Commuting on a bike is perfect for beating rush-hour traffic and reducing your carbon footprint, while also staying fit and healthy. And enjoying your daily commute.
In crowded Indian cities, we’ve often seen bike commutes being a lot faster than driving to work. What a great way to save time, save money, have a fantastic commute, squeeze in some fitness & you-time, and also save the environment while doing all this.
We consider a good set of bicycle lights an essential accessory to ensure you stay visible and safe on your daily commutes. These let motorists know about cyclists on the road ahead and they also throw light on the road and highlight potholes and bad patches and keep the rider safe.
HOW DO I KNOW WHICH LIGHT TO GET?
There are thousands of bicycle lights available in the market. These lights vary in size, brightness, durability, battery type, and a lot of other features which might sometimes make it hard to choose the correct light for your bike.
Here are the top 4 factors we consider important for a daily commuter while choosing a light – Brightness, Mount Type, Runtime & Protection Rating.
Visibility is the most important factor for any commuter. Even if you ride the same route every day, seeing what’s on the road ahead can mean the difference between a pothole induced puncture and a smooth ride. Apart from this, cars and other people also need to see you well, so that they don’t accidentally turn into you or get in your way, causing an accident.
Bicycle lights are classified into two main categories;
- ‘Lights to See With‘ – Light which provides illumination to the road ahead
- ‘Lights to Be Seen With‘ – Lights which allow others to see you better
Depending on your commute route, you may need either or a combination of both.
‘Lights to Be Seen With’ are typically smaller lights, which lay in the 50 to 200 lumen range, both for headlights and taillights. These are also referred to as Safety Lights, as they are bright and feature a range of flash modes to make you stand out from the crowd. They also feature a wide beam angle, so that you are visible from a wide field of view.
Safety Lights are good for well-lit urban environments where there is adequate street lighting to see the road ahead, and where the only primary concern is for others to see you.
If you live in areas with inadequate street lighting, then you need ‘Lights to See With’ which are more potent in terms of brightness, primarily in the headlight only. For good visibility of the road ahead, it is recommended to use a headlight with a luminosity of 200 to 800 lumens. This will allow you to see the road ahead even in pitch darkness.
It is recommended to feature both safety lights as well as high powered lights on your bike and have them run even during the daytime, as the additional lights can act as a backup if one ever runs out of juice. “Eighty percent of fatalities on bikes occur during the day, and forty percent of those are from behind” notes Scott Kasin, Director of Electronics at Trek Bicycle Corporation. That is why lights should not only be limited to nighttime riding, especially rear lights.
Commuters are often forced to leave their bikes unattended for prolonged periods of time, especially during work. The same way it is important to lock and secure our bikes while we are away, it is also important to safely store your lights as well. The last thing you want happening is to find that your lights have been stolen, just before heading home in the night.
That is why we recommend lights which feature an adjustable strap mount, which can be easily mounted on any bicycle without the need for tools. It can also be removed easily for safekeeping, and for easy recharging. If you are planning on getting a more powerful headlight, chances are it will come with a fixed handlebar mount, but even these sport ‘Quick Release’ mechanisms for easy removal.
3. BATTERY / RUN TIME
Daily Commuting typically involves point to point travel, with significant time in between rides. That is why USB Rechargeable lights are the perfect power source as one can charge their lights while at work or at home, without having to worry about buying new batteries every so often.
Also, make sure to take a look at the light’s stipulated Run Time or Burn Time, which denotes how long a light can function on a single charge. Always make sure to get a light which offers a burn time longer than longest commute time. This will ensure that you are never in a situation where your bike runs out of juice when you need it the most.
4. PROTECTION RATING
Through the year, commuters face different types of weather, from the dusty and dry summer months to the wet and rainy monsoon season. Commuters are often forced to ride in bad weather in order to make it to work on time or to get back home in time for their favourite show. Regardless of what the weather, a bicycle light with a good protection rating is essential for maintaining the light over a long period of time.
Protection Ratings are often denoted using the term “IP”, and IP certifications vary drastically from being light water and dust resistance to being completely water and dustproof.
Do Read Our Article on “HOW TO CHOOSE BICYCLE LIGHTS” for an in-depth review on how to choose bicycle lights
Lights are available from a host of different brands and price points. We recommend going for internationally reputed brands even if they cost a little more, as their superior build quality and technology will pay off in the long-run.
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WHAT I LOVE ABOUT CYCLING:
I love the freedom which comes with riding a bike. On my Hardtail MTB , nothing is an obstacle, I seamlessly flow down trails and through traffic like water in a river. And that flow gives me immense satisfaction and the continued drive to get back on my bike the next day.
DISCIPLINE: Mountain Biking & Commuting
CURRENT BIKE: Marin Bolinas Ridge Disc
DREAM BIKE: Cannondale TOPSTONE Carbon Lefty 3