Recently, I reviewed the Lezyne Lite Drive 700XL, and the light impressed in pretty much every area that matters when you’re on the road. The Micro Drive 500XL, for all intents and purposes, performs like a downsized version of that model - a great all-rounder, just condensed into a smaller package.
In fact, if you take a look at our pros and cons, you’ll notice they’re precisely the same, with the exception of nine available lighting modes, instead of eight in the Lite Drive. It operates in the same way via a single button on the top of the device, which cycles through the various static and flashing modes, including Lezyne’s disruptive Day Flash, which strobes at 500 lumens for a claimed burn time of 7:30 hours.
If you want the Micro Drive to utilise the full 500 lumens through the Overdrive static mode, then you’ll get 60 minutes of claimed burn time. In reality, as long as the light doesn’t overheat, it will stay on the full Overdrive setting for around 30 minutes, before losing a very small amount (yet noticeable) amount of brightness as the charge level begins to drain. It’s still very bright and to all intents and purposes hangs on well until the 75-lumen ‘get-you-home’ Economy mode kicks in for around 30 minutes before completely expiring.
On a couple of occasions I found the light did automatically dim the setting when it got too hot on night time spins longer than around 15-20 minutes. You also want to watch out for repeated short uses in cold weather without charging, which seems to have a small draining effect on the battery and reduces total Overdrive burn time to closer to 45 minutes.
Lezyne Micro Drive 500XL
- Price: £44.99
- Maximum output: 500 lumens
- Website: Lezyne
- UK distributor: Upgrade Bikes
Regardless of what setting you use, however, the Micro Drive remembers where you were after switching the light off, so you don't need to go cycling through to find your favourite mode again with each use.
As we saw with the 700XL, the beam shape is impressively wide thanks to the two side-by-side diodes, with a good bleed into the entirety of the beam. So often with smaller units, the brightness is concentrated on a very particular point on the road, with fading intensity towards the edge of the beam. Not so here - yes, there’s a little beam fade, but the edges of it are impressively bright given the size of the 500XL.
It’s therefore perfectly suited to being a commuter workhorse, to be seen and to see, while that Overdrive brightness is good enough for pitch black lanes for the limited run time. No, it’s not quite punchy enough for off-road night rides, nor does it have the capacity for long road rides under cover of darkness, but it’ll take short stints in its stride, giving adequate visibility if you’re spinning away at 15-20mph.
Lezyne has used its semi-fixed bracket system here, so while it’s very easy to fit and remove from the bike using the silicone strap, the bracket itself stays fastened to the base of the light unit. This means it takes up more space in your bag or jacket pocket if you end up carrying it about, or when you plug it into a USB port for charging, potentially blocking off another port from use if you have them in a line.
Still, recharge time is excellent, with a full charge from drained taking around three hours – enough to charge up after a short stint in front of your desk, and short enough to get a decent half-charge in around an hour to get you home.
Battery life is indicated via a low-powered LED in the top button, using a traffic light system (and flashing red when the battery is on its last legs). As I mentioned before though, you’ll be forced to use the Economy mode when the battery does get close to running down.
If you press and hold the power button from ‘off’, it shines purple to indicate it’s entered ‘race mode’, which gives you the option to flick between the 500-lumen Overdrive and 75-lumen Economy modes. This takes the hassle out of selecting from multiple settings, or having to cycle through them, and is ideal for any situation you might want simplified functionality, such as a race or night group ride.
Incidentally, to go back to the standard mode, you turn the light off, then switch it back on by pressing and holding the button until it switches on, displaying the standard traffic light system.
Build quality is standard Lezyne fare (that is to say, solid and dependable), and the light looks like a tidy unit when it’s mounted to the bike thanks to its aluminium shell and small size. You can have it in black or silver.
Finally, you also get a reasonable price tag to match its small physical size, at £44.99, which seems to be a good deal. Given you can often find discounts with certain online retailers and in bike shop sales, it’s worth keeping your eye out if you’re after a real bargain.
The Micro Drive 500XL is a compact and versatile light ideal for commuting or occasional stretches of pitch-black road. There are a couple of drawbacks - the semi-fixed bracket and tendency to overheat occasionally - but otherwise this is a feature-packed light.
Given the choice between the very good Lite Drive 700XL and this Micro Drive 500XL on a daily basis, I’ve plumped for the 500XL because of its small size, full range of modes and adequate battery life for my general purposes. However, if you’re someone who would benefit from even more lumens or longer burn times at an equivalent brightness, either for longer commutes or faster riding on unlit roads (and don’t mind the extra size) then the 700XL is likely to be a stronger candidate for you.
- Consistent beam intensity
- Nine modes
- Easy to use
- Decent value
- Bracket attached to light
- Overheats occasionally