This may be the last time us Left Coasters are cloaked in the shade of daylight savings time, but it sure isn’t going to be the end of dark afternoons and misty mornings. Therefore, finding ways to stay visible while riding remains a worthy objective.
Good lights are an important part of staying visible on the road, but with so many different lights out there – not to mention considerations like lumens, beam pattern, and battery type – choosing the right light for your particular needs isn’t always an easy task.
When looking at lumens some find it helpful to ask if you’re looking to see or be seen. If the former, seeing, is your goal, then a high output light is the choice for you. This is extremely helpful for avoiding potholes and other obstacles that could pose hazardous. If your route is entirely lit by streetlights, then a lower lumen option will be sufficient to help you be seen by other road users. Along with lumens, beam pattern will play a big role in seeing versus being seen. A wide beam pattern will be essential for enhancing your peripheral vision when riding off the roads at night, while a narrower beam is great at keeping your light focused for urban night riding.
The positioning of your lighting is another important consideration. While most people know that it is important to have a front and a rear light, many people forget to consider side visibility. Side visibility is especially important when riding in an urban environment, with traffic coming in all directions.
Types of Power
Another consideration is what powers your lights. If you’re an ebike (or etrike!) rider, there is a good chance that we can wire some lights directly into the system. This option provides the convenience of always having your lights with you and ready to go, and the security of having them wired into the ebike itself. If these benefits appeal to you, but you don’t ride an ebike (or etrike), don’t fret. A hub dynamo might just be the answer for you. This would involve rebuilding your wheel with a special hub that powers lights, and can even be equipped with a USB output to charge your phone!
If having your lights connected to your bicycle isn’t what you’re after, there are lots of battery powered options that will be sure to light your fire (or at least your way home). When it comes to battery powered lights, there are two choices. Lithium ion powered lights can be recharged hundreds of times, providing an environmentally friendly alternative to lights powered by disposable alkaline batteries (think AA, AAA, 2032). Dissimilar to alkaline batteries that dim gradually over their battery life, most rechargeable lithium ion batteries supply steady light until their power is depleted, letting you know with a gauge or indication light when their power grows low.
No matter what your lighting needs are, you’re welcome to come and talk to us about how we can help you stay safe and visible while you’re out riding.