Being safe on the roads starts with being seen. Bike lights come in many shapes and sizes. Using them on your training rides, commutes and recreational outings, especially when it’s dark or gloomy out, is what you should do to be safe. In some cases, having lights on your bike is the law. Choosing and using the right lights in the right circumstances is just as important as remembering to have them on you. So ensure you are selecting the right light for your purposes and using it correctly. For tips, follow this guide to see and be seen.
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1) Choose the right type of light
Choosing the right light starts with determining how you plan to use it. You will need a different light for seeing on dark roads compared with a light that makes you visible to drivers. Use a red light with a flash setting at the back. A chips-on-board (COB) light has LED chips packaged together to look like a single bar. They are very efficient and bright making riders using them highly visible. Up front, run a white light that’s slightly brighter and features multiple settings for visibility.
2) Make sure your light is bright enough
For seeing the road when it’s very dark and gloomy, you want a light with a more concentrated beam and more lumens. The number of lumens is a good indication of how bright the light is. The more lumens, the more visible light is being emitted, and thus it will serve you better for seeing what’s ahead. A 650 lumen light such as the Kryptonite Street F-650 will emit enough light that it will help you see even on dark recreational paths. For visibility, the Kryptonite Avenue R-45 may have far fewer lumens but is perfectly sufficient for making you visible to vehicles and pedestrians.
3) Installing your lights properly
Once you’ve chosen the right light, install it on the right spot on your bike. A rear light should go roughly in the middle of your seatpost, or high up on a seat stay. The stretchy rubber clasp is flexible, allowing you to stretch it easily around the tube for installation. A front light should go on your handlebar. Remember to place your light somewhere different if you have a bag or something else that will obstruct them. Lights, front and back, can also be mounted on your helmet. This is especially useful as it ensures the beam will follow your gaze. Other lights may come with various mounts that allow you to install them in various positions. Where ever you install your lights, make sure the direction of the beam is towards the ground to not blind drivers and other cyclists.
4) Use the right setting
Almost all bike lights have multiple settings. You can choose a blinking beam or a solid one. Maybe you want the light pumping out maximum lumens to see ahead. Or maybe you want the light on its lowest setting to save power. Time of day and weather can also influence your decision on which setting to use. Kryptonite lights have modes specific for the time of day with a day and night pulse mode.
5) Respect light etiquette
Set your lights to a solid beams or dimmed flashes while riding with company. You don’t want to blind your riding companions. Use the most aggressive bright blinking setting when it’s dark and you’re alone to make sure you are visible to cars and pedestrians. If you forgot to charge your light and have a bit of a ride home, choose the economic setting.
6) Keep your lights charged
You should get into the habit of taking your bike lights off your bike after every use. Lights are very easy to steal from a locked bike. If you have them on you, they won’t go missing. Removing them will also remind you to make sure they are charged. A great light is no use to you if it dies mid-ride. To make sure you get home safe, Kryptonite lights automatically go into an economic flash mode with 10 per cent charge remaining but you don’t want to rely on that. Depending on the settings you use most often, you should be able to determine how frequently the lights need to be charged. If you use your lights on their brightest solid setting, they won’t last as long as if you use them on a night blink setting.