NiteRider MiNewt Mini-USB LED Bike Light Review

NiteRider MiNewt LED Headlight Summary: It works and it works well. I bought one. Eight of the 17 people I rode with last night own one. It’s bright, small, has a three-hour run time and costs under $100.

NiteRider MiNewt Versus NiteRider Trail Rat

For years I used the NiteRider Trail Rat. It was bright (thanks to its halogen bulb) but had a lousy run time (thanks to its halogen bulb). It cost about $100 new. The Trail Rat was the perfect size unlike the NiteRider Digital Pro 12E which was always too big.

NiteRider Trail Rat versus NiteRider MiNewt Mini-USB

1999 Technology Versus 2009 Technology

In every way, the MiNewt Mini-USB is superior to the Trail Rat.

NiteRider Trail Rat

  • Battery Life: One Hour
  • Weight: 1,055 grams
  • Size: Bigger
  • Charger: Chunky Wall Wart
  • Temperature: Hot
  • Light Color: Yellow/Orange

NiteRider MiNewt Mini-USB

  • Battery Life: Three Hours
  • Weight: 172 grams
  • Size: Smaller
  • Charger: USB
  • Temperature: Cool
  • Light Color: White/Blue

MiNewt Weighs 883 Grams *LESS* and Runs Three Hours

I’m no weight weenie but the difference between the Trail Rat and MiNewt is amazing. As you can see from the above photo, the Trail Rat is a beast compared to the MiNewt. The weight difference is so startling, I had to break out the scale.

The NiteRider MiNewt weighs just 172 grams compared to the 1,055 grams of the NiteRider Trail Rat.

Did you see that? Look again. The MiNewt Mini-USB bike light weighs just 16% of what the Trail Rat weighs: 172 grams versus 1,055 grams.

USB Charger for NiteRider MiNewt Headlight

Use any standard mini-USB cable to charge your NiteRider MiNewt Mini-USB LED headlight.This is more exciting than it sounds.

The MiNewt Mini-USB headlight charges from a standard miniature USB cable. Chances are, you already have such a cable for your digital camera or cell phone. Chances are, you already bring one when you travel. I can’t tell you how nice it is not to have to bring yet another charger when traveling. Best of all, if you do forget your cable, the hotel will probably have a spare. It is that universal.

Make Sure to Get the 2010 Model of the MiNewt Mini-USB

The earlier models had no charge indicator. You couldn’t tell if it was charged or not. The 2010 model has a light in the power switch. Red means charging. Green means full and ready to use. The recharge time is only four and a half hours so you know it will charge overnight but the indicator light is a good way to double-check.

Lots of stores are trying to pass off the older models as current. The earlier years are fine as lights but I would certainly expect to pay less for the model without the charge indicator light.

Support Your Local Bike Shop and Save Money

If you buy the NiteRider MiNewt Mini-USB from Amazon, we make $5.64 at its current listed price of $94. The light is worth every bit of $94 and Palm Beach Bike Tours certainly appreciates it when you support us by ordering through our links.

On Your Mark Performance Center NiteRider MiNewt Mini-USB RecieptStill, if you’re looking for a great deal, check your local bike shop.

My local bike shop, offers a 20% discount for club members. I paid $85.19 for the Niterider MiNewt ($9 off the Amazon price) and got to walk out of the store and use it that very night.

For the $35 membership fee, you get the 20% discount (if you spend more than $175 on your bike in a year, you’ll make your membership fee back), supported rides and nice folks who organize local events such as the Criterium Training Camps at the Camp Murphy Circuit Course and the Dyer Consequences Cyclocross in January.


How to Install B&M IQ Cyo R N Plus Headlight

Surly Long Haul Trucker with Cyo IQ and Flare5 headlghtsI just bought a Busch & Muller Lumotec IQ Cyo R N Plus (hereafter referred to as the Cyo IQ) headlight in my eternal quest for the best and brightest light I can pair with my SON generator hub.

A review on one of my favorite bike blogs, EcoVelo, tipped me over the edge. Alan@echoVelo promised to write a letter to spouses because his endorsement generated lots of comments from folks like me who were going to reach for the plastic.

