Top Questions about Bike Lights–Answered
Bike lights are essential biking accessories. According to researchers, bike accidents can be reduced by up to 19% using bike lights.
However, while bike lights are relatively simple equipment, people still have many questions. These questions can even affect their overall biking experience and road safety.
If you're one of those cyclists who have many questions in mind about bike lights, you've come to the right place. We'll answer the Top 10 most frequently asked questions about bike lights and their effect on bikers' safety.
Are bike lights legally required?
As of this writing, there are no federal laws in any country that require the use of bike lights. However, in some countries like Germany, cyclists must have reflectors to make them visible on the road. Cyclists can opt to use bike lights in place of these reflectors.
Aside from these, some cities have included bike lights in their road safety regulations. This includes the use of a white front light and red rear light. While you won't be sued for not using bike lights, you might be reprimanded.
What's better: bike lights or reflectors?
The use of bike lights is better than reflectors.
Reflective lights only depend on the light emitted by road users and other light sources. This makes you completely unsafe when riding on dark roads or trails. On the other hand, bike lights can give you both flexibility and safety. Depending on your environment, you can adjust your bike light's brightness and light setup.
Can you use flashing bike lights on the road?
Flashing patterns are one of the best ways to increase your visibility on the road. However, some people with photosensitivity may experience blindness, headache, nausea, and even seizure when exposed to flashing lights.
While it's legal to use flashing lights on the road, some cities have set their regulations regarding the use of flashing bike lights. The most common required configuration is that the bike lights should flash only at 1-4hz, between one to four flashes per second.
Do you need ultra-bright lights when biking?
No. You don't need ultra-bright lights when biking. Excessive brightness in bike lights can cause fatal accidents. Extremely bike lights can cause blindness to other road users. A split second of blindness on the road can immediately cause road collisions.
This is why it's essential to look for bike lights with engineered optics. This feature allows the bike lights to have an optimal projection on the road. This way, you can be seen on the road even on the long-distance without causing blindness to the road users around you.
Where should you put your bike lights?
According to researchers, the most optimal positioning of bike lights is having one white light in front and one red light at the back. Ideally, both lights are aimed downwards at an angle of 3.5 degrees to illuminate the ground within 10-20 meters. This measurement ensures that you can see and be seen on the road.
There are already lots of auxiliary bike lights available in the market today. This includes a helmet, pedal, and wheel light. While these lights increase your visibility, there are still no conclusive reports which can verify their contribution to road safety.
Can you use a helmet light instead of a front light?
No. Helmet lights don't give you the right level of visibility compared to front lights.
The angle and beam of helmet light depend on your height, sitting position, and movement. Because of this, it can't give stable lighting when you're on the road. Helmet lights tend to cast light a long distance, leaving the immediate ground in front of you in the dark.
Can you use the same bike lights in the city and on the trails?
Yes. You can use some bike lights both in the city and on trails.
For front lights, properly lit city roads require around 50 lumens, while you would need about 1000 lumens for forest trails. So for front lights, it's best to look for an adjustable front light with 1100 maximum lumens. This range can be used in both cities and trails.
On the other hand, it's best to have 90 lumens rear lights while biking in the city and 25 lumens on trails. City roads require higher lumens in rear lights as it's used to notify other road users about your movements and direction. For rear lights, it's best to look for a unit with a maximum of 90 lumens output.
How can you avoid bike light theft?
Most bike lights are attached to the bikes through adjustable straps–making them highly vulnerable to theft.
Luckily, there are already smart bike lights with anti-theft alerts. You'll get notifications straight to your smartphone via the app should there be any malicious activities around your bike or bike light.
What's the best battery for bike lights?
It's best to look for bike lights powered by lithium-ion batteries. You can easily plug them into a power bank, and another power source should your bike light run out of power in the middle of your ride. Most bike lights with this battery can even be used while plugged in.
What are smart bike lights?
Smart bike lights are bike lights with smartphone connectivity. You can easily adjust your light output, pattern setup, track your battery usage, and activate other smart features through the comforts of your smartphones.
These smart bike lights commonly come with their smartphone apps. The best thing about them is that these bike lights technically get upgrades when you update their smartphone apps.
While smart bike lights are more expensive than regular bike lights, it's best to get the additional safety features of smart bike lights.
As of this writing, the most popular smart bike lights are the FARINA front light and CLIQ front light. Aside from their respective smartphone apps, they're also powered with motion sensors, ambient light technology, anti-theft alerts, group synchronization, etc.
Got more questions about bike lights? Let us know in the comment sections below!