Front and rear lights for your bike

It’s that time of year again, the days are getting shorter and our evenings are getting darker – which is why it’s imperative that your bike is extra visible, and you can see where you’re going! Lights for your bike can be separated into two categories, lights ‘to see’ and lights ’to be seen’ both are important for different reasons, although there is some overlap. Having lights on your bike between sunset and sunrise hours is also a legal requirement in the UK, so ensure you have the correct gear to save you from getting caught out -or worse, injured.

Lights to see

Lights ‘to see’ are positioned at the front of your bike and help you see where you are riding and any potential hazards or obstacles in your path – the same as headlights do for a car. Your front light should be white, bright enough for you to see any upcoming obstacles, and set to the solid-beam option. Most decent night-time front lights range from 250 to 2,000 lumens. To visualise how bright your ‘to see’ front bike light should be, a car headlight is usually 700 to 1,200 lumens in comparison. We would recommend bikers use a 1,000-lumen bike light as a minimum for safety.

Lights to be seen

Lights ‘to be seen’ ensure that other road users and pedestrians can see you and your bike clearly to keep all parties safe. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has stated that 40% more bicycle fatalities take place between 6 P.M. and 9 P.M. than at any other time, due to the poor visibility of bicycles on roads in the dark. A light to be seen should always be positioned at the rear of your bike. Your rear light should be red and ideally pulsing, and it only needs to be bright enough for other cars to see you. Your rear light only needs to be 50 to 100 lumens—much less powerful than your front light. Remember: it doesn’t need to help you see, just be seen. Lights ‘to see’ also help with you being seen by pedestrians on your approach in the dark, meaning less potential for bike accidents.

Daytime riding lights

Although not a legal requirement in the UK, research carried out (sponsored by Trek) found that the accident rate for cyclists with constant permanent running lights is 19% lower than for cyclists without lights. Daytime lights give out a more powerful light than night-time lights, making it easier for you to be seen in conditions such as blinding sunshine or fog. However, if you do not have dedicated daytime lights, you can simply set your regular night lights to their brightest setting, on a pulse/flash setting to ensure maximum visibility and safety!

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