a Cross Country Rider
Date Reviewed: October 9, 2005
Strengths: Strong dependable light. Works as advertized
Weaknesses: A bit short burn time compared with the new HID lights
I have had this light for over three years now and it has worked without a flaw. I've used it in several 24 hour races and in countles night outings here in England. It has given me consistently reliable performance. I have read some of the other reviews and have heard similar things from some of my friends, however after looking into it, it turned out that they had not read the instructions and had made some mistakes in either charging the light or using it. I've started using the Niterider Storm because the only niggle I have with the Nightowl is the relatively short burn time, (1.5 to 2 hours on the 15W setting). Apart from that, I think it is a very good light for the price. Follow instructions to the letter on this one and it will give you years of good use.
a Cross Country Rider
from San Francisco, CA, USA
Date Reviewed: March 27, 2003
Strengths: Small, light, easy to use, good mounting hardware
Weaknesses: Customer Service: they are pretty bad. My digital nightowl had a defect and so I sent it in after two years of use. They told me there was a problem with this generation product. I have read other posts describing similar; output drops to emergency 6watt mode after a few minutes of use and LED fuel gauge blinks red. So, they claimed to have fixed the unit, sent it back after three weeks. Worked once and crapped out with same problem. I decided to abandon the unit and upgraded to HID Storm. Maybe that was a mistake but most say the HID is reliable.
Bottom line: this product is defective. My Digital Nightowl lasted a year, worked great and I was happy. But I used it lightly and it shouldn't have broken so soon. Don't bother with this one, get a more reliable unit. Also, good luck with the customer service department... they are tough to reach and slow.
That said, most bike shop folks will tell you that Niterider is the lesser of bike light manufacturing evils... there are not many other decent light manufacturers out there. Niterider may still be the best choice figuring price, design, and availability.
a Cross Country Rider
from Valley Cottage, NY
Date Reviewed: October 2, 2002
Strengths: Light weight, sufficent light output, small battery, different levels of light output, fuel guage
Weaknesses: Run time is shorter than advertised
The first one had to e sent back after a year because it didn't hold a charge. It also left me riding in total blackness after the fuel guage failed. Customer service sent me a brand new battery at no charge. The customer service rep said it had a component upgrade. No problems with the new one so far after 8 months of use. Customer service was very helpfull and easy to deal with. If you like nite rides over 90 minuter, choose a different light.
Just a follow up to my previous post. I received the replacement light (Digital Evolution) on 1/29/02. By 2/14/02 it was on its way back to NiteRider. The light would not charge and the charger smelled like fried electronics. My LBS returned it for me, NiteRider promptly lost it, and I finally got a refund (Thanks Steve!). Do yourself a favor, stay away from NiteRider.
a Cross Country Rider
from Folsom, CA
Date Reviewed: January 28, 2002
Strengths: Absolutely none!
Weaknesses: Won't hold a charge, burn time much shorter than advertised, left me riding in the dark more than one.
A nightmare company to deal with, all talk, (when you can get a live person)no action. As a commuter I need a dependable light and this sure ain't it. I had maybe 7 or 8 rides on it when it stopped working. The light would indicate half a tank, then cut out. Wound up riding in the dark a couple of times because of that. After the first round of returns the light still failed to work properly, NiteRider offered to replace with a Digital Evolution. I paid the extra $$$ and over a month later have still not seen a replacement. All totaled I've put out over $225, including the cost of the light and shipping, and have nothing to show for it. In twenty years of riding, NiteRider is by far the worst cycling company I have dealt with. Also see my bro's comments below.
Similar Products Used: NiteRider Trail Rat, cheapo Cateye.
Bike Setup: Rivendell Atlantis set up retro-grouch
from Lakewood, CO
Date Reviewed: December 7, 2001
Strengths: None! After sending it back to Niterider 4 times, it still will only work for 15 minutes. Attempting to use this product for trail riding is dangerous. The light is undependable.
Weaknesses: After a full charge, the light will only work for approximately 15 minutes. Then, without warning, it drops to the 6 watt emergency mode. The "fuel gauge" also immediately drops from full power to blinking red. The light has been sent back to Niterider four times for repair. However, the problem has not been resolved and still exists.
