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State of the art on rural bike lights

  • 24-08-2021 1:34pm
    Registered Users Posts: 1,149 ✭✭✭

    I'm looking to buy a back and front light for winter, and hoping to do a little cycling on country roads. So - sorry for asking a perennial question, but what are the best lights for the best money?

    They should be waterproof.

    The back light should be bright enough to be seen from a good distance and in fog; the blinks should be capable of changing cadence when you slow or speed up.

    The front light should be capable of lighting the road ahead for country cycling, but also capable of dimming sufficiently for city cycling.

    LBS recommends Giant Recon HL 700 (€67) for the front light. They don't offer a bright back light that changes cadence according to speed. (The SeeSense lights do this, but I haven't had good experiences of their waterproofness.)


  • Registered Users Posts: 11,694 ✭✭✭✭tomasrojo

    Think the old Front Light for Dark Country Roads thread is still in one piece. The latter part of it might be worth reading for up-to-date recommendations.

  • Registered Users Posts: 11,694 ✭✭✭✭tomasrojo

    Some of the reflector/light combinations you mount on the back of the rear carrier have a motion sensor that modifies output to the LED in them, I think. Could be coupled with a more powerful steady red light.

  • Registered Users Posts: 11,694 ✭✭✭✭tomasrojo

    If you get a front light that meets the German standards (StVZO), it will have a nice beam that shouldn't shine in others' eyes, even on high output. I think those StVZO lights generally have at least two levels of output. Mine does anyway.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,149 ✭✭✭Rechuchote

    Thanks, taking a look at the new bits of the old thread now.

    In relation to cadence-changing back lights, is there any that does that, apart from the SeeSense and the new Vodafone light/tracker/alarm?

  • Registered Users Posts: 11,694 ✭✭✭✭tomasrojo

    Busch & Müller Toplight Line Brake Plus was the one I was thinking of. It's mentioned here.

    It might be a hub-powered light though.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 11,694 ✭✭✭✭tomasrojo

    Yeah, it is hub-powered. That's probably not what you're looking for.

  • Registered Users Posts: 11,694 ✭✭✭✭tomasrojo

    Exposure Lights TraceR has an accelerometer built into it. Sounds as if it might do the job.

    I think it may just switch from a pulsing mode to a steady mode when you're slowing down, or something like that, now I look it up.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,149 ✭✭✭Rechuchote

    I've moved my questions over to the earlier funnier thread, but one question: that Exposure Lights TraceR, is that this? Can't see any mention of the accelerometer?

  • Registered Users Posts: 11,694 ✭✭✭✭tomasrojo

    Its similarity to a car brake light is mentioned here, but it's not clear to me that it's a major or effective feature.

    "And as you brake and slow down, the blinking lights will change to steady light, just like a car brake light."

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,113 ✭✭✭Peterx

    Start of the art......For me that's the most expensive Hope night light designed for mountain biking you can afford and something like a seesense icon with the light detection for the red rear light. Presumably Hope also have a rear red light though.

    Hope R2 should do the trick, I have the Hope R4, it brings the day into night. As for blinding on coming traffic, just tilt it down towards the roadway.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 164 ✭✭mh_cork

    If cost is not a factor, consider getting the Garmin Varia if it matches with your Garmin. I think it also changes its light pattern as a vehicle approaches, but more importantly, it gives you a warning as vehicles approach from behind. I have one for a year and it works almost flawlessly.

    For a front light, I'd recommend getting a high lumen light and running it on a lower setting. I have a 1000 lumen front light from Halfords. I use the lower settings, which means it gives me 6-10 hours of use between charges.

    Finally, I'd recommend getting a couple of cheap spares and attach them to your bike in case of main light failure.

  • Registered Users Posts: 5,067 ✭✭✭nilhg

    I've always found the Lezyne lights to be great bits of kit, used one myself for the 24hr race I did, I see PBK has their 1600 lumen one on special offer, looks good value to me, have a look at the review as well.

