Gazing out of the window at just gone 5pm on Sunday and it was dark. Pitch black, in fact. A feeble, solitary extra hour in bed swapped for six months of commuting by bike in darkness. Hardly a fair trade.
Now there’s no excuse for commuting without lights. However, unless you cycle to and from work on deserted country lanes or are planning any night rides through winter, there’s no need to splash heaps of cash on bike lights. Here are a selection of front lights, rear lights and sets that won’t break the bank.
Knog Boomer USB front and rear lights
Knog’s Boomer lights were updated earlier this year so they’re now USB rechargeable, meaning you can plug them in at your desk and remove the risk of running out of juice mid-ride.
The Aussie firm were just about the first to bring the silicon-cased light to market and the Boomer’s design makes it incredibly easy to switch between bikes. If you ride more than one bike to work, these are ideal.
Light output is an impressive 55/30 Lumens front/rear with a selection of five modes. Charge time is between two and four hours and the lens contains a low-battery indicator.
Front and rear lights are available separately, priced at £34.49 and £32.49 respectively.
Revolution Flash front and rear lights
A variation on the silicon theme, Revolution’s Flash lights beat Knog on price and are a snip at £9.99 a piece (so just £19.98 will see both ends of the bike covered).
Like the Knog lights, these are a breeze to fit and move between bikes. Stated brightness is just 10 Lumens for the front light and six Lumens for the rear. That’s pretty low but the Collimator lenses do a good job of optimising the light output.
The lights are small and weigh 38g for the front and 28g for the rear so they’re also ideal for keeping in your jersey pocket in case a weekend ride extends into dusk.
Exposure Flash and Flare front and rear lights
Don’t be fooled by the small size of these Exposure lights – they pack an almighty punch. Flash is a front light, while Flare is the rear equivalent.
The lights are turned on with a twist of the lens – easy when wearing gloves – and there are two modes – constant and flash – available.
The casing provides protection from the elements, as well as accidental knocks and bumps, but the silicon band makes for quick and easy attachment.
These aren’t cheap and both lights are available in a bundle for £75 with disposable batteries or £85 with a rechargeable battery – but they’re a no-compromise solution.
Lezyne Mini Drive front light
Lezyne launched their three-strong range of lights at Eurobike and, as expected, they look great. The Mini Drive is the cheapest light in the range at £49.99 and, as such, it’s designed for commuting or training on familiar roads.
The 150 Lumen LED can run on three constant modes of varying brightness, as well as a flashing mode. Two handlebar mounts – 31.8mm and 25.4mm- are handily included and the light is easy to secure. Charging is by USB but run time on full brightness is less than an hour. Watch out for a full review on RCUK soon.
Niterider Mako 2 Watt front light
Niterider’s Mako 2 Watt front light is new for 2012 and we particularly like the inclusion of ‘gills’ on either side of the light unit which emit a red light, thus improving your side-on visibility. Perfect for commuting.
The light itself is powerful too, with full-power brightness a stated 130 Lumens. Three modes are available, with run times ranging from 25 hours on the most powerful setting to 200+ hours flash, from two AA batteries.
A helmet mount is included – great if you ride off-road – and the retail price is £39.99.
One23 Intense Bright 1 front light
Like Niterider’s light, the One23 Intense Bright 1 ticks the commuter box thanks to two small windows on either side of the unit to provide additional illumination.
It’s powered by a single ‘hi-Lumen’ one watt LED with up to 24 hours run-time from three AAA batteries. Three modes cover high beam, low beam and flashing, while the tool-free fitting is easy to attach to the ‘bars.
Retail price is £28.99, and you can find the Intense Bright 1 in a bundle with One23’s Super Bright 0.5 watt rear light for £39.99.
What lights do you use for commuting? Tell us on the forum.