Adequate lighting on a bike is essential if intending to ride after dark or if likely to be caught in rain or fog. Bicycle riders need to be clearly visible to both car drivers and pedestrians to ensure safe travel through town centres and country lanes alike.
For the majority of casual cyclists, a basic bike light costing around £15 will be adequate for their needs. Previously these would have been made with a dim and battery hungry filament bulb, but thanks to advances in LED technology, the majority of basic bike lights are now LED, meaning lights are brighter and batteries last longer. Raleigh make a basic LED light set costing around £16.50 for both front and rear lights, which is excellent value for money.
Cyclists who travel at night outside of town centres may want to consider investing a bit more money in brighter lights, as the basic units really only show other road users where you are and don’t do a great job of showing you where the road is going. In the mid price range, units such as the B&M Ixon IQ are an excellent choice, offering bright light output and low battery consumption. This and other similar units are available in the range of £65 for the front light only and are a great investment if you think you will be cycling in unlit areas.
The most expensive bike lights on the market can come in at £250 or more, an example being the L&M Seca with a RRP of £249.99. These are really unnecessary for the everyday user unless you happen to commute home through overgrown fields or forests, but for mountain bikers wanting to undertake night time challenges, they really are the best money can buy.
If you need a directional light, for example to keep a look out for low hanging branches on your woodland commute home, a helmet mounted bike light can be really useful. Again, for causal cyclists these are probably not really necessary and with prices in excess of £150 for most units, it is unlikely you will see these being used except in the serious mountain biking circuits.
When choosing a bike light, do consider battery consumption and whether they can be recharged. The best type of rechargeable battery is generally the Li- Ion types which tend to go flat more slowly, charge quicker and last longer. They are also the most expensive, so if you are on a budget look for a NiMH battery torch as these perform adequately and don’t need completely discharging before a recharge like NiCad batteries do.
There are options for dynamo bike lights which are powered or recharged as the pedals or wheels turn. These are less common and require a hub generator so will involve higher upfront investment, but will have the long term benefit of the batteries never running out on you.
Recent innovations have seen the arrival of the Knog bike lights which, whilst not the cheapest on the market, are certainly some of the brightest for their size. The Knog Skink lights are small, easy to attach and detach from your bike and have a variety of strobe modes which, it is claimed, are better seen by car drivers than static lights.