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Dirt Rag Magazine

Review: NiteRider Pro 1400 Race

NiteRiderPro1400Race_headlamp

The Pro 1400 Race is NiteRider’s lowest priced 1,000+ lumens LED mountain bike light. It has a bunch of modes to choose from, but the three light levels you’ll find most useful when riding your favorite trails are the steady modes with outputs of 400, 850 and 1400 lumens.

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You’ll get about 9 hours and 30 minutes of runtime at the 400 lumens setting, 3 hours and 45 minutes at 850 lumens, and 2 hours at the Race’s maximum output of 1400 lumens. There are several other modes, such as blinking and a SOS distress signal, where you can expect upwards of 35 hours of runtime. Powering the light is a Lithium-ion battery that requires 5 hours of charge to bring it back from the dead. Overall, these are pretty good numbers for today’s light and battery technology.

I like having lights where I can run them at less than full power so that I eek out longer run times and can spend as much time on the bike as possible. The 850 setting on the Race is sufficient for biking at a moderately fast pace without outrunning the light’s beam. When entering more technical or fast sections, a quick switch to the 1400 beam provides enough illumination to stay safe at speed. By switching back and forth you can easily squeeze 3 or more hours out of the battery. The only downside to this approach is that you have to cycle through four light settings each time. The light also does not remember which lumen level you had last selected, so you’ll have to run through them all if you turn it off for any reason. Sort of a pain, especially if you mistakenly hit the button too many times and have to go through them twice.

The following are photos taken along a dark path in my local park with the light attached to the handlebars. I attempted to set the photo up so the light’s spot was about 10 feet in front of the handlebars, and the photo is framed to capture the beginning of the spot and the light thrown forward on the trail. This should replicate your view from the bike’s cockpit with your head at a natural angle looking down the trail. That being said, when you only have one light, I think it’s best to attach that to your helmet so the light illuminates where you are looking. A combination of a helmet and handlebar light is always best if you can afford it.

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  • The low setting of 400 lumens is plenty for slower speeds along wide trails, or less technical climbs.

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  • The 850 lumens setting is sufficient for most moderate speed cycling. You can see that as your speed increased, you could outrun the light at this setting.

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  • The 1400 lumens setting is definitely adequate for high speed trails with more technical sections. Raising the angle of the light would provide an even better preview of the terrain on long, fast, flowy trails.

The Race’s fuel gauge is located on the top of the headlamp and is made up of four lights. As the battery discharges, the lights will go from solid to blinking to off from right to left, giving you an eight step gauge. It’s a great visual representation of how much battery is left. Obviously the gauge is not visible when using the headlamp on your helmet; unless you take your helmet off, ask a buddy to check or bring a mirror.

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The battery case is slim, less then 1.75 inches at its thickest point, and is fairly lightweight. The entire system (headlamp included) weighs a mere 484 grams, or a little over one pound. The battery is about 6.25 inches long and is attached to your bike’s frame with two Velcro straps. The bottom of the battery case has a soft, concave rubber channel which keeps the battery stable and decreases the possibility of marring your bike’s paint. I didn’t notice any movement of the case during this test. I’m not one to shy away from the rocky lines either.

Included with the light is a battery, helmet mount, handlebar mount (up to 31.88mm), extension cable so you can throw the battery in your pack, and an AC adapter.

Since the included handlebar mount will only fit handlebars with a diameter up to 31.88 mm, you’ll need to purchase Niterider’s Pro Handlebar Strap Mount (part number 4145) if you want to run the light on thicker bars. The strap mount is only $19.99 and in some ways I like it a bit better than the included mount. It’s simpler and sits a bit more flush to the bars. The only drawback is you can’t center it along the stem like you can with the included mount. Neither the included mount nor the pro mount showed any signs of coming loose on any of my rides. You can find the alternate mount here.

Spending $250 on a light can be painful for some, but the Pro 1400 Race is a reasonably priced accessory that can keep you on your bike through those darker days of winter or allow you to experience your favorite daytime trails in a whole new way. That’s money well spent in my opinion, so it gets a solid recommendation from me.

Price: $250
More info: niterider.com

 

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Dirt Rag Editor’s Choice 2015: Justin’s Honorable Mentions


Dirt_Rag_Editors_Choice_2015_WEBEditor’s Note: Our 2015 Editor Choice Awards are out now in Dirt Rag Issue #188. But those items aren’t the only things we were impressed with this year. Here is a list of honorable mentions from our general manager and photographer.

If you want to know what we chose as our favorite bikes and gear of 2015, pick up the new issue off a newsstand near you, purchase a digital copy or subscribe now and never miss another magazine.


