Our pick of front lights

CW lights up your lo­cal lanes with these es­sen­tial win­ter items

Cycling Weekly - - Contents -

f you’re plan­ning to ride un­lit roads, a ‘see­ing’ front light is es­sen­tial — one that al­lows you to see the road in front as well as to be seen by other road users. Over the next four pages we look at five lights that are pow­er­ful enough to light your way for a max­i­mum bud­get of £100.


Lu­mens are used by the bike in­dus­try to mea­sure the power of a light: a lu­men is a unit of vis­i­ble light. For com­par­i­son’s

How we score

10 - Su­perb, best in its class and we couldn’t fault it 9 - Ex­cel­lent, a slight change and it would be per­fect 8 - Bril­liant, we’d hap­pily buy it 7 - Solid, but there’s bet­ter out there 6 - Pretty good, but not quite hit­ting the mark 5 - Okay, noth­ing wrong with it, but noth­ing spe­cial 4 - A few nig­gles let this down 3 - Dis­ap­point­ing 2 - Poor, ap­proach with cau­tion 1 - Ter­ri­ble, do not buy this prod­uct sake, a 100W in­can­des­cent bulb emits 1,600 lu­mens.

The more you pay, the more lu­mens you get, but lu­mens burn up charge; if you want to run a high-lu­men light for a long time it will need a big bat­tery. Any­thing be­tween 200 and 1,000 lu­mens can be worked into a com­pact light weigh­ing un­der 200g and less than 10cm long.


Most lights of­fer dif­fer­ent modes so that you can lower the lu­men count to ex­tend the bat­tery life — or in­deed switch to a flash­ing mode to make your­self more vis­i­ble in an ur­ban en­vi­ron­ment. Gen­er­ally modes are vari­a­tions on con­stant and flash­ing, with puls­ing also an op­tion in most cases. Again, the more you spend the more modes you get. Most lights also have bat­tery-life in­di­ca­tors, most of­ten an LED light that changes colour.


Most lights are charged via the USB port in your com­puter — all of those in this test are of this type. More pow­er­ful ones will of­ten have a mains con­nec­tor and some­times even a sep­a­rate power pack. USB charg­ing is the sim­plest and most con­ve­nient. The life­span of a Li-ion bat­tery — the type most mod­ern lights use — is be­tween 300-500 charge/ dis­charge cy­cles.

User friend­li­ness

You prob­a­bly won’t have the man­ual with you when you’re night-rid­ing so a light’s func­tions ought to be in­tu­itive and easy to mem­o­rise.


Smaller lights can get away with a sim­ple strap mount whereas heav­ier ones will use a bolt bracket to sup­port their ex­tra weight. It’s im­por­tant your light is held firmly: you don’t want it to nose­dive when you’re rid­ing down an un­lit de­scent at speed: if it does, you do. Even if you’re us­ing a fixed mount, the light has to be eas­ily re­mov­able for charg­ing or if you’re lock­ing your bike up out­side.

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