I’ve only had a chance to do one quick ride with it. Son Matt and I went out on shellrock roads in the middle of nowhere the other night, but we were hurrying back to beat mosquito o’clock and I didn’t have a chance to see it in complete darkness. I’ll post a full performance review later.

Here’s an overview of the light and how to install it in this review.

One Cyo IQ will replace two lights

I’ve used three generator-powered headlights with my SON.

(SON, by the way, has no relationship to Son Matt or Son Adam. It stands for Schmidt’s Original Nabendynamo. That mouthful is why most folks call it a SON.)

Lumotec and dLumotecI started out with a Lumotec Oval Plus halogen bulb light as the primary, with a Busch & Müller Lumotec as a secondary.

The primary light would get up to full power at about 10 mph, and the secondary would be at full brightness at around 14 mph. The bad thing is that halogen bulbs get progressively dimmer as they age and eventually burn out. You can’t get one of these bulbs at a 7-11 in the middle of nowhere.

DLumotec offered more light at lower speed

Then B&M introduced the DLumotec Oval N Plus, which used a 1-watt LED as a light source. It reached full power at slightly over walking speed, never dimmed down and was rated at 100,000 hours, so there was no reason to ever turn it off.

The old Missouri safety slogan, “Lights On for Safety” was drummed in my head at an early age, so I LIKE to ride with my lights on.

The LED light was powerful enough that I rarely switched on the secondary light unless I wanted to aim the LED light close to the bike and the secondary down the road.

If you hate to read, here’s a video of the Cyo IQ installation

What comes with the Cyo IQ?

B&M Lumotec IQ Cyo N PlusYou get the light, with a bracket suitable for mounting to your fork; two female spade lugs (more about those later), a spare piece of wire and a couple of pieces of heatshrink tubing and a multi-language instruction sheet.

Coming out of the end of the light are two sets of wires.

  • A short pair with two male spade lug attachments.
  • A longer wire with no connectors.

The Cyo IQ R N Plus light comes in different flavors

The N designator means that it has a straight On/Off switch. A Senso version comes on automatically. Since I run with it on all the time, that didn’t appeal to me.

B&M Lumotec IQ Cyo R light patternThe R means it has a reflector, which is required in Germany, where it’s made. The R models are set up so that the “nearfield” is lit, something that is useful for low-speed commuters and loaded tourists. The standard model projects a brighter, more focused beam farther out for folks who go fast.

Front of B&M Lumotech IQ CYo N R Plus bicycle headlightBoth of them have a sharp cut-off at the top of the beam pattern to keep from blinding oncoming traffic, just like your car headlight. Peter White’s site does a great job of comparing light outputs.

The Plus means that it has a standlight. A capacitor stores enough energy from just a few minutes of pedaling so the light will stay on when you’re stopped. That means your light doesn’t go out when you’re at a traffic light.

I mounted it on my Surly Nice Rack

B & M Lumotech IQ Cyo R N Plus mountThe light is designed to mount on the fork crown, so it’s shipped in a forward-leaning position to give clearance. I opted to mount it on the front of my Surly Nice Rack, where that would have had it sticking way out in front, vulnerable to being knocked about.

I reversed the mount, which allowed it to sit back where it’ll be less likely to be hit.

B&M Lumotec IQ Cyo N R Plus headlight on Surly Nice RackI’m very pleased with how neatly put together and compact the unit is. I had some issues with the dLumotec switch being a bit finicky sometimes. The On / Off switch on this light seemed to be much more positive. (Of course, in my case it’s really just an ON switch.)

Split tubing protects B&M Lumotec IQ Cyo wiring to SON hubPlastic split tubing protects the wiring

I used plastic 3/8″ spiral cable wrap or split tubing to run the wiring down the rack and to protect it. You can pick it up at Radio Shack or on Amazon.

It’s quick to apply, holds well and blends in with the black rack so it’s hardly noticeable. I like it better than black electrical tape which can turn into a gummy mess if you ever have to deal with the wiring in the future.

What about those terminals?

