This Sunday, 30 October, the clocks will go back. That means one extra hour in bed, slightly lighter mornings - but we'll be plunged into darkness one hour earlier in the evening.
If you'll be cycling all winter, then you're going to need bike lights. After dusk and before dawn, it's a legal requirement to use a red rear and white front light. However, even if you're not riding in the dark, they can help make your more visible in wet or foggy weather.
There are many different styles of bike light available. The more you spend, the brighter the lights will be, and more expensive models are generally lighter and easier to re-charge.
Do you need a bright beam to see the road ahead, or a smaller light to makes sure you're seen?
The brightness of a bike light's beam is measured in lumens: the higher the lumens the more light the unit will omit. How bright you need your light to be will depend upon where you're riding, and to a degree how fast.
Lights to be seen
If you're riding in entirely lit areas, all you need is a light that makes sure other road users see you. These usually start at around 50 lumens, but there are brighter versions available. Of course if you want to draw more attention to yourself on the road, you could go for a brighter 'light for seeing' that will also give you greater visibility of the road ahead, but it's not essential.
Lights for seeing
If you're riding down unlit roads, you'll need something to show you where you're going. Around 300 to 500 lumens will shed light on the situation. However, if you're riding quite fast down country lanes and need advanced warning of potential pot holes then you will want something brighter - 500 to 1000 lumens will be enough for this, the higher end of the scale giving you much greater peace of mind and allowing you to ride much faster.
Rear lights must be red and generally use fewer lumens - around 10 to 50 is enough but again going for the 50+ will give you much greater piece of mind.
The amount you're willing to spend also affects the method of charging, with cheaper lights tending to use replaceable batteries whilst more expensive versions usually charge via a USB cable or inbuilt USB stick. This said, the rechargeable USB option is becoming more and more widespread as batteries are gradually phased out.
Some either very bright - or slightly old fashioned - versions come with battery packs that strap to the bike and plug in at the wall, too.
There are few things worse than a fantastic light attached to a rubbish mount. Worst case scenario, the light flies off into the road, best case it rattles around incessantly. It's worth checking out the mount used before buying a light.
The most convenient options are those that attach via a stretchy rubber band, and these are easy to swap between bikes (though it's also easy to lose the rubber brands). It is best to get a light you can easily remove when you lock your bike up, as they're commonly stolen items and you don't want to be stuck with nothing to ride home by.
Here's a look at some great options for you to check out...
CatEye Volt80/Rapid Micro Set
CatEye have been leaders in the lighting market for a long time, and have long been a firm favourite among commuters.
The Volt80 produces 80 lumens and will run from 1.5 to 8 hours, before it needs charging via a USB. It attaches to the handlebar with a rubber band but can also be compatible with a helmet mount.
The rear uses a triple LED system to output 15 lumens, recharges via USB and runs for 3 to 30 hours. When low on battery, it automatically enters the flashing economy mode to help make sure you get home lit up.
RRP: £39.99, see them here
Lezyne Femto Duo
Helmet mounted lights aren't to be used alone. The reason being that if you turn your head, you also eclipse the light in the opposite direction - so these need to be used with a set of lights attached to the bike, too. However, they're a really smart idea for riders that want to be able to direct a bright light (eg night riding on trails or country lanes) or those who want a little extra protection.
At 15 lumens (front) and 7 lumens (rear) this is certainly just a 'little extra protection' option but it's a nice addition to your commuting armoury.
The Velcro strap will be compatible with nearly all vented-style helmets, and the body of the unit is made from durable machined aluminum. This light uses replaceable CR2032 batteries.
RRP: £24.99, see it here.
Specialized Stix Sport Combo
Specialized are probably always going to be known primarily for their bikes, maybe helmets and shoes coming next - but they actually sell an awful lot of accessories and components - such as tyres, bar tape and more recently lights.
The 'Stix' gains its name from the way the lights quickly clip on to their mount - or 'stick'. They're very thin and lightweight, but pack a decent punch at 70 lumens on the front and 14 on the back.
Both front and rear lights off 6 modes, plus wide-angle beams to help avoid issues at junctions. The lights use a USB charging method and last for 1.5 to 14 hours (front) and 2.5 to 18 hours (rear) - mode dependant.
RRP: £35, see them here.
Exposure Tracer Pack
The Trace and TraceR (the rear version) lights use the same compact design as the ever popular Exposure 'Flare' lights, but they've also got a fuel gauge so you know how much battery life is left, and they charge via a USB.