Do not purchase this product. It is unreliable. Additionally, the customer service of Niterider is accusatory, combative, and slow to respond.
Date Reviewed: October 8, 2001
Strengths: None. This light is a piece of S**T!
Weaknesses: Not just product weaknesses, rather company weaknesses. I don't know if NiteRider has gone out of business but, I sent my light back after the first ride and have yet to get my replacement. That was a month ago. There is no one to answer the phones at the their office and you cant leave a message in the customer service voice mail because it has been full for two weeks. I have written over 20 e-mails to try and retrieve my light - no such luck. It looks like I will have to eat the $180 donation to NiteRider and have nothing to show for it. Stay away from this company and its products. BELIEVE ME!!!!!!
Crappy company, crappy product. I'm fu**ing out $180 and have nothing to show for it. If anyone has any ideas, they would sure be appreciated. I wish I could rate it less than one chili.
a Cross Country Rider
from Middletown, CT, USA
Date Reviewed: October 1, 2001
Strengths: The battery mount, remote switch, battery life indicator. Thats about it.
Weaknesses: LOTS! Expensive!!! I have a Digital headtrip 2 to compare too and my headtrip is much brighter at 15 compared to the night owl at 15. The night owl at 15 feels like my headtrip at 10. Plus..the battery life is noticeably much shorter with the night owl. I hate the smart charger..it sucks. Luckily my brute works fine with it. The handle bar mount always seems loose.
This is the first generation of the digital ones. Stay away from them! They have their flaws I believe. I love my digital headtrip "2". It performs flawlessly, at 15w its unbelievable and the battery life is great!
Similar Products Used: Niterider Digital Headtrip 2
Bike Setup: GT i-drive 2.0
a Cross Country Rider
from San Diego, CA, USA
Date Reviewed: September 20, 2001
Strengths: I'm thinking, I'm thinking...I'll have to get back to you...
Weaknesses: Non-existent customer service, poor battery life, stupid so-called "smart" charger, bad mounting, misaligned plug, price versus performance, you name it...
I originally bought the standard Nite Owl, but exchanged it after a couple of days and paid the higher cost for the digital version because I wanted to be able to just "plug and forget" like NiteRider said. I didn't want to have to worry about whether this thing was going to work or not because I commute daily by bike. It was supposed to simplify my life.
It turns out this light has lots of flaws, and it's dangerous to depend on it to get you home after dark. I use it for commuting, but mine does what several other postings mention. It takes forever to charge, then drops from full charge to walking mode far short of the time NiteRider claims the battery to last. This occurs with no warning and no gradual change in the "fuel gauge." It just suddenly goes from full bright to walking mode dim. How can I even consider trusting NiteRider stuff for trail riding?
I am not too impressed with the mounting system either, meaning the connection between the light head and the handlebar bracket. It works loose even though I'm only commuting on paved streets. Oh, and the plug is misaligned and has to carefully worked into place.
I live in NiteRider's hometown and have never even gotten a response from my e-mails and faxes! How's that for instilling confidence in their products? What do I have to do, show up at their front door? Actually, I could...
The bottom line is that this thing does not work anywhere near as good as advertised and NiteRider has the worst so-called customer service I have ever encountered. Depending on them can hurt you.
I wish there was a choice of negative chilis because NiteRider's false advertising and faulty design really deserves it. I'm ashamed I bought into their hype. Don't buy their products. You'll be sorry. Two chilis is too generous. To be cheated by something you didn't pay much for is just an annoyance. To be cheated by something you paid a lot for is fraud.
a Cross Country Rider
from Kansas City
Date Reviewed: May 10, 2001
Strengths: It's light and has a good light output.
Weaknesses: Short run time for long rides (only 2 hours at 15W) doesn't come with a helmet mount.
This is a good versatile light. It produces plenty of light for high-speed fire roads and curvy single track but I have found that I need a helmet-mounted light to supplement the Owl when I'm riding fast technical stuff. Even at 15W you can't see around trees and bends in the trail. I find myself riding too fast on trails that I kind of know but not really with this light. I’ve only crashed hard once so far………
I ride a lot of roads when the trails are too wet and this produces plenty of light for others to see me.
