How Much Lighting Do I Need For Night Riding? (On or Off-Road)
Good Lighting Is Super Important For Safe and Legal Night Rides
Have you ever been in a bike shop and been completely confused by the amount of different products there are — especially in the lighting section? There are tons of features offered on newer lighting systems, but the real questions are: How and where do you plan on using your light, and how much do you want to spend?
Of course, the best way to make these determinations is to come in to the shop and compare features and prices, but for now, lets go over a few of the features of modern lighting systems.
1. In general, the greater the wattage, the brighter the light.
Do you need a light so that you can be seen by other riders or by cars? Or do you want something that is going to illuminate the road or trail ahead of you? If you identify more with the second question, you will want a light that is at least 10 watts. There are also systems with yellow lights, and white lights — the latter being brighter at the same wattage.
2. Tons of Features
Modern lighting systems are packed with features. There are twin- and single-beam headlight systems. There are different battery types (rechargeables are found on better lights). There are ingenious quick-release mounts so you can install and remove the light in a blink. Most lights offer high- and low-beam options like your car (use the high beam for downhills, pitch-black woods, high speed and intersections). There are even computerized light systems on which battery usage and light output is controlled via microchip.
3. A Torch To Light The Trail
The ultimate trail setup is having one handlebar light and another on your helmet. The head-mounted light illuminates your field of vision and is especially handy for following bends in the trail because it moves with you as you turn to look (just don't look directly at friends when riding because you'll blind them for a few seconds). Meanwhile, the bar-mounted beam allows monitoring conditions directly in front of the bike for bumps, roots and trail irregularities.
4. Portable Power
High-watt light systems require large amounts of power so battery systems have gotten very sophisticated. In ascending order of cost, bicycle lighting systems use lead-acid batteries, Nickel-Cadmium (NiCad) batteries, and Nickel-Metal-Hydride (NiMH) batteries. NiCad batteries are lighter and less susceptible to power loss at high or low temperatures than lead-acid, and will last many more recharge cycles. NiMH batteries weigh 30% less than NiCad batteries and offer similar run-times and durability. Proper care and feeding of your battery must be followed to insure you get maximum battery life. Always follow the manufacturer's instructions regarding charging and use of any rechargeable battery.
See another post on road cycling safety:
Be Safer On The Road With These 3 Tips
Scheller's Fitness and Cycling