B&M Lumotec IQ Cyo headlight connections to SON hubI have one major nit to pick.

The light came with two small female spade lugs to go onto the end of the wires leading to the hub. I’m a belt-and-suspenders kind of guy, so I carefully soldered the lug in addition to crimping them. You can’t beat both a good electrical AND mechanical connection. Then I put heatshrink tubing over THAT.

Then, and only then, did I look closely at the male connection points on the hub.

Think Great Dane mating with a Chihuahua. It ain’t gonna happen. Or, even if it’s possible, it’s gonna require some serious bending and stretching.

On top of that, they’re some funky metric size.

Instead of chasing all over trying to find new terminals, I opted to reuse the ones off my old light. I didn’t really want to do that, but it was the easiest and fastest solution to get on the road.

Ken Steinhoff giving B&M Lumotech IQ Cyo headlight trial run

Son Matt shot this on the light’s inaugural run. For the record, I don’t usually wear white socks with my Shimano sandals. We were going to Bug Country at dusk and I wanted to be prepared to cover as many gnawable areas as possible as quickly as possible.

Where can I buy a Lumotec IQ light?

Alan, at EcoVelo, got his review light from The Bicycle Business in Sacramento, CA, so I decided to throw them some business, even though I usually buy this kind of thing from Peter White.

My only complaint – and it’s my fault for not looking at a map – is that California is a L-O-N-G way from Florida if you’re shipping by ground. I placed my order on Monday evening, August 17, it was shipped by Bicycle Business the next day, but didn’t arrive in South Florida until Monday, August 24.

I may stick with East Coast vendors in the future, not because I’m unhappy with Bicycle Business or manager Bob Rolke, but because I can get faster shipping from companies on this side of the Mississippi.

The light cost $103.95 plus $11.23 shipping.

I’ll have another review when I’ve logged some nighttime hours.

Busch Muller Lumotec IQ Cyo Plus

The Surly Long Haul Trucker is a Peterbilt, not a Ferrari

I finally got to bring my Surly Long Haul trucker home. Understanding and Long-Suffering Bike Widow Lila shot this just as I wheeled it in from a visit to Wayne at Bicycle. It arrived the previous Friday, but I didn’t have a final fitting until Monday.

Then I discovered that I had ordered a new 36-spoke rim, but my SON generator hub takes 32 spokes. Getting a new one shipped overnight cost about as much as the rim, but I was anxious to get riding.

When I wheeled it in to Wayne, it was equipped with my Brooks Champion Flyer saddle, Crank Brothers pedals and my Surly Nice front rack. I told him I wanted to move my ESGE/Pletscher Double-legged kickstand and Jandd Expedition rear rack off the old bike, plus find a clean way to mount my lights on the new ride.

He suggested that I let him figure out the details.

Building the wheel

First, he had to build the wheel. (Here’s a video of the whole process.)

I had never watched the whole process from start to finish. It’s not rocket science, but I’m sure glad I let him do it.

He’s built at least three wheels for me and I’ve never had a problem with any of them.

Truing took less time than anticipated

Wayne warned me that it might take as much as an hour to get the wheel trued to his standards.

I knew from following folks with out-of-true wheels that they wobbled left and right, but I didn’t realize that they need to be tensioned so they were perfectly round, also.

Makes sense, but I had never thought about it.

It took him about 20 minutes to get it where he was happy. “It doesn’t take long when you’re working with a good hub and a good wheel.”

I needed to do some tweaking

Wayne found some creative ways to install the DLumotec Oval Senso Plus and Busch&Müller Lumotec secondary generator light to the front of the Nice Rack, but I thought there might be problems down the road (literally). The secondary light was placed where it was esthetically pleasing, but it was installed upside down, which the manufacturer said could cause water to get into it. In addition, because generator lights are relatively low power and conform to strict German standards, they are built with a light pattern that is bright at the bottom, but cuts off at the top like a car’s low beam. Mounting it upside down would invert that light pattern.

The primary light was mounted it a great location for projecting a long, low beam, but I was afraid that water coming off the fender might be bad in the long run. I moved both lights higher. Since I probably won’t put anything on the top part of the front rack, I wasn’t concerned with them being in the way.