I have the old 14-hour charger and that is a bit long. If I want to ride just before bed I sometimes don’t have enough time to discharge the battery and then plug it in before I hit the sack, thus the battery’s not ready for a ride the next day. I think the new 4 (or 3 or whatever) hour charger will take care of that nicely. I’m thinking of picking up a new helmet mounted light just for the charger! For the price I don’t think there’s anything better.
If money is no object and you need lots or run time take a look at the new HID systems from NR or the old ones from TurboCat.
a Weekend Warrior
from Northern VA
Date Reviewed: April 25, 2001
Strengths: Lightweight, very bright, excellent quality and very heavy duty design.
Weaknesses: Expensive, NIMH batteries don't last long in cold weather, especially below 20 degrees f.
I employee purchased a Digital Night Owl 2 and was dissapointed when the display would go into "disco mode" and I would lose and regain the fuel guage while riding, the light was losing contact with the ciruitry in the battery when I rode because of a bad connection between the light and the battery. I sent it back to niterider and they fixed it. It works very well now, but for colder temperatures I would recommend the digital 6 pro 2 because it is the same light with a NICAD battery that works much better in the cold. Otherwise the NIHM battery is superior because it has no memory is lighter and charges faster.
My only rant is I had to wait over a month to get my light back from niterider, but they did fix it right. To save on shipping have your dealer send the light back, most will gladly pay for it.
a Cross Country Rider
from Blacksburg, VA
Date Reviewed: April 10, 2001
Strengths: Not really any. It sometimes works for a few minutes. Wait, one thing works...the three light settings.
Weaknesses: Everything! Connection is bad so it goes out when I'm riding, esp. on the rough, fast parts. Sent it to Niterider and they sent it back unfixed. Thanx a lot Niterider! Charge indicator doesn't work at all. Doesn't seem to hold a charge more than an hour. Charger doesn't tell me when its charged like its supposed to.
Worked at a Performance so I didn't have to pay full price but still got screwed. This Light Sucks! Just look at the other reviews. It seems you have a 50/50 chance of getting one that works. Get a non-digital Niterider light but stay away from these. Other Niterider lights are good.
a Cross Country Rider
from Portland, OR
Date Reviewed: April 7, 2001
Strengths: lots of light selections, fairly light
Weaknesses: battery doesn't hold a charge longer than promised, unplug battery from headlight fixture throws off timing sensor, takes too long to charge
I usually scan this website to get the low-down on most products before I buy anything. In this case I screwed up because the complaints I'm reading here are the same ones I am experiencing. I got this on sale at Supergo and thought that Niterider had a pretty good reputation. I commute to work 20 miles a day to get myself in trail riding condition. With DST I need to use the light about 45 minutes in the morning before I arrive at work. When I turn on the light the next morning its flashing in the reserve mode. Its cold in the morning in Spring and it appears from other users complaints that the battery doesn't hold a charge well when its cold. It also appears that overcharging could be a problem, eventhough the Nightrider claimes you can't overcharge the battery. I have always tried to completely empty the battery before re-charging it in order to condition the battery as its fairly new. In order for me to commute more than two days in a row I need a second battery at an additional $90 and keep rotating them out between charges.
I have not tried this light out on the trail yet so I'll give it the benefit of the doubt that I would get a longer continuous usage than I do when commuting because I have to shut down the system after only 45 minutes. Still it seems to me that the battery is pretty WEAK overall and should allow you more consistant usage per charge.
My advice after using this product is to do a little more research and find a better solution.
Weaknesses: Expensive; battery life should be longer.
I use the light to commute about 17 miles to and from work. I do my riding in Southern California near the beach, so I don’t really have the cold weather problem mentioned by others and acknowledged by NiteRider.
The Digital Nite Owl is not cheap. However, it does offer some unique advantages over other bicycle lights. It’s up to you to decide if you think that the advantages are worth the extra cost.
The first advantage is a “gas gauge” that indicates how much illumination time you have left. I disagree with those who have criticized it. One reason is entirely practical … unlike many other lights, the light from the Digital Nite Owl does not get dimmer as the battery begins to wear down (the microprocessor prevents that). Given that, I prefer to have some idea of how much charge is left in the battery, even if it is only a rough estimate.
