Bike Lights: How to Choose

Bike lights are important for safety and to be seen by others.

Bike lights are essential for catching the attention of motorists, pedestrians, and other cyclists. They are valuable at all times of day but especially at night, and with the days shortening, it is more important than ever to make sure you stay visible. Here’s a guide to picking the right bike lights for you.

In general, the brighter the bike lights, the better. No commuter has ever said their lights were too bright, or that they were too safe. However, there are some things you can take into consideration when looking into bike lights.

What are lumens and watts?

Lumens are a measure of brightness, specifically, the amount of visible light emitted by the source. The lumens change based on the amount of power, or watts. The more watts, the more power, the more lumens. One or both of these numbers may be listed on the product details. The higher the numbers, the brighter the lights will be.

How are bike lights powered?

They can be powered by traditional batteries as well as rechargeable ones. They can run off of small watch batteries, to AAA’s, or even fully rechargeable batteries that plug into a USB port or power outlet.

Things to Consider:

How often do you plan to ride and how long are your trips? If you use your lights on a regular basis and/or for an extended period of time, you may want to consider a rechargeable option. Batteries, especially small watch ones can be expensive to replace, sometimes even exceeding the cost of the light. A rechargeable set will often be more money up front, but it would not require any additional costs in the future. They even have features built in, to alert you when the battery is fully charged, mid level, and low on battery, so you are never caught in the dark without warning.

Where do you ride? Do you want the light to project a path of light in front of you? Surely you can find an inexpensive set of flashers for safety, but if you are looking to illuminate the path in front of you, make sure to choose something of higher lumens for more visible light projection. For extreme night riding, such as trails, consider the highest power sets.

What’s the law? Chicago law states that riders must have a front white light, and at minimum a rear red reflector. Illinois law states that you must have a rear red light. In other words, you need both. You can always take your chances, but we obviously recommend both, even if there were no laws! You can never be too visible.

Other tips:

  • Make sure to take your bike lights with you every time you lock up your bike. Whether someone is trying to score a new set of lights or it is a punk is playing a prank, lights are one of the most common things to be stolen off a bike. This can be prevented by looking into a light set that is easy to remove. Not so that they easier to steal, but so that it is easier to take with you. Look for bike lights that attach with a quick detachable hook or Velcro so you can easily bring them with you and reattach them in a matter of seconds.
  • If you are low on battery, turn your lights to flashing mode. This can help conserve battery until you are able to replace the battery or charge your lights.

Where can I purchase bike lights?

Answer: Village Cycle Center. We have several brands and options, online and in the store. We have tiny flashers to high powered beam lights. We carry front and rear lights, as well as sets, in a range of lumens.


Selection of bike lights from bontrager and blackburn

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