to obvious flash marks on plastic cover.
4) Flash mode is too annoying. Better to use the steady modes.

Would I buy this light again?
No.

For basic usage as a commuting light, this light works well. However, if looking beyond basic function such as build quality and appearance, I would look for another light with better build quality.

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