Whether you want an inexpensive daytime running light to increase your visibility or a blazing night-sun for railing singletrack at midnight, there’s a lighting system that’s made for how, where, and when you ride.
Modern bike lights have made big improvements in the last decade in increasing output and reducing weight. That progress is driven by advances in two key technologies: the switch to efficient LED lamps that produce dramatically more light per watt of power than older halogen or metal-halide bulbs, and lithium batteries that pack more power into smaller packages. The result is brighter lights with the same or longer run times, in smaller, lighter systems.
To ride safely, it’s important to have a reliable set of bike lights. Whether you’re commuting through the city after a late work day or caught in a storm when you’re mountain biking on a trail, lights simply help you see and be seen.
Front bike lights can be split into two categories, to see with and to be seen lights. The first category is like a car headlight or flashlight that throws a beam of light to help the rider see while in motion. The next category is like a reflector or tail light meant to enhance the rider’s visibility to avoid getting hit by a vehicle or other traffic.
What to Lookout For In A Bike Light
- Look for sturdy, no-slip attachments to the handlebar or helmet.
- Easy removability of the light body for charging and theft prevention Battery indicator lights to help alert you to recharge the system
- An IPX water-resistance rating of 5 or higher.
- Try to avoid anything that’s not a purpose-designed bike light.
- Where and When You Will Use the Lights. If you’re just commuting to work in daylight and low-light hours, a simple front and rear blinker set might be enough. If you ride after dark, a front headlight powerful enough by which to see is necessary.
- Go With Just a Rear, or Get a Full Set. A rear blinker light is a good place to start if you don’t have lights now and ride only in daylight. But consider that being seen from the front is important for safety as well. If your budget allows, a front and the rear light set can offer a slight discount over buying separately. If you’re riding at night, a set is imperative since you can’t always count on street lighting to illuminate where you’re going.
- How to Power Your Lights. Rechargeable lithium batteries are increasingly common in bike lights today but they are more expensive. You can still find inexpensive models that use conventional, replaceable batteries, but these units often lack some of the nicer features of more expensive systems like battery-warning indicators, and conventional batteries are heavier.
- Where You’ll Mount Your Lights. Most headlights mount to the handlebar, but some models can also be helmet-mounted. The handlebar mount is a good first location. It’s more secure and isn’t dependent on a snug helmet fit for good illumination. Helmet mounts are more appropriate for night mountain bike rides, where you may want illumination to follow your gaze rather than where the bike is pointing.
- Look for More than Brightness. Lights are typically rated in lumens, which is a measure of the total light output of the system. It’s not perfect, but it’s a decent proxy for brightness. And, there are other important factors, chiefly beam pattern, which relies heavily on reflector geometry. Keep your receipt and all packaging; if you don’t like the beam pattern of the light you buy, you should be able to return it.
There are plenty of ways to save on your purchases online. Most online UK shops such as Go Outdoors, Wilko, Blacks, Evans Cycles, and 7Dayshop have regular sales, seasonal clearance, and flash sales where you can get up half the price on a wide array of best bike lights for night riding. There are even retailers that have 3 for 2 and 2 for 1 offers on select items.
Also, the best time to get huge savings is during Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Boxing Day where an extensive selection of products like Push bike lights and Cateye rechargeable bike lights from your favourite UK retailers are reduced to clear.
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