Choosing the best cycling lights for your ride

If you increasingly find yourself cycling in low light or full on pitch black darkness, then before the decision is made for you (tree in your face!) it's a very good idea to purchase a set of cycling lights. However, choosing the best bike light for your ride is not always straightforward, but rest assured, like most bike related purchase decisions, it just requires a little bike-time analysis…

Where do you ride?

The very first and most important question. For example, if you ride exclusively in the city, an environment usually lit up like the proverbial Christmas tree after dark, it's not necessary to buy a cycling light that offers the brightest beam. In this instance, the bike light only needs to function as an aid to visibility - your visibility to other road users, not to illuminate your path with a whole 'lotta lumens (a measure of the total "amount" of visible light emitted by a source).
Here's a quick guide to what different riders might need:

City rider

- visibility over illumination

Trail rider

- illumination above all

Road rider

- both illumination & visibility in equal parts

How long do you ride?

Once you've fixed your weekly ride environment in your mind, the next question worth pondering is just how long your average ride lasts, and how much of that takes place in a light level low enough to warrant the use of a set of cycling lights.
This question is really important because you don't want to be swapping out batteries or recharging with too great a regularity - it's expensive and a hassle. Of course, the most pressing concern on the bike is not to completely run out of juice mid ride, so spending a few moments running through your ride habits is once again very useful to prevent this.

What are your ride conditions like?

At Always Riding we ship orders around the world everyday, and we know from a lot of chats with our customers that they ride in really varied conditions. The point of course is that choosing the right bike lights for your ride will be heavily dependent on your local ride conditions. Rain, mud, snow and hail? Crikey, where do you live?? Joking aside, if conditions are tough, your equipment should be too, so deciding on a light set that can take the conditions and come back for more is imperative. Conversely, if everyday is seaside and barbecues and your ride doesn't get any more extreme than the occasional bunny hop - you should be pretty safe with a non weatherproof light.

A note on front and rear bike lights

We'd normally recommend cycling with a light set, which would comprise a rear light and a front light. Not only better for visibility, depending on your local laws, this may even be a minimum requirement if you ride on the public highway. Always be sure to check local regulations before saddling up, and most importantly, ride safe.
see our range of cycling lights

Related Links

Lezyne Lights Gemini Lights Portland Design Works Bookman Lights CatEye Lights Niterider Lights

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About the Rider: Peter
Co-founder of Always Riding, Pete enjoys road, trail and a good city commute. Most of all though, he loves chatting to other riders, the mid-ride stop after a leg-breaking ascent, and a cup of tea at the end of the ride. There is no truth in the rumour that he likes to wear women's clothes and hang around in bars. No truth at all.
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