NITE RIDER SABRE 35 REAR LIGHT
Long Term Test 9 Months 48g £24.64
The Nite Rider Sabre 35 rear light is a 35lumen, six mode model. 15lumens weaker than its 50lumen big brother, it’s still competitively priced, more potent than figures would imply and won’t spoil a sportier bike’s clean lines.
Like many premium models these days, it uses COB technology. This is where diodes are mounted directly on the circuit boards, allowing more to share the same space and produce a proportionately brighter light.
Aluminium heat sinks are employed to regulate heat and therefore, give diodes the best chance of leading long and productive lives. Build quality is generally very good throughout. Compliance with IPX64 standards for weatherproofing is backed by a one year warrantee against manufacturing defects is reassuring and higher than many at this price point.
So long as the beefy rubberised cover is pressed fully home, there have been no issues along waterlogged roads or when subjected to liberal close range blasts from my high pressure garden hose. Talking of charging, the integral lithium polymer cell is fully refuelled in 90 minutes. Add another ten minutes or so from laptops, tablets and similar third party sources.
The rubberised centre-mounted switch is intuitive to use and incorporates a useful charge/battery life indicator that turns from blue to red when reserves are swindling. Easily operated, even wearing “lobster” type winter gloves. I’ve had the occasional unwanted power-up but this has only been when its’ slid into the depths of my pannier-otherwise it’s remained off when bouncing around in jacket pockets or wedge packs.
The post mount is a simple and secure watch strap type, which works best on diameters between 27.2 and 31.8. It’s never given cause for concern on narrower types, including my Univega’s 26.6 but excess strap can obscure the light’s side windows, so trim, or ensure its tucked behind.
Depressing the switch for two seconds brings it alive and puts it to sleep. Standard constant is default; subsequent, deliberate prods will cruise through to high and medium. Holding for a further three seconds engages the flashing-high, low and medium. Personally, the standard constant setting is a pretty good default.
Nite Rider doesn’t quote an official output but judging by others on our test bench; it’s in the region of 20lumens. Plenty of presence for dusk and beyond along semi/rural roads, it’s reasonably civilised at close quarters, so a sensible option for group riding.
None of these settings are phenomenally frugal, although compliance with FL1 standard means they are precisely aligned with cited run times. This does tend to vary as the cell ages.
For the first few months, standard returned the full 2hrs 45 minutes, whereupon it dipped to 2hrs 37. Low is around 15 lumens and returns 4hrs 30 (ours has dipped to 4hrs 23) this is broadly comparable with something like this Cat Eye Micro X. At the other end of the spectrum, 35lumens is surprisingly intense but at 1hr 30, somewhat short lived.
All the flashing modes pack a punch. Friends reckon on clear starry nights and along unlit lanes, in the highest they could pick me out from around 280 metres. I’ve managed 3hrs 5, dipping to 2hrs 58 since. Flash 2 though less intense, runs for an endurance friendly 11hrs 54 and was particularly suited to dusk ‘till dawn outings when paired to a dynamo set up.
Flash 3 was my default, still visible at 180 metres on clear nights. For all its charms, it falls very short around town. Nite Rider claims the amber diodes ensure you’re easily spotted from the side. True, the arc of light is better than I was expecting but aside from the most extrovert flashing modes, there have been stealth moments when negotiating roundabouts or larger junctions.
Summing up, the sabre’s worth a closer look if you wanted a single, sleek looking rear light and the majority of your riding is along unlit roads. However, there are much better designs, including Moon Gemini for sub/urban riding.
Verdict: 3/5 stars useful compact light for clutter free bikes and unlit roads but poor peripheral bleed means it’s not so good around town.
PUBLISHED NOVEMBER 2016