Whether you’re commuting through towns or cities, taking on a night time mountain bike ride or touring on a long distance road trek, having a reliable set of lights is crucial – and a legal requirement in many countries.
There’s a great range of lights for all purposes and at all budgets, which can be broadly separated into general purpose and high performance models.
General purpose lights
There’s a huge range of lights that’ll help you be seen, ranging from the entry-level to high-end smart models. We’d advise you to get the best you can afford: after all, the more visible you can make yourself on the roads, the safer you’ll be.
When you’re looking for the right lights for you, check to see whether they offer good side-on visibility. Also consider lights which offer a number of modes – some flash, some are constant. There’s no limit to how many lights you can have, so you may want to have one light on flash and one on constant to make yourself that little bit more noticeable.
High performance lights
When considering a high power light, it’s important firstly that the beam pattern suits where you’ll be using it. Many high power mountain bike-specific lights are far too bright to be used on-road, for example.
It’s important to take into consideration not only the lighting power of the light (measured in lumens), but also the beam pattern and colour temperature. Beam patterns can vary from a broad pattern which lights up a wide area of trail or road in front of you, but lacks distance, to a more focused ‘spot’ type beam which will offer improved distance at the expense of peripheral vision.