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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.