What Wikipedia Can’t Tell You About Bicycle Lights, Part 1

English: Dawn on Station Road Looking into Sta...

Autumn is here, whether we like it or not. With the changing of the leaves, comes the shortening of the days. For the dedicated cyclist, lights are a must have when the sun dips below the horizon.

Like any other bicycle accessory, there are a multitude of lights to choose from. Luckily, having this kind of selection gives you near limitless options. Don’t let the number of lights get you down, the purpose of this article is to help you narrow down the choices. Let’s dive into lights after the break!

First, you need to determine a few things:

  • Where am I riding? For example: city streets/urban, multi-use paths, or back country roads/suburban.
  • What kind of weather will I be riding in?
  • What’s my budget?
Where am I riding?

This may be an odd question, but where you ride is important in determining how bright a light you are going to need. City streets or urban areas tend to have street lights illuminating the roadway. Because of this needing to see may not be as important as needing to be seen by other road users. Using that reasoning, if the majority of your ride takes place on multi-use paths, back roads, or dimly lit suburban areas, you are obviously going to need a light that allows you to see the roadway ahead. This allows you to see turns, street signs, and potential hazards. Or maybe you need lights for a night race, or just like to ride in the woods at night.

What kind of weather will I be riding in?

Are you an all weather cyclist, fair weather cyclist, or is your area prone to spontaneous downpours? Many lights are weather resistant, or they can take the occasional splash or light rain. But when monsoon season comes, don’t expect the lights to remain dry or functioning after a bit. Choosing a weather resistant or weather proof light is based on what kind of weather you foresee yourself riding in.

What’s my budget?

This is kind of self-explanatory. Not all of us are swimming in a vault full of gold coins so budget is considered. Don’t worry, the price of really good lights has been dropping due to the rise of inexpensive LED technology.

Think about these questions for a bit and in the next post, I’ll go over your options from best bang for the buck budget lights to the lights that should be mounted on helicopters. Until then, go ride your bike.


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