Lights are some of the most important pieces of equipment that you need on your bike, especially this time of year. With low sunlight levels during the short days it is almost necessary to have lights on all the time. With so many different types of lights, claiming different amounts of illumination, in different units, for very different prices. Buying a set of bright, easy to use, cycling lights has become a very daunting task.
I have always been very sceptical of paying large amounts of money for bike lights as some range into the hundreds of pounds, are they really worth it? Previously I ventured for middle of the range sets, around £30 which provided varying amounts of success. I have found through the years that the quality of lights varies greatly, in build quality and brightness. I have often had the problem that lights would stop working in the rain, not exactly what you want, failure in conditions which you need them most.
When looking for lights I think you need to think about why you want them, is it for extra visibility when cycling on illuminated roads? Or are they to light your way when cycling down country lanes in the dark? Or perhaps both reasons. Whatever the reason is I firmly believe that you shouldn’t have to pay through the roof for just a simple set of bike lights.
Earlier this year, I decided to take a punt, choosing to buy some bike lights cheaply off eBay rather than a bike shop. For a mere £11 I was provided with a 7 watt, 450 lumen, waterproof front light and two lights which I have fixed onto my helmet. One of the best decisions I have ever made. I have subsequently bought another one because it has preformed so well in lighting my way and improving my visibility. It claims it can be seen 800m away and certainly is very bright. I have found that when cycling cars give me more respect and room as they know where I am, the helmet front and rear lights help with this. Although dwindling batteries and the need to replace AA’s can be a problem you can always just buy some rechargeable batteries, win win. Furthermore for such a bright front light the battery life is pretty good and for it being so cheap I am very pleased.
When cycling in Spain this summer unfortunately the road we were cycling on became very major and eventually a motorway, without a junction for us to turn off we were forced to continue cycling down this death road. Huge HGV’s beeping and shouting at us. It was one of the scariest moments of cycling I have ever done. Then we were approaching it, the dark semicircular hole loomed ahead of us. An unlit tunnel! We had not thought about this, I reached down and tuned on my back light, Tom had none, and we entered thinking this would be our peril. Huge Lorries were slamming on their brakes and horns behind us. Luckily it was only short so we pushed, sprinted out of the tunnel and were rewarded with an exit of this hell of a road. We had made it. We came very close to dying that day. It was very foolish of us but made me think how important a good set of bicycle lights are. I now never go on a cycle without them because you never know where you might end up. After returning I found out the section of road which we were cycling on had recently been converted so cyclists could no longer travel on it. Where were the signs though? It was a poorly designed section of road which I hope now is much better.
If you have any views on bike lights that you use, feel free to comment because I’d like to hear about them. However if you are looking for cheap, bright, robust lights look no further because they are here!