The Niterider Solas 100 is small, bright and lasts a reasonably long time. With a decent multi-use bracket, and a few niggles aside, the overall package is good value.
The Solas 100 shares the same bracket as other lights in the range: a perfectly functional thick rubber ladder strap working on any diameter seatpost. The light clicks into a Cateye-like bracket that can be adjusted up or down without tools if you swap between bikes. The angled section is held in place with a shakeproof nylock nut – attention to detail that you don't normally see on lights at this price. The click on mounting is very positive, and I didn't have any concerns about it staying attached once inserted. The light has a built-in clip for attaching to a fabric loop on a backpack or saddlebag, so you have some built-in mounting flexibilty.
The body of the light is transparent red plastic, meaning the LEDs are visible through 180 degrees. It's rated IP64 – meaning dust-tight and proof against 'water splashing against the enclosure from any direction' – so likely to survive a UK winter, sans mudguards. The charging port is located at the bottom under the heftiest rubber bung I've ever seen on a light. Once it's open, the innards aren't further separated from the elements, so make sure it's pushed fully home before venturing out. The small power/mode button on the top could be larger, and with thick winter gloves on it could be hit-and-miss to operate on occasion.
Should any of the above mechanical parts fail, Niterider warranties the Solas 100 for life – which is a rarity and should be a serious factor in your buying decision. LEDs are warrantied for two years, the battery for one.
I must deduct marks for the omission of a memory mode – you have to cycle through all four modes to get to the one you want, and to turn it off. C'mon Niterider, even the smallest of button-cell LEDs can come with a memory mode and long-press-to-off! Fortunately, the one it comes back on as default is the one you're most likely to use: two small flashes and one big 100-lumen one, with a real-world run-time of about 7 hours (advertised as 7:30).
The second mode is an always-on with a full-power pulse from both LEDs at about a 1-second interval. This is the least-frugal at about 4 hours run-time. Third is the single large LED, on constantly with no pulse for about 10 hours, and finally the 'group ride mode' with 15 hours of constant, non-blinky operation.
Battery indication is by way of five blue flashes from the main LED area, when turning off. There are five when charged. You'd think you would then get four, then three etc to show decreasing battery capacity – but no, it's five blue flashes, then after X hours it changes to five red flashes to advise that you are near the bottom of the lithium-polymer barrel. Going off my loose maths it appears to kick in at around 30% of battery remaining. Why it couldn't indicate separate levels of charge, before or at turn on, I don't know. This is not beyond the wit of man, Niterider.
In use, the headline figure of 100 lumens doesn't live up to its expected billing. My go-to benchmark for rear LED lights is the Lezyne Micro Drive – a light with a 70-lumen maximum and 30 lumens as standard. Placing the Lezyne on one side of a long road and the Solas on the other, then driving towards them at 60mph in daylight, the Lezyne's 30 lumens was visible a considerable distance further back than the Solas's 100. I can only attribute this to a more diffuse lens on the Solas, an overly optimistic power output claim, or Lezyne being heroically modest.
That said, I do consider the light output of the Lezyne to be the gold standard for circa-£30 rear lights, so it's a high bar to reach. On its own the Solas 100 does a pretty good job of making you be seen by other road users in close proximity; for example, the 50m radius around an intersection. That more diffuse lens then becomes an advantage, with output not dropping appreciably through an arc of 30 degrees in either direction off-centre.
At night the Solas 100 grabs attention well on urban or open roads. I'd say the two flashing modes are borderline in the motorist-letters-to-the-editor stakes regarding excessive use of red photons, but let's face it – this is probably what you're after. The constant 'group ride mode' works well at not blinding following riders while keeping you legal and reasonably visible.
All in all, when you add in the quality mount, bag/seatpack location options, decent run-time and useful modes, for £30 the Solas 100 becomes a compelling be-seen option.
A decent package for staying visible, particularly in urban environments, and on group rides
road.cc test report
Make and model: NiteRider Solas 100 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?
It's for people needing visibility in urban areas, or for group rides at night.
Niterider says: "The Solas™ 100 has two powerful LEDs, 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 distract others in the pack."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the light?
Daylight Visible Flash (DVF)
100 lumen super bright tail light
Group Ride Mode – be seen without distracting fellow cyclists
Easy on and off seat post strap mount with quick release tab
Convenient USB rechargeable
Super bright day time flash mode
Be Seen by cars = Be Safe
FL1 Standard IP64, water resistant
Lumen Output: 100
Run Time: 4:30 – 15:30hrs
Charge Time: 2:00hrs
Could be better. Having to click through the modes is a bit old-hat, and only seeing battery level on turn-off isn't ideal. And the blue-or-red battery level shown is just... silly.
Very well done.
Could be brighter for what's advertised.
Seems robust, and the mount is sturdy.
82g is light.
Overall it's a good package for the money.
Tell us how the light performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Tell us what you particularly liked about the light
The form factor.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the light
The need to cycle through modes to turn it off, and always turning on at the start.
Did you enjoy using the light? Yes
Would you consider buying the light? For commuting/about town, or at night, yes. Not for open road daytime riding though.
Would you recommend the light to a friend? Understanding the caveats, yes.
Use this box to explain your score
I'm calling 'Good' here, based on options, output and price. If it had a memory mode and a charging indicator that came on at the start, and if it actually showed decreasing battery levels, it would score 8.
About the tester
I usually ride: Merida Ride 5000 Disc My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: A few times a week I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: cyclo-cross, club rides, general fitness riding, mountain biking, Dutch bike pootling