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Bike lights for commuting - minefield!!

defeverdefever Posts: 171
edited September 2017 in Commuting general
Hello fellow commuters,

This winter I'm aiming to commute home - work (14.5mile each way) more frequently to save some money and get more exercise.

The route consists of bright city streets to out of town dark roads with no street lights (can get up to 50MPH speed limit zones).

The current light set up is fine for now, but once the clock changes, I’m worried that my current lights aren’t up to the task of been seen & showing the way ahead.

I currently have:
On the bar - B'TWIN Vioo 900 USB Front Bike Light - 20 Lux
Helmet (x1) and saddle post (x2) - B'TWIN Vioo 100 Front LED Bike Light - Black

The front light claims to illuminate up to 350 Lumens and it’s quite nice (45m beam), but I want a bit more to see further and feel confident on the sections without any street light. The USB rechargeable battery life is getting shorter, concerning that it might not last 45 - 55min commute.

The other lights are cheap £2.99 lights to be “seen” type and although it feels quite strong (claims to be visible from 300m), I’m not sure the rear red lights are strong enough to be seen by other road users from good distance. I really need a rear light that’s brighter (but not too aggressive) enough to shown my presence on the road.

I’ve searched for bike light guide on Wiggle, GCN, Bike Radar, CC but it’s such a minefield finding what’s suitable for my needs! I understood that I need at least 400 Lumens on the front and 60 Lumens on the rear.

So, what do fellow commuters who cycle similar route have for front and rear lights? Any suggestions of specific models with personal experience would be very helpful to narrow down few candidate products.

Happy commuting!

Posts

  • oxomanoxoman Posts: 9,644
    Ideally get yourself USB rechargeable ones and have 2 of each i.e 2 front 2 back. I currently use moon xpower 300 and niterider lumina 750 up front, i have a Bontrager flare and a smart R2 rear light with USB. several good make out there. Lezyne, Moon, Niterider, Hope etc. The ones i have are all reasonably priced and reliable, you can get ebay cheapies but it can be hit and miss quality and reliability wise.
    Too many bikes according to Mrs O.
  • http://www.halfords.com/webapp/wcs/stor ... reId=10001

    If you're just using them for commuting.

    These are superb. They are bright enough to light up enough of an unlit country lane, to give you safe vision, and cost a lot less than the ( identical ) Lezyne versions. I have a couple of sets, 2 of those front ones, have got me back through some very dark country lanes, very late at night, no worries, the charge holds for a good few hours, even on full power static mode.

    I have a triangle rear one of these as well.

    https://www.brainybikelights.com

    It does actually work as intended as well. To the point where I know if the charge has gone, because traffic will pass noticeably closer, when it's not lit up, when the standard backup light is still on.
  • I used a cateye volt 300. It's less lumens than your current light but perfectly adequate for my commute over the last two winters. Dark stretches and lit stretches.

    Rear I use cateye x2 light. It's a good light that has 100 lumens and wide angle of visibility. Lasts ages between charges but still mostly used flashing.

    In addition to all that I used to have an old cateye el130 battery light. That was left on a rear rack bracket. Lasted a winter season between battery replacement. Now the X2 goes there on a spacer x bracket on the rack. I need a backup rear.

    On the front I used an Aldi light as back up. I like two front and rear for redundancy but the second front is a survival, get me home and seen light. Not good to ride in the dark with it.

    Right now I've broken the battery rear light and misplaced the volt 300 lumens light. So I want a front and rear light now.

    My partner has a moon xpower 360 (360 lumens) it's very well made and a good light but IMHO life between charges isn't anywhere near the volt light. Bought dirt cheap courtesy of go outdoors price match less 10% guarantee. Basically I found it £10 or more cheaper elsewhere, told them, they checked it out then knocked 10% off the cheapest price I'd found online. Almost half price!

    BTW what's a good 300 lumens front light for not much money. Good brand only not decathlon or Raleigh.
  • QuinsQuins Posts: 239
    Front light xeccon spear about 600 lumens, £29-30 odd last year. A couple of settings and flashing, bright enough for rural commute on full power.
  • defeverdefever Posts: 171
    Wow thanks very much everyone.

    I'm new to the serious bike / commuting scene so I'm not familiar with the well reputable / established bike brands. I've perceived bicycles as merely a mode of transportation so I been going to Decathlon / Go Outdoors / Lidl - Aldi for bike related accessories. (Lidl / Aldi often do some surprisingly good quality bike accessories, like work stand and waterproof jackets!)

    I'll have a look on the brand names and specific models mentioned.

