With the steady ebb of sunlight from evenings, the inevitable slide into darkness has begun, and for cyclists, that means only one thing - light season is upon us. Yes - though we’re sad to see the end of sun-drenched miles, we’re keen not to be separated from our bikes, and so the matter of which lights to pick looms large.
Riding in the dark can mean anything from a swift commute home from work to a night mountain bike ride, so finding the right light to suit your needs is a real challenge. With this in mind, we decided to offer some recommendations on what you should be looking for, and perhaps suggest some pointers as to which light’s we will be banding to our bikes this season.
The street lit commute
For anyone completing a daily commute, a light that’s going to get you to work regardless of what the weather is doing is imperative. Offering you a long-life battery, meaning you do not need to regularly recharge it, this type of light blends power with perfectly worked out pulses of light to make sure that other road users are well aware of your presence, even if they struggle to believe it in such Siberian conditions.
Throwing their hat into the ring to offer you fantastic coverage on your commute are Knog with their PWR Road 600 Front Light. Offering the innovative inclusion of a charge port, this light not only ticks all the boxes for your commuting front light but bolsters its claim by doubling up as a 3,350mAh power bank. Making emergency charging on the move a real possibility, this light comes into its own by bailing you out of tough situations. Rear light running low on power out on the road? Not a problem. Need to make that emergency call? The Knog PWR Road 600 has got you covered with its battery charging feature.
A battery life of 195 hours in flashing mode, ideal for a suburban commute, this is an option that might not need recharging in an entire week of riding to and from work, and that’s saying a lot. The CNC machined aluminium body is fully waterproof and enhances the light's strong, durable design.
Taking care of your tail on your ride to work, we recommend the Lezyne Laser Drive Rear Light. Yes - you heard right. This rear light makes use of real-life lasers to clearly mark out your position on the road to drivers and riders approaching from behind. Creating a well-defined lane that not only declares your presence but claims your corner of the road, you can be sure of a roomier ride. Augmented by a powerful LED belting out 40 lumens of rear-facing red light, this seatpost demon is charged quickly via USB, and once ridden to the office, can be neatly charged using a PC for the ride home.
Ideal for the unlit trail
Maybe the ride to the office isn’t what you’re about though, and you prefer to get your kicks riding through undergrowth rather than across town. If so you’re going to need a very different type of light. Emitting enough lumens to make you think the sun had risen twice in one day, a top trail light combines raw power with a carefully designed beam, ensuring that distortion is kept to a minimum and detail and depth are easily perceived when darting down a tight twisting track and avoiding technical obstacles in your way. Furthermore, for tackling tricky terrain, trail lights need to be tough, and ready to deal with the odd knock here and there.
Perfectly suiting the bill, for high-octane riding we recommend the Exposure Lights Strada 1200 Front Light. Hitting an output rated at 1200 lumens when in boost mode, this light is sure to emit enough light to spark rumours of the supernatural among distant observers. Giving crisp detail and near daylight brightness, if you don’t want to make concessions on speed, then this light ensures you don’t have to.
Housing it’s electronics inside a CNC machined aluminium cylinder, this light is tough and waterproof to IPX7 levels, making it ideal for even the worst of rain storms and muddiest of puddles. Offering three hours of full power light and extending up to 36 hours for prolonged use, whether you're an enduro rider or downhill expert on a midnight dash, this light offers plenty of functionality.
Tackling the trails as a team though, you’re going to need to show some red light too. The Exposure Lights Blaze ReAKT Rear Light is ideal in this respect. Whilst offering a full 80 lumens of bright rear-facing light and a battery life extending up to 48 hours, an internal accelerometer links your stopping speed to your brightness, effectively making this a brake light. Alerting the rider behind you on the trail as to your speed, they have the ability to make the decisions that will avoid a collision, taking the guesswork out of group riding.
To see and be seen
Riding all day and rolling all night, for some people, lights are just an essential element of their life by bike. Highlighting their presence, the urban native wanting to ride the concrete jungle without taking any chances is going to need a light that sparks out lumens whilst also offering you enough power for that unlit towpath or sprint through the park. In short, for entire days by bike, this is a light that’s got to have a little oomph behind it.
One such contender for your next front light is the Lezyne Macro Drive 1100 Front Light. Providing 78 hours of flashing light to grab attention on the road, this light is weatherproof for murky moody days in the city. With 1100 lumens for those darker interludes, this light equips you well to deal with whatever lays in your path.
Coupled with the Bontrager Flare R USB Rear Light you’ve got a full spectrum of cover and visibility in traffic. Flashing a full 65 lumens over 23 hours in night time conditions, this rear light is sure to see you tackle the town with ease, whilst retaining a simple, low profile and easily removable design.
To get yourself home
We’ve all been there. You’re a matter of minutes or miles from home but, not wanting to take any chances, you’re in need of a compact little light that’s going to simply wrap around your handlebar or seatpost and highlight your presence. Simple, small, and seeing you home safely, these lights are designed for visibility and usability, making sure you're seen by strobing rather than beaming.
A simple duo, perfectly paired for just this sort of job, the Bontrager Ion 100 R Front Light and Bontrager Flare R City Rear Light give you that base-level coverage for rides where your ambition isn’t setting a new personal best, but getting back and into bed without any drama. Lightweight, simple, and powerful enough to see you home safe, this is an ideal choice for those quick little stopovers.
For training and taming the road
Road riding distilled to its essence is always a mixture of fast and light. When it comes to the matter of lights on your speed machine, you’re going to want to keep them slight and bright. Cutting out the bulk whilst offering you plenty of lumens to show up that pothole in good time, a good front light offers a spread of modes to see you tackle everything between dusk and dawn. Keeping your handlebars uncluttered and your seatpost slick, these lights are pared back, designed to offer intuitive performance with minimum fuss.
Our benchmarks for performance? Well, our gold medal front light would have to be the Exposure Lights Sirius Mk6 Daybright Front Light. Clicking into its purpose made QR bracket on your handlebar and weighing just 84 grams, this light casts out a full 575 lumens, and is set to offer that full power for a full 2 hours. Stretching to 36 hours in pulsing modes, this light is a neat choice. Its quality aluminium construction and single button operation offering a tactile, instantly understood interface, with this light, you can be sure to ride through the darkest days of winter.
And flaring up your rear in red? Well, when you’re perched neatly on your saddle you’re not going to want to overcomplicate and offset the weight savings you’ve made elsewhere on the bike. Perfect for blasting out a powerful light to fast-moving traffic, the Lezyne Strip Drive Pro 300 Rear Light is sure to offer you a top level of visibility on the road. Simply strapping it to your seatpost and weighing just 69 grams, this is a great choice for road riding. Waterproof, aero and with a simple, slick design, this light encapsulates everything you could need to extend your ride into the night.
With any luck, we’ll have shone a light on the best choices for your type of riding, and you’ll have a little more of an idea in what to look. If you’re feeling clued up and raring to pick out your next photon thrower to affront the darkness, why not check out our selection of lights?