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Nighttime bike riding, whether you’re taking your bicycle out on the streets or taking your mountain bike out for a spin after the sun has gone down, can be especially enjoyable. There are fewer people out, less traffic, and if you live in a warmer climate, the temperature is much more desirable. However, you need to make sure you can see in front of you as you ride your bike and, especially when riding your bicycle in the street, you need to make sure traffic can see you.
To do this, you need to invest in quality bike lights. Bike lights help keep you safe, so no matter where you live or where you’re riding your bicycle, you can see what’s in front of you and traffic will avoid you. You always need to practice caution whenever riding your bike, no matter the time of day, the type of bike, or where you live. Investing in bike lights just helps make this easier.
WHAT ARE BIKE LIGHTS?
Bike lights are attachments that go onto your bicycle, or that you wear while riding your bike. There are several bike light variations, all of which depend on what you’re comfortable with. Bike lights are initially broken down into two different categories: front facing and rear facing.
It’s easiest to think of bike lights as similar to what you find on a car. With a car you have bright white lights on the front of the vehicle, designed to illuminate the roadway ahead of you while also letting traffic around you know you are there. On the rear of the vehicle (and in this case the bicycle), there is a red light. This red light is designed to draw the attention of other drivers without diverting their eyes away from the road. It’s simply to tell them you are there.
When looking for quality bike lights it is critical to not only purchase white lights for the front of your bike but also for the back of your bike. When riding your bike in the road, even if there is a bike lane, vehicles drive faster than you can ride and if they can’t see you from behind, they may end up hitting you. Bike lights can help avoid this.
WHAT ARE SOME THINGS TO CONSIDER WHEN BUYING NEW BIKE LIGHTS?
There are all kinds of bike lights out there. With so many bike lights you need to look over what is available and pick the best lights for your personal needs. The best bike lights for you may not be the best bike lights for someone else. Whatever you go with you need to make sure to keep safety at the top of your priority list.
When picking out a bike light you need to consider what kind of illumination distance the light will travel. This is directly connected with how powerful the light is. You want a light that is bright and travels a great distance. This is universal whether you are looking for lights for your mountain bike or for your road bike. The further ahead your light travels the better.
KIND OF LIGHT
Most bike lights now use LED design. LED lights will last longer and can travel further. The light is usually whiter, with an almost bluish tint to it, although modern LED lights can come with a variety of options to choose from. Primarily it is important to just make sure the light is LED. This way, your light doesn’t burn out in the middle of your ride. You want a long-lasting light you can depend on.
Your bike light will be battery-powered. However, make sure you can replace the battery as the light fades. When using an LED light the bulb will not suddenly go out (most likely). Instead, the light will grow weaker and weaker. You will notice a difference, which means it is time to replace the battery. The best lights for your bike allow you to replace the battery and restore the light back to its full strength. Most of these bike lights will run off of either AA or AAA batteries, although you might find the occasional light that also uses a 9V battery (although this is rare).
FRONT OR REAR LIGHT
Lighting types for your bike are usually broken down into front and rear lights. If you are riding your bike on a trail, you don’t need to purchase a rear light. You need to see what is ahead of you and, because there is little to no light pollution around you, people will see you whether you have a rear light or not. However, if you ride a street bike you do need to invest in a rear light. This is the red/amber colored rear light just like cars have. The light itself will not travel as far as the front light, but it’s more about just letting traffic around you know you’re there.
ALWAYS ON OR BLINKING
Some lights will come with lighting settings. This means you can adjust how the light functions. Some lights only give you an always-on or always-off feature. Other lights, however, offer you a blinking light feature. This means the light will blink instead of remaining in a constant “on” mode. The blinking light is good, especially for your rear light. Sometimes you can see perfectly fine around you (typically if you’re riding your bike on a city street). In these instances it isn’t about increasing the distance you see in front of you but instead making sure traffic around you knows you are there.
Unless you have bright lights, a driver may not see a dull red light on the rear of your bike. That is why having the blinking feature is a nice option. The blinking light combines illumination and movement together, making it easier to catch a driver’s eye to make sure they know you are right there.
WHAT IS THE BEST TYPE OF BIKE LIGHT FOR YOU?
There are a few kinds of lights you need to consider. If you’re not exactly sure what kind of light will work best for you it’s always recommended to go with the brighter light offering the furthest illumination distance. You should also invest in a rear light if you plan on ever being on a road past dusk. Even if it is on your mountain bike, you’ll at least have this light ready should you need it.
HANDLE BAR VS. HEAD LAMP
You first need to consider if you would like a light that goes on your handlebars or on your bike helmet. You may not be comfortable with a light on your helmet. It can take time getting used to but the lights found in a helmet light are similar if not exactly the same as a light on the handlebar. Most times it might be best to invest in both lights. This is because when you turn to look in a specific direction your headlamp will illuminate what you’re looking at while the handlebar light will remain pointed ahead of you so you can always see where you’re going. If at all possible, this is the way to go.
INSTALLATION OR REMOVABLE
Bike lights can be installed onto the handlebar of your bicycle. The lights can also be attached and removed easily. You need to decide which works best for you. If you never leave your bike outside and locked up at a bike rack, then having an installed light may work fine. However, if you ever have your bike parked somewhere outside or left somewhere not in your possession, it is recommended to go with a removable bike light.
These lights are easy to steal when removable and the last thing you want to happen is to come out to your bike at night only to find the light has been stolen. It is up to you, but the removable lights are an excellent option, and it makes it easy enough to move the light from one bike to the next.
FITS YOUR BIKE
Before you settle on a bike light, just make sure it fits on your current bike. Most removable bike lights are fixed to a rubber casing, which can then be attached to nearly any bike. However, if you have an especially wide handlebar or thin rear bike design it may not hold on. In these instances, you need to avoid this kind of problem and make sure the light can attach to your bicycle before buying it.
Bike lights are designed to keep you safe. While riding your bicycle at night is enjoyable with less traffic and often a comfortable temperature, it puts you at greater risk. In order to avoid this kind of issue, you need to invest in bike lights.
The bike lights will not only show you what is coming up on the road but they will also make sure others around you can see you.
The right bike light for you is a light that keeps you safe and warns others of your presence. By taking these different tips and suggestions into consideration, you’ll find the right light for you in the right budget (and a light you feel comfortable using).