    Happy cycling!
  • norvernrobnorvernrob Posts: 1,431
    I've got a 20 quid 3 Cree LED Chinese jobby on the front. Half my commute is pitch black trail and even on the lowest setting I can see exactly where I'm going, they're fantastic. When I'm on lit roads I just turn it to point more downwards. I've read reports of batteries exploding when charging, 1) I don't charge for a silly amount of time, and 2) I charge in a metal tin so don't worry about it.

    One charge easily lasts 2.5 hours for my weekly commute inbound, I charge it after that so I don't know the full life.

    https://www.amazon.co.uk/Bicycle-Headla ... ront+light
  • defever wrote:
    Wow thanks very much everyone.

    I'm new to the serious bike / commuting scene so I'm not familiar with the well reputable / established bike brands. I've perceived bicycles as merely a mode of transportation so I been going to Decathlon / Go Outdoors / Lidl - Aldi for bike related accessories. (Lidl / Aldi often do some surprisingly good quality bike accessories, like work stand and waterproof jackets!)

    I'll have a look on the brand names and specific models mentioned.

    Happy cycling!

    You'd be very wise to remember what you've learned from the VFM of Aldi / Lidl bits. Some of the stuff I've had from them has punched so far above its weight, it could win the WBO belt for bike stuff.
  • apreadingapreading Posts: 4,533
    Front you want one bright light to see where you are going and one to flash so that motorists see you. Unless you are diligent you want the flashing one to be able to go bright enough to see where you are going in case the main beam has an issue or the batteries run down. You dont want to be left walking home in the dark. Or have a spare somewhere in case of problems. You can do without the flashing one but I think it a good addition.

    Rear you want two lights on at all times - because if you just have a single and it fails for whatever reason you wont know because you cant see it - and then you die... Two lights gives you a safety net.
  • QuinsQuins Posts: 239
    I use knogg blinders for flashing and back up to see, carry 2. Agree with @apreading , carry 2 lights , front and rear, had a rear light failure , I did notice as it was on pitch black rural road, and the rear light was v bright. not a nice feeling when it went dark under the pedals... I also use reflective tape on the bike and helmet and those reflective straws on my spokes.
  • jgsijgsi Posts: 5,029
    I wouldnt be put off by Ebay Crees.. my 2 (full time commuting you need backups of everything) far superior to expensive and less powerful lezynes.. the only lezyne rechargeable that has earned its money is the rear... still good after 4 seasons.
  • defeverdefever Posts: 171
    UPDATE:

    Thanks everyone for continued advice and suggestions, it is so helpful to hear from fellow and experienced commuters.

    After getting lost in WWW reading reviews and watching YouTube clips, I decided to just go to some shops and actually see and feel some products.

    We went to Go Outdoors first (as we have the membership card) and I came out with this:

    Moon Moon Meteor X Auto & Arcturus Auto Light Set (£49.99)
    52432-050916154355667776292.jpg

    Just as I queued up at the till, I saw the "price match guarentee" post so I quickly Googled for prices elsewhere and there was a website which was selling the same set for £42.99. I asked the staff at the till very nicely about price match, showed the website, approved the price match guarentee + 10% price reduction...

    I paid a grand total of £37.00. I'm very happy with that price.

    I haven't yet tested out the lights in real situation but both front and rear lights are super bright, much better than the current set up. I feel very confident with this pair, but lets see how it performs in real life situation.

    Thanks very much everyone for all your comments.

    Happy commuting!
  • Would also take Quins advice and buy a couple of red 'flashers' for the back.
    I use a couple - one on my helmet and one on my backpack. Only cost £3 each.
    I'm worried that a single red light on the frame will merge into all of the other lights from cars, shops etc.
    2007 Felt Q720 (the ratbike)
    2012 Cube Ltd SL (the hardtail XC 26er)
    2014 Lapierre Zesty TR 329 (the full-sus 29er)
  • oxomanoxoman Posts: 9,644
    As mentioned elsewhere spoke straws, they given the illusion of the whole wheel being lit up when turning, you only need a a block of 5 or so on each wheel for this effect. Also worth thinking about is a rear flashing light on your helmet, it weirdly draws drivers attention to it because your head is always bobbing about.
    Too many bikes according to Mrs O.
  • defeverdefever Posts: 171
    Would also take Quins advice and buy a couple of red 'flashers' for the back.
    I use a couple - one on my helmet and one on my backpack. Only cost £3 each.
    I'm worried that a single red light on the frame will merge into all of the other lights from cars, shops etc.

    Yes, I also agree with this advice. I already have those £2.99 cheap “to be seen” flashing lights from Decathlon. 1x front light on my helmet and two rear ones on the frame (on both seatstay).

