Cycling, whether commuting on a road or mountain blazing along a trail, during the day or night exposes the rider to all sorts of dangerous situations. The risk of ending up in an accident is quite high if you are not visible to other road users, and/or cannot see the road in front of you clearly. This is exactly why you need to have the best bike lights and reflectors for safety.
Choosing bike lights and reflectors may seem like an arbitrary decision to many; however, it is far from it. Before buying any lights or reflectors for your bicycle, it is recommended that you take the time to find something that perfectly fits the specific needs and requirements of your riding style.
If you have been thinking about buying bike lights and reflectors to help you ride your new bike safely, you have come to the right place. Read on below to learn more about how to choose the right bike lights, as determined by the requirements of the focus of your cycling.
Safety Involves Seeing And Being Seen
Bike lights are designed for two main purposes, to help cyclists see or be seen. If you intend to ride your bike during the day while sharing the road with other road users, then you need to buy bike lights that will help you be seen.
Some of the main characteristics of bike lights designed to help you remain visible to other road users include moderate or low lumens, broad beam and side illumination. This ensures that other road users can spot you from tight angles. Since you don’t need to be seen from very far, the lights should not necessarily have high lumens. Such lights tend to be smaller in size, with a similarly small battery as their power needs are lower.
On the other hand, we have lights designed to help cyclists see. In general, such lights come with higher lumens, a narrower (focused) beam and a larger, powerful battery. A narrow beam angle ensures that cyclists see further along the path.
Road Versus Mountain Biking
Your choice between road and mountain biking also has an influence on the type of bike lights you end up choosing. If you will be road biking, then you need to have lights that help you remain visible to other road users, and also sufficiently illuminate the road ahead. To be seen you need a light that has a broad beam to ensure visibility from tight angles. Furthermore, you need a light with high lumens and narrow beam. This will help you maintain a clear view of the road ahead.
However, if you intend to go mountain biking at night, you are best suited by having two lights with high lumens. One, mounted on your bike’s handlebars, should have a wide beam to give you a clear view of your path, especially since you will be dodging roots and rocks among other obstacles. The second one, mounted on your helmet, should be narrow beamed to give you a clear view of the path ahead. This combination is essential as riders find themselves facing away from where their bike is facing when mountain biking.
Now that you have a clear idea of the lighting requirements of different cycling activities and focuses, read on to find out some of the main factors to consider when choosing the best bike lights for safety.
Factors To Consider When Choosing Bike Lights
The lumen count on a light is the main determinant of how bright it will be. Simply put, the higher the lumens, the higher the amount of light emitted. The lumens on bicycle lights range from 30 to more than 2000; for road biking, it’s recommended that you choose lights ranging between 500 and 700 lumens.
If you intend to ride your bike on the road during the day and at night, it’s wise to have two lights fitted on it. One low or moderate lumen light that remains blinking throughout to keep you visible, and one powerful light, that can be turned off during the day, to see with at night.
Even though HID bike lights were at one point considered to be a trending topic, most lights now use LED bulbs. These bulbs consume less power while giving off the same amount of light.
Today’s bicycle lights are powered by rechargeable batteries or battery packs or regular batteries. Rechargeable batteries are more convenient as cyclists do not need to purchase new ones every time they run out of charge. However, if you do choose light powered by regular batteries, check whether they are easily available.
In some cases, high powered lights are powered by a separate, larger high capacity battery pack. If you choose such lights, be sure to check whether there is enough space on your bike frame to mount them, in addition to any other gadgets that need mounting.
Before buying any bike lights, find out whether they can be easily mounted on your bike. Bike lights are designed with different mounting systems including stretchable rubber straps, Velcro and screw tightened brackets. Choose a system that perfectly suits the design and material of your bike frame.
Even though most mounting system will solidly attach the lights to the seat posts and handlebars of most bikes, you might have an issue of your bike has aero seat posts or aero bars. You might also have issues if your bike’s seat post or bars have extra large round diameters. Furthermore, if your bike is made of some materials such as carbon or aluminum, tightening the mounting too much can lead to cracking.
To overcome some of the above issues, consider purchasing bike lights that come with interchangeable mounting straps. Even though bike lights and reflectors for safety come with different prices, it is best to ensure that the options you are considering satisfy the above requirements before settling on something that is within your budget.
With the above considerations in mind, choosing the right bicycle lights for safe riding will be a walk in the park.