As the name suggests, the NiteRider Sabre 50 is a 50-lumen six-mode design that offers a sensible range of settings to suit most riding contexts and is pretty competitive price-wise. However, peripheral presence is comparatively poor, so it wouldn't be my first choice as a standalone unit for town riding; while the cloak of light is actually better than the profile would imply, flashing modes were an absolute must in traffic, and I felt the amber diodes served little practical purpose.
COB (chips on board) technology, where diodes are mounted directly atop the circuit board, means smaller and much brighter lights than ever before. I counted 28 in total. Like others designed this way, an aluminium heat sink regulates temperature, ensuring there's no trade-off in terms of diode longevity. NiteRider's lifetime warranty against manufacturing defects adds further confidence.
There are two mounting options: to clothing or luggage via an integral clip, which also engages with a watch strap type post bracket. This vertical-only bracket achieves a really clean aesthetic – perfect for best bikes or riders who can't bear clutter. The rubberised strap is certainly dependable on standard 27.2mm and 31.8mm seatpost diameters, although it benefited from a little pre-stretch and can obscure the light's side window. Trim to size if your bikes run the same diameter posts, or tuck behind if you prefer some leeway.
Complying with the IP64 standard for weather proofing, it never missed a beat when blasted with a high pressure garden hose for three minutes from a few feet away. However, the chunky rubberised USB plug port required a more definite push before it was fully seated. I wouldn't bother applying silicone grease unless using bikes without guards but I always double checked it was fully home after each charge.
Speaking of which, charge and run times are unusually accurate, dare I say literal. From the mains, the charge indicator turned blue on the stroke of 90 minutes; add another 10 minutes when refuelling from tablets or laptops.
Depressing the rubbery front mounted switch for two seconds brings the unit alive in standard mode (to date, I've not experienced any unwanted power-ups in pockets or luggage). Flashing modes are triggered by depressing the switch for three seconds.
NiteRider doesn't quote a lumens figure for standard mode, but it's certainly comparable with several others reckoned around the 35-lumen mark. In many respects it's powerful enough for most contexts – I could be spotted along the twisting back lane doubles at 230m on an overcast night. It's not harsh at close quarters either, so good for group rides. Ours sample's lithium polymer cell has consistently made it all the way to 2hrs 29mins – a minute shorter than quoted.
Need more oomph? The 50-lumen has assertion in abundance, visible to around the 350m mark in comparable conditions; run times aside, it certainly cuts it as a daylight mode too, but 1:30 is literally it, though no worse than the competition.
Low mode is adequate – not what I'd want on pitch black winter roads but it strikes the right balance between presence, economy and good group manners. And I got 7:29 from it too.
As for flashing modes, the DVF (daylight visible flash) certainly cuts through bland grey afternoons and for 4:30. Same goes for the second flash, with decent pace and presence – visible to 350m on clear nights and unlit roads. The third flash mode, very welcome on long world-in-perspective night rides, is visible at around 150m, maybe a bit more when skies are crystal clear.
Ultimately, were I looking to run a single compact rear light and the majority of my riding was along unlit roads, the Sabre is worth a closer look. However, something like the Moon Comet-X Pro is a more versatile all-rounder.
Powerful light but poor peripheral presence means it's not ideal for town riding
road.cc test report
Make and model: NiteRider Sabre 50 rear light
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 NiteRider® Sabre™ 50 is a super bright, lightweight USB rechargeable LED tail light. It utilizes a multi LED array designed for eye catching visibility in both day and night.
With the addition of amber colored side lights, the Sabre™ 50 provides 180 degrees of protection."
I'd broadly agree, although not with its claims that the amber side lights offer much presence.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the light?
* Daylight Visible Flash (DVF)
* 50 lumen super bright tail light
* Easy on and off seat post strap mount with quick release tab
* Amber side lights for 180 degrees of visibility
* Convenient USB rechargeable
* Be Seen by cars = Be Safe
* FL1 Standard IP64, water resistant
The Sabre™ 50 is backed by NiteRider's lifetime warranty that covers any defects in material and workmanship, mechanical components (housings, covers, mounts and fasteners) and LEDs.
Run times unusually accurate – literally to the minute.
Very good along unlit roads but not so good from the side, hence it wouldn't be my first choice for lots of town riding.
Lifetime guarantee against manufacturing defects inspires confidence and build quality seems pretty solid.
Tell us how the light performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Overall the Sabre is a very powerful light with sensible settings and decent build quality. However, despite claims, peripheral prowess is comparatively poor, so while I'd be happy using it to blast along unlit roads in the dead of night, it wouldn't be my first choice for regular town work.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the light
Output, build quality, choice of settings and faithful run times.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the light
Relatively poor peripheral prowess.
Did you enjoy using the light? Yes
Would you consider buying the light? Possibly
Would you recommend the light to a friend? Yes, so long as they weren't doing lots of town riding.
Use this box to explain your score
Powerful light with good choice of settings and decent run times but peripheral prowess is comparatively poor. There are better choices for regular town biased riding.
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)