Lights Buying Guide

Lights Buying Guide

In the Criterium Cycles Lights Buying Guide, we set out the key points to be taken into consideration when buying any lights for your bikes. We start with the two rules to consider before look at the many options that are available.

Obey the Law

It is the law in the UK that between the hours of sunset and sunrise, you must be displaying at least one white light at the front and one red light at the rear plus have a reflector at each end of your bike and on your pedals. Watch out for the reflector bit – that catches many people out!

Lights are always good

It is never against the law to have lights on your bike during the daytime so we always advise having daytime running lights if you can. They will make a big difference to your safety and well being when out on our roads.

Check out this video of President of Trek Bicycle, John Burke, explaining why daylight visibility is so important and advantageous.

How to measure brightness

The power of a cycle light is measured in Lumens so it goes without saying that a 1000 Lumen light (which is extremely bright by the way!) is considerably brighter than a 100 Lumen light. The Lumens scale is linear so 200 Lumens is twice as bright as 100 Lumens. However, it is worth noting that the human eye can be deceived by a number of factors so be aware of these when considering cycle lights.

How much more light does it take to be noticeable?

A 120 Lumen light is going to look pretty much the same as a 100 Lumen light to the human eye. As a very general rule of thumb, all other factors being equal, Light B needs to be approximately twice the power of Light A in order for Light B to be noticeably brighter to the human eye.

Is focus important?

Yes it is. Just as when you use a garden hose and make the nozzle small the jet becomes much more concentrated even though you haven’t turned the water tap at all, exactly the same applies with light. A focused beam will be brighter than an unfocused one.

Does strobing or interruption work?

It most certainly does. Bontrager for instance have done a great deal of research into this and discovered that with their Ion and Flare lights, the interruption of the light (into a mild strobe effect) causes motorists to be far more aware of cyclists and give them much more room when passing.

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