BEST BIKE LIGHTS
HEADLINING HEADLIGHTS THAT’LL HELP YOU SEE FOR LESS THAN £100
After what feels like the longest summer, we find ourselves hurtling towards winter with its combination of murky morning starts and dark evenings. Yes, now is the time to review your bike lights setup and invest in a new set if your lights are weak or you are in need of an update.
In order to get the best fit for your needs it helps to be familiar with a few key elements that will help whittle a shortlist from what can seem like a dizzying array of lights available, and this test looks at the best lights for around £100.
Lumens are the measure of the amount of visible light. Intuitively, going high feels better, but for dedicated road use we found that around 700 is more than enough. Higher outputs (1000 to 1500 lumens) with a greater spread are good for areas with no street lights and little traffic, or off-road, but if they allow a lot of light to escape upwards – that is they don’t have a distinct cut-off at the top of the beam – they will dazzle any oncoming cars. We also measured brightness for all lights at a standard five-metre distance (Lux rating) in order to more easily make a real-life comparison.
Mounts tend to be either rubber strap systems or fitted clamps. It’s probably an obvious statement, but if you swap lights between bikes don’t go for something that requires tools each time. Having waterproof lights is important too. This is the UK, it will be wet so opt for a minimum waterproof rating of IPX4. If your likelihood of regular soakings is high, IPX7 is good for immersion to a metre depth.
Now is the time to review your bike lights setup and invest in a new set if your lights are weak or you are in need of an update
The shining: which of these nine lights are worth the investment? 01 V E R S AT I L I T Y To switch between road and trail riding opt for higher lumens (up to 1500) with the option to turn down the beam or adapt the pattern for safe road use so you’re not blinding drivers. 02 E A S Y C H A R G I NG Most road lights now come with a standard micro USB cable, making for easy office charging. Some have a dedicated lead, which might not be the best bet if you tend to lose stuff. 03 R U N T I ME Manufacturers’ run times refer to minutes at full power. On high output lights you will significantly increase run time by selecting a lower lumen mode. It goes without saying you should always go for a run time that will easily cover the length of your ride. 04 WAT E R P R O O F I NG Look for IPX4 rating, which protects against spray from all directions. Any number higher than 7 means the light is waterproof. Some IPs include a dust rating, so will have another number: IP67 will be dust-proof and waterproof. 05 MOUNTING Not just how userfriendly the bracket is and whether it’s easily interchangeable between bikes, but the quality of construction and stability on the bar. 06 S I MPLICI T Y How easy is the light to use, especially with gloves? Not just turning it on/off but changing between modes, and is there the option to shortcut to full power?