Bike lights guide
Lights are an essential accessory when riding, both for safety and as stated by law, particularly in the winter months when the daylight disappears earlier.
Not only will lights help you see the road in front of you, but they alert your presence to other road users, reducing the risk of accidents.
Our guide to buying bike lights will give you an overview of all the options available, allowing you to decide which will be the best lights for you.
Complying with Regulations
All bike lights should be fitted to comply with the Road Vehicle Lighting Regulations (RVLR), as outlined below.†
One is required, showing a white light, positioned centrally or offside, up to 1500mm from the ground, aligned towards and visible from the front. If capable of emitting a steady light it must be marked as conforming to BS6102/3 or an equivalent EC standard. If capable of emitting only a flashing light, it must emit at least 4 candela.
One is required, to show a red light, positioned centrally or offside, between 350mm and 1500mm from the ground, at or near the rear, aligned towards and visible from behind. If capable of emitting a steady light it must be marked as conforming to BS3648, or BS6102/3, or an equivalent EC standard. If capable of emitting only a flashing light, it must emit at least 4 candela.
You also need a rear reflector and four pedal reflectors to fully comply with the RVLR
Before buying bike lights you should think about the following and choose the best lights to suit your needs.
What do you need lights for?
Are you planning on riding a quick five minutes to the train station through town or de-touring through wooded areas late at night? These different scenarios will require very different light specifications. On-road lights tend to have a narrower beam, off-road units a wider spread.
How often will you be using the light?
How long is your commute? You need to ensure the lights have more than enough battery life to last your entire journey. Think about taking some spare batteries on longer journeys or if the lights are rechargeable make sure you re-charge regularly. If your morning commute doesn't call for as much light as your evening commute, you can opt for lights with adjustable power settings to conserve power.
What conditions will you ride in?
The higher the price, the better quality your lights will be, in both power and design. If your lights are being exposed to the elements they need to be well constructed to keep out rain and dirt.
Types of Light
Mounted to the front of your bicycle, these lights are white and help you to see ahead of you and help others see you.
Rear bicycle lights are always red and are to help those behind you to see you. These lights can be set to blink mode or steady. The blinking will help draw attention to you while a steady light might otherwise be overlooked.
Most lights are fitted to
your bike, but you can also get helmet lights, although it is not
recommended that you rely solely on this light as the close proximity to
your eye-line can distort your vision. By having the light on your
helmet, it enables you to direct the light to exactly where you need it.
These bike lights are generally good enough to be seen but won't offer you much in terms of extra visibility. They are good enough if you ride through well lit areas.
These bike lights provide you with enough light to be seen and give you extra visibility in dimly lit areas. Lights in this price range will also offer you longer lasting, more durable, and waterproofed design.
These lights are ideal for night biking through off-road trails. The brightness of these lights will blind on coming traffic and pedestrians so best to stick to unpopulated areas with these lights.