Last updated: August 9, 2021

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A bicycle light is an absolute must when you are in traffic. This light is primarily for your own safety. A bicycle light helps you to see better, especially at night, but also to be seen better by others. In this way, a terrible accident can often be avoided.

Since no bicycle should be without a light, you should get a solid bicycle light. If you are looking for a good bicycle light, you have come to the right place. In our bike light test 2021 we present various models and explain all the advantages and disadvantages. This way you can choose your bike light according to your specific needs.




Summary

  • A bicycle light gives you a safety advantage in road traffic: on the one hand, it improves your visibility and on the other hand, it makes you more visible to other road users.
  • Basically, there are active lighting elements such as headlights and taillights and passive elements such as reflectors.
  • Before buying a bicycle light, you should check the illumination intensity, the duration of illumination, the attachment and the parking light.

Bicycle Light: Our Picks

Guide: Questions you should ask yourself before buying a bike light

What kind of lighting elements are there?

Bicycle lighting is very important to ensure that you are visible on the road while riding and to make it easier for other road users to see you and your bike. The lighting elements can be categorised as active and passive lighting. Active elements are electrically powered, for example by a dynamo or batteries. In contrast, passive lighting does not require a power supply. Active lighting elements include:

  • The front headlight: This emits white light in front of your bike so that your field of vision is optimally illuminated.
  • The rear light: It emits red light through a diffusing lens to the rear so that other road users can see you in the dark.

Passive lighting elements mainly include retro-reflectors, which are also called retro-reflectors. These reflect the light of external light sources, such as car headlights, directly back to them. In addition, the brightness of the reflected light depends on the reflector surface. The following applies: The larger the reflector, the better the impression of brightness.

Lighting element Category Function
Front light Active lighting element White light to the front, serves to illuminate the field of vision
Rear light Active lighting element Red light to the rear. serves to increase visibility to other
Reflector Passive lighting element Radiates when illuminated by other light sources, better visibility

What are the different power generation options?

Hub dynamo

Advantages
  • Low maintenance
  • Smooth-running
Disadvantages
  • Bike light goes out when bike comes to a stop
  • Produces electricity even when not needed

Battery or rechargeable battery operation

Advantages
  • Relatively inexpensive
  • Easy to install
Disadvantages
  • Carrying a spare battery or accumulator is advantageous

And what else is there: a USB connection

A hub dynamo produces electricity as soon as it is in operation. Especially during the day, your lights are usually switched off and the generated electricity is not used. Nowadays, many lamps have a USB connection to which you can connect your smartphone or a navigation device and use the unused electricity.

What are the different types of lamps?

Lighting technology is advancing significantly: goodbye to incandescent bulbs and halogen lamps - light-emitting diodes, so-called LED lamps, dominate the market. Nowadays, halogen lamps are mostly only found in the lower price segment. We now briefly introduce you to the different light sources:

LED lamps

When a voltage is applied to an LED lamp, the electrons in the wire emit light with a certain wavelength. Due to this limited wavelength range, the front light can only emit white light. Halogen lamps, on the other hand, can also emit a slightly yellowish light.

Light colour Description
LED lamps White Long life, bright light, low power consumption
Halogen lamps Slightly yellowish Largely displaced from the market, shorter life, less bright, cheaper

Halogen lamps

Halogen lamps have now been largely displaced from the market. The filament, which is made to glow by electricity, is contained in a halogen gas container. This design means that the wire is not used up so quickly, especially at high temperatures and brightness levels.

In contrast to LED lamps, halogen lamps convert only a small part of the electrical energy into light and also have a shorter service life. However, LED lamps cannot beat the price of halogen lamps.

What does a bicycle light cost?

A bicycle light ensures safety and signals to other road users that a bicycle is approaching. The prices for a bicycle light are low in view of its very useful function.

Decision: What types of bicycle lights are there and which is the right one for you?

