Bike Light and Reflectives Buying Guide

Bike Light and Reflectives Buying Guide

Through the winter months, Cycle Lights are a must. The clocks change and the nights draw in. So if you are on your bike between 3.30pm and 8am you will need a front and a rear light of some sort.

With LEDs becoming so efficient and cheap to produce there are hundreds to choose under the £10 price point for a pair of single LED lights. These will give off a light bright enough so you are seen but not give you light to see with. And for £10 you even get a flashing mode which can save on batteries and really make you stand out in the traffic as the flash catches the eye more so than a solid beam. For full awareness though many commuters will use a combination of these lights with a higher powered light.

Rear cycle lights can cost anywhere between £5 and £100. The difference in cost is really based on light output and battery life. The brighter your light and the longer the burn time then the more it will cost. As you spend more the quality of the light increases as well. A rear light is used by many through the day as well. For around £20 you can get a Smart USB rechargeable light that can be seen from almost a mile away.

Front cycle lights again start from about £5 but go up to as much as £800. The brightness leaps up from the level given from the rear. Front lights can hit as much as 4000 lumens with an Exposure SIX PACK whereas rears are more commonly around 40 lumens. There are even different beam types for road or mountain bike use. Road specific has a good beam on the floor with another that will offer a wider beam giving the rider some peripheral vision. When used on a mountain bike many of these higher output lights flood the whole area so the rider can see everything 20-30ft from their handlebars.

The development of the LED has made it possible for brands like Exposure and Hope to develop these higher power bike lights and brands like Cateye and Smart to improve the efficiency and battery life in their light ranges at more affordable price points.

So the next question is how much do you need to spend on a light? Well a rear light unit can cost anywhere from £5 and upwards. From around £5 you will get a selection of brackets to fit your bike. These enable you to fit the light on your seat post, frame or pannier rack. Most at this price will strobe and flash which is now legal in the Highway Code. Many will use 2 rear lights, one on solid beam and the other on strobe.

Your decision on what front light depends on your type of cycling and your budget. For off road riding we personally recommend using two front lights, one mounted on your helmet and one on the handlebars. For off road riding at night when it is pitch black you would run both lights on high power. For commuting you can again run 2 lights but this time you would have one on solid beam and one on strobe. You can achieve this from as little as £60 with a combination of Cateye and Smart lights. These are great for the commuter market.

So no matter where you ride at night, just make sure you have your cycle lights on and keep safe.

Reflectors on a bike are actually a legal requirement. Every bike in the UK should have attached to it a white front cycle reflector, a red rear cycle reflector, white wheel reflectors and white or orange reflectors on the pedals. Some bikes come with both orange and white wheel reflectors. This is so the bike passes laws in other European countries. Most other countries insist on the orange cycle reflectors for the wheels rather than white. These should be supplied with every new bike and fitted by the shop.

Of course many ask for them not to be fitted or just take them off once home. If you have bike lights fitted, then the lens on most work the same as your front and rear reflectors. Sadly, the new smaller style led lights don't offer a reflective lens so separate reflectors are still needed.

Reflectors have gotten a little more refined. Years ago they were the size of a beer mat but now they are around 1" by 2" if rectangular or if circular they are just a bit bigger than a £2 coin. Maybe check to see if you have all of your cycle reflectors as they can come loose and fall off, sometimes without you realising.

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