Finest Bike Lights for Unlit Roads
Bike Lights at First Glance
Cyclists who have ridden in the dark will all admit they have had narrow escapes or worse. Cars seem to come out of nowhere, swerving into your lane, or merging directly into your path. It is certain, however, that no matter how it happened, the car always emerges the victor. The reason behind this is that cars almost never see cyclists who are not equipped with front headlights and rear flashers as they are near invisible.
Yes, cyclists can engage in the risky game of “sure I will see the car first and move out of its way if they do not see me”, but that is only for so long. Having a light considerably decreases the chances that a car driver will not see you. This also means you are more likely to spot that pothole or whatever obstacle happens to be lying ahead in wait ready to absorb your front wheel and send you tumbling down. That does not mean having a light makes riding in the night not prone to accidents of any kind or infallible either but it makes a big difference to the cyclist in the car-bike safety comparison.
What to Check For In Bike Lights
Late-night riding when the weather is warm and comfortable with light traffic is an enjoyable experience and unless you can see in the dark or navigate by the stars, having a good lighting system enhances that pleasant feeling. You have to however, make sure to get the lighting system that best suits your needs. There are quite a prevalent number of bike lights to choose from, and it is easy to become bewildered and lost when making a choice. Apply these guides to help narrow down the selection.
- The Output – Lumens of the light. Simply, lumens are the unit of how bright to the human eye light is. Modern bike lights lie between the ranges of 5 to a 100 lumens for rear lights, and front lights start at 10 and can go up to hundreds and thousands of lumens. To ensure your safety, you cannot go wrong with a lighting beyond a 1000 lumens. However, you can count on these lights to shine in any weather.
LEDs are the paramount light source used in bike lights because of the energy efficiency and durability. There is an extensive range of brightness levels.
- How good the battery is – rechargable systems constitute of lithium-ion batteries which can be recharged hundreds of times rendering them a safer to the environment and cheaper alternative to disposable batteries. Lithium-ion batteries offer excellent power considering their weight and are distinguishable by their long run times. Alkaline batteries tend to slowly dim over battery life, unlike most rechargeable batteries which deliver consistent light until their power is exhausted. Therefore, most of them have a gauge or low battery warning to signify consumption.
Careful maintenance of your battery system will ensure you get good and long use out of it. When charging batteries, take care to fully charge but not overcharge them, especially before storage.
Some systems however, come with smart chargers that stop automatically to help prevent overcharging. Charging your system before every use will ensure your batteries stay active. Otherwise, they lose their charge.
Battery life will depend on the battery type, the kind of LEDs in the light and the power of the system. Most rechargeable units come with multiple settings that let you choose from a range of illumination levels.
- Lighting Mounts and how they work – Headlights are mounted onto the handlebar, but many mount onto your helmet too. For trail riding in the night, you should consider using both types. helmet-mounted light beams can be directed by just the turn of your head, so if you are only using one light, you will come to realise that the helmet-mounted light is the most versatile.
Side safety lights are usually mounted on either the frames or the spokes. Spoke mounted lights are more visible because they show the movement of your wheels.
The rear safety lights can be mounted on your seat post, pack or pocket. Some can also be mounted behind at the back of rear bike racks. Most rear and safety lights adopt the use of a strap or band mounting structure; which you can wrap easily around your seat post or handlebar and often without even using any tools.
Battery packs for high output lights can be latched to your bike or stowed away in a pack. Quick-release hardware allows you to bring your light with you whenever you leave your bike, especially when the battery and the lights are enclosed in a single unit.
- What kind of lights is the best for you? – The type of bicycle light that you should choose will depend on the kind of riding you do and the conditions that you ride in.
See below the categories to recognise what best describes the riding you often undertake.
If you usually ride in a built-up area and the road or path is well illuminated, then your main priority should be how visible you are to other road users.
Safety lights usually have one constant mode of lighting in addition to multiple flashing modes. They also offer a higher level of visibility from the side so you can be seen at junctions by pedestrians and other users of the road.
Almost everyone has ever come across that one guy who looks like a disco ball; multiple flashing lights over his bike, clothing, bag and helmet. Fitting more than a single light with a combo of flashing modes will always make you more visible to others.
If your accustomed commute takes place on some unlit paths or roads, you will need a more powerful front light in order to ‘see’ and ‘be seen’.
Any bike light with lumens over 200 will be able to offer sufficient light to ride on unlit paths and roads at a sensible speed. You are more likely to come across hazards in the road if the terrain is a bit rough. Therefore you may need something a lot more bright.
