BOTS Guides : How to choose a good bicycle light?

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Bike lights keep getting lighter and smaller while delivering brighter illumination for riding safety.

When shopping for bike lights, you first need to ask yourself this: Do you want to see or be seen? Or both? This article will help you choose the right lighting for your cycling needs

Types of Bike Lights

  • Bicycle lights come in a variety of types. Be it the kind that contain regular bulbs, to LED variants and dynamo powered lights that are as powerful as a motorbike or car headlight!
  • Front lights, tail lights, spoke lights and frame lights are some of the type of bicycle lights that you will often come across in your local bike shop.
  • Some of these are battery operated whereas some of them are USB powered lights or Dynamo lights.

Comparing light performance

  • LED’s : Majority of the bicycle lights today have LED bulbs in them thanks to the durability and energy efficiency associated with them.
  • Lumens and Watts : Some manufacturers prefer to use Lumens to list the power output on their lights whereas some prefer listing Watts. As a general rule of thumb, the higher the value of these parameters, the better the lighting provided by them.
    • City riding – Front lights (150-300 Watts). Tail light (15-50 Watts)
    • Touring and Brevets – Front lights (300 Watts and above). Tail light (30 Watts and above)
  • Modes of operation : A lot of front and tail lights now come in multiple modes (low power, high power, flashing etc) to improve your ride experience while efficiently using the battery/charge of your lights.

Choosing lights for city commuting

  • The major factors that determine the kind of bicycle light that one chooses for city commutes are as follows –
    • Do you ride often before sunrise or after sunset?
    • Are there stretches of your commute where street lighting is poor?
  • If your answer is ‘yes’ to any one or both of the above questions, then its absolutely essential that you do invest in one good quality front light and one tail light as a bare minimum.
  • Choosing a good quality bicycle light can go a long way in making you feel confident and safe while riding in the city. While a front light will show you where you are going and help you avoid obstacles on the road, a tail light will let traffic know of your presence on the road and greatly enhance your safety while you ride your bicycle.
  • Another important factor that separates good quality bicycle lights from the cheap variants is their weatherproof nature. Especially during the rainy season when visibility gets hampered because of the constant downpour, one would feel more assured and confident of riding if they know that their lights won’t fail.
  • Options available for city riding –
    • Niterider Mako 150 and Cherry bomb combo set
    • Niterider 200 front light
    • Niterider Solas 2 Watt USB chargeable taillight
    • Niterider Cherry Bomb taillight
    • Cateye Omni 3 taillight
    • B+M Ixon Core LED Front light
    • B+M Ixon Rechargeable Combo Light set

Choosing lights for Brevets and long distance riding/touring

  • When it comes to choosing lights for Brevets, a lot of the pointers that are important while choosing lights for city riding will apply here also.
  • One important thing to keep in mind while choosing brevet lights is that using a light that is battery operated is a better option than one that is USB chargeable since one never knows when the charge could run out. But in the case of battery operated lights, you can always carry a spare set of batteries if need be to change them.
  • Dynamo powered lights are the best option that comes to my mind when one thinks of brevet lights. These lights are much more superior in illumination when compared to the battery operated and USB powered lights and one does not need to worry about the light discharging midway through the ride since they are powered by the pedalling action of the rider.
  • Options available for brevets and touring –
    • Niterider Cherry Bomb taillight
    • B+M Ixon Rechargeable Combo Light set
    • Cateye Volt 700 front light
    • Cateye Volt 300 front light
    • Cateye Volt 50 tail light
    • B+M Lumotec Luxos B headlight

Hope that armed with this information, you will be able to make an informed choice regarding which light to have on your bicycle based on the kind of riding you predominantly do.

To view the complete collection of lights available at our website, click here.