The most essential of winter essentials, lights are a non-negotiable accessory for winter riding. The shorter days are likely to mean that some if not all of your off-season cycling will be done in conditions of reduced daylight or total darkness. Anyone who drives as well as cycles will know how difficult it is to spot a rider without lights in the dark – and how dangerous that can be.
Look for LED bulbs and rechargeable batteries, increasingly supplied in a single unit combining lamp and power supply. Illumination is measured in lumens, and while there’s some debate among manufacturers about the veracity of the varying methods by which output is measured, we’d recommend a minimum of 500 lumens for unlit roads and 50 lumens and above for those with street lights.
Bicycle lights are becoming more powerful, and, in some cases, cheaper. A headlight powerful enough to ride in safety on unlit roads remains a significant investment (circa £150 for a unit of 500 lumens and above), it might be more bearable to think in terms of the cost spread across the 20-or-so weeks of British Winter Time. Alternatively, high powered lights from non-established brands, typically of Chinese origin, can be found on-line. Anecdotal evidence suggests that the trade-off is reduced longevity. The only saving we’d advise against, however, is riding without lights.
A third option to consider if your budget won’t stretch to a light powerful enough to illuminate an unlit road is to plan training loops on quiet, urban roads, with traffic at a minimum and where street lighting will reduce the onus on your light from ‘seeing by’ to ‘being seen with’. We’d recommend a minimum of 50 lumens, but far more powerful lights are available for still reasonable sums. Lezyne’s Macro Drive, for example, will deliver 350 lumens for £55; the Cateye Volt 300, delivers, you guessed it, a maximum of 300 lumens, and costs £50. USE Exposure’s Trace costs £49.95 and delivers 110 lumens.