For nighttime riding, the proper lights and reflectors are essential to your safety and others well-being. Since there is already a high enough percentage of riders that get hit in broad daylight, you can be assured that these lights and reflectors will give you more presence on the road and help other road users see you clearly in the dark.
There are different types of lights and reflectors. Some are only on motorcycles but there are plenty of accessories for bikes that can be set up on a bicycle. In this post I will go through the different lights, reflectors and signals that give you more visibility when riding at nighttime.
Lumens, LEDs and Patterns.
A lumen is a measurement for light that quantifies the amount that you are shining on an object. You can also call this candlepower. All lights sold on Radical Electric Bikes have this rating to provide to the customer how powerful or bright the light is. Different light settings mean more or fewer lumens, higher for brighter and lower for darker.
LEDs (Light emitting diodes) are semiconductors that emit visible light when power passes though it. These are used in TVs, holiday lights, and safety lights for bikes alike. They use low power but emit enough light to be a top contender for safety in the dark.
Bike lights tend to have different patterns, like how a car has the high and low beam settings. Your bike light should also have these features if it is a good quality light by today’s standards. A thin narrow beam, wide beam, strobe, and even different colors are in most lights today for all applications.
Where to Mount your Lights
A properly lit bike has a light on the front and the back. You can get lights that illuminate you from the sides too for added visibility that help other road users and pedestrians see you.
Many bike lights still use disposable batteries. They have been around for a long time and aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. The affordability and convenience of cheaper lights puts these on the popular end of the stick, but not the best for quality and light running time. One may instead choose to look into rechargeable bike lights.
Lithium ion (Li-ion) & Lithium Polymer (Li-Po)
These lights are smaller, lighter, and more powerful than alkaline lights. Ease of use and rechargeable through USB have put these lights on top of the market for quality, price, and longevity. Some lights are more advanced and have a battery life indicator that tells you how much energy is left, which is vital if you are in the dark for extended periods of time.
People who use these lights like bike messengers and couriers, and the night owls that love a late night cruise are safe thanks to a good light source. Make sure you recharge your battery back to full after a few days of use. Rechargeable batteries usually last 500 charge and discharge cycles.
Comparing Light Quality and Brightness
Since you are usually riding outside, a light that can take a fall and also waterproof is the standard here at Radical Electric Bikes. Here is a comparison of advantages for Alkaline lights vs rechargeable lights (Lithium).
– Cheap and easy to find, usually dollar store carry many.
– Abundant supply of batteries makes replacement easy.
– If stolen or broken, it is affordable to replace and won’t break your heart.
– Not rechargeable in most cases.
– Can easily break of dropped.
– Might quit working if water gets inside the wiring.
– Not waterproof.
– Are still affordable despite better materials.
– Growing popularity is slowly phasing out alkaline batteries as the go-to product.
– Rapidly charges through USB, usually doesn’t need a cord.
– Light output, life and durability is much better than the traditional alkaline light.
– Most are waterproof.
– Target for thieves for their high resale value, always take them off the bike with you!
– Cannot replace batteries unless you have electrical expertise or know someone who does.
– Have to recharge unlike alkaline lights that can swap dead batteries for new ones.
Today the ideal and more commonplace choice for lighting is the lithium type. Over the last ten years battery technology has grown to include gauges and monitors for these lights that tell you exactly how much power is left which is crucial to knowing how long you can safely ride for. Once that light goes out, you are safer walking you bike on the sidewalk.
Light Mounts and Fasteners
Depending on your preferred position, you can mount your light any way that you like. The most common types are strap or band mounts, and clamps.
Most safety lights use a rubber band or strap to mount onto the bike handlebars, seat post or frame. If you are a commuter and need lights that are easy and fast to install and uninstall, these types of mounts are ideal for you.
For off-road and rough terrain, a clamp mount is the more secure option. They lock onto the bars with screws and occasionally a locking mechanism with a key. Many have a quick release button or tab that makes it similar to a band or strap mounted light.
For the best visibility and safety you should consider a helmet light. Adding more light to your bike and gear will paint you out brightly on the road and illuminate the path in front of you. Usually a rubber band is used to fasten the light onto the helmet. Putting a light on the front and the back is recommended for best results. Some lights are not made to fit helmets like its original design is intended for, so a specialized fit is sometimes required but is not usually the case.
For off-road lighting, helmet lights will be your best friend. You will be able to illuminate all the hazards like sharp objects, potholes and obstacles. In the city your presence on the road is greater due to your higher visibility. And you can see pedestrians more clearly – this goes both ways making the road safer for you and others you share it with.
Motorcycles and Scooters tend to have these because it is required by law. You can also have these installed on your e bike! I highly recommend these for their bright yellow flash, this will make you appear much easier on the road and warn others of what you are about to do.
Many accidents occur because cyclists are harder to see than the regular car and the ones driving these cars do not see the cyclist until it is too late. Consider these next time you go out into the night, they are VERY useful and increase you visibility to other road users.
Safety is #1!
We all want to have a smooth ride. When cruising at night or in darker conditions, bike lights make our lives much easier and safer. Some are extremely fun and colorful that you can show off while you ride downtown!
Others are built for getting muddy and wet in the backwoods. No matter where the area or type of biking, we all benefit when we use the proper lighting for dark and hazardous conditions.
Leave a comment below if you have any questions about Lights and night time safety!