With the days getting shorter, it’s time to pull out those lights and get them charged up and ready for fall/winter riding. If you don’t have lights or are looking to get a new set here are a few things to keep in mind when shopping for lights depending on how you will use them either for safety, visibility or both.
How bright are they?
Lights are measured in lumens. The higher the lumen measure, the brighter the lights and hence the further the visibility. For instance Cygolite headlight models can range from 210 lumens to 1700 lumens. So what does this mean and how do you choose? If you are looking for a light to simply allow you to be seen you can go with lower lumens or if you are riding on roads that are well lit with street lights then staying in the range of 200-500 lumens should be sufficient. However if you are riding on roads that are not well lit and you need better visibility you will want to bump that up to the range of 500-800 lumens. For those riders looking to take to the trails you will want to start looking in the 1200 lumen and up range. In addition as a trail rider for an optimal riding experience and safety you will typically want to run two light sets, one mounted to the handle bars and the other to your helmet.
Modes of Use
In addition to measure of output, another key consideration are the modes available. Many lights will offer a range of mode; High, Medium, Low and a range of pulse modes. Be sure to check out the options fit you riding style. Steady Pulse and Day Lightning modes are great for daytime running light use. The various manufactures provide specs on run times per mode use.
Most lights now use USB rechargeable Li-ion batteries. These are great for keeping the charging simple, reducing the need to mounting the battery separately on the bike and providing the option to mount directly on the helmet. More powerful lights in the higher lumen range will have a separate battery unit that will need to be mounted on the bike along with the light set. In addition the option to bring spare batteries along to swap out for longer rides as its advantages too.
Taillights are equally important, especially for those hitting the roads. The difference here is the use for being seen rather than for your ability to see. So the lumen ranges are much lower in the range of 30-100 lumens.
For more information check out our Buyers Guide to Rechargeable Lighting Systems