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Bicycle Light Buying Guide

Words by Harry Archer

on 20/10/2020 14:49:00

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As the nights draw in and the long, sunny summer days are almost a distant memory, the attention of riders turns to the best ways to continue their two-wheeled adventures during the colder and darker months of winter. Bike lights are a key component of winter riding. Legally you are required to have a white front and red rear light visible at all times when riding in the winter and the right set of lights for your needs, be that commuting, leisure or training, can revolutionise your winter riding and give you the confidence to continue cycling safely all year round.

But what differentiates one light from another? There are lots of different factors to consider when you are purchasing your new bike lights.

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Run Time

Run time is how long a bicycle light will continue to work for. Whether you go for a battery powered or USB rechargeable light it will have a total run time. This is important to consider, especially for the more long-distance rider as you will need to select a light that will last for the full duration of your ride. Higher end lights on the market have the ability to tell you how much power they have remaining, ensuring you’ll never get caught out by a sudden loss of light on night time rides.

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Modes

Some lights available on the market have a variety of modes available to use. This varies from different levels of brightness to flashing settings and Daybright features. This can be a fantastic way to utilise your bike light in changing environments and situations. For example, if your ride takes you through a well-lit area where visibility is good – you could switch your light to a lower brightness or flashing mode to ensure you are still well lit up whilst saving some battery life of your light.

Browse our extensive full selection of bicycle lights

Beam patterns

This is especially important to consider when you’re riding on unlit country roads and you need to see as much of the road as possible. New innovations in beam patterns means that you can adjust the angle and brightness of your light to improve the spread of light around you. Some lights have been specifically designed to produce super bright road beam patterns without dazzling other road users.   

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Charging method

Traditionally most bicycle lights have been battery powered but the last couple of years has seen the rise of USB rechargeable lights. These lights, normally running off lithium Ion batteries are extremely convenient and ideal for commuting and rural night riding. The USB lights tend to be brighter and more efficient than their battery powered counterparts and as such they are normally more expensive. However, when offset against the cost of repeatedly buying new batteries they tend to be the more cost-effective option in the long term.

Our most popular lights:

Brightness - How many lumens do I need?

Lumen Guide

Most bicycle lights will measure their output in Lumens. A lumen is essentially a measurement of how visible a light is to the human eye - the higher the number of Lumens the brighter the light. The technology used to power bicycle lights has come on leaps and bounds over the last decade or so and as such you can pick a specific light to suit your needs perfectly:

Under 100 Lumens: Low lumen options for when you need to be seen, low visibility so good for well lit streets

100-300 Lumens: Ideal for night riding in towns or cities, this level of brightness will ensure you are highly visible to other road users and pedestrians.

300-1000 Lumens: These brighter lights ensure you can see the road ahead clearly as well as being seen by other road users.

1000+ Lumens: The brightest lights on the market. These bicycle lights will ensure complete visibility of the trail in front of you, great for off-road night riding

Latest developments in bicycle lights

Bicycle lights are constantly evolving and improving and we have seen a number of exciting new developments to improve the abilities of bicycle lights on the market.

Braking Sensors

Some lights even intuitively react when you break and adjust its brightness depending on the available external light in a particular location. An ideal light for commuting, this feature improves your visibility to other road users whilst also ensuring you’re not using more light than you require.

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Daybright technology

Daybright technology uses a system of varying pulsating lights that make you visible to other road users during the day. Daytime running lights have increased in popularity over recent years.

Read our guide to daytime running lights

Summary

So as we have seen above, the choices available to you when purchasing your new bike lights for this winter are vast. Hopefully this quick guide has given you an idea of the level of light you require for your individual needs- be it a smaller, lightweight light to see you safely through the town on your commute home or a massive 1000+ lumen light for those late-night adventures through the woods or up-country lanes. Remember to always combine bicycle lights with other visibility products such a hi-visibility and reflective clothing. Furthermore, carrying a small set of spare lights if you have the room is always a good idea, providing a backup option in case your primary light stops working.

Browse our extensive full selection of bicycle lights

Find your nearest Rutland Cycling store

You can browse the entire range of available bicycle lights online, or you can get your hands on it in your nearest Rutland Cycling store.