The front light omits 110 lumens, and the rear 75 lumens and the run time is 3 hours on high power or 25 hours on pulse (flashing) mode. The sit in a plastic mount which is attached via a rubber elastic and these weigh just 35 grams each.
RRP: £94.95, see them here.
Lezyne Hecto Drive 350XL/KTV2 Set
This set offers an awful lot of performance for a pretty friendly price tag. The Hecto Drive 350XL offers a 350-lumen output - that will go some way to helping you see the road ahead as well as highlighting you to other road users.
The CNC-machined aluminium unit is pretty attractive and it charges via an integrated, cable-free USB stick. The rear light, which shares the same charging method, produces nine lumens and offers four different modes. Both attach via a plastic mount and rubber band.
RRP: £44.99, see the set here
FWE USB Rechargeable 300 Lumen Front/50 Lumen Rear Light Set
FWE is the in house brand at Evans Cycles, and they've been busy developing their lights range as of late. This set offers 300 lumens on the front and 50 lumens on the rear - it'll allow you to see a little of the road and will obviously pick you out to other road users.
Both front and rear charge via a USB port and fit via a rubber strap and plastic mount. The aluminium body is water resistant, and a red light will appear on the top of the front beam when battery life is getting low.
RRP: £49.99, see them here.
Just the front light? FWE USB Rechargeable 500 Lumen Front Light
If you'd like a little more light on the front, FWE also offer a similar front light with 500 lumens for £34.99 (no rear included). At the level of brightness, you will be able to use the light to negotiate unlit paths and light off-roading.
Blaze Laserlight and Burner Set (Burner is on pre-order)
At the moment you're going to have to wait a month or so for the rear light to arrive, but the laserlight is so unique we had to include it.
The front light produces 300 lumens, and displays the image of a bicycle on the road ahead of you, marking you out to drivers who don't always check the path is clear at junctions as well as they could. The light has proves so successful that Transport for London are fitting them to Santander city bicycles.
The rear is a new edition. It's bright, at 100 lumens, offers 180 degree viability and uses a magnetic snap bracket for easy removal. Both are fully waterproof and charge via USB.
RRP: £150 for the set, Laserlight will arrive in days, Burner will arrive before Christmas - see them here
Bontrager Transmitr Light Set with Wireless Remote
Admittedly, this is not your 'cheap set up and go' set of lights, but it is mighty clever and comes with some pretty cool features to help keep you safe on the roads.
The front light in this pack is Bontrager's Ion 700 - it omits 700 lumens and lasts for 1.75 hours to 40 hours, mode dependant. This light charges via USB and fits to the bike using a stretchy rubber bracket. At £89.99, it represents the major spend in this pack.
The rear is a Bontrager Flare. At £54.99 on its own this produces 65 lumens, and charges via USB. It has two day time modes (all part of Bontrager's drive to encourage people to use lights at all times) and two night time modes.
The clever bit is the Transmitr remote £39.99 on its own). This sits on your handlebars and allows you to control the brightness of your lights, and see battery life.Handy for those, like me, who have a fear of their rear light failing without their knowledge. The remote can connect to up to 7 Transmitr compatible lights (some people control theirs and their children's!). You can also use more than one Flare rear light, and use the remote to turn them into indicators on city streets.
The whole pack comes in at £179.99 (saving you £8 on buying separately), see it here
Exposure Sirius Tracer Pack
The Exposure Sirius is a little bit serious. It puts out 550 lumens - enough to highlight the road ahead and just enough for some off-roading if you're taking it easy. Charging via USB, it shows you how much battery life you have left via a fuel gauge. The light can mount to your helmet or on the handlebars - if you're using it on your helmet you can shoot the beam exactly where you want to see (but must also have a front light on your bike).
The rear TraceR offers 75 lumens, charges via USB and attaches via a stretchy rubber mount so it will fit all seat posts. Both lights are made in the UK to a high quality.
RRP: £129.95, see them here
Just the front light? Exposure Diablo MK8
If you're already sorted for a rear light, and want a front light that allows you to genuinely charge down country lanes as though it were day time, then I couldn't recommend the Exposure Diablo MK8 any more. This light produces a full 1400 lumens, can fit to your helmet or bike, and comes in a CNC aluminum casing.
It does cost £199.95 - but if you're a committed rider or serious racer it will allow you to continue with your summer training volumes, outside, all year.
Of course, having bike lights is one thing - knowing how to use them is another. Make sure you check out these 7 common commuter bike light mistakes - and stay safe!