As the nights draw in, we move towards winter in the UK, this is a great time to invest in lights for those darker morning and evening rides.
There are a wide range of Bike lights available for 2021. Ranging from emergency back up lights and day time flashers, to lights powerful enough to light the darkest trail or country lane. So what should you be looking for in a set of bike lights?
A light’s brightness is measured in lumens. How many lumens you need for your ride will depend upon whether you are riding on lit or unlit roads / terrain. A good rear light would ideally be 10 lumens or more. This is bright enough to be seen without dazzling other road users. For front lights, around 500 lumens should give enough light to luminate the darkest lanes, on well-lit roads a lumens output of around 150 should make sure that you are seen without dazzling others. For off-road trails and unlit pothole-ridden lanes front lights of between 600 – 1000 lumens should provide enough light. Most lights allow the user to switch between brightness levels easily.
Look for lights which have a burn time longer than what you actually need. Allowing extra lighting time allows for mechanical and other issues which can crop up and extend your ride. Manufacturers tend to be relatively accurate with their stated burn times.
More powerful lights, have the option for toggling between high beam and low beam – the bike equivalent of dipping the car headlights. At the other end of the scale, many light manufacturers offer a day light (low lumen) feature especially for day time riding. This kind of flexibility fits with what bike riders most need in lights and are great user-friendly features.
If you rely on your bike lights for your daily commute, it is a good idea to have at least one back up light. The latest front or rear lights offer a neat solution to this issue. Lights such as the Blackburn 2’FER (below) can either be rear or front depending on which light you need.
When Should I ride with Lights?
According to the experts, the time just before and after dawn and dusk are peak times for road traffic accidents. Switching lights on early will help make sure that you are seen, in addition it pays to be extra alert through the rush-hour period when other road users can be particularly ‘driven’ in their rush to get home.
That’s MY Lane!
The Lezyne Laser drive rear light features a great light but also integrated lasers which light up two lines on the road either side of the cyclist, this clever addition to a regular light is an innovative step forward in safety.
Living Day Lights
Riding early mornings or late evenings when it is technically ‘light’, but actually poor quality light is also a good time to ride with lights. Small, day lights can give more awareness that you are actually there, when other road users might not be paying full attention to the road. It is hugely unfair and not quite right that bike riders need to draw attention away from a car’s entertainment system or smartphone apps, but unfortunately that is often the reality.
Lights are either powered with batteries, power pack or built-in rechargeable batteries. Most lights are rechargeable and offer the option of either charging on a standard plug or via a USB, this is ideal for commuters to charge up at their desk during the day. Modern LED lights feature a lithium-ion (Li-ion) rechargeable battery. Most of these are good for around 300-500 recharges before they will need replacing. Unlike older batteries, the lithium-ion batteries don’t have the same issues with charge memory, so there is no need to run the battery flat each time you use the light.
For trail riding, as well as bike mounted lights, it’s a good idea to have a helmet mounted light too. Just incase things get a little spookey? , it’s reassuring to be able to have light in the direction that you are looking!
Let there be Light
Having a decent set of lights opens up a whole new range of possibilities for riding your bike. Whether it’s a night-time road training ride or an off-road session in the woods, nocturnal cycling activities are on the increase for good reason; It’s fun, lights are better than ever, it’s challenging and you get to see your regular routes from an all new perspective.
Check out Merlin’s wide range of lightsets here. Front lights here. Rear Lights here.