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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?

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