There are a few main purposes of bike lights—you may already be able to guess them. Bike lights are made to help riders see, be seen, or both. With so many options, it’s hard to know how to choose the right bike light(s) for you.
A good thing to consider first is what type of riding you will be doing. Are you a road cyclist who enjoys cool night rides? Or are you a casual rider who may take their hybrid out for a late afternoon/early morning joyride? This can make a difference in the type of light you should get. The number one goal is safety—so check out these options and carefully consider which lights will make rides a fun, hazard-free experience.
The two main categories of bikes lights include:
- High-output lighting systems
- Front, side and rear safety lights
High-Output Lighting Systems
High-output lighting systems are made for riders who require a more powerful light in order to safely navigate the areas in which they ride. The low-light conditions present on dark trails or rural, unlit roads make necessary to get a bike light with an appropriate amount of lumens.
A lumen is the measure of the total amount of visible light emitted and is the unit most often used when rating the strength of bike lights. The minimum amount of lumens recommended for riding on rural, unlit roads is between 400-600 lumens while the minimum recommended for trail riding is 600+ lumens. The typical range for modern high-output lighting systems is around 200-2,000 lumens. Finding a light with enough lumens is helpful for the very simple fact that you will be able to see where you’re going—along with any potential obstacles that may be obstructing your path.
Front, Side, and Rear Safety Lights
Front, side, and rear safety lights are simple lights great for leisurely riders or commuters who may be traveling in high-traffic areas—especially during low-light conditions. While not as powerful as those within the aforementioned category, these lights still remain an important part of rider safety. While some riders need bike lights to see, this is the kind of riding where the “be seen” concept comes into play. Commuters and those riding in urban or busy residential areas will find illuminating the path in front of them will often not be their main concern—it’s remaining visible to motorists and other cyclists.
Making yourself amply visible from all sides of your bike is your best defense against an accident while riding. A front light with an output between 50-200 lumens along with side and rear safety lights are not only recommended, but are often necessary to meet visibility standards required by law. Many safety lights also have features like blinking or flashing light modes to help better draw the attention of others out on the road.
Battery Life and Charging
Many of today’s bike lights use rechargeable lithium ion batteries as a power source. Battery life varies between lights for several reasons. This includes things like which setting the light is currently on and the power of the unit itself. It’s recommended you charge your light after each use as inactive batteries tend to lose their charge over time.
Riders have several options when it comes to mounting lights on their bike or gear. Most lights easily mount on the handlebars or seat post of your bike, but it can depend on your setup and the shape of your handlebars and seat post. The mount itself typically will come in one of three ways—a Velcro strap, rubber strap, or metal bracket. Before purchasing a new light, make sure the mechanism in which it is secured will be compatible with your bike.
There are also options to mount your light on the top of your helmet. One of the benefits of a helmet mount is that it allows the light to follow in the direction in which you turn your head while riding.
Bike lights can be a lifesaver. Literally. These simple accessories are user friendly, easy-to-install, and have been statistically shown to reduce the risk of accidents. What more could you ask for? Investing in a good light (or light set) is easily one of the most popular ways to ensure more fun, safe rides in your future. Join the club and pick up up some lights from Bikes Palm Beach today!