There are 2 types of Bike lights – front light that has a white beam that shines forward in front of you or a back light that has a red beam that shines behind you. Both front and back bike lights come with a whole lot of different features. Do you understand what those features are? Do you understand what features you need to keep you safe and how you should use your lights to get the best out of them?

Lets take a quick and simple look at the different features in a bike light so you can have the right bike lights.

Strength of the Bike Light

The strength of the light is measured in lumens and basically determines how bright that light is. The higher the lumen strength the more you can see and the greater the distance a driver will be able to see you from. (though a too strong a light can reduce visibility by blinding them)

Front Light -the strength of the light is important to be visible to any type on-coming traffic and to help you to see where you are going – help avoid obstacles, hazards etc.

Back Light – important for visibility for any type of traffic behind you.

Different riding environments require different strengths of lights. Understand the enviroments you will or could ride in and understand the strength of light you will require.

Mode of the Bike Light

The mode of the light is how the light is being displayed-  steady versus flashing. There are different reasons why you would choose to use a different mode.

Steady mode: They help drivers judge how far away you are and how fast are you traveling because they are steady. Steady lights are important when they are lighting your  environment so you can see where you are going.

Flashing mode: Anything that is flashing or blinking will attract the eye, which is great in poor visibility or situations where you think drivers are not expecting to come across a bike or need help seeing the bike (small child in traffic). The drawback of the flashing mode is that flashing makes it difficult for drivers to judge exactly where you are and how fast you are traveling.

Combining modes can be a very effective to give other users the best information about you on your bike. Help them see you. Help them recognise how far away you are. You do this by vertically stacking your lights. Have 2 front lights one on steady one on flashing in 2 different locations – the handlebars and the helmet. Have 2 rear lights one on steady one on flashing in 2 different locations – the seatpost and one attached to you.

Different riding environments require different use of modes of light. Understand the environments you will or could ride in and understand the modes of light you will require.

Beam of the Bike Light

What does a Wide or Narrow beam of light do? Why would you use it?

This is about where do you need to see. Just need to see what is in front of you then a narrow beam will provide intense light in the direction you are going. Don’t require that intensity of light but need to see a wider area then a wide beam will provide a more diverse light over a wider area.

Batteries used in the Bike Light

Disposable versus rechargeable. Some lights run on disposable alkaline batteries but many can be purchased with built-in rechargeable batteries.

The rechargeable batteries are generally Lithium Ion or Lithium Polymer – these are smaller, lighter and more powerful than disposable alkaline batteries making them perfect for bike lights. Lights with these batteries do cost more on the initial purchase but without the need to purchase additional batteries they become more cost effective over the life of the light. These batteries are designed to be recharged after every use and regular chargng will not deterioate the battery.

Most rechargeable cycle lights charge via a USB port, and some lights even feature a built in USB connector – so you don’t need a cable to charge them. The lights can take a lengthy time to recharge so it is important to be aware of this as it does require some forward planning.

The battery life is very important with these lights. If the battery is built in … you can’t replace the battery when you are out riding. You need to ensure that your lights can give you the power output you need for the length of your ride/s. Lights fitted with battery life indicators are very useful to give you some indication of how much power/time of light you have available. Having a good understanding of the modes of the light available and their power requirement can help you maximise the output of the light prior to recharging.

Attaching the Bike light

Bike lights need to be mounted to something that will make them visible to others. Other motorists, cyclists, pedestrians etc. Bike lights come with different mounting systems. They can be;

  1. Fixed – 2 piece. An O ring that is permanently attached to the bike- usually either the handlebars or seat post depending if it is a front or rear light. The light clips on and off the mount.
  2. Fixed – 1 piece. The light and mount are an all in one piece. This means the light will be permanently attached to the bike
  3. Flexibile. Easy to use flexibile O rings that allow mounting in seconds without the need of tools.

The mounting system can effect and determine where you can mount the bike light. Learn more and what mounting system would suit you best  Attaching Bike Lights.

Rear lights commuting Vertical stacker 600w goRide

Rear vertical stacking using different modes

Knogg Blinder visbility bike light set 600w goRide

Bike Lights have different strength (lumens). Get the right strength of light for the type of riding you do.

get Better and goRide –  Features of Bike Lights

Thanks for reading. Used together our stories, resources & products support you to achieve and develop as a rider.

Related Resources:

The right bike light for your riding environment

Attaching bike lights

The right bike lights for Commuting

The right bike lights for Mountain biking

The right bike lights for Town Riding

Bike Bells and Lights for Kids

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