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Grab A Bike Light and Own The Night

There's no good reason why the long dark nights should stop you from enjoying your cycling. All, you need, is some carefully chosen and well-placed lighting and you'll be just as visible at night as you are during the daylight hours. Night riding can free you from the boredom of the turbo trainer and if you ride off-road you'll find that you and your buddies have the trails all to yourself.

Like cycle computers, bike lights have come a long way in a few short years. The advent of efficient LED bulbs and Li/Ion battery packs have increased potential light output and run times such that at the top end of the market you can truly have your cake and eat it now! At the other end of the price spectrum you can choose from compact flashing LED lights with USB charging ports that will last an entire week's worth of commuting between charges and are bright enough to make sure that you are seen by other road users from hundreds of feet away. There has truly never been a better time to venture out onto the roads and trails at night.

At Planet X / On-One towers we tend to think of lights as falling into one of three broad category; 'be seen', 'see with' and 'own the night'. There's a fair bit of overlap between lights in each of these categories in terms of how much light they give, how long they run for and how much they cost. So here's the run down on what we think works and why.

The 'be seen' category includes all the small lights that you see everywhere. From tiny, rubber moulded, flashing red or white LED lights like the Phaart Bone Head LED to bar mounted headlights offering a range of flashing and constant illumination modes. The cheapest start at a couple of quid each for the silicon moulded lights powered by small button cells and move up to the more expensive, better built and more carefully designed lights like the Smart Lunar 25 front light that can take standard or rechargeable AA batteries or the Smart 500 USB light set whose front light includes an internal battery pack that can be recharged from any USB port. The general rule of thumb with these lights is that they tend to have run times (measured in minutes) that are greater than their light output (measured in lumens). So lights like the Smart R1 rear light that runs for 1800 between battery swaps and outputs just 100 lumens is a perfect example of the breed, and probably the best value for money rear light on the market.

The next category is the lights to 'see with' these include the vast majority of handlebar or helmet mounted commuter lights. It is this section of the market that has benefitted most by the march of progress in recent years. High efficiency LED emitters (bulbs) from well-known brands such as CREE have sounded the death toll for old-fashioned filament and HID (high-intensity discharge) bulbs that ruled the roost just a few short years ago. 'See with' lights have power outputs measured in the hundreds of lumens. A typical handlebar mounted commuter light that can be used on its own on like the Ferei B5 will provide enough output to light the way safely. The more powerful models like the Ferei BL200S tend to offer close to 800 lumens, which allows you to see further in the distance and increases the maximum safe speed at which you ride in the dark.

With lights to 'see with' there's more to consider than just how bright they are. It's also important that you consider what type of mounting and clamp sizes they offer and what pattern of light they provide on the road ahead. Good lights come with mounts that are capable of accommodating all different bar sizes. Our favourites light in this segment is the Ferei BL100 because it offers nearly 900 lumens of illumination and throws a broad pool of light from in front of your tyre right up the road.. The 'see with' category includes the broadest selection of lights, ranging from the incredibly versatile, head mounted Ferei HL40 and up to the Ferei BL800F that offers a retina burning 1280 lumens and uses the latest Li/Ion rechargeable battery technology.

The final segment is what we refer to as 'own the night'. These are the lights we strap on when we need maximum illumination. This segment includes all the high power, 1200+ lumen capable lights that range from the super commuter lights like the 1280 lumen Ferei BL200x, for those riders who undertake long segments of their home journey without the benefit of any street lighting right up to off-road specific, downhill capable lighting systems from LUU that could easily be mistaken for an oncoming motorbike. We've tested and lived with a huge number of lights over the years and the brand, that we keep coming back to, as offering the ultimate performance and brightest light output, is LUU. These Korean made super lights use the latest high-efficiency LEDs from CREE and feature rechargeable Li/Ion battery packs using Samsung's world beating battery technology. The LUU Turbo Pro 1500 delivers 1500 lumens and long run times in an incredibly versatile package while riders looking for maximum light output need look no further than the LUU Ultra Pro 2400 that offers a scary 2400 lumens on the highest power setting.

Spending money on a great set of commuter lights is a lasting investment in your cycling. They allow you to continue your summer bike commute all through the darkest days of winter and will pay for themselves in a matter of weeks. A top of the range 'own the night' light allows you ride all year round, from dusk to dawn so that your cycling season need never stop. Let's be honest wouldn't you rather be out on your bike than struggling to keep fit on your turbo trainer or at the gym?

Grab yourself a great value bike light from our amazing selection and join us for a night ride and own the night!

8 January 2015

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