If you're on the lookout for a nice new set of bike lights, this page will give you useful hints and tips for buying the best lights for you.
Read on to discover how bright a light you need, whether a bike light is a legal requirement and tips on installation.
Brightness, or the amount of light that your bike light emits is measured in Lumen.
The amount of Lumen you'll need depends on the type of riding you're going to be doing, and where you're going to be doing it.
If you ride on unlit country lanes you'll need a much brighter light than in an urban setting with street lighting.
Rear bike lights are designed to be bright and visible to other road users. When we tested rear bike lights we found that it's possible to achieve brilliant results from as little as 25 lumen. You can get a .
Front bike lights are a little more complicated to choose, because you have to decide whether you need a front bike light that will simply make you visible to other road users, or if you need a bit more oomph from the light to actually illuminate the road in front of you.
If you mainly ride in built up urban areas, then a lower brightness flashing light will suffice. In fact having a light more than 600 Lumen in well lit areas can even be counterproductive to other cyclists (if you're riding in a group), as motorists looking in their mirrors may be dazzled by your bright light, making it difficult for them to see other cyclists behind, or to the side of you.
So if you're an urban commuter and just need a light to be seen, we'd recommend a light lower than 600 lumen, with lots of attention grabbing flashing settings. For maximum visibility you can even buy two front lights and have one on a flashing setting and the other on a constant low beam.
If your regular routes take you on dark, unlit roads, then you'll need more lumen. You'll need at least 600 Lumen to lighten up the dark and allow you to pick out potholes and other obstacles, but consider going higher than this if you can.
We've tested front bike lights between 450 and 1600 lumen, but we found that simply looking at the claimed lumen output doesn't always tell you which lights will be brighter when you get them out on the road.
If it's dark, yes. At night it's a legal requirement for cyclists to have a white front and red rear light on display.
Most bike lights nowadays are very easy to install. They either have a permanent clamp that you can attach to your bike and slide the light on and off. A little more common is the type that attaches with a sturdy rubber strap.
Some lights that attach with a rubber strap come with extra rubber attachments that allow you to achieve a sturdier grip on the bars. This is useful if you do any adventurous or off road riding with jumps and bumps.
While most lights are easy to install, watch out for lights that are difficult to turn on and off (and switch between settings), when it's cold and you're wearing thick cycling gloves. In our bike light tests we found plenty of lights with tiny and/or stiff buttons that are difficult to operate when you're wearing gloves.