The higher the lumens, the better? We don't think so.
Just recently, we asked almost hundreds of bikers to know what's the number one quality they're looking for in a bike light. While some of them answered bike compatibility, long battery life, and other sensible ideas, almost 89% of them answered one thing:
Sure enough, brightness is an important factor when it comes to bike lights. However, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s the only factor that you have to consider when choosing your bike light.
Truth is, most bike lights with high levels of brightness tend to be highly inefficient, which pretty much equates to poor performance.
What are lumens?
A bike light's lumen rating doesn't equate to brightness. Luminosity or lumens rating is simply the output current drawn from the battery to the light. This is why bike lights with high lumens ratings usually have poor battery performance.
Not only do these bike lights with high luminosity run out of power more often, but they also have a shorter lifespan because of their battery life. An ultra bright light with poor battery life might only last up to 5 years of continuous use.
The ideal lumens rating for bike lights is 90 lumens for tail lights (including brake lights) and 1000 lumens for front lights. This luminosity level will most likely give you flexibility on the road–you can ride along well-lit cities, ride during cloudy days, and even go through dark trenches.
However, this is not all that matters regarding safety and visibility.
Sure enough, luminosity is a critical factor that determines the brightness of the light. However, it doesn't necessarily equate to road visibility. There are instances when bike lights with higher lumens can cause more road visibility issues that lead to accidents.
I got a bike light with a high lumens rating. Now what?
Sadly, that lumens rating is nothing when it’s not paired with the right optics. It won't give you enough road visibility to prevent major bike accidents on the road. In some instances, it can even cause you to be in one!
Engineered optics determine how the bike light will utilize the light intensity and how far it will be projected. In short, it allows the luminosity to be appropriately distributed throughout the road, giving you the riding visibility that you need.
Most bike lights available in the market today don't have engineered optics.
The danger of bike lights with high lumens rating with poor optics is that the brightness tends to be concentrated in one place instead of being projected at a wide angle. This will blind other road users, which can cause accidents.
CLIQ brake light comes not just with engineered optics but also with Total Internal Reflection (TIR) technology used in high-end automobiles. The TIR technology uses three individual LEDs & lenses to achieve optimal light distribution and projection compared to single-lens light. This allows the luminosity to be projected up to 270 degrees in the road–almost 50% wider light distribution than other brands.
A study on TIR technology shows that a bike light with 90 lumens can outperform its competitors with up to 300 lumens. The TIR optics boost the bike lights' visibility by up to 3x.
If you're having difficulty visualizing it, imagine this–a bike light with TIR projects the light in almost all directions like a light carpet. So, your bike light can reach the bystander on the right, a running car behind, and another biker on the left. Everyone on the road can see you're there.
This is precisely the opposite of how a bike light single LED and high luminosity works. Their brightness pierces through the eye of the driver behind you, causing him blindness.
Aside from this increased visibility and safety on the road, the TIR technology also gives you high efficiency in battery performance.
As we mentioned before, luminosity is the amount of current transferred from the battery to the lights. Bike lights with TIR banks on optics for projections and not on luminosity. This means they use less battery power to get the perfect brightness level.
Excellent optics in a bike light can increase regular battery use by up to 78%. This means you can ride day and night without recharging your lights. Furthermore, it also helps you avoid draining your battery every ride, which gravely affects the longevity of your bike light.
So, did you buy your bike lights because of their lumens rating? If yes, it's time to search for a new bike light that can give you visibility and safety on the road–and not just useless brightness!