Basically, a distinction can be made between two different types of bicycle lights:

  • Battery-powered or rechargeable bike light
  • Dynamo-powered bicycle light

Depending on the type and functions, some are more suitable and some are less suitable, but both variants have advantages and disadvantages. To help you decide on the best bike light for you, we will first clarify the basic differences between the various types. This will help you decide which one suits you and your needs best.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of battery- or accumulator-powered bicycle lights?

Battery- or accumulator-powered bicycle lights are widely used nowadays. Depending on the model - LED or normal bulb - the price can vary between very expensive and cheap. However, since this variant is easy to install and use and also promises very good luminosity and lighting duration, the price/performance ratio is ideal.

This variant of bicycle lighting with external energy supply also includes LED bicycle lights, which are very popular due to their low energy consumption. These lights have a rechargeable battery that provides the LED light with the necessary power to be active for a longer period of time. Long life, bright light and low power consumption - unfortunately, so many advantages are not free. LED bicycle lighting is very expensive compared to other variants.

Advantages
  • Low power consumption
  • Very good luminosity, even when stationary
  • Long burn time
  • Easy to install
Disadvantages
  • Need to be charged or replaced
  • Expensive
  • Battery-powered lights are not environmentally friendly

A big advantage of battery-powered bicycle lights is that they provide a continuous light. Even when the bike is not moving, the lights continue to shine, which can be an advantage, especially at night. The battery is charged while riding and emits light when the bike is stationary. This type of bicycle lamp is a very modern variant. Cyclists also prefer this type because it is light and does not create friction.

It also proves to be very easy to attach. Battery-powered or battery-operated bicycle lights can be easily attached to the bike with a bracket and are immediately ready for use. This makes it easy to mount and dismount the lights on different bikes. As the lights are not wired, the energy of battery-powered lights is eventually used up and they need to be recharged or replaced. Battery lighting is not particularly environmentally friendly, so rechargeable battery versions are increasingly being used.

In the case of battery-powered lights, it is not the light intensity or light quality that is decisive for their quality. In fact, the main problem lies in the attachment. If the bike light is only attached with light rubber bands, it can slip very easily. Even more expensive products with excellent luminosity suffer from this shortcoming.

When riding over cobblestones, for example, the light slips upwards and dazzles oncoming traffic. On the other hand, products with quick-release systems are convincing and can hold their position even in the event of rough vibrations.

What are the features of a dynamo-powered bicycle light and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

If you don't want to use rechargeable batteries or batteries for your bicycle lights, the inexpensive dynamo-powered version could be the right choice for you. A bicycle dynamo supplies electricity as long as the bicycle is in motion.

When the bicycle is stationary, no electricity is generated, which is why dynamo-powered bicycle lights cannot light up in such a situation. A big advantage is that dynamo-powered bicycle lights are very durable and do not need to be recharged.

Advantages
  • Inexpensive
  • Environmentally friendly
  • Durable
  • Does not need to be recharged
Disadvantages
  • Difficult to assemble
  • Resistance when riding
  • Partly with running noise
  • Can partly fail

Side wheel dynamos, spoke dynamos and hub dynamos are the three types of bicycle dynamos. The difference lies in the place of installation as well as the efficiency and price. However, they all have one thing in common: they are bicycle lighting with internal energy procurement and thus an environmentally friendly variant. They are always with you and do not need to be recharged because they generate the power themselves.

One disadvantage of bicycle dynamos is that they are difficult to install and the resistance when pedalling is higher. This means that more strength and endurance is needed when cycling. There is also a disadvantage in terms of noise - there can be a high running noise. Although there are dynamo-powered bicycle lights that work almost without friction and silently, even these models can easily fail in case of malfunctions.

