You walk into a bike shop and are immediately overwhelmed with the massive selection. Or even worse you are trying to browse thousands of products online. But what the heck do you actually need??
When purchasing or selling lights there are 3 main aspects I like to consider.
- Battery Life
Often you see several brands competing for the cheapest and brightest light possible. But just because a light has a higher lumen rating than another, does not mean it is the right light for you.
Having a super bright light is great for vision and visibility, but depending on your riding conditions it may not be the best option! Having a really high lumen rating is great for those sections of road or dark pathways where there is little to no light at night time. But not necessarily the best for cities or congested pathways.
Although you may be able to get by with a dimmer light, a brighter headlight can drastically increase safety by giving you the capability to see the smaller and less noticeable hazards such as sticks, rocks and assorted wildlife.
This considered, super bright lights can be massively disorienting for other cyclists, pedestrians and cars. Ensure that if you have a really bright light and you are on a congested bike path you angle the light downwards in order to protect your fellow cyclists. Most of us have experienced a moment where we have nearly crashed because of being blinded by an oncoming cyclists headlight!
Here are a couple of my favourites for bright headlights, these all have several different modes so that you can reduce the brightness if need be, and have flashing modes for greater visibility rather than vision.
See Bright Headlights Here
In regards to a rear light, the greater the brightness, typically the further you can be seen from. A big bright rear light is crucial for any nighttime highway commuting or commuting on faster roads so that cars can see you from a further distance. My pick of the bunch is the Bontrager RT Rear Light, as it can be seen from very far away!
Personally as a city commuter, spread is one of my favourite aspects of a light for visibility. Riding in a grid traffic structure like here in Melbourne sees cars, cyclists, trams and pedestrians coming from every angle.
Having a light with a greater degree of spread allows you to be seen from afar from a variety of angles. A great big rear light with large spread can ensure you are seen from almost 360 degrees when in combination with your front light!
I’ll keep this one simple, the longer the battery life, the longer you can ride in the dark. Some lights may give you a squillion lumens, but only last 15 minutes. This is pretty useless if you have an hour commute. If you are commuting the distance, ensure to get something with more than enough battery life to get you home. And if you are useless like me you will more than often forget to charge your lights fully.
If you re using a set of lights to be seen rather than to see the commuter set that I would recommend is the Flare R City Set. You can get up to 20 hours on the rear and 16 on the front!
In addition when battery life goes below 5% the lights automatically go into a battery saving mode to ensure you can get home with being seen.
A great single unit for battery life and brightness is the Bontrager Elite Front Headlight, These lights give you a whopping 1.5 hours on 1000 lumens with 1 single charge.
See the PWR Series here
Liam's Light Picks
Perfect City Lights on a Budget:
Flare R City Set, Amazing commuter set to be seen at a distance!
Mini Chippy Twinpack, Geat spread on an entry level set!
Big Battery And Big Brightness!
Ion Pro RT 1300
Perfect Midrange Commuter Sets:
Ion Comp R Flare R set, Good for vision on dark paths.
Knog Cobber TwinPack, amazing spread, perfect for cities!
Bontrager Ion Comp R Head Light/ Flare R City Light Set
Now that I've ranted for ages, and you’re probably sick of reading… It’s time to talk about kit! Hi-Viz clothing is an amazing way to be noticed on the roads, and can be seen in all sorts of conditions, be it day or night!
Two key features of visibility from clothing are:
Bio-motion and Contrast
To put it simply, Bio-motion is simply having bright things on your moving parts so that traffic sees you as a human, rather than a yellow blur hurdling down punt road at 70km/h. Put on your bright socks and shoes and gloves! These movements are much more eye catching to drivers!
See Bio Motion Products Here
Now onto contrast, immediately when I heard that contrast was safe, I got well excited thinking I could finally be accepted into society with my lime green polka dots on a dark fuschia top. But I was mistaken, we are talking about contrast to your background. At night time you want to be wearing reflective materials, this takes the light from cars and lights you up like a full moon. Beaming for not only attention, but of course ensuring you are seen and safe.
Whereas during the day you want that sweet sweet fluoro yellow/pink or orange. This fluoresces with the sunlight, and sets you aside from what also may be a bright background.
See Contrasting Kit Here
For a more in-depth read by people more professional than myself check out Trek’s ABC’s of awareness!
Be seen, Be safe, keep riding bikes!