As the seasons change, we are all preparing to spend more time riding in the dark. A front light is required by law, but we think the more lights, the better! The Bike Gallery has a lot of light options, and we want to help you choose the best light or lights for your specific use or need. The best way to start is to take a look at what you will be using your light for (commuting, recreation, or both) and where you will be using it (is there any ambient light around, or is there very little to no light?). Besides choosing between different brands or models, another important choice is between rechargeable and non-rechargeable lights. The most basic lights are generally battery powered options, while the slightly more expensive, rechargeable options offer increased lighting output, long lifespan, and greater visibility all around.
Lights to be seen with
Lights such as the Bontrager Glo and Ember, are great for being seen by others. These lights are USB rechargeable, and will produce a very bright wide emission of light for the front or rear. This style of light tends to be a little smaller in size, making them easy to take off and put in your pocket when you arrive at your destination. They can be seen from a good distance and have steady or flash modes. They do not, however, create a beam of light in front of you to light up the road. You will get some illumination, but sometimes those potholes and road surface changes can creep up on you with these “be seen” type of lights.
(Note: All rear lights are meant as “be seen” lights, rather than road illumination, and feature variable levels of visibility depending on the type of light)
Front lights to see with
Lights serve more purposes than just to “be seen”. A higher output light with a brighter more directed beam can help illuminate the road, shed light on obstacles, as well as increase your visibility to oncoming drivers. We like the Light and Motion Commuter Combo and many of us use lights from their Urban series in our own commutes. The Light and Motion Urban lights are extremely bright and have dimmer or flash modes to save battery life, in addition to featuring small, but high powered yellow side view lights to help avoid side collisions. These lights are waterproof, remove easily from the bike for locking up or switching from bike to bike, and easily charge with your laptop, PC, or USB wall charger with the included micro-USB cord. They also come in a variety of lighting outputs ranging from 200 lumens up to 1200 lumens (a lumen is a measurement of actual light that is emitted from a source).
Non Rechargeable Lights
Sometimes rechargeable lights are not the best for your intended use. Non rechargeable lights can be a little more affordable, and can also be great additions when used as secondary/accessory lights for your bike or body.
Lights to be seen with
The Bontrager Glo and Ember lights also come in a non rechargeable version and are great as smaller lights for your helmet or for side visibility. These lights again are easy to take on and off and are easy to get creative with, such as putting them on jackets, wheels, bags, or pet collars; however the smaller accessory lights offer minimal visibility, using 1 single LED per light. These lights also use very small watch batteries, which can be more expensive and less accessible than AA or AAA batteries.
Front lights to see with
Front lights such as the Bontrager Ion 2 , will allow you to see the road in front of you, and they use the more common AA and AAA batteries. These lights will have flash or steady modes, but most provide less illumination than most rechargeable lights. The brighter the light, the faster they will drain their batteries. Battery life is similar to that of rechargeable lights, but require regular purchases of new batteries to keep them fresh and bright. These lights are cheaper and still fairly versatile for use, offering easy quick release mounts for handlebar and seat post placement.
- Be considerate of others when using bright lights. These lights can be used on your helmet or handlebars, but be aware that others may be blinded by your light when the beams are aimed at eye level.
- When aiming your light, point it so that the most direct part of your beam is about 15 to 20 feet on the ground in front of you.
- Don’t hide your lights. If you have a basket on the front of your bike or a rack on the rear, try to find lights that can either be mounted to those items, or in a place that is not blocked by them.
- Protect your investment. Small items like lights are magnets for thieves, so get a light that you can take on and off very easily (almost every light has quick release capability) and ALWAYS remove it when you lock up your bike.
- Save your battery. The flash mode uses significantly less battery power, so use this mode when in well lit areas to extend your battery life.