Review: NiteRider Lumina 650 and Solas 2 Watt USB Lights

NiteRider Lumina 650 Mounted three quater view

Thanks to the change in daylight savings time this past weekend, the sun is fading earlier and earlier now.  If you weren’t using them before, lights are now a necessity for commuting.  My daily commutes have been illuminated by the 2013 NiteRider Lumina 650 and Solas 2 Watt lights.

For 2013, NiteRider refined many of their products.  Gone is the Cordless series, replaced by the new Lumina lights.  They have similar outputs and runtimes, but provide their illumination in a smaller, lighter package.  While weight isn’t my first priority when it comes to my commuter, it’s nice having a smaller light on the bars.

Hit the jump for the full review.

NiteRider Lumina 650 and Cordless 600 Mounted

The Lumina 650 puts out, as you may have guessed, 650 lumens.  It has 4 output modes total, including 650lm, 400lm, 200lm, and strobe.  Run time comes in at 1.5hrs / 3hrs / 5.5hrs / 18hrs respectively.   Power comes from the internal, USB rechargeable Li-ion battery.  That battery is charged in 5.5 hours using the included charger.  Mounts for both your bars, and helmet are included as well.

NiteRider Lumina 650 Reflector

The beam pattern from this light is round, with a hotspot in the middle, but still has enough of a flood side to side so that it illuminates the road’s shoulder adequately.  There is no fancy beam shaping implemented here, and I have had complaints from oncoming cyclists that the light was too bright (when set on its highest output).  I try and keep the light on it’s lowest setting when commuting on roads I know are filled with bike traffic in both directions.  Besides, when commuting in the city, 650lm is a bit overkill, and the lower setting means longer run times.  If commuting at dawn or dusk, or during the day even, I set the light to strobe.  The strobe pattern flashes very fast, and at night feels seizure inducing.  But when used, it does get others attention, and definitely helps make sure you are seen.  On dark or un-lit roads and paths, the 650lm mode is great.  I have no problem seeing my way, even at speed.  While I don’t ride off road, I would imagine that this light, using the helmet mount would be great for MTB trails in the dark when paired with a handle bar mounted light.

NiteRider Lumina 650 and Cordless 600 Side by Side

With Mount the Lumina 650 weighs 175g, and the Cordless 600 is 195g.

The form factor of this light is a fair bit smaller than the Cordless 600 of last year.  This means the USB port was moved to the underside of the light.  It was also changed to a micro USB port, from the more commonly used USB mini port the Cordless series used.  This is an unwelcome change, as now I have to make sure I have the right USB cord with me if I need to charge the light at work.  Admittedly, this is a minor gripe however.  The new USB port location is preferred over the rear location of last years model, and the rubber seal is more secure, staying put much better that its predecessor.

NiteRider Lumina 650 New Mount vs Old Mount

Also changed for 2013 is the mount.  The new mount is still tool-less, but uses a threaded latch rather that a clicking ladder style latch to stay put on the bars.  While I really loved the ease of use of the ladder style latch, after a bit of use, I found it hard to get tight enough on the bars, and during a ride, the mount would slip and have to be repositioned.  This new mount can be tightened enough so that it does not slip, and it’s still very easy to move from bike to bike.  Also, the new lights fit both the old and new mounts.

NiteRider Lumina 650 Side View

The heatsink has been moved from the front of the light onto the sides for 2013.

Also of note is the fact that the light doesn’t go into shipment mode like the 2012 Cordless series does.  For anyone that has the Cordless series, you probably know what I mean.  For those that don’t, what happens is that the Cordless series is put into a locked out shipment mode by holding the power button for a few seconds.  However, it’s also put into flashing mode by holding down the power button for a few seconds.  Often times, you end up putting the light into shipment mode while trying to turn the light off, or put it into flashing mode.  It’s not a major issue, but it is an annoyance.  The new lights do not have this issue.

After using the Cordless 600 for commuting last Fall and Winter, I never had a complaint about the lights output.  NiteRider recognized that the output was fine, and focused their efforts on refining the lights and it was R & D well spent.  The new smaller, lighter package is nice, the USB port location and seal are much improved, and the new mount is solid.  This light comes recommended.

Cost for the Lumina is set at $139.99.  If you prefer something a little cheaper and/or a little less bright, the Lumina 500 comes in at $109.99, and the Lumina 350 runs $89.99.

NiteRider Solas Front

Solas 2W USB Taillight

Seeing where you are going is always important, but being see by others is equally as important.  For rear illumination NiteRider has the new for 2013 Solas 2W USB taillight.  The Solas taillight has four operating modes.  The first is a fast strobe pattern, the second is a fast / slow strobe pattern, the third is a high steady on, and the last is a low steady on.  Run times come in at 18hrs / 7hrs / 4.5hrs / 36hrs respectively.  The rechargeable battery is Li-ion, and is recharged via the same micro usb cable and the Lumina series.  Both seat post, and stay tool-less mounts are included.

NiteRider Solas USB Port

I am a big fan of having a USB rechargeable rear light, and one this bright means I am as about as visible as I can be.  My preferred mode is the fast / slow strobe pattern, as it is very eye catching.  However, I really appreciate the low steady on mode dubbed “Group Ride Mode,” by NiteRider.  I am still visible on group rides and on well trafficked bike lanes without blinding the person behind me.  The mount for this light, being tool-less, is still very secure, and makes it easy to move the light from bike to bike as needed.  And the USB port cover is very secure, keeping the light working in extreme weather.  This taillight earns the BikeRumor seal of approval.  Making the Solas 2W your very own will cost you $40.

