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Get Lit–Light Up Your Next Ride

October 23, 2015

As the seasons change, riders have less daylight to ride in. Does that mean you have to ride less too? Not necessarily. How you ride and with what light set up can make all the difference.

To begin, Austin City Code and Texas Transportation Laws require bikes to have a working front light and a rear reflector when being ridden before dawn and after dusk. And, frankly, a rear light is a better option than just a reflector. Beyond that, there are light options available to meet all types of cycling needs.

If you’re a mountain bike rider that tackles trails after work, a light that truly illuminates a broad swath of space in an area with little ambient light is a must. For dedicated commuters riding not only in the darker portions of the day, but also around town during work hours, lights are a must. Road riders sneaking in a workout need to see road debris and be seen when getting that workout done during lunch or after the kids go to bed. And even recreational riders, heading downtown to catch a show, need to comply with the law and stay safe.

Lights come in many designs and with a number of features. The most important things to consider are:

MOUNT:

How and where does the light mount? Does the mount require tools? Can it be mounted on the bike, helmet, or bag? Silicone straps are what many lights use for mounting, making it easy to take your lights with you when parking your bike for extended periods. Higher mounted lights are easier to see, making helmet mounts a popular option.

CHARGING:

Is the battery rechargeable or do you need to have replacement batteries? If it is rechargeable, how long does it take to get a full charge? Most lights use a USB charger, and many charge in about 4 hours. Perfect for making sure you have enough light for the ride home from work.

LUMENS:

Lumens measure the amount of light that is emitted. Watts measure how much energy is consumed to produce the light. How many lumens does the light emit? More lumens means a brighter light.

OUTPUT:

What different settings are there in terms of the output? Is it just a steady beam or is there a flashing mode? Is there a high and low setting? Running your light in a low or even flashing setting in areas where there is some ambient light can conserve battery for when you really need the higher output setting.

How important any one feature is often depends upon how you are riding.

Recreational Commuter Road Ride Trail Ride
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Run Time dT9KeXnBc dT9KeXnBcdT9KeXnBcdT9KeXnBc dT9KeXnBcdT9KeXnBc dT9KeXnBcdT9KeXnBcdT9KeXnBcdT9KeXnBc
Recharge Time dT9KeXnBc dT9KeXnBcdT9KeXnBcdT9KeXnBcdT9KeXnBc dT9KeXnBcdT9KeXnBc dT9KeXnBcdT9KeXnBcdT9KeXnBc

With so many lights to choose from and with each having a seemingly endless array of features, we’ve picked out a few of our favorites for wherever your bike takes you.

Serfas's TSL-2500 is the light to have for nighttime trail riding.

Serfas’s TSL-2500 is the light to have for nighttime trail riding.

Our favorite trail light is the Serfas TSL-2500 headlight ($399.99). At 2500 lumens this is the brightest light Serfas has ever made. Some around the shop compare it to a car headlight. It’s that bright. Tool-less mounting options let you place it on your bike or helmet, with different cord lengths to reach the external battery pack in a jersey pocket or Camelbak. It also has a remote option so you never have to let go of the bars to turn it on or change settings. Its wall charger takes 4 hours for a full charge and in “non-overdrive mode,” it’s still 1600 lumens strong and will run for 2 hours and 45 minutes.

Bontrager's Ion 700 is a great solution for the dedicated commuter as well as road riders training when the sun is low in the sky.

Bontrager’s Ion 700 is a great solution for the dedicated commuter as well as road riders training when the sun is low in the sky.

Recreational riders cruising town may be able to see fine but still need to be seen. The Serfas USL-155 ($39.99) fits the bill for a reliable headlight. At 155 lumens it’s great for city riding where there’s sufficient ambient light, or for cruises along Town Lake as the sun begins to set.

Specialized's Stix Sport light set is small and easy to use, perfect for recreational riders or those looking for a minimalist light during sunrise rides.

Specialized’s Stix Sport light set is small and easy to use, perfect for recreational riders or those looking for a minimalist light during sunrise rides.

For a tail light for riders that may get caught in waning daylight, there’s the Serfas Thunderbolt taillight ($44.99). Silicone strap mounting and USB rechargeable, the Thunderbolt is a nearly ubiquitous light on employee bikes that primarily see commuter miles. There’s also the Specialized Stix Sport light set ($54.99) a front and rear combo pack that’s small on size but big on versatility. It has 7 to 14 lumens output and depending on if it’s in steady high beam mode or flashing, can run for 2.8 to 18 hours. It too is USB chargeable and its mounting options are endless too, fitting a wide range of bars and seatposts, including aero posts with separately available straps.

Of course, lights aren’t just for night. Think about daytime running lights on a car. It only makes sense to run lights on your bike during the day as well. Many lights have “daytime modes” specifically designed to be more visible during clear daylight. These settings also generally consume less power, prolonging your battery life.

Lights like the Specialized Flux Expert have setting specifically designed for daytime use.

Lights like the Specialized Flux Expert have setting specifically designed for daytime use.

Bontrager’s Flare R ($59.99), the aforementioned Bontrager Ion 700, as well as Specialized’s Flux Expert ($99.99) are all great options that work well for commuters and road riders that offer specific daytime running modes. These settings use specific lumen outputs as well as flash patterns to attract the eye and make the light more visible even during clear daylight.

There are countless lights out there, and many, many more in store so you can find the one that’s just right for how you ride. Stop in and let us light the way for you.

 

 

 

 

 

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