The adventure never stops. Even when darkness comes around, you can still hit that road and enjoy the ride without worries. All you need to have is a high-quality bike light that delivers great illumination and battery life on the road.
A bike light is a piece of equipment placed on the front, on the side, or the rear of your bike. They help you see the road ahead of you as well as let other motorists know that you are on the road. In this article, we will help you choose the right bike light for your needs.
Types of Bike Lights
Before choosing a bike light, it is better to understand the different types of cycling lights first. There are two: the high-output lighting systems and the front, side and rear safety lights.
High-output lighting systems
Usually, these bike lights are rechargeable. These bike lights offer maximum illumination too. In terms of cost, they are a bit pricey. But it’s worth it! These lights are brighter than safety lights so it allows you to see the road clearly while biking at night.
Front, side and rear safety lights
These lights help you see in dim light conditions. However, these are not bright enough to let you see where you’re going on the trail. What makes it different from the high-output lighting systems are its mounting options, the number of light-emitting diodes, and whether it uses rechargeable or disposable batteries. These lights make you more visible on the road.
It’s always a good choice to use the right combination of high-output lighting systems and safety lights.
Bike lights are not created equal. Here are some notable differences:
LEDs: A popular source of illumination in the bike light industry because of its durability and energy efficiency. It comes in a wide range of brightness levels and colors.
Lumens: the unit for measuring the amount of light your bike light produces. It gauges the amount of light falling on the illuminated object — describing the light intensity of each lighting unit. The higher the lumens rating, the brighter.
Beam Pattern: This is the directional projection of light. A front light with a narrow-focus beam is ideal if you usually ride on streets with streetlights. On the other hand, a wide-focus beam will give you a better peripheral vision on darker roads or trails.
The last thing to take into consideration when buying bike lights are your mounting options:
Rear Safety Lights: These are mounted on your pocket, pack, or seat post. Other versions can be placed on the back of rear bike racks too.
Side Safety Lights: These are mounted on either the spokes or frames. Spoke mounted lights are very visible as it clearly shows your wheels in motion.
Battery Packs: These can be attached to your bike or be stowed in a pack. Quick-release hardware allows you to take your light with you when you leave your bike. This is a great feature when both the light and battery are housed in a single unit.
Tips on Choosing a Bike Light
Now that you know what to look for when buying bike lights, here are some tips to get the help you get started.
Select your lumens carefully
As mentioned earlier, lumens measure light intensity. The higher the number, the brighter the light will be. Most often, manufacturers provide a lumen rating in their packaging so you know what you are buying.
If you want to be seen on the road, a rear light between 50-100 lumens will do. To see the road in front of you, a brighter light ranging from 200-500 lumens is recommended. For off-road night riding, we suggest a front light with 500-1500 lumens to avoid any potential hazards on the trail.
Thousand-plus lumens allow you to go out and ride along the country lanes in pitch-black. However, this brightness can be compared to a headlight of a car on full beam. Choose a bike light that allows you to have different light settings on the road. For example, a “half brightness” option when you are riding on street roads that are well lit.
Know your battery life
The battery life of your bike light depends on the type of battery used, the kind of LEDs, and the power of the system. Most rechargeable units have multiple settings that allow you to switch between long-lasting, low-power light to a bright, battery-draining high-intensity light. Thus, consider your light usage during your ride and choose the one that will match your usage.
If your bike commute is 2 hours long and your battery only lasts an hour on full beam, go for full beam only on places where you need it. Then switch to flashing on areas with lit roads. Most bike lights come with a battery indicator on the back so you know how much juice is left. Charge your bike light as soon as possible. The last thing you want is biking blind on a pitch-black road.
Bike lights can be mounted almost anywhere. It’s common for people to have their bike light on their helmets, on the handlebars, or even on their seat posts. A light mounted on the handlebar means that the brightest section of the beam depends on the direction of your bars. This configuration is perfect on the road but not ideal on a corner.
On the other hand, a helmet-mounted light means that you can point it towards the direction you are facing. However, drivers may not see you if you only have this light alone. Use a combination of bike lights to increase your visibility on the road.
In choosing a bike light, an important rule to remember is this: the higher the price, the higher is the light output.