The second advantage is the ability to select one of several illumination levels. It also allows you to select other light modes that save electricity when the extra light is not needed (the gas gauge can also let you know when this is a good idea). For example, I ride on bike trails in the dusk where all I want to do is to be seen … I’m not counting on the light to light up the road in front of me. Other times, I’m on unlit, dark roads, and the extra illumination is required. I believe that at the highest setting (15W), the Digital Nite Owl provides more than sufficient illumination for lighting up the road in front of me, at 10W, it is sufficient for lighting up the road, and at the 6W setting, more than enough to make sure I’m seen by others. I’ve heard other say that the PWM method that NiteRider uses to change illumination levels is very inefficient. I don’t know if that’s true or not. All I know is that the lower levels do save battery life, and when used with the gas gauge, that has been a useful feature.
The third advantage is the “commuter” setting. The Digital Nite Owl has four additional settings in additional to the continuous 15W, 10W, and 6W settings. One is a rapid flashing mode, one is a dim continuous illumination (3W), one is a S-O-S flasher, and the other is a slower flashing (commuter) mode. The dim illumination mode (3W) is useful (albeit minimally) when the only purpose of the light is to be seen. I haven’t yet had a use for the rapid flashing mode, and the S-O-S mode is pretty much useless. BUT, the commuter mode is quite useful. I use it at dusk, particularly when the sun is directly in front of me or behind me. It flashes at the full 15W setting, and makes me much more visible in dawn/dusk conditions … that is important. Another nice feature is that in doing all this flashing, the light is turned on and off “softly” … with a gradual increase in voltage. That should result in a longer bulb life.
The fourth advantage is an accessory that’s available for the Digital Nite Rider … the tail light. NightRider boasts that has a 360 degree visibility, and it’s 10x brighter than any other on the market. I don’t know about that. I don’t think there’s even really 180 degree visibile, frankly. But it IS darn bright. Considerably brighter than any other I’ve seen, and it IS daylight visible. Using this light on the rear and the light in the “commuter” setting under dawn/dusk conditions is definitely a plus, from a safety standpoint. On the down side, it’s also darn expensive … almost $60! The mounting is also not as well thought out as the other NiteRider products. The wire for the rack-mounted tail light is long enough for a tandem … and then some.
The last advantage is the Micro-brute charger that is supplied with the Digital Nite Owl II. As others have said, the Mini-Brute (that was supplied with the original Digital Nite Owl) is not a true plug-and-forget charger ... and the charge time is excessively long. On the other hand, the micro-brute charger IS plug and forget, and provides a full charge in about 5 hours. Enough to charge the battery while you’re at work.
The NightRider light looks to be bulletproof … built to military specifications. That makes for an attractive light, but I suspect that there is a lot of “gold-plated” engineering here that does nothing to increase durability or performance.
The bottom line is that the NightRider Digital Nite Owl is a very good, but expensive light.
a Cross Country Rider
from Grand Rapids, MI
Date Reviewed: February 11, 2001
Strengths: It's weight and that is all becauase this like SUCKS.
Weaknesses: The Burn time sucks in cold weather. They advertise a plug and forget charger but will send you a letter telling you not to leave it plugged in for more than 14 hrs. I have sent my light back 4 times for repair and the customer services in warrenty suck they are not very understanding at all. I commute 14 miles a day 5 days a week I do not own a car by choice. I bought this light because of all their claims of being the best light on the market. Well my light worked for a month then would not hold a charge. Returned for repair on my expense. Got it back and worked for about 3 months the same problem. Sent back for repair my expense. Got it back worked for a shot period and on my way into work a fully charged battery and the stupid thing wouldn't even turn on. After many tries of just trying to get them to replace the light they would not. So I talked to my Rep and he told me he would talk to them and get me a new light. My rep called me back and said; send it in they are going to give you a new light. Two weeks later I got my light, the same one never fixed or replaced. The work order even says to replace and put into the demo pool. Since I got it back it has been used once and now the thing won't turn on. It has turned into taking them to small claims court because I want my money back but they don't seem to care, they think nothing is wrong with the light but I would like one of them come and ride with me for a week and use my light in heavy traffic at night bet they replace it then
This light is a piece of garbage do not buy it. Don't even try dealing with the customer service I'm a dealer and they won't do crap for me or their REP.