Finding the Right Bike Lights
With the steady ebb of sunlight from evenings, the inevitable slide into darkness has begun, and for cyclists, that means only one thing - lights season is upon us. Yes - though we’re sad to see the end of sun-drenched miles, we’re keen not to be separated from our bikes, and so the matter of which lights to pick looms large.
Riding in the dark can mean anything from a swift commute home from work to a night mountain bike ride, so finding the right bike light to suit your needs is a real challenge. With this in mind, we decided to offer some recommendations on what you should be looking for, and perhaps suggest some pointers as to which lights we will be banding to our bikes this season.
Commuting by Bike
For anyone completing a daily commute, a bike light that’s going to get you to work regardless of what the weather is doing is imperative. Offering you a long-life battery, meaning you do not need to regularly recharge it, this type of light blends power with perfectly worked out pulses of light to make sure that other road users are well aware of your presence, even if they struggle to believe it in such Siberian conditions.
Throwing their hat into the ring to offer you fantastic coverage on your commute are with their Bontrager Ion 120 and Flare 1 Light Set. Offering over 50 hours of battery life, these lights attach easily to your bike using Bontrager's Sync bracket. Both the front and rear lights offer a range of modes, from steady to flashing and even random ones to really help you stand out on the road or trail. Lightweight, the front light comes in at just 78 grams, while the rear tips the scales at 64 grams. This means the lights are perfect for stashing in a bag when not in use. Battery-powered, the lights take AAA batteries which are easy to replace, making this a reliable option for prolonged use whatever the season.
Illuminating Your Gravel and Mountain Bike Rides
Maybe the ride to the office isn’t what you’re about though, and you prefer to get your kicks riding on your gravel or mountain bike through undergrowth rather than across town. If so you’re going to need a very different type of light. Emitting enough lumens to make you think the sun had risen twice in one day, a top mountain bike light combines raw power with a carefully designed beam, ensuring that distortion is kept to a minimum and detail and depth are easily perceived when darting down a tight twisting track and avoiding technical obstacles in your way. Furthermore, for tackling tricky terrain, mountain bike lights need to be tough, and ready to deal with the odd knock here and there.
Perfectly suiting the bill, for high-octane riding we recommend the Exposure Lights Six Pack Mk11 Front Light. Emitting 5000 lumens when in Reflex Boost mode and made from a rugged anodised 6063 aluminium, this is the perfect light for mountain biking. Giving crisp detail and near daylight levels of brightness, if you don’t want to make concessions on speed, then this light ensures you don’t have to.
Reflex Boost technology is designed to save battery life, adjusting seamlessly to the conditions to provide just the right amount of light. Offering two hours of full power light and extending up to 36 hours for prolonged use, whether you're an enduro rider or downhill expert on a midnight dash, this light offers plenty of functionality.
Bringing up the rear, the Exposure Lights TraceR Daybright Rear Light is ideal for keeping you seen. A more than respectful 75 lumens of bright rear-facing light is combined with a battery that lasts for up to 24 hours and the DayBright mode, which pulses to ensure you stay visible through the distractions of urban and well as rural riding. The CNC machined aluminium casing, is rugged and waterproof to a rating of IPX7, while the compact size brings the light's weight in at only 35 grams.
Lights to See and Be Seen
Riding all day and rolling all night, for some people, lights are just an essential element of their life by bike. Highlighting their presence, the urban native wanting to ride the concrete jungle without taking any chances is going to need a light that sparks out lumens whilst also offering you enough power for that unlit towpath or sprint through the park. In short, for entire days by bike, this is a light that’s got to have a little oomph behind it.
One such contender for your next front light is the Vel 100 Lumen Front Light. With up to 20 hours runtime and four modes to cater for a wide range of conditions, this light equips you well to deal with whatever lays in your path. Attaching to handlebars between 19-32 millimetres in diameter, the multi-mount also can be mounted to your helmet or GoPro.
Affordable, compact and durable, the Vel 20 Lumen Rear Light is a versatile addition to any bike. The included straps make it mountable to round or aero seatposts, as well as helmets, saddlebags or backpacks. The 30-lumen Dayflash mode is a particularly neat feature, designed to cut through the noise of busy towns and roads. Finding the most suitable mode within the seven modes on offer is made easy with the Memory Mode function.
This function allows you to revert back to the last mode you used, so there is no need to be endlessly scrolling through the other modes to find the one you require. Charging is made simple with the Micro-USB port, while the 18-gram weight makes it a lightweight option for a wide range of bikes.
Lights For Training
When it comes to the matter of lights on your road training rig, you’re going to want to keep them slight and bright. Cutting out the bulk whilst offering you plenty of lumens to show up that pothole in good time, a good front light offers a spread of modes to see you tackle everything between dusk and dawn. Keeping your handlebars uncluttered and your seatpost slick, these lights are pared back, designed to offer intuitive performance with minimum fuss.
When it comes to performance Exposure Lights' Joystick Mk13 Carbon Front Light packs quite the punch. The 93 gram weight and 112-millimetre length may lead you to question its beam emitting capabilities but you needn't. Loaded with lumens, the 1000 lumen front light has a runtime of up to 24 hours and can charge from flat to full in three hours. An anodised 6063 aluminium and carbon fibre body both looks good and makes for a tough unit.
IPX6 water resistance shrugs off even the heaviest of downpours and the one x White XPL2 Cree LED configuration optimises the beam's performance. Making it ideal for back to back training rides, the Intelligent Thermal Management system enhances battery longevity by ensuring the light is running efficiently.
Cateye are experts when it comes to brightening your time on two wheels and their Omni 5 Rear Light more than lives up to their illustrious reputation. As the name suggests, five LEDs are used to offer a runtime of up to 120 hours and provide a focused beam with the help of Opticube lens technology. Rapid, flash and constant modes ensure you catch the eye of fellow road users, while the Flextight bracket makes attaching the light securely to your bike or belt clip a simple task. Battery-powered, this is a fantastic option for those looking for an ultra-reliable, easy to use rear light.