    Luckily, my helmet has integrated rear flashing light (another great example of impressive quality Lidl exclusive Crivit products). I use these tiny "flashers" only when I cycle after 8PM when it's really dark.

    My worry is that yes, they are flashing, but is it bright enough for other road users to recognise us in plenty of time? Decathlon claims that those lights emit 7m beam and are visible from 300m. definitely better than nothing.
    oxoman wrote:
    As mentioned elsewhere spoke straws, they given the illusion of the whole wheel being lit up when turning, you only need a a block of 5 or so on each wheel for this effect. Also worth thinking about is a rear flashing light on your helmet, it weirdly draws drivers attention to it because your head is always bobbing about.

    Another good advice is to use “reflective” material (clothing, strips, stickers, etc.) at night instead of “high-visibility” material, as it’s the reflectiveness that reflects the light source not the high-visitilibty (though hi-vis is definitely useful in daylight). One of the many things I learnt when searching for bike lights!
  • defeverdefever Posts: 171
    Another thing that I considered is “how bright is too bright?”

    This video is a good example, though it's a bit extreme case:
    Bright Bicycle Lights - A Public Service Announcement

    maxresdefault.jpg
    (That light is from a bike, not a full beam from a car)

    I’ve encountered few cyclists with clearly over the top light set up, either by quantity or the intensity of lights, and dazzled me (had to look down or away when passing). I don’t think this is good at all. Other road users must have been dazzled and/or distracted unnecessarily by intense flashes and concentrated source of light.

    Perhaps they might have had unfortunate encounter with other road and are determined to be seen since then.

    I will need to be careful of my light set up so I don’t dazzle / distract road users and light up just enough to be seen and see where I’m going.

    Happy commuting everyone!
  • Dynamo. No more batteries to worry about.

    http://www.spacycles.co.uk/m2b0s209p0/P ... ht-Bundles

    7 years in on my SON delux B&M Cyo combo and I have never regretted buying it. I added a rear light after a couple of years. You can get by with two flashy battery rear lights.
  • defeverdefever Posts: 171
    Quick Update:

    So it's been a week and a half using the light set I bought recently: Moon Moon Meteor X Auto & Arcturus Auto Light Set

    They are amazing, I'm pleased with them.

    I use the full constant light on both front and rear, both day and night. And I have both front and rear cheap flashing light on my helmet for contrast.

    At night, both in lit town street and non-lit country lanes, cars approach with caution and have been very courtenous in overtaking in most occasions.

    The front lights are very effective in terms of beam spread and brightness. The brightness is not that much different from B'TWIN Vioo 900 (20Lux), but the beam spread is much better (B'TWIN light is very boxy in its spread and quite clear cut on where it is lit and not lit). No problem in pitch dark country lanes. Oncoming cars clear their full beam far away from me as they approach, which indicates that I'm being seen from a very good distance away.

    I'd recommend this set.

    Happy cycling!
  • slowbikeslowbike Posts: 8,498
    excellent ...


    one little trick I employ on the out of town roads is to "Beam up" when there are no cars coming the other way - then, when the oncoming car dips their beam I dip my beam too ..
  • If you need a bike ride during the night for commuting, you can consider Autobag light. I like this set for the price. The front light feels solid but is still compact. The mounting mechanism for the front light is basic but sturdy. I like that the rear light is also usb rechargeable. Blinking mode on the rear light is very “loud” which should be good for safety.


  • defever wrote:

    Wow thanks very much everyone.


    I'm new to the serious bike / commuting scene so I'm not familiar with the well reputable / established bike brands. I've perceived bicycles as merely a mode of transportation so I been going to Decathlon / Go Outdoors / Lidl - Aldi for bike related accessories. (Lidl / Aldi often do some surprisingly good quality bike accessories, like work stand and waterproof jackets!)


    I'll have a look on the brand names and specific models mentioned.


    Happy cycling!


    You'd be very wise to remember what you've learned from the VFM of Aldi / Lidl bits. Some of the stuff I've had from them has punched so far above its weight, it could win the WBO belt for bike stuff.

    This is true. For the price, many items are great quality. Last year I bought a saddle from Lidl. A saddle is such a personal thing it's impossible to tell by looking at one if it will suit you or not, but this one cost £7.99, so I figured if it was uncomfortable or fell apart after a few weeks I wouldn't have wasted much. But it turned out to be more comfortable than the stock saddle, and the Fizik one I had been using more recently. This year they were available again from Lidl, so I bought two more for other bikes.
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