Type Description Application
Battery-powered bike light Consists of two lights for front and rear that are mobile. You can easily mount and dismount them. You can charge the battery at home. Charge the battery and attach the light to the bike. You either have to screw it on or attach it with cable ties. Some also have a rubber loop that you wrap around the handlebars.
Battery-powered bike light Consists of two lights for front and rear that are mobile. You can easily mount and dismount them. Powered by batteries, which you can buy separately buy the right batteries, insert them as indicated and attach the light. You must either screw it on, fasten it with cable ties or, if a rubber loop is available, wrap it around the handlebars.
Dynamo-powered bicycle light Dynamos are permanently installed on the bicycle and are wired to the lights. As you ride, you generate the electricity that lights up the lamps. As a layman, it is difficult to install a dynamo correctly, so it is best to consult a bicycle repair shop. Then you have to move the dynamo so that it runs on the tyres or rims.

Buying criteria: These are the factors you can use to compare and evaluate bicycle lights

Maybe you already have your eye on a certain bicycle light, but you are still not sure whether it meets your personal requirements and the legal requirements. In order to simplify your purchase decision, we will show you below which criteria you can use to compare and evaluate bicycle lights. Decisive factors for evaluating a bicycle light include:

  • Illuminance
  • The duration of illumination
  • The fastening
  • The parking light

In the following sections, we will show you what the individual purchase criteria are and give you advice for a purchase decision that is perfectly suited to you.

Illuminance

The illuminance of a bicycle light indicates how strong the light shines at its brightest point. The values usually vary between 10 and 80 lux. But be careful: This value does not give you any information about how evenly the road and the edge of the road is illuminated, both near and far. To illustrate this phenomenon, let us give you an example: You want to test a light with 60 lux against a light with 40 lux.

Intuitively, you would assume that the 60 lux light is a better bicycle light. But wait: The illuminated radius plays a decisive role in your decision. If the radius is larger with the 40 lux light, then this light is the better choice.

Did you know that there are bicycle lights that are brighter than car headlights? There are lights with up to 5000 lumens. You can use them to perfectly illuminate dark forest paths and the like. The range is up to 380 metres. This means that the light can easily serve as a high beam. In comparison, you only need 270 lumens for the city.

The duration of the light

The maximum runtime of a bicycle light depends largely on the capacity of the battery. There is a tendency to minimise battery life with higher illuminance.

Many lights have a so-called eco-mode, with which you can gradually reduce the light output depending on the local conditions in order to extend the runtime.

You should also remove the batteries from the light after each use. This way you can prevent the batteries from leaking or running down faster than intended.

Mounting

Most lights are not permanently mounted in the frame, so it is easy for strangers to steal the light. The bike light should be easy to detach and reattach so that you can remove it when you stop cycling.

Fahrradlicht am Vorderrad

Not every bicycle light is sturdily attached to the frame of the bicycle. Source: Yannick Pulver / Unsplash.com

The parking light

Without a parking light function, dynamo-powered bicycle lights would switch off when you come to a stop at traffic lights, for example. Manufacturers have reacted to this problem and developed the parking light function.

Capacitors are used in the light system that supply the light with power for a short time when the dynamo is not in operation. When buying a bicycle light, make sure that it is equipped with a parking light function.

Interesting facts about bicycle lights

REVOLIGHTS - the bicycle light of the future

The 360-degree illumination of REVOLIGHTS is revolutionising bicycle lighting. The new technology, which uses neither rear lights nor headlights for the front of the bikes, is designed to increase both your visibility and the visibility for other road users. The REVOLIGHTS are narrow LED strips that are mounted around the wheel rim. The strips are red for the rear wheel and white for the front wheel.

And what is so revolutionary about this lighting system? A control unit detects the position of the LEDs while riding, so that only the part of the LEDs facing forwards and backwards is supplied with energy and lights up. In addition, the LEDs of the front wheel shine forwards and downwards and the LEDs of the rear wheel shine backwards and downwards.

A true revolution! We would like to point out directly that the REVOLIGHTS are not yet approved for use on public roads when switched on. As the manufacturers are currently still in the approval process, it is very likely that the REVOLIGHTS will soon receive road approval.

Image source: Pixabay.com / Tama66

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