Lights Tristan

Brief hands-on guide to bicycle lights

We approached a few active bike commuters in Luxembourg to share their tips on bicycle lights: what works best for them and what they can recommend. B:loft team has also added their favourites. By this post we wish to raise our awareness of visibility of cyclists in traffic and by the same token of safety of all road users.

Antonia Morga:

Bike lighting from SON delux dynamo combined with SON LED Edelux. What I like most about this system is that as soon as you come into a dark place the lights switch on automatically. No need to be charged. Ready to use straight from the garage. Expensive but worth it as I’ve been using them for 6 years now.

 

Producer’s website:

http://www.nabendynamo.de/produkte/sondelux_en.html

Jacket from Lumo with flashing led lights: white in front and red on the back. A nice piece of garment. I usually put the led lights on early morning and in the evening. I feel very secure in certain situations, for example in traffic when there is not much street lighting, especially when I enter a one-way street. I’m not only visible to car drivers, but also to pedestrians in shared spaces.

Producer’s website: www.lumo.cc

J, @Luxembourgize!

Reliable and powerful bike lights seemed to be an unfulfillable promise back in the 1990s. Exemplary for that era are both large lamps in the background of the photo: you had to use large batteries, lighting was poor and did not last even a whole night. And they were ugly and bulky too. Since the introduction of LED technology, bike lights have become much better in every aspect. I bought a then powerful SIGMA (left) with Li-Ion accu pack a few years ago for nightly MTB riding. The back light (the red one) from LEZYNE was cheap, as well as the M-Wave (the one with strange “War of the Worlds” look). The front light (right) with no visible brand served me several years. Despite all being LED, lights of the front row are all outdated now. You can buy even better LED lights with built-in rechargeable accu and more lighting power.

Personally, I like detachable lights that can easily be transferred from one bike to another. As cars tend to have increasing powerful lights, it is recommendable to go for high lumen on bike too. Look for lights designed to make you visible for cars coming from your side when you approach a crossing, that is really important when choosing a good light. Whatever brand you use is less important, having lights when it counts is what matters.

Producers’ websites: http://sigmasport.com, http://Lezyne.com, http://m-wave-bike.com

Tristan Schmurr (B:loft Team):
I ride a lot in the countryside and needed a powerful light to see clearly in the countryside/forest at night (to avoid debris and branches) and to attract others’ attention from afar. What caught my attention was the Exposure Joystick Mk10 (now replaced with Mk11, which is a bit more powerful). One of the reasons why I acquired it was that it’s made in Europe. It comes in a nice box that contains the light, two bike mounts, a helmet mount, a charger and a USB charging cable (so I can keep one in the office and the other at home). It is light and small and therefore can fit into a pocket. They say it can unleash 800 lumens of light (equivalent of a 60W incandescent light), I didn’t measure it but it’s very bright at full power (but drains the battery quickly). Downside is it works too well and can blind others (especially cyclists or pedestrians in the dark – even at low power). All the commands (blinking mode, power, on/off) are managed by a single button – which also shows the battery level.
Producer’s website:

Gosia Lawer (B:loft Team):

I’ve got a turbulent affair with my bicycle lights. Much as I want to stay visible as a cyclist on a road, I’ve often failed because I tend to forget to recharge or change a battery. Or I am absent-minded and leave lights at home. Or even worse, I was once robbed of my front and rear lights. Luckily, when visiting Copenhagen, I discovered lights for myself: REELIGHTS. They tick off many boxes: 1) no need to recharge them as they use electromagnetic induction (magnets on bicycle spokes and a coil in the light create a magnetic charge), 2) no need to remember to take them as they are permanently mounted on the hub. So far it has deterred potential robbers, 3) they are battery-free, thus eco-friendly. The downside is that they stop blinking when I pull up at traffic lights. Also, they let drivers see me as long as I’m moving but they are not designed to shed a strong beam of light on the road ahead. Anyway, this is a good and foolproof base to build up your bicycle light system.

Producer’s website: https://www.reelight.com/en/

Alex Hummel (B:loft Team)

The most important thing for me is that my lights are always operational and I do not have to deal with changing batteries or re-charging them. In the past, I always ran out of battery when I needed light and always forgot buying new ones. Eventually, I ended up riding without lights which was clearly a no-go.

Therefore, my “normal” lights are powered by a Shimano dynamo hub that is bulit into my front wheel. It powers my front and back lights and there is sufficient power in the system so lights stay on for a few minutes even after the wheel stops. This is important when halting at traffic lights.
As a “backup”, I use magnetic powered Reelights from Denmark that flash and make me even better visible.
Both, the normal as well as the backup lights are always operational – day and night. They never turn off.
Producer’s website: http://bike.shimano.com

 

Feature photo: Tristan Schmurr

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