Alas, the sun is going down earlier and earlier and I find I need a good solid bike light.
I ride mostly in the city for recreation and commuting. Recreationally, I love riding at night and would love to continue that. On weekends, I'll sometimes ride out to the suburban trails and I don't want to be limited by the sun going down.
For commuting, I often take shortcuts down dark side streets or the street lamps are sometimes out on major streets. I want people to be able to see me (and vice versa) and to be able to see the street enough to avoid hazards (like potholes, glass, garbage).
Re. riding style, I ride a Cannondale road bike and I admit, I ride kind of aggressively. My budget is no more than $80 (but it also depends on functionality/value).
How many lumens do people find sufficient? What kinds of bike lights do people recommend? Anyone have one that has low/medium/high levels or different flashing options?
I paid just under $100 for the Nightrider Lumina 350 a few years ago. You can now get it for $50. http://www.rei.com/product/891683/niterider-lumina-micro-350-bike-l.... Gernerally in the city you can use less lumens and in the burbs you need more. Less ambient light. Flashing allows others to see you. constant and bright allows you to see what is in front of you. I find this more than adequate for a ride that is 2/3 in the city flashing and 1/3 in the burbs on a constant beam. I really don't need to use the high but since I have enough battery life I do. The low or medium setting is really enough. If you want to go off road or spend more time in the dark there are higher capacity lights. At your budget you can go 550. http://www.rei.com/product/891680/niterider-lumina-550-bike-light At $100 you can go 750. http://www.rei.com/product/891681/niterider-lumina-750-bike-light
I have a Cateye Volt 300 that I like very much. I usually use the medium setting so the battery lasts longer. You can also purchase an extra battery to keep as backup in case you want to go for a longer nighttime ride.
I have a Light & Motion Urban 300, which has since been replaced by the Urban 350. I rarely need to use the high setting, can get about a week of use between recharges (low setting, nighttime commutes). I really like the rubber mounting strap which lets me easily and quickly swap it between bikes.
I use the Nightrider 250 daily for over 4 years. I like it, because I can charge off my computer at work for the ride home. I use the low setting and it can give me at least 2 days of riding, 2 hours each day, but I charge it up daily. I bought it around $100, but I purchase an other for $40 at Bikewagon on the web.
I also have a magicshine light with 1200 lumens. very bright on high. I only use it on low. Here is a link below from Amazon. They also got a replacement lens for $4, the beam of light is now rectangular and not round.
This link may be useful. http://thesweethome.com/reviews/best-commuter-bike-lights/
Thanks, everyone! These are great suggestions.
Sounds like most people are in the 300 lumen range.
I also like the rechargeable lights (cool, that you can re-charge the Nightrider at work on your computer) and the fact that the Light and Motion bike light is so easy to take off the bike.
I bought this: very bright, rechargeable, $40. Runs for about 3 hours on high. Have used it on dark paths at night (North Branch, South Lake Front Trail) and in traffic in Chicago and west and north suburban riding. Excellent for all uses. Easy to put on handlebars and to remove quickly. Includes a helmet strap if you like having it up there. http://amzn.com/B00GJZ015Y
I am with Steve. I have a very similar light (probably not even quite as good) and have been very happy with it. It has held up for several years under all kinds of conditions. Even in the dead of night, I rarely need the brightest setting. Something like this is definitely the best bang for your buck. Two tips: 1. Don't believe the claimed lumens for bike lights. Some, especially from obscure foreign manufacturers, are outrageously exaggerated. Check out YouTube videos for the various brands and types of lights. Secondly, if you buy this kind of light, glue a few turns of an old tube or something similar around your handlebar, then put the attachment band over that. Your light will stay in place much better if it's being vibrated.
I've been using the Cycle Beam Blinkrim - 900 for the past 2 years. It's the best light I've ever owned, and cost under $50, including the charger and battery pack.
While 900 lumens sounds excessive, if you ride in a poorly lit neighborhood, or on trails, you'll come to appreciate the strength of this light. Additionally, it offers both a steady headlight so you see the road surface and a blinking light so you are seen, simultaneously.
It needs to be charged via outlet and the battery pack needs to be attached to the bike, however, it holds a charge for a lengthy period of time.
I brought a Cateye Nano Shot 3 years ago for $50. Features: high-low beam, low battery indicator, USB rechargeable Lithium-Ion internal battery. Last September, I brought the Nano Shot Plus for $80 which has two LEDs versus the Nano's single LED. It produce 600 lumen and can light up to 15 ft in front of my bike's handlebar. The Nano Shot Plus not only come with high beam(1.5 hrs), low beam(4 hrs), but also a hyper-constant mode(2 hrs) which put the light on low beam with a constant flash on high beam at the same time. Like the Nano Shot, it's also USB rechargeable with Lithium Ion internal battery, light up to 15 ft in front of my bike's handlebar and comes in an aluminium body for durability. The beam is wider than the Nano Shot as well. It also have lighting mode memory which keep the light on the same mode prior to turning it off. It has three battery indicator: green(fully charged), amber/orange(less than 50%) and red(time to recharge). I only use it in low beam as most streets have adequate lighting. On trail, I keep it on low unless I am riding to dark asphalt section which challenges my depth perception. You should be able to get one less than $80 online. http://www.cateye.com/en/products/detail/HL-EL625RC/
Price Point is having a sale on it: http://www.pricepoint.com/Brand/Cateye/CatEye-Nano-Shot-Plus-Headli...
As for me personally, I use a lot of lights. You can get decent lights on Amazon as "add ons." I always keep a couple of extras in my bag in case my "good lights" run out of juice or get stolen or whatever.
The law in Illinois about bike lights is rather peculiar. You need a white light that can be seen from up to 500 feet on the front at nighttime. In the rear you MUST have a red reflector that can be seen from 600 feet away. You MAY add a rear red light that is visible from 500 feet to use WITH the rear read reflector.
This is really just very poor drafting when the statute was amended. The logical thing to do would be that you could use a Red Reflector OR a Red Light visible from 600 feet. It makes it unnecessarily confusing. Wouldn't any rear read light in addition to the Red Reflector be beneficial?
Here is an Infographic we just did about bike lights leading up to the implementation of daylight savings time: