Everything you need to know about staying bright and visible
You've probably noticed that the days are getting shorter as we inch deeper into the autumn months. We are fast approaching the time of year when the clocks go back and our mornings and evenings are soaked in darkness.
Rather than wheeling the bike into the shed and leaving it there until next spring, we recommend you equip yourself with good bike lights that have the relevant levels of luminosity for the type of cycling you'll be doing.
Something to look out for when you are buying your new lights are the level of lumens they contain. Lumens are a measure of the total amount of visible light (to the human eye) from a lamp or light source. The higher the lumen rating the “brighter" the light will appear.
Here is a guide on lumens in relation to the type of cycling you'll will be doing during the darker months from urban commuting to off-road MTB adventures.
Lights to be seen
An obvious requirement of cycling in the dark is to be seen by others. Your duty as a cyclist is to make yourself visible, particularly to other road users. As well as a good quality front light, your rear light will play an important role in being seen by road-users from behind.
Basic commuting lights for riding on a lamp lit streets will probably see you buying a set of lights within the range of 50-200 lumens. LED lights have become the go-to in terms of bulb type and you can get a variety of options including re-chargeable or battery powered.
Here are a few recommendations:
Lezyne Zecto Drive Light Set Y9 - £49.49
A handy little safety light set with multiple lighting modes giving an output of up to 120 lumens. The small size makes it perfect for stashing in your bag or your pocket.
Lezyne also offer the Zecto Drive Pro Light - this single light can output up to 160 lumens as a white light, or 40 lumens as a red light - you simply switch between the two at the press of a button. This means it can be used as a front or rear, making it a very handy 'dual back up' to have with you, in case one of your lights fails. See it for £27.99 here.
Cateye VOLT 100 RC - £22.99
A well-priced urban light set with a 200 lumen with multiple lighting modes that ensures you can see where you are going and everyone else can see you.
Exposure Trace Front Light - £39.99
The new Trace is a super compact front light with a 110 lumens output and hassle free USB recharging.
Exposure Trace Rear light - £44.95
The rear version to the Trace above, also rechargable via USB port.
Cateye TL-LD610 LED Rear Light - £19.99
A great option to be seen from the back for urban night riding. This one has five LEDs and three modes that maximize your visibility.
Lights to brighten your path
You may live in rural areas or take a particularly dark route on your way home. In these cases where there is no urban street light available, you'll not only need to be seen but also will need to see the path in front.
As well as rear light, you will require a decent front light with a higher lumen quantity to provide you with enough visibility.
Here are a selection of lights (that vary in price) with high enough lumen quantity to light up your path.
Cateye Volt 400 RC Front Light - £53.99
This is USB rechargeable and provides 400 lumens of constant light for 3hrs. That will be just enough to see the road, but you'll want to be slowing down a little to give you enough time to prepare for obstacles you can't see far in advance.
Though the 400 lumen option above will provide enough light to see, the more lumens you have, the brighter the road ahead will be and the more confident you'll feel.
The Lezyne Macro provides 600 lumens, in a sturdy and lightweight aluminium body. The design provides 180 degrees of visibility - making you stand out more to drivers at junctions. An Intelligent Power Indicator button allows you to check the power level at any time and a super economical mode will kick in when the battery gets low. The light is USB rechargeable and comes with a tool-less instillation mount.
Exposure Diablo Mk7 Front Light - £176.96
A higher end option with a massive 1300 lumens and if you tap the light it changes the mode.
A good option if you need both front and rear lights with a 300 lumens.
This little critter is unique - in that it displays the image of a bike on the road, to help reduce 'sorry mate, didn't see you' collisions.
At £125, it's a fully waterproof unit that provides 300 lumens on high power, which is just enough to see where you're going, but won't allow fast, confident night blasting.
Exposure Diablo Mk7 Front Light - £176.96
Exposure are the brand leader in bike lights, and they're well known for making quality beams that are loved by riders. At 1,300 lumens, the Diablo is a beefy light that will allow you to really rev it up and ride hard, even in the dark.
Lights for performance cycling
If you're planning a real off-road adventure you will need a light that has good run times and powerful beams. You will need to spend a little more for more power.
Lights in this range have a very high output of up to 4,000 lumens. Here are few options for road performance and off road night riding.
Exposure Strada Mk6 Front Light - £242.96
This has a 1000 lumen max output, and it's specially designed for road cyclists - with a headlight like beam with side visibility.
Exposure Six Pack Mk6 Front Light - £359.96
This is designed for extreme performance and delivers a maximum 4,000 lumens for trail ripping power. Perfect if you’re tackling the trails at night or taking part in through the night adventures.
Cateye Volt 1600 RC Front Light - £170.99
The Cateye Volt 1600 RC Front Light packs a massive 1600 lumens giving you excellent visibility on or off the road and is rechargeable.
When using these bright lights, it's important to remember to reduce them to a lower mode when riding in traffic, so as to avoid blinding other road users.