It is getting closer to the season for riding bikes in the evening and cycle lights are taking on more importance. Having the proper lights is vital any time of year, but during the riding season night time riding is more prevalent. There are so many bike lights out there, it is no wonder that folks get totally confused about what to buy. What lights are the right ones for your situation?
There was a time not so long ago when you could actually buy a halogen bulb bike light. Other types were around as well before the LED took over. LED bike lights are the only game in town now, however, as bike lights require everything that LEDs are in spades. They are (now) inexpensive, small and they last forever. They don’t break down and they come in a million different shapes and designs. Virtually every light out there is LED powered, so you really can’t go wrong unless you buy some really older models. The key is making sure your bike lights actually fit in with what is required by law.
Without boring you with insane details, I will simply say that your front lamp should be white, centered and visible from the front. It needs to be a steady light to EC standard or a blinking light that emits 4 candela.
Your back light must be red and in the center, visible from the rear and a steady light of EC standard. If blinking it needs to also be 4 candela.
You should also have reflectors in the rear and four pedal reflectors as well. These will help to keep you safe and visible at night and during low visibility times.
Light standards are actually designed with the old bulbs in mind. Today’s LED lights are usually compliant and more than enough to cover the standard expected. If you doubt this, then you should check with your local area. Not every state even has specific lighting laws that are enforced. This is changing but it is not always enforced.
The primary factor for picking lights after the law is determined by what you are going to use the lights for. Are you only concerned with daytime driving or are you planning on riding at night? Do you take shortcuts that go off road, or are you a city only type of rider? Do you want a narrow field of light or a wider beam? All of these types of questions can help you ensure that you get what you really want. Without them, you are simply shooting in the dark.
How do your lights mount to your bike? Are they going to be moved between several bikes and if so, how hard are they to take apart and move? Do they have a ton of wires or are they battery operated? How long will the batteries last?
Having battery powered lights that give out half way through the trip can be a nightmare of epic proportions. The last thing you need is to be riding at night, in the dark with only reflectors to show cars that you are there. This is a vital question to ask before making your purchase.
What types of lights are there?
Emergency lights are usually powered by button cells and are designed to get people’s attention. These lights are awesome back ups for riders to have when they are caught unaware by their primary lighting sources. Some common types are Electron Backupz and Knog Frog lights.
Flashers are bigger and stronger and they are usually capable of putting out light in many different ways. They are fairly cheap so many riders carry more than one. Rear lights are commonly considered flashers and are very long lasting.
Torch lights are the biggest category of lights and the come in all sizes, shapes and power. You can literally use them in a million ways and they are very dependable bike lights to own. It does a great job of not only letting others know you are there but also to keep your own line of sight clear and illuminated. You have to have at least one torch light to be riding at night. This is particularly true in the woods or back country.
Just like the name implies, the head lights are attached to the head. They are lights that you affix to your helmet and ride without the concern of seeing what is in front of you. I do not like them as replacement lights for your normal ones, but as additions they are fantastic.
Rechargeable batteries are common as well, and they are essentially battery systems that can be charged over and over again. These can save you a ton of money over time, and particularly so if you are riding a great deal. These systems can be rather expensive, but at least you will always be assured of good lighting on the roads.