Cycling at night is the best way to avoid the scorching heat, especially in Australia. But, as soon as the sun begins to set, you will need bike lights to see where you are going and to be seen by others as well. And this is not a question of personal preference, this is actually the law. The Australian bike law states that at night, or in conditions of low light, the bike’s front and rear lights must be visible from 200 meters and the bike must also have a red rear reflector which is visible from 50 meters, otherwise penalties may apply.
Regardless of the law, let’s use some common sense. Cycling at night without any lights equals suicide. First of all, you need to see where you are going especially when you are riding off-road. Hitting a hole or a rock when you are going downhill in the woods can turn out really nasty. But, lights are just as important in an urban environment and many cyclists don’t bother with them because they feel that they can see enough to navigate. However, the greatest danger in an urban environment are motor vehicles. The chances of a car-bike collision drastically increase at night. This is why it is crucial to make yourself visible in traffic with proper lighting.
Most bicycles today don’t come with lights as a part of the standard equipment or if they do have them, they are practically toy lights with poor performance. So, if you are frequently riding your bike at night, you will need some serious lighting equipment.
Thanks to the advances in LED and battery technology, nowadays you can choose from a large variety of high-quality LED bike lights. There are many factors you need to consider when choosing one and some of them include the usual features you look into when purchasing any type of flashlights such as the light output, run time, housing, interface, and, of course, the price. When it comes to LED bike lights you must also consider the mounting system.
Basically, a good bike light must have enough light output to provide visibility on the trails and make you visible in traffic. A decent LED bike light is usually anything with over 300 lumens, but it is very common to find lights that produce well over 1000 lumens and the difference is quite notable. For a maximum run time, go for the latest rechargeable lithium batteries since they are inexpensive, compact, and can be recharged hundreds of times which also makes them an eco-friendly alternative to disposable batteries. As for mounting, choose a bike mount which is easy to use, doesn’t require any tools to install, it allows you to adjust the light angle, and of course, securely attach the bike light. And at last, consider your budget. Bike lights can cost from around 100$ up to 900$ in some cases, and as the price goes up, so does the light output, run time and the range of other features as well.