Showers Pass Rogue Pant – $110

Staying comfortable is key to enjoying rides through the fall, winter and spring. Good clothing is an essential part of that recipe. After reviewing the Rogue pants for Bicycle Times last year, they’ve become a crucial piece of my kit for cool-to-cold weather commuting, bikepacking, mountain biking and cross-country skiing.

The Rogue Pant is a casual-looking softshell trouser made with water-resistant stretch fabric and finished with a DWR treatment to further enhance moisture resistance. The tightly woven face of the fabric blocks most of the breeze and a good bit of moisture, while a soft terry interior feels great next to skin. These pants are styled and fit like a pair of relaxed fit jeans, but offer a gusseted crotch to reduce seam irritation and facilitate movement on the bike. Fit seems to run a little on the large size. I’m normally a 33- to 34-inch waist and the 32-inch Rogue pant fit me comfortably. If you’re between sizes, you should be able step down a size without issue.

Wear them alone for cool days or layer underneath for comfort in much colder temps. The Rogue’s combination of ample wind resistance and stellar breathability make them incredibly comfortable. I’ve worn them for everything from mountain biking, to rainy commutes home from work, to going out for a date-night drink, to all-day, cross-country ski session. This is one of the rare products that delivers a casual aesthetic to blend in with most any situation, and also offers the technical chops to keep you comfy in most any situation short of a heavy, sustained rain—they’re not designed to be waterproof, after all. These versatile pants are worth every penny of the asking price.

NiteRider Pro 3600 – $700

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Night riding season is upon us, particularly following the time change. If you’re going to ride at night, you’re going to need a headlight. Back in 2012, I tested NiteRider’s new-at-the-time flagship, the Pro 3600. Fast forward three years and this 3,600-lumen heavyweight is as relevant as ever. It’s even been updated with a remote switch and it now called the Pro 3600 DIY LED Remote.

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The 3600 utilizes two symmetric beams that are broadcast by three CREE XML LEDs, each. NiteRider offers three settings in stock trim; 1,000-lumen “low,” 1,800-lumen “medium,” and 3,600-lumen “high” settings.

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Cranked up on high, I’m able to descend at full-speed with confidence. In short, it’s overkill for slow sections of trail, but absolutely confidence-inspiring at speed. For most of my riding, I found the 1,800-lumen setting to be more than sufficient, only cranking full power on the downhills.

As NiteRider’s highest output light, the Pro 3600 is clearly its pride and joy. As you might expect, this baby carries a flagship-worthy pricetag of $700. A more budget friendly Pro 2800 Enduro Remote offers more than 75 percent of the output at less than 60 percent of the asking price.

Big Agnes King Solomon 15 and Insulated Double Z Pads – $450/$110

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What’s better than sharing the experience of camping with your significant other? Sharing the experience and the sleeping bag!

The King Solomon is a deluxe, 15-degree down sleeping bag for couples. The 600-fill power DownTek down is treated to be water resistant, which helps maintain its ability to insulate in damps conditions. Zippers run down both sides of the bag to make entry and exit easy for both parties. Convenient pillow pockets can be stuffed with clothes to make a pillow, or hold your existing pillow in place. When things get cold, the internal collar can be positioned around each person’s head to maximize heat retention.

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Like all Big Agnes bags, the King Solomon is not insulated on the bottom, but relies on the sleeping pad to keep you comfortable. Enter the Insulated Double Z. This 72 x 20 x 4-inch pad slides inside a sleeve on the bottom of the bag to keep it in place. The Double Z offers a two-way valve that greatly eases inflation and the whole thing threads out for speedy deflation.

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Once the system is all setup, it’s supremely cozy. It’s awesome to be able to snuggle up to your partner to share body heat. My lady and I have comfortably slept down into the high 20-degree temps while wearing only a few layers. Much cooler than that and you’ll be searching for another insulating layer. Keep in mind the 15-degree rating is based on survival, not comfort.

Overall, this sleeping bag significantly increases the coziness of camping with your best pal, which is well worth the investment.

 

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There must have been something in the water back in 1989. Along with the launch of a certain mountain bike magazine (ahem, ahem), brands like NiteRider, Camelback and Paul Components got their start.

But NiteRider didn’t start with bike lights. Tom Carroll was looking for a way to surf his favorite breaks at night, when the swell was up and long after the crowds had gone home. He built a few prototype helmets with waterproof halogen lights attached to a battery pack worn in a fanny pack around his waist. When a few bike riding friends tried it, they knew the waterproof, durable lights would be perfect for mountain biking. Fast forward a few years of assembling lights at the kitchen table and Tom was able to devote himself entirely to making the best mountain bike lights on the market.

