HOW TO CHOOSE BICYCLE LIGHTS FOR RANDONNEURING/BREVET EVENTS

Ayush Kundu BOTS Guides, Randonneuring

Randonneuring/Brevet Riding (long-distance endurance cycling events ranging from 200 to 600 kilometers that are to be completed in a stipulated time frame) has taken India by storm.

This form of riding stretches the rider to his/her limits with some rides lasting multiple days across all types of terrains, sometimes going well into the night. That is why having a set of lights to keep you seen on the road should be on the top of your to-do list.

With various clubs and events popping up across the country the Audax India Randonneurs (AIR) – an all-India organization of randonneurs, recognized by Audax Club Parisien (ACP) for conducting and overseeing all Brevets de Randonneurs Mondiaux (BRMs) and Audax events in India – is pretty much the biggest organized entity/club for aspiring randonneurs in India.

Do head over to the Audax India Randonneurs website to see if you have a local club in your city and sign up to ride a brevet.

Do Read Out Article on BREVET FUNDAMENTALS – A GUIDE TO RANDONNEURING IN INDIA” if you’re new to Randonneuring!

Being well equipped is critical while attempting any endurance ride to ensure your long ride is comfortable, to ensure your safety, and to also ensure you complete the event successfully.

Good lighting is one of the most important accessories for any randonneur or endurance rider.

WHICH LIGHT DO I NEED TO RIDE A BREVET?

We’re blessed to have a huge selection of bicycle lights available for cyclists in India. 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 for a long-distance brevet endurance ride.

Here are the top 4 factors we consider important for brevet riding

  • Brightness
  • Battery Type / Run Time
  • Protection Rating
  • Mounts

1. BRIGHTNESS

Visibility is the most important factor to consider before kicking off on your long ride. You are almost sure to ride in the dusk to nighttime conditions, and busy Indian roads with poor street lighting is a given. The last thing you want happening is riding into a pothole at night at speed, which has the potential to bring your brevet ride to a grinding halt. Apart from this, motor vehicles also need to see you well, so that they don’t accidentally turn into you or get in your way, causing an accident.

Lighting – both front and rear lights – are critical on Indian roads

Have a good pair of front and rear lights on your bicycle is not only important from a safety and visibility point of view but is usually mandated as per the rules if one is looking at taking part in these events.

We recommend a headlight with at least a rating of 500 lumens, this will provide good illumination of the road ahead, even on the darkest stretches. Since you will be riding at considerable speed, another aspect to keep in mind is to make sure that your light has an acute beam, which will allow you to focus the intensity of the light to well ahead of you. So that you can see and have time to respond to any obstacles that may come your way.

A taillights between 50-200 lumens is more than enough, as the taillight’s primary function is to keep you visible to cars approaching from behind. Find a light with a wide beam, this basically means that people can see you from different angles, and not only from directly behind. Most taillights come with a flashing mode, but it is still good to double-check that your light has one, as flashing modes allow you to save more battery life, as well as aiding in visibility.

It is also good practice to have a set of smaller Safety Lights on your bikes, both in the front and back which you can keep running even during the day. As “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.

They can also act as a fallback option if your main lights run out of juice. Most Brevet events require riders to carry at least two sets of headlights and taillights at all times.

High Visibility Vests and Bike Lights are the Pinnacle of Safety!

Setting up other lights on the sides, frame and even helmet, will aid in your overall visibility

2. BATTERY TYPE / RUN-TIME

Randonneuring/Brevet is an endurance sport, which means long hours. A light is of no use if the rider cannot depend on its ability to function for prolonged periods of time. Conventional USB Rechargeable lights, are not recommended as they often have short burn times, and take a long time to recharge, and as all brevets will teach you, pit stops are few and far between. You could opt to carry a power bank, which would allow you to charge on the go, but this is cumbersome and adds to the things you’ll need to carry.

That is why we recommend a light which operates on traditional replaceable batteries (AA, AAA, CR2032), as the rider can quickly swap batteries in a matter of seconds, and have a fully charged light ready to go. You need not carry these batteries along with you, as you can find them at almost any shop regardless of where you are.

In order to boost run-time, ensure that your lights have different brightness modes for different times of the day. For example, if you buy a headlight which sports up to 300 lumens, try to see if it has options to cycle between brightnesses starting from 100 lumens, then 200 lumens, and finally 300 lumens. The lower the brightness, the longer the run-time. These options will allow you to boost battery life and only use the battery required for that given situation. A good rule of thumb to remember, the higher to lumens, the lower the burn time.

Dynamo Hub, which generates power as you cycle!

If you’re willing to spend a little more on your setup, it would be good to consider Dynamo Operated Lights, which are powered off a hub generator located in either the wheel hub or crankset. This will remove the need for swapping/charging your lights and will keep your lights going for as long as you are riding.

It is important to note that low-quality Dynamo Lights add a bit of resistance to your riding, in order to generate a current. This may not be best suited for longer rides, as this might add to the overall strain. Opt for a high-quality option as this pays off over time.

3. PROTECTION RATING

Randonneuring/Brevet riders face different types of weather while riding, this can range from rain to high amounts of dust in the summer months. Regardless of what the situation, brevet riders should be prepared for whatever nature has in store, and as shelter is not an option why riding, a light should be well suited to handle these different situations.

That is why a light for brevet riding should come with a good IP Certification. These vary from light water and dust resistance to being completely water and dustproof. We recommend the later, as the better the protection rating, the longer the light is likely to last you.

Things that signal a good Protection Rating include, high quality plastics and metals, as well as rubber seals along all creases. Charging ports will also feature rubber port covers to help keep water and dust out. If your lights have gaps which allow you to see certain internal parts, then it porbably isn’t going to be good against water and grime.

4. MOUNTS

Randonneuring/Brevet are not always smooth sailing, Indian roads are notorious for their potholes, that is why it is vital to get a light which sports a strong mount, something that will not easily fall off for any reason. A flimsy mount could result in your losing your light mid-ride, which would undoubtedly hinder your performance, especially at night.

Choose a light with a strong and reliable mount!

Unlike commute lights – lights that are firmly attached to your bike are what you’re looking for vs easily snap-on/snap-off options.


Do Read Our Article on “HOW TO CHOOSE BICYCLE LIGHTS” for an in-depth review on how to choose bicycle lights for all kinds of riding

Lights are available from a host of different brands and price points. We recommend going for internationally reputed brands such as NiteRider, Cateye, and Blackburn even if they cost a little more, as their superior build quality and technology will ensure that the light meets the required Protection Ratings that we recommend and will last you a long time in the long run!

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