When your riding sees you on unlit roads at a fast pace, you seriously need to consider an upgrade regarding your lumen output. Having a powerful front light to illuminate your way ahead is essential. You will need the brightness to spot any nasty potholes, rogue animals and stray pedestrians.
Riding your bike off the road at night adds a whole new dimension to the experience. The trails you are accustomed to will seem a lot different under the cover of nightfall. They start to look a whole lot different and can be more adrenaline inspiring. You need an extremely powerful front bike light so that hazards such as rabbit holes and low hanging branches do not elude you.
At least, you will need a powerful mounted front light with an ideal capacity of a 1000 lumens and upwards.
- Back up and safety lights for long rides – Front lights with a high power designed for road riding tend to have quite the concentrated beam. The design is meant to enhance the your ability to see where you are going without the glare. But, they present a downside in that you can be less visible when approached from the side. In order to improve your visibility side-on, you can consider fitting an additional road cycling safety light to the front of your bike. When put on flashing mode, you will be provided with an extra source of visibility on the road. It can also be a useful backup should your main light run out of power.
When it is time to choose a bike light, having so many options available to you can be a bit daunting. Here is a careful selection of some of the best bike lights available in the market now:
Best Bike Light To Provide Optimum Lighting
Volt Front Bike Light – CatEye
The indicated bike light which replaced the popular Volt 1200 comes with the recently launched 1700 version’s notable features at a lesser price. You will find stated below, the unique features it boasts of.
- Ideal for both daytime and nighttime rides – With the aptly named ‘Daytime Hyper Contact’, the CatEye Volt offers a real chance of standing out against the background of LED daytime running lights on cars during the day and giving a widespread beam of light which stretches out in front of you on nighttime rides.
- Suitable for unlit trails and paths – The CatEye Volt 1300 pumps out a powerful beam of lights even on the darkest of roads when placed on full potential making it perfect even for treks into the pitch-black countryside.
- It has a single central button for mode selection – Having to scroll through lots of buttons to find the mode you seek must be very inconvenient. That is why the Volt 1300 has the easiest solution to this by having one central button to control the modes. Double-clicking the button will automatically jump it to high. Pressing the button returns you to the previous mode.
- A number of cool modes to choose from which covers long run-times and all the types of road riding.
- Offers a complete package for training and commuting.
- Weighs a bit more than other lights.
Best Bike Light for Sports and Outdoors
Gaciron Rechargeable Aluminum 1000
The Gaciron bike light is the bike light you want to go for if you are looking for a high-performance gadget that promises a great deal and delivers. Its cutting edge features are illustrated below:
- Has a high LED Performance – With an ultrahigh brightness of a 1000 lumens, the CREE XML2 U2 LED bike light provides you with more than enough output on mountain bike trail rides
- Is very Durable as well as Reliable – Having an IPX6 rated water-resistant function which protects against even the most severe weather condition makes the bike light more durable and reliable for long time use.
- Comes With Six Optional Light Modes – This bike light meets all lighting requirements for riding with its six working modes and a long-running time from 2.5 to 30 hours.
- Strong Battery – A standard 26650 of 4500mAh power battery enables you to charge your mobile phones and other USB compatible device.
- Can be used in all weather conditions.
- Powerful battery provides long run-times.
- It can be easily assembled.
- A bit costly compared to other models.
Best Portable Flashlight for Everyday Use
Olight S1 Mini Baton
The Olight S1 is among the best flashlights in the market with innovative features and a stylish sophisticated feel. You will want to wield this for all your flashlight needs. Below are some of the wonderful features it has to offer:
- Compact and Portable – The Olight S1 Mini Baton is one of the shortest CR123A and RCR123A battery compatible flashlights. Its small body makes it very easy to carry around.
- Powerful Output – The Mini Baton challenges competitors with a maximum output of 600 lumens.
- Comfortable Feel – With an aluminium alloy uni-body build, the flashlight body of finely braided knurling makes for a solid yet comfortable grasp.
- It Has a Magnetic Tail Cap – Being furnished with a magnetic tail cap ensures a hands-free option as it attaches to any ferrous metal surface.
- Additional Features – Comes with extra features like a lockout mode and illuminated low battery indicator in the centre of the side switch.
- The flashlight is ideal for everyone to use.
- It has a Lock function, which stops it from accidentally switching on.
- It is waterproof.
- The battery has a built-in USB port perfect for recharging with a power bank.
- The battery is not long-lasting, especially on maximum output.
- Can easily be lost due to its small size.