The brand rose to prominence in the early 1990s when it was the first to promote and support the rise of 24-hour racing. The NiteRider van started showing up to races with complimentary tech support and charging services for its customers at races across the country. The race support continues today with a state-of-the-art van that can charge more than 200 batteries at once, including any NiteRider product ever made.

Today NiteRider employees up to 45 people during the busy season, a dozen of which have been with the company more than a decade. It’s a close-knit and casual workplace, tucked into an industrial park in San Diego. Tom would never be far from the surf, after all. While not every single component of a NiteRider light is made in-house (the LEDs are high-end CREE units, for example) nearly all of the assembly takes place just a few steps away from the front door.

NiteRider invited us down to visit for a factory tour and round table discussion about the industry, ranging from a light’s color temperature to tactile button feedback. A group of journalists and athletes met with NiteRider engineers and management to spitball ideas and gather feedback. We were constantly amused when we would come up with a pie-in-the-sky idea and someone would say “Hold on a sec…”, leave the room, only to return a minute later with exactly that product in hand.

For example, we were dreaming of a larger version of the popular Lumina series with dual lamps and an integrated battery, as customers now prefer the integrated one-piece unit. Sure enough, a few minutes later a 3D-printed prototype was being passed around the table. “But what if it had replaceable batteries, so we could carry spares?” someone asked. Sure enough, they thought of that too.

It was fun to daydream about products and technologies that could be coming down the line in a few years, or as far as we know are being tested in a back room somewhere—ambient light sensors, solar charging, accelerometers—ideas were burning bright.

We did get to see some other sneak peeks at products coming soon, such as a remote control for the high-end mountain bike lights and a battery pack with a USB port to charge your smartphone, GPS unit, or whatever other gadgets you might be brining along for the ride.

One big takeaway from the experience for me was the promotion of daytime running lights for city riding. Nearly everyone agreed that a blinking light during the day is effective at increasing visibility to drivers, while we nearly universally agreed a steady light is preferable at night to reduce distractions.

Another topic was why do high-quality headlights continue to improve and innovate, while taillights are largely seen as a disposable commodity? My take is that the task required of a headlight—seeing where you are going—is easily achieved with a single purchase, while the task of being visible to others is more complicated than simply purchasing a brighter light. It is a group of behaviors that will make you safer, including wearing reflective clothing, riding a certain way, drivers not being distracted, etc.

Back on the singletrack, however, we were free to revel in magic hour of dusk settling over the hills as we sped along the dusty trails. As the darkness grew, I was reminded how much I loved the focus and isolation of night riding—with no distractions, a tunnel of light and a trail leading the way.

Guess I better go charge my lights.

Photo gallery

Tom Carroll has built a brand with a world-wide following, but he won't hesitate to admit he'd rather be surfing. Some of the first NiteRider products. The surf helmet light was patented in 1992. NiteRider built this custom Sprinter van to take to races across the country and support its athletes and customers. More than 200 charging stations can power any type of battery chemistry. In the repair department, they can fix nearly any problem you could possibly have. Each light is repaired to factory spec and then re-tested to make sure it's operating perfectly. The lights are high-tech units with quite a bit of computer control. Each light is checked to make sure it is functioning correctly before it leaves the warehouse. Assembling the packaging is done in-house as well. During the busy season - fall - hundreds of units are shipped per day. Soldering pieces into place. The LEDs themselves are mounted to small chips. NiteRider only uses the industry-leading CREE LEDs. Tiny circuit boards waiting for their home. The assembly area is brightly lit and tidy. Some good reading spotted at the NiteRider offices. This prototype can only run on AC power, but is pumping out somewhere in the neighborhood 15,000 lumens. Don't expect it to be on a bike any time soon, it's designed for off-road vehicle use. This giant integrating sphere is used to measure the light output from prototypes, competitors and quality control checks from the production models. Here a light head is pointed into the integrating sphere and light output is measured by the computer. NiteRider only advertises the actual output in lumens, and spot checks units coming off the assembly line. The Lumina model contains several small parts, including this custom reflector. NiteRider designs and builds all its own components. These lights aren't just batteries stuck to LEDs, they are tiny computers, regulating everything from battery charging, wattage output and more. A prototype of the dual-beam Lumina model, with a removable battery pack for extended range. A prototype remote control for the mountain bike lights would let you switch modes without moving your hands from the grips.

 

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