In traffic or on the trail, consider a light to stretch your riding time and increase your visibility. In traffic run a headlight and a taillight day or night, and make sure cars know you are there. Turn that one hour ride after work into three hours by lighting up the trail when the sun goes down.
Don’t skimp on the taillight, 15 bucks is enough to open the drivers eye to the cyclist sharing their lane.
LED’s are the answer, long runtimes, low weight, and plenty of light to get you home. LED’s mean no bulbs to replace.
Lights are available to meet every budget and brightness desired.
Here are the basics of the systems available:
Pop in some AA cells and go for a ride. These lights are inexpensive, starting around $20. The long term cost goes up as you keep buying new batteries. Lower your cost with some rechargeable AA cells, it will do the environment some good too. These lights will be the least bright and are not capable of putting out enough light for true off road use. They are great for keeping you visible to others from the front, and as a backup light to a more powerful system.
Plug the battery pack into the wall and let it charge. Some systems will charge in a couple hours, some over night. These systems will generally give you enough light for off road use and will light up your path on the darkest of nights. Great for the cyclist on the road going beyond the city lights into the darkness. Rechargeable units vary most widely in price. From $80 to upwards of $600, the more you pay the brighter it gets, the longer it runs, and the quicker it charges. Keep in mind these batteries will last you anywhere from an hour to several hours, with run times being degraded in the cold. Batteries do eventually need to be replaced, and the cost of a battery can rival that of a new system.
The generators you remember as a kid are back, and this time they are not fooling around. A generator can run on your tire or a more efficient and costly method is to house the generator into a front hub. The hub generator has the added benefits of lower resistance, and fool proof performance in all weather. (Tire driven generators may slip in wet weather.) A generator will power a headlight, or a headlight and taillight combination. LED headlights will work for most trail riding and are the best choice for riding in most other situations as well. You don’t have to worry about being back before your battery dies. You don’t have to remember to charge your battery. And cold weather will have no effect. Generator lights also give you the option to run day and night, to increase your visibility. Most generator headlights and taillights on the market today save a little energy to keep the lights going for 3-5 minutes even after you stop. No worries, just hop on and ride. Generator packages start at $50 for a system similar to yesteryears (not much light output.) $150 to $300 will get you a light that will compete with anything on the market in the brightness arena.
Most taillights will be powered by AA or AAA batteries and will last around 50 to 100 hours. Prices start at $15 for a good taillight. Generator systems also have the ability to run a taillight with no batteries.