Well, it’s that time of year. The days are getting shorter and shorter. I don’t know about you, but we need to keep riding regardless of sunlight or moonlight. There is something about riding at night. The same trail or street you have ridden hundreds of times take on a whole new look and feel. Shadows can play tricks on your eyes. Moonlight is not enough to light up the path. Riding can be more challenging…and dangerous.
We want you all to be able to experience the wonders of night riding. Since we always take measures to ride safely, we wanted to pass on some equipment know how on lighting systems for road riding, mountain riding, or commuting.
Safer Night Riding Begins With Good Lighting
Modern high-end light systems offer enough brightness to give your riding companions sunburn (kidding!). And, they come in a wide variety of price points. But, how much light is needed for safe road or off-road riding?
Light It Up
To illuminate the road or trail ahead for your own eyes, not just to be seen at night by others, 10 watts is a good starting point. In general, the greater the headlight’s wattage (or lumens), the brighter the light. There are also systems with yellow and white light, the latter being brighter at the same wattage (or lumens).
Find The Right Features
Modern lighting systems are packed with features. There are twin- and single-beam headlight systems. There are different battery types (rechargeable batteries 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.
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.
High-watt light systems require large amounts of power so battery systems have gotten very sophisticated. Bicycle lighting systems use lead-acid batteries, Li-Ion batteries, Nickel-Cadmium (NiCad) batteries, and Nickel-Metal-Hydride (NiMH) batteries. Li-Ion batteries and 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.
Night Rides Can Be The Best Rides
Having a good light means you can ride safely at night, which is sometimes the best time to ride. It’s after car-commuting hours so the roads are less busy. The sun’s gone down, so it’s often the most comfortable time of day, too. And, at night, off-road riding can be magical. The best way to decide on a lighting system is to come in and look at some to compare features and cost. Which one is best for you really depends on how and where you plan to use it and how much you’d like to spend. If you can answer these questions, we can help you pick the perfect light.
So this covers the basics of lighting for night riding. We would also like to supply you with more in depth information concerning basic lighting and rechargeable lighting. Check the links for more great information.
Buyer’s Guide To Basic Bicycle Lights
Buyer’s Guide To Rechargeable Light Systems
Have fun riding at night! Be aware and safe, and have a great time experiencing cycling in “another light”.