Here’s the final result with the generator lights on the front rack at the bottom and my NiteRider Pro12-E and an inexpensive be-seen LED light on a Sidetrack Excess Access bar mounted to the primary handlebar. The object to the right of the lights is my Garmin GPS.

I love the second stem

Wayne did a good job of installing a second stem. That’s an idea I ripped off from several other bikers: like here, here, here, here and here.

Having a second stem and a mini-handlebar below your main one gives you a place to mount a handlebar bag and other accessories without losing hand positions. It sounds crazy to go-fast riders, but it’s really convenient for folks who like to carry cameras, a GPS, multiple lights and stuff.

Here’s what it looks like with the bag

The small Arkel Handlebar bag fits cleanly onto the bag mounts. It’s very stable and doesn’t rattle around. I like it for my cameras because it keeps them where I can grab them easily. Because it’s suspended, the equipment is cushioned from hard impacts they’d feel if the bag was attached directly to the front of rear racks.

The second stem allows it to be mounted low enough that the lights on the handlebar can “see” right over it.

The plastic bottle in the lower waterbottle cage is the air reservoir for the AirZound horn. If I needed the extra water capacity, I’d move the reservoir to the top of the front rack.

I used plastic spiral wrap like you’d use for computer wiring to cover and protect the wires going to the generator hub.

The whole package looks pretty neat

I’m pleased with the way everything fits together. I’m sure I’ll end up taking some stuff off and rearranging it, but, thanks to Wayne and his attention to detail, I’m way ahead.

Here are some reasons why I picked this particular model

  • It came highly recommended by folks who ride longer, for more days and in places where you can’t find a *-Mart store on every corner.
  • It’s designed for touring and delivers a lot of bang for the buck. The base bike was under $1,000.
  • It’s steel and uses shifters that are unlikely to break. “If I was going to go across Cambodia, this is the bike I’d take. If something breaks, any guy with a welding torch can fix it,” said the dealer in Cape.
  • It has lots of braze-ons to attach racks, fenders and lights.
  • It can handle three waterbottle cages.
  • It will allow wide tires that can handle gravel roads if needed. (Trust me, I’ve tried to ride gravel roads on high pressure narrow tires. It isn’t funny. The wider tires make the steel grate drawbridges less squirrely, too.)
  • There is enough clearance to mount full-size fenders. That keeps your bike, drivetrain and equipment much cleaner. It also keeps you from having a trail of poodle poop up your back if you ride the Palm Beach Lake Trail after a rainstorm. (Folks on The Island don’t feel it necessary to pick up after their pets.)
  • The frame is stretched out to allow plenty of heel clearance for rear panniers and it’s designed to allow you to ride long distances multiple days in a row.
  • It has low gears for helping you climb with a load.
  • It has little touches like a spoke holder on the chainstay for two spare spokes.

So, how does it ride?

Well, I’ve got only two 20-mile rides under my belt, so it’s a little early to judge. It ain’t light. When it left The Racer’s Edge, it maxed out their 30-lb scale and that was before adding the rear rack, lights, generator hub, kickstand and bags. My guess is that it’s in the 40-pound range. OK, maybe 45 lbs, but who is counting?

Son Adam asked, “So, what kind of car would you compare it to?”

It’s a Peterbilt, not a Ferrari

“A Peterbilt,” was my answer. “It’s not a Ferrari that’ll go 130 miles an hour, but it’ll do 85 MPH pulling 35,000 pounds.”

And, that’s sort of the way it rides. Once you get it up to speed, it’s remarkably stable and seems to want to keep going. Of course, that’s on flat ground. When gravity starts exerting its force, I may have a different opinion.

Speaking of that, I told Adam to go on ahead when we got to the Royal Palm Bridge. “I want to play with the gears to see how low they go.” Just as the grade was kicking up, I slapped it over into Granny Gear and found myself spinning like crazy. “Wow,” I thought, “this baby IS really geared low, I’m hardly moving.”

