Lights are a legal requirement on your bike, and vitally important to help keep you safe on the roads at night. However, with so many out there, how are you supposed to go about choosing a new set or your first set? Have no fear, London Cyclist is here!
There are a few criteria you can use to help narrow down your choices. These are:
If you are cycling only on-road in London then you don’t really need to light the ground in front of you and your primary concern will be others seeing you. However, if you use unlit roads on your journeys in the dark, then you will need something a little stronger to light the road.
If you are commuting through the winter regularly, then USB chargeable bike lights are good for your wallet and the environment. The models we’ve chosen below use battery technology that holds the charge for longer and can be recharged regularly without worry about decreasing the lifespan. Alternatively, if you don’t cycle as regularly then regular battery powered lights means they’ll work between longer breaks and can be replaced from most corner shops in a pinch.
It is also useful to consider how long you need your selected power source to last. Do you have a fairly short commute or do you need the light to last all night. If you have a commute of an hour or less then you can pretty much pick any light currently available. However, for extended use such as an event, or in situations where you have no recharging options during the day, then ensure the light lasts long enough in the mode you are most likely to use.
Size matters in many things, and bike lights can be one of them. You may not have much space on your handlebars and need a compact light. Or you may be intending to keep them in your bag most of the time, just incase you get caught out in the dark. Of course, larger lights have bigger batteries, so if you need to use the lights for long stretches then bigger may be better.
Last but not least there is the cost of the light. Occasional use lights don’t need to break the bank. If you are regularly riding in the dark though, it is worth spending a little money on your lights. Cost determines features and construction quality, and lights can take a battering on a bike and in a bag through through the winter.
Here are our top picks.
Cheap bike lights (less than £20)
This is the most common type of bike light and is what I was riding with that night. If you are cycling somewhere such as central London then these bike lights are generally good enough to be seen but tend to do little to light up the road ahead.
Raleigh Night Wave
At this low price point the Raleigh LED at £13.94 for both front and back bike light provides excellent value for money and just look at all of these positive reviews.
Available from Amazon.co.uk – £13.94
Lezyne Femto Drive
The battery powered Lezyne Femto lights are great emergency lights. They are bright enough that you can be seen on the roads of London, although they won’t light up the road in front of you. They turn on with a simple push of the lease and have multiple settings. At £14.99 they are great value for money.
Available from Wiggle.co.uk – £14.99
Mid range bike lights (~£30)
The bike lights in this category up the ante. They are good for those rides along routes with less light. Especially cycle paths and country lanes. They also provide better visibility for drivers to see you.
Knog Blinder MOB Mr. Chips
The Knog Blinder MOB (£32 each) is a great little light. It is USB rechargeable and has plenty of power. The battery holds its charge for a good length of time while you are not using it. Available in a front a rear version, they are small enough to keep in a pocket and easily loop around your bars or post.
Available from Amazon.co.uk – £32
Lezyne KTV Drive Pro pair
Another Lezyne winner, the KTV pro set has a high powered front light and a very visible rear light. At £27 they are great value for USB rechargeable lights and work well in the city. Each light has several settings so you can flash away or have a bright beam. I have been using these for a year and get on well with them.
Available from Evanscycles.co.uk – from £26.24
Higher end bike lights (£55+)
These bike lights provide a much stronger beam and are suitable in areas when there is no street lighting.
Portland Design Works Lars Rover 650
Portland Design Works make really high quality products, and the Lars Rover 650 is no exception. This is a seriously bright front light, with its high beam setting clocking in at 650 lumens. It is USB rechargeable and will hold its charge for at least a few months when not in use.
Available from Amazon.co.uk – £57.56
The Blaze laserlight is a beautifully made, incredibly robust front light with a special trick: the LED is accompanied by a green laser image of a bike which projects a bike on the ground several meters in front of you. The aim of this laser is to increase your footprint on the road and alert others to your presence before they are directly next to you – perfect for London. The 300 lumen LED part of the light works independently from the laser and has two brightness settings and a flash mode. It is certainly bright enough to light your way across darkened paths.
Available from Amazon.co.uk – £125
Helmet Bike Light
Generally very useful for mountain biking as helps with avoiding obstacles such as overhanging branches.
A popular model is the Exposure Joystick which you can also buy with a helmet mount. It provides a ton of light and is incredibly useful for night time mountain biking or cycling along the canals.
Dynamo bike lights
These are lights that are powered through the pedalling motion. Unfortunately I have little experience in this area as I don’t have a Hub generator so I can’t recommend a good light. If you have suggestions then please leave them in the comments.
Innovative bike lights
Fibre Flare – An alternative way to be seen is to grab one of these Fibre Flare lights. They are very bright and are designed so you can be seen from all directions. Also they are flexible so can be placed anywhere.
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As seen on The Guardian, BBC and The Independent.