NiteRider Solas Top and Button

Comments

chris f - 11/05/12 - 9:03pm

tell me more about the solas tail light attachment. i’m assuming i can leave the mount on my seatpost and unclip the light from it when i lock my bike up? easily?

skim - 11/05/12 - 10:16pm

@chris f: yes it’s pretty much like PDW’s rear lights. it’s a clip-on

Seth - 11/05/12 - 10:22pm

Been using the 650 for awhile now. It’s a great light in the woods. The micro USB means that I can charge it with a cell phone cord too.

Sir Eddy - 11/05/12 - 11:30pm

My God, where did you learn to write? It’s seizure not seiser, definitely not defiantly, USB not UBS. Gripe not grip. I’m sure there are more but I gave up half way through. Yeah maybe I’m being pedantic, but is it too much to expect a wannabe journalist to actually master English?

Cody - 11/06/12 - 8:09am

Sir Eddy -Go ride your bike you crabby bastard.

Thanks for the review Nick! I’ve had a NiteRider for years but the new cordless mount was terrible. I had a friend and his slipped all the time riding. I’m glad to see its threaded now.

carl - 11/06/12 - 8:59am

@ Sir Eddy – Old fart here…. and I’m with you. Reading things that are poorly written is difficult. I would hope that the writer cares enough about his or her craft to at least spell correctly.

@Cody – Talk about crabby bastards! This is not a reflection on the writer’s opinions or NiteRider products. It is merely asking for an article that is grammatically correct and spelled well. In Colorado we have a blog that covers our riding scene that at times is unreadable. I initially wondered if the writer was foreign born but then remembered Henry Higgins saying in MY FAIR LADY that people who are taught English are generally better at it than those of us who grew up speaking it. Anyway, go figure….

Andre - 11/06/12 - 9:35am

I might pick up the new mount to go with my old NiteRider. The old one slipped on every bump and eventually drove me to pick up a Light & Motion (no slip!).

Richie Rich - 11/06/12 - 1:20pm

I am using the Sola for a month + the 200 Lumen front light.

I have seen a huge difference with cars that now change lanes to overtake.
The roads are lite where I train but the flash mode works well when you arrive at a junction or round about.

+++++ Go for the Sola ++++ $40 that can save your life ++++

Cody - 11/06/12 - 5:57pm

@ Carl – Go ride your bike, two! <|— see what I did there…

Jason - 11/06/12 - 8:09pm

The only other thing worth noting that has not been mentioned directly is is the Lumina series does NOT come with a wall charger, meaning out of the box it is only rechargeable via micro usb. The MiNewt cordless series DID. Maybe this is not a big deal with our computer based society but a computer is not always around to help with charging. I have had a few people try and use cell phone chargers that covert micro usb to wall and it doesn’t always work, I don’t know why ie some tried to use iphone charger (usb to wall) and it didn’t work.

Jason - 11/06/12 - 8:12pm

OK one more for you guys/gals. The 650 Lumina is the only one in the Lumina family that comes with an included helmet mount. The 350 and 500 do not. I’m sure the helmet mount can be purchased separately but its worth mentioning, so readers know.

Nick Burklow - 11/06/12 - 10:06pm

@Jason – thank you for the updates. Those are both good points. I have so many lights laying around that I never know what charger goes to which light. To be honest, I have only charged the light via USB on my computer anyway.

mirror man - 11/07/12 - 8:14pm

Thanks for the updates. Love the pics of the mounts of the front; how about for the Solas and how it compares to the Cherry Bomb?

Doug Vidakovich - 11/14/12 - 5:26am

I purchasee the Mako 3.0 as a back up for my LIght & Motion VIS 360. It is the cheaper version of both of these front lights, but appears to have the same tool less ratcheting mount- which is the subject of my comments. The tool less ratcheting mechanism is not good: even on the smoothest surfaces, the light has a habit of rotating downward, and once- on a gravel road- the mount opened and dropped the light to the ground. The inconvience of a knurled knob that takes 30 seconds to cinch securely outweighs the 10 second convenience the molded platic ratchet takes, but you wind up spending minutes out of your ride because you are constantly adjusting the damn thing or trying to get it to that last notch to get it securely locked-in.

Mark - 01/20/14 - 12:46pm

I replaced my 2w PlanetBike with the Lumina 650 and couldn’t be happier. Huge shift from being seen to being able to see. City potholes are now visible, and when you have to ride in traffic, it’s bright enough to be seen by cars in mirrors or out of the corner of their eye.
I’ve had no problems with recharging or wet days, but I don’t ride in heavy rain.
Occasionally a biker going the other way complains about the brightness. So, I try to keep it angled down, but if that’s your problem you are doing ok.
The mount doesn’t slip. The light is compact and not too heavy.
Great to be able to recharge it.
Very pleased, all in all. I’m thinking of getting my girlfriend one.

Post a comment:

Comment sections can be a beautiful source of knowledge, conversation and comedy. They can also get pretty ugly, which is why we've updated our Comments Policy. If your comment isn't showing up or suddenly disappears, you might want to check it out.