There are four key things to think about when it comes to choosing your bike lights: where it will sit on your bike, whether the light is constant or flashes, the power supply, how it attaches, and how it’s powered. Let’s break that down…
1/ THE TYPE OF LIGHT
This really just means, where your bike light will sit on your bike. A rear light is different to a front light simply because it’s designed to perform a different role.
Rear lights do what it says on the tin – they make you visible to anyone behind you. It’s not difficult to choose rear lights, you just need to decide how much you’re willing to pay and for how many LEDs. A basic rear light will cost around $10 and have three LEDs.
Front lights are designed to light up the road in front of you, and also warn drivers coming towards you that you are there. Some lights can be fixed to your helmet. If you go for this option, it may be a good idea to also have a light on the handlebars to provide a permanent, efficient way of lighting up the road.
FRONT AND REAR LIGHTS
Two-in-one lights (or front/rear lights) allow cyclists to switch between white and red depending on whether they need to see or be seen. These kits have two lights, so they can always perform both functions at the same time.
2/ THE LIGHTING MODE
Some lights are fixed, meaning they provide constant light, while others can be fixed or flashing.
A fixed mode light has the advantage of guaranteeing continuous light to help you see the road (to a greater or lesser extent depending on the power of the light). The compromise is that this type of light doesn’t attract other road users’ attention as much.
Flashing mode (whether utilised at the front or back of your bike) makes you very visible to other road users but won’t light up the road to help you see where you’re going. On flashing mode, your battery will last longer.
3/ THE POWER SUPPLY
The power supply you choose will mostly depend on how often you use your light.
Battery-powered lights are easy to use but only suitable for less regular journeys. Besides a limited battery life, they have a bigger environmental impact.
Bike lights that rely on a rechargeable battery are ideal for regular, daily journeys. Some of them use a USB port so that they can be easily recharged at home or at work.
4/ THE LIGHT’S POWER
You should choose the power of your lights based on the environment you’ll be cycling in.
At B’TWIN, we judge a light’s power based on the distance at which you are visible and the distance ahead of you that the light illuminates. This ability to be seen is scored on a scale from 1 to 10 – the B’VISIBLE score, which is derived from standardised tests. A score of 5 indicates the ability to be seen from 100m away (which is further than the stopping distance of a car in town).
A score of 10 indicates visibility from 1500m away.