The NiteRider Solas 30 is a powerful and versatile single-diode rear LED light with four modes and refreshingly long run times. It's literally brilliant for audax and weekend touring, though charging isn't a test of endurance. However, while adequate, the bike mounting bracket doesn't seem up to the usual NiteRider high standards.
The top-mounted switch is positive and features a battery life indicator, which changes from blue to red once the li-on battery's reserves slip below 25%. Depressed for two seconds, the diode springs to life in steady, which is amplified through a 180-degree red lens with collimator centre spot.
On its most powerful 30-lumen setting it's potent without singeing retinas like some über-lumen designs, which are distinctly uncomfortable to follow for any distance. Lithium-ion/polymer cells are less sensitive to temperature fluctuation than Ni-cads, and on this setting it returned 4hrs 28mins from a full charge in temperatures between 10 and -2°C.
Visibility is around 150-200m depending on factors such as competing illumination, fog and so on. Speaking of climate, the USB-chargeable Solas seems very well sealed, passing my hosepipe test convincingly. Those determined to ride in harsh conditions without mudguards might still want to add a lick of silicone grease to the port flap, just to make sure.
I was impressed by the ultra-frugal glow of the low power setting too – just what you need if joining in with the increasingly popular practice of running LEDs during the day. It's perfect for overcast afternoons or a week's winter touring when paired with a decent dynamo (it lasted almost 36 hours when fully charged).
The two flashing modes didn't disappoint either. Both are very distinctive, so it really boils down to personal preference and economy. The first will blink away for nigh-on 18 hours (17hrs 56mins by my timing), the latter 7 (6hrs 58mins).
In either flash setting, in the dead of night along deserted country lanes, my riding companions suggested they could spot me from a good 500m. This dipped to a very commendable 250/280m in town and that big, sturdy translucent casing comes in very handy when tackling junctions and roundabouts.
Although perfectly serviceable, the seatpost-mounted bracket isn't, to my mind, up to the same standard as the rest of the package. The clothing/luggage clip is super-dependable, though, and latches to jerseys, jackets and luggage like a scrapyard owner's Alsatian.
Given the overall performance, £25 represents seriously good value. While its AAA-fuelled Cherry Bomb stablemate (tested back in 2009) has been my preferred option for four-seasons hell and ice commuting/winter training, the Solas's generous run times and (bracket allowing) solid build offer a convincing argument for dusk til dawn audax rides and more general riding.
Powerful and refined light ideally suited to serious night riding – and competitively priced too
road.cc test report
Make and model: NiteRider Solas 30
Size tested: n/a
Tell us what the light is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
Niterider says: "The Solas 30 has a powerful 2 watt LED, 4 modes (2 flash/2 steady) and is USB rechargeable. We've implemented what we call 'Group Ride Mode' for cyclists who still want to stay visible and safer but not annoy others in the pack."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the light?
30 lumen super bright tail light
Group Ride Mode – be seen without annoying fellow cyclists
Super bright day time flash mode
Be Seen by cars = Be Safe
FL 1 Standard IP64, water resistant
Very solid, aside from the distinctly average post mounted bracket.
Clothing/luggage clip was by far the most secure option; post mount wasn't what I have come to expect from NiteRider.
Passed my garden hose test very convincingly and seems rugged and highly resistant to the elements generally.
Very generous run times. Charge times are very reasonable for this level of performance too.
Rugged, especially by USB standards.
Excellent performance, especially for £25.
Tell us how the light performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Overall, I've been very impressed by the Solas. Refined and well thought out, it's highly visible and enjoys generous run times in the flashing settings. Charge times are slower than some but relatively quick given the run times.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the light
Great output, range of settings and frugal battery consumption.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the light
Distinctly average mounting bracket.
Did you enjoy using the light? Yes
Would you consider buying the light? Yes, with a better bike mount bracket.
Would you recommend the light to a friend? Yes, if they did a lot of long haul night riding.
Use this box to explain your score
Potent, well made and frugal rear light with a moderate price tag, but mounting bracket distinctly average by comparison.
About the tester
I usually ride: Rough stuff tourer based around 4130 Univega mountain bike frameset My best bike is: 1955 Holdsworth Road Path and several others including cross & traditional road
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: cyclo-cross, commuting, touring, fixed/singlespeed, mountain biking
Shaun Audane is a freelance writer/product tester with over twenty-eight years riding experience, the last twelve (120,000 miles) spent putting bikes and kit through their paces for a variety of publications. Previous generations of his family worked at manufacturing's sharp end, thus Shaun can weld, has a sound understanding of frame building practice and a preference for steel or titanium framesets.
Citing Richard Ballantine and an Au pair as his earliest cycling influences, he is presently writing a cycling book with particular focus upon women, families and disabled audiences (Having been a registered care manager and coached children at Herne Hill Velodrome in earlier careers)