Friday, December 11

Gear: NiteRider MiNewt Mini USB

If you live in New England, you may have noticed that it is winter. Of course some nerd is going to say "well, technically winter isn't for another 10 days." Well, tell the two snow squalls we're already had that, and let me know what they say. The other part of winter in New England is that the sun sets at about two-thirty in the afternoon. This also happens to be the same time that I wake up, so I haven't actually seen any direct sunlight in a couple of months.

Listen, biking in the dark sucks. When I used to live across the bridge in Kittery, Maine, I would be hungry or whatever in the middle of the night, and ride my bike to the 24-hour junk food store. Except, that was before the re-finished that strip of Route 1, between the Memorial Bridge and the traffic circle. It was all potholes and horrible road. And there were no street lights. So I'm riding my unforgiving aluminum-framed bicycle through these huge random potholes, in a darkness that would make Riddick squint. I had to ride the road by feel, because I literally couldn't see the road until I was on top of it. It was a literal, and quite visceral pain in the ass. Anyway, that was a couple years ago.

So I'm looking for a bike light. I guess there's two kinds of lights. Lights so that you can see, and lights so that other people can see you. I'm looking for something that I can see with. I'm looking for something 'reasonably bright' but I'm just going to be on the road with it, so I don't need a stadium lighting array or anything. Also I'm looking for something that's got a good battery life and is easy to recharge. I don't know what sort of lighting situations I'll be running in to in Vietnam, and with over-100-mile days planned, I'm going to assume that it's going to be still riding as the sun sets at least couple times. Of course, I don't want to spend $200 (or $100, even) either.

So I found this NiteRider MiNewt Mini USB. It's USB because you can charge it via USB or the regular outlet. Since I have a thousand plugs all going to in the two sockets in my room, and extension cords routed through every corner of the house, it's handy to just plug in to my computer's USB port to recharge. It has 110+ lumens output. I don't actually know what that means, put people get really pissed when I shine it directly in their face, so I guess it's pretty bright.

I found the 2009 model online for around $70. Usually I take this opportunity to plug Bicycle Bob's but I figured for this one I'd just order it myself. The price was comparable, but I knew exactly what I wanted--there are different versions and model-years. So I've had the MiNewt Mini USB for several weeks now, and I gotta say, I like it. Having a light is good. The vast majority of my night-riding these days is between my work an my house, which is entirely street-lit, but sometimes I take a back road or two, just to see the full effect of the light. Also, since I ride home from work around 1:30, 2:00 in the morning, it helps keep the drunk drivers on their toes.

Like this one time, I was coming down Congress Street, and I see headlights coming right at me . . .

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