That’s when I realized that I WASN’T moving. Forward, that is. I had thrown the chain. I guess those friction shifters are going to take a little practice.

It’s an eyecatcher

When Adam and Chuck Keefer and I stopped at the Palm Beach Inlet to take most of these pictures, the bike gathered a crowd of interested onlookers. [Thanks to Adam for shooting this.]

The fellow kneeling in yellow is Wisconsin Snowbird Jim Beloian who has ridden across the country from east to west and from north to south.

When HE pronounced the LHT roadworthy, I felt a whole lot better.

The decision process and steps along the way


Bicycle Taillights That Work

Taillights have been a big topic on several cycling forums lately, so I decided to document the taillights I have on my Trek 1220 before I move them to my soon-to-arrive Surly Long Haul Trucker.

I use three taillights mounted to my Jandd Expedition Rear Rack. The first is a RealLite, a 4″ x 6″ 18-LED 4 AA-battery operated light. The vendor claims that the batteries will run about 60 hours on flash. I’ve never timed it, but it does run a long time. I use it in flash mode.

Trust me, it puts out a LOT of light. I’ve had more comments on it than any other light I’ve owned. Here’s what others say.

Check out the warranty. You don’t see many like that. I’ve bought a couple of his lights and only had to return one because of something dumb I did that caused it to break where it was mounted. I don’t recall exactly what I did, but the vendor replaced it with no hassle.

My brother sticks his in his rear jersey pocket instead of mounting it to his bike.

Generator light with battery backup

The middle light is a Busch&Müller 4DToplight Senso Multi from Peter White Cycles powered by a SON generator hub. Flashing taillights are illegal in Germany where these are made, so they are steady-on. Some folks claim that flashing lights are harder for motorists to judge distance with and there are others that think flashing lights attract drunk drivers. I have a mixture of flashing and steady lights, so I guess I’m either more visible and easy to read or I’m a drunk magnet.

Since the generator stops working when the bike stops, this taillight automatically switches to battery power when it senses that the bike has stopped. That also provides a backup if there would be a problem with the wiring.

It has a huge built-in reflector that is highly effective.

The NiteRider is visible in bright daylight

I saw my first NiteRider taillight on Matt’s infamous Full Moon Ride. Matt had just bought his and was firing it up for the first time. It was amazing how far you could see the light in the daytime. I run with mine on any time I ride, day or night. If I could find a way to power it without the heavy waterbottle battery, I’d even forgo the headlight that you need with it.

Bro Mark had one that he had quit using, so I hooked it up as an auxiliary brake light mounted on the top of my bike rack on my van. It’s the brightest thing on the back of the car.

What holds them on the bike?

The challenge was how to mount them. I had an old piece of aluminum that I bent 90-degrees and attached to the underside of the Jandd rack with two nuts and bolts.

It’s not pretty, but it does a good job of holding them on the bike. I haven’t seen any signs of metal fatigue in several thousand miles.

So, how do the look in the dark?

Here’s my first forray into the world of YouTube. After coming home from a ride the other night, I knocked off a quick video of my taillights. It’s sloppy, makes Sarah Palin sound smart and took me half a day to figure out how to edit and upload it. (Any 12-year-old kid could have done it in 10 minutes, but there is a shortage of 12-year-old kids at my house.)

The next one will be better, I promise.

Schmidt Generator Hub with Lumotec Headlights

About half of my riding is after dark this time of year. (It’s hot in Florida.)

I just got a Schmidt generator hub on Friday, so when I put it on the bike I’ll have it, with two Lumotec headlights, along with a NiteRider Pro 12E in the front. In the back, I’ll have a NiteRider taillight on the bike and at least an Eclipse LED blinkie on my Camelbak.

Depending on how well I like the Lumotecs, I may only use the Niterider for the taillight and for backup.

Cost of lighting stuff: about $600. Cost of Trek 1220 (used) $600.

Fewer than one in ten riders I see after dark have any form of lights. If they have something, it’s usually a blinkie with low batteries.

I get lots of positive feedback from motorists and peds.

Save Big Money on Bicycle Lights from Performance Bike