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Lighten up, get the right lights for your riding.

Monday, February 7th, 2011 at 4:49 pm

Rob, one of the tech’s here is what I would call a die-hard commuter; rain or shine he rides to work almost every day of the year. If you were to pass Rob while driving to work you couldn’t help but notice him because he is covered in lights, much like a very bright holiday tree, that ensure he is seen and that he can see at the same time. Rob has made commuting by bike a part of his life and there is a reason he has so many lights when he rides; because experience has taught him that there are few things as important as ensuring that you can be seen by the cars around you. So he rides with no less than six lights on his bike at once.  And while you may not need as many lights as Rob, if you are riding at night, even if you might ride at night, you are going to need a set of lights, the question is what set?

This is Roy not RobTo see or be seen that is a good question to ask yourself when you are buying a light set up for cycling. This time of year, when things are dark and the weather is what most would call sub-par it can be pretty darn hard for drivers to see a cyclist. And although some people may have the odd urge to comment that this is the driver’s problem, I assure you that if push comes to shove you will have more of a problem than the driver if you find yourself being tagged by a passing vehicle. But this is not meant to be a negative commentary on safety, rather something to get you thinking about your light set up, because there are a lot of options out there.

Simple Clip-ons

These little guys and gals are perfect companions for just in case rides or shorter rides in well lit areas. Small LED lights are inexpensive, simple and easy to install and remove at will which means if you have to leave your bike somewhere it’s easy to pop the lights off and bring them with you. The batteries are housed inside of the light casing and this makes for a convenient all in one package.  You can get small one and two LED versions and put a couple on your bike for a minimum highlight of your person. If you want something a little more substantial you can get lights with three, four or more led’s for added visibility with minimal size and weight penalty. These lights don’t cast enough light to see with but are more for those who wish to be seen. They can also work well to augment a brighter light set up as well to improve how visible you are.

Compact Powerhouses

LED technology has vastly improved in recent years and has allowed light manufacturers to create very bright yet compact lights. These lights tend to look like mini flashlights, necessary to house the batteries, and run off of three or four AA size batteries.  If you spend the money on a decent one these lights will cast enough light to light up the road in front of you. They also work well as a second light that gives a little extra to your lighting outfit. Also, there is usually an option of getting a helmet mount making these a versatile and excellent performing option when you are looking at lights.

Battery Pack Lights

These are the brightest of the bright, if you are riding in very low light areas or going for off-road night rides these are your lights of choice.  There isn’t really much more to say other than you get what you pay for here and you can pay a lot. These lights could be considered an investment as they can breach the thousand dollar mark for a truly Gucci light kit. If you plan on going here then do your research, check online reviews and talk to your local shop staff to get the low down on what they use and recommend.

This brings me to a final point; your best resource when selecting what lights are best for you is your local bike shop. The will have a wealth of knowledge gleaned from firsthand experience and feedback from other customers. Support this with a little Google research and you will be able to get the perfect lights for your ride.

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