How to Choose a Bike Light




How to Choose a Bike Light

Bike Lights

When you're riding, having the right lighting setup is key to staying safe and visible to others. Here's what you need to know:

Front Lights: for riding after dark or on trails without much light, you'll want a powerful front light. These high-output systems offer maximum illumination, helping you see clearly ahead.

A flashing light is best for daytime use. The pulse of light (set at steady or random) uses less battery power than a steady beam. 

Safety Lights: front, side, and rear safety lights are essential, especially in low-light conditions (dusk is especially dangerous if you’re sharing the road with cars). While they're not as bright as high-output lights, they make sure motorists can see you. Many states require that bikes ridden after dark or in bad weather, must have a white light that can be seen from at least 500 ft.

Mounting options

Headlights mount onto your handlebar or helmet. Consider using both types, especially when riding trails at night. A helmet-mounted light is the most versatile as beams are directed by the turn of your head. Check the specs. It’s best to buy a light that fits both your handlebar and helmet. 

Rear safety lights can be mounted on your pack, pocket bag, seatpost or rear bike rack.

Comparing bike lights? Keep these factors in mind:

LEDs (light-emitting diodes): are the go-to for bike lights due to their energy efficiency and durability. They’re available in different brightness levels.

Lumens: a measure of a bike light's intensity. Higher lumens mean brighter light.

Beam Pattern: a narrow beam is great for city streets, while a wide beam is better for dark trails.

Waterproof: be sure the light is marketed for all weather use.


Rechargeable lighting systems: Keep batteries out of landfills!

Battery: rechargeable systems use lithium ion batteries, which can be charged hundreds of times. They provide excellent power for their weight, they're eco-friendly and offer consistent light until they're drained. Even fully drained, they’ll recharge just fine. 

Look for rechargeable units with multiple settings so you can choose low-power light to save battery power, or high-intensity light. There are often a range of illumination levels to choose from. Also look for a  low-battery warning in addition to the power light indicating power is available.

Battery packs: are another option. With quick-release hardware, take your light with you when leaving your bike, especially when the battery and light are contained in one unit. 

Run time and battery life:

Battery life: depends on the battery type, the power of the system and the kind of LEDs in the light. Check the ratings.

Modes: bike lights often have different modes, from low-power for longer battery life to high-intensity for brighter light.

Mounting: headlights can be mounted on your handlebar or helmet for versatility. Rear lights can attach to your pack or bike, and sidelights can mount on spokes or frames. Spoke mounted sidelights are especially visible because they show that your wheels are in motion.


Most rechargeable batteries are capable of more than 500 charge/discharge cycles. Self-contained units can be charged via a power cord or USB charger.

Fully charge batteries, especially before storage. Plug in and charge your system before every use. Most systems come with smart chargers to prevent overcharging.

With the right lighting setup and some smart choices, you'll stay safe and visible on your bike no matter where you ride. Ride on!

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