- 4.5 / 5 Bee's Knees -
Being given the privilege to review so many bike products especially bike lights, one might think I’d be a lumen snob. Why bother riding with a sub 700lm light? But the reality is I test lights on their own merit and try to displace my own personal preferences. After using the gamut from maybe 40lm up to 8,000lm (yes 8,000), I’ve found my sweet spot which happens to be around 800. However, my personal preference aside, I understand the appeal to some smaller lights. One example of such a light is the NiteRider Swift 350.
Falling into a market of ultra compact commuter lights, the 350’s output might underwhelm some but I see things differently. I won’t spoil my conclusion just yet. Construction of the Swift 350 partially resembles the ultra popular Lumina family with less attention to heat dissipation since its hardly needed. Instead a mashup of lightweight materials affords a terrifically lightweight product which meshes well with the idea that a small light should first be simple. But the Swift isn’t a product without design, the lens setup maximizes performance from its emitter. A honeycomb diffuser softens and blends light into a gradual beam pattern which is very appealing to the eye. Small frosted side tabs glow with enough intensity to catch drivers attentions but also light up your bikes cockpit as an added benefit for those who use computer. Popular features from the Lumina family carry over including an illuminated mode selector switch with remaining charge indication, USB charging in as little as 2hrs and an IP64 water resistant rating.
The mounting style of the swift is similar to other NR lights but is slightly modified to catered to a light of such a compact footprint. In my opinion Light & Motion has designed the benchmark for which other strap-style mounts are made. Too often have I reviewed lights with flimsy mounts that jitter and shake over rough surfaces rendering the user dizzy and irritated. This lights mount however is an excellent balance of simplicity and security. Without being overly bulky like others, it is one of the easiest mounts I’ve used as of recent. I love the added tab at the end of the strap to get a better grip on it. As a whole I’m glad they didn’t over engineer this.
Now onto output, don’t be fooled by the 350 label, this light is very usable in many applications. As mentioned before, the beam pattern is a pleasant spread maximizing all this light is capable of. Pair that with good optics and modest output and you have a solid stow-and-go light. A handful of applications that seem very fitting for this light include: a backup light, a packed emergency light for those riders that don’t expect to encounter nighttime riding and a general use light for riding in environments with limited light. You won’t find the 350 too useful to cast light on well lit streets, but on trails/paths as well as poorly lit roads the output is more than adequate. Even lower settings among 4 constants and 1 flash are sufficient for riding in dark conditions.
A conclusion has arrived; this is a light of pure convenience. While reviewing a competitors battery pack style light recently, I dreaded the setup and cables and possibility of scratching up my bike…it took a great deal of fun out of riding. Simplify. Stuff the 350 in a saddle bag for a rainy day when you burn through your primary light. Pack it away in your pannier when your tour ride runs later than expected or takes you through a scenic abandoned railroad tunnel (no joke, been there). Or run this compact light as a terrifically simple daily light if it suits your environment. Of the sub (lets say) 500lm lights I’ve had the opportunity to use, the Swift 350 is very impressive for such a compact light and makes me question how many lumens I really need for my own commuting. If that weren’t enough, have a look below at the price…lets just say I’ve spent more on taillights. The Swift 350 is a highly capable, ultra compact light that perfectly blends output and features given its equally small pricepoint.