For many cyclists, both avid and more experienced. When asked if they use lights on their bike, the common answer we receive when asking this question, is either they don’t ride at night, or that they only use lights when riding at night or in the dark.
I used to be of the same mindset. Unfortunately it took a couple of hard lessons to learn that it is probably a good idea to be using lights on my bike every time that I rode, regardless of lighting conditions. For those that have had the misfortune of being in an altercation with a motor vehicle can relate to the unpleasantries that can result from such incidents. I can recall a time where I was literally minutes from home, travelling eastbound on Cornwall, just west of Maple Grove. It was a beautiful summer morning, blue skies, sun was shining, birds were chirping, and oblivious drivers were out and about… As I was rolling along, all of a sudden this car which was making a left hand turn into a parking lot, proceeded like I wasn’t even there, I slammed my brakes, while cursing every obscenity know to man kind at this motorist, but it was too late, my bike ploughed into the passenger front wheel of the car, the front end of my bike disintegrated, I did a nice somersault, and next thing I knew, I was on the ground with the motorist standing above me asking if I was alright, and that she didn’t see me! Once I could comprehend what just happened, I looked up at her and asked if she was F%*#$@ nuts!
Shortly thereafter, the paramedics show up, and away I go on a Ince little drive in the ambulance over to Oakville-Trafalgar Memorial hospital, when it was still on Reynolds Ave :)
Thankfully the extent of my injuries were a mild concussion, scrapes and bruises, along with a cracked helmet, and a bike that was broken in half! Things definitely could have been worse to say the least.
It makes me wonder, what could have been if I had some flashing lights on my bike?………..
Especially a front one! Which oddly enough doesn’t sell nearly as well as rear lights! The reality is that both a front and rear are required for optimal safety. Many motorists don’t realize how quickly all of us lycra clad cyclists are whizzing down the road.
The good news is that bike lights are improving dramatically. No more replacing batteries, as many of the lights are now USB rechargeable, and allows for a more compact light that you can keep as a permanent fixture on your bike. While lights are becoming more compact, they are becoming much brighter for their size, paired with different flashing features for daytime and night time. What is even more impressive, is the introduction of lights that have a Radar feature. The Garmin Varia for example is quite brilliant, as it senses for oncoming cars and sends a warning to the rider on their GPG computer. The light also becomes brighter as passing cars approach. For those that are timid around cars, the Garmin Varia is like having a set of eyes on the back of your head.
Here is our list on some of the best lights right now:
Knog Cobber - https://www.racersportif.com/search?q=cobber
The Knog series of cobbler lights are some of the brightest for its size. At 110 lumens for the front and 50 on the rear of the mini models, these light pack quite the punch. The coolest part is the fibre optic technology and the shape of the lights combine to provide a 330 degree beam angle. It’s almost like you can see the front light from the back, and the back light from the front. The Cobber’s are also available in larger size with a 320 lumen front light and a 170 lumen rear light.
These are hands down the best bang for buck when it comes to compact lights. The D-Lights use COB LED technology, which make them incredibly bright. 100 lumen from and a 50 lumen rear. The shape of these lights are perfect to mount on the right side of the front fork, which helps position the light towards traffic, and the rear can mount perfectly to the rear left seat stay, which also is positioned to traffic approaching from behind. With 5 different flashing modes, these lights are perfect for daily use, and don’t require frequent charging when used in the slower flashing modes.
Blackburn 2’Fer - https://www.racersportif.com/products/2-fer-local-60-20-fr-usb
The Blackburn 2’Fer are very clever lights. They are one of the only lights that have a front and rear operating option. The light can be used either as a front light or a rear light. Though they are not the brightest lights you can get, they still have a respectable 60 lumen as a front light, and 20 lumens as a rear light. Very light at 18 grams, and a compact design that uses a mounting band, or can be clipped onto the back of your helmet, saddle bag or rear jersey pocket. I’ve used these lights for running and clip one onto the front on my toque in the winter, so I can be visible when running at night, and not get smoked by a car!
Garmin Varia RTL515 - https://www.racersportif.com/products/garmin-rearview-radar-varia-rtl515
If safety is of upmost concern, then look no further than the Garmin Varia RTL515. This light / rearview radar provides visual and audible alerts for vehicles approaching from behind up to 153 yards (140 meters) away. It can be paired with most Garmin Edge cycling computers, Wahoo cycling computers, and most smart phones with the use of the Garmin Varia app. Alert motorists to your presence as soon as possible with daylight visibility up to 1 mile. The Varia also has a peloton mode, which provides a low-intensity flash that is kind to other cyclists’ eyes when riding in a group. It’s compact design can mount on almost any bike, and has up to 16 hours of battery life when used in a flashing mode. Who needs mirrors when you have a Varia!