  • Registered Users Posts: 6,006 ✭✭✭DaveyDave

    I have an 800 lumen front light and 150 lumen rear light. Newer models have slightly more settings I believe, but more or less the same. Solid lights.

    400 lumen is enough for cycling unlit backroads at night at 30-35kph. 800 is nice to have though. I actually started just leaving it on 400 as it does the job.

    I believe the Garmin lights brighten as you go faster? Could be mistaken. They're neat idea but can't justify the cost. Can't go wrong with a decent set of standard lights for €75-100.

  • Registered Users Posts: 720 ✭✭✭tigerboon

    I have a 500 lumen front and it's fine for country roads at night in winter. I think you're better with 2 or 3 not so powerful lights on the back rather than strong light. I don't like blinking lights.

  • Registered Users Posts: 9,104 ✭✭✭Macy0161

    I have a Lezyne 1100i, and tbh it's too bright for on-coming drivers/ cyclist/ walkers on the road. Handy enough to drop the intensity, albeit you have to cycle(?) around to get to where you were.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,593 ✭✭✭Large bottle small glass

    I'm not too sure if there is any need for "state of the art", the technology for a reliable quality light is a solved riddle with quite a while.

    For a rear light I would use two, for redundancy and also to use one a steady and one flashing. There is no need to go mental on power output, if a driver won't see 20 lumens he/she won't see 200 lumens.

    I wouldn't buy a light with less than IP64 rating and maybe even higher if you don't use mudguards.

    For long term use(for front or rear), lights which use replaceable rechargeable batteries is a big plus. Otherwise you end up with a piece of disposable crap once battery degenerates for use/non use.

    Front light is all about beam pattern and avoiding reflection from your light source. Again it is a solved riddle but is made somewhat complicated given most lights on market don't have a proper beam battery and only selling point is lumens/power output.

    IME country roads once effectively free of traffic are not the most challenging environment for cycling in at night. The absence of other light sources and once avoiding reflection from some high powered non direction front light will give you an environment where your eyes are quite good even with a low enough light level. When cycling at night off road I have frequently turned off front light when encountering deer (at low speeds mind) without issue

    Unlit roads with a lot of oncoming traffic are a different matter.

    If you can use dynamo power it is a big plus for simplicity and reliability. Just to note you still need a back up front light (for repairs) and its still a good idea to have a 2nd rear light.

    For increased visibility a flashing or steady arm band light on the ankles/calves is a really good low cost addition for increased visibility

  • Registered Users Posts: 11,694 ✭✭✭✭tomasrojo

    Yeah, that's sort of my approach, though I hardly ever cycle rural roads. Spanninga rear reflector/light, with an old half-Watt Smart mounted just under it, to make a biggish compound light with a bright spot.

  • Registered Users Posts: 4,286 ✭✭✭MojoMaker

    Lezyne Strip Drive rear - all you need really.

    Staying with Lezyne, I use a twin Zecto setup on the bars. Don't think that would give you the "see" quality you need for rural though, but defintely would satisfy the "be seen" requirement.

    As LBSG says above, if you can't see 20lm you won't see 200lm either.

  • Registered Users Posts: 8,179 ✭✭✭Furze99

    How about the old leg light that you strap to your right leg? Low tech, uncomplicated and movement varies with leg movement.

  • Registered Users Posts: 9,104 ✭✭✭Macy0161

    I think the ankle reflective strip gets lost in all the noise about builders jackets. Aldi and Lidl have them in periodically, and I definitely have used them on my ankles running and cycling rural unlit roads. There's also those lights/ yolks that clip to the heel of your shoe that you see some runners using. I don't see why they wouldn't work on cycling shoes.

    However, all a back up to decent lights. fwiw, this is the year I go dynohub on the winter bike (as when/ if back in the office it'll definitely be bike now as no parking). Have a service to do/ organise first, and then a decision as to whether I go for a light that has device recharging capabilities for possible future audax use or just pull the trigger on a standard (german standard) light.

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