I’ve always been very keen on making sure I have a good set of lights for my bike, not so much for seeing by as I don’t normally stay out after sunset, more for being seen. I have looked into bright lights for bikes and bought a few to try them out, but experience has taught me that bright lights for seeing dark roads can’t get away from the problem of carrying around a heavy and often bulky battery pack if I wanted something that would last longer than 60 minutes; I made the conscious decision to eliminate this need as much as possible by simply not being out after sunset.
Riding to and from the trails is great as it means I get a good warmup by the time I reach the forest (it is uphill all the way), this is not a problem during the summer months as the light doesn’t fade until well after 9pm and I hope to be back home long before then, but during the shorter daylight hours of winter a few dark clouds can dramatically affect the light levels and thus my visibility to other road users. Mountain bikers and probably many road cyclists may scoff at reflectors but I still believe the British Standard is worth paying attention to, it is designed for the UK after all despite the very lax European standards which are undoubtedly more based on continental cycling habits and seasonal light levels etc. To this end I scoured bike shops and the internet for lights that met BS6102/3, what I found was basically Cateye and their TL-LD570 front and rear lights, nothing else seems to be available anymore, but while these lights are still made I don’t think there’s much of a need as they are brilliant for being seen.
The front light looks pretty nifty on the bike and presents a large reflector for any car headlights to light up – even if the batteries fade or go flat I will still be visible to an oncoming car (assuming they have their lights on of course).
The Cateye mount that fits the 32mm bars comprises of #544-0892 Universal Clamp and 5445610 Bracket. The light itself is light-weight as it uses just two AAA batteries which last a very long time, the brackets are sturdy and tight enough that the light never bounces out even on the mountain bike when riding the trails all day.
The TL-LD570-R rear light is the same as the front in form and function. I have actually noticed a difference in motorist behaviour when I have the rear light lit on a dim or dark day, they tend to keep their distance more and give more space when overtaking. The lights have a variety of pulse and flashing patterns as there are LEDs ranged across the face of the light behind the reflector, including a steady central light which is not enough to light up the road in the pitch black but definitely enough to be seen by. I also use this on the mountain bike when riding on the road if the light is bad or fading, attached using Clip (C-1N) #544-0900N on the saddle bag light fitting loop. The rack mount bracket is Cateye #5445620.
As well as lights and reflectors, I also try to buy cycling clothing that includes reflective stripes, including shorts, jackets, overshoes, tights, you name it I want reflective stripes on it! I have tyres with a reflective stripe around the circumference which really shows up well at night in car headlights from the side, outlining the wheels to make it very obvious that it’s a bike.
Lights, reflectors, and reflective clothing are all about safety on the road, not about looking good or being hip.