High-quality bike lights for improved road safety
High-quality bike lights ensure greater safety in traffic at dusk and in the dark and increase the visibility of the cyclist during his or her trip. Some bicycle lights work with a dynamo, while others are battery-charged
In the UK, according to the RVLR, you are legally required to have at least a front and rear bike light and to have reflectors on the front and rear of your bike, as well as on both bike pedals.
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What kinds of bike lights are available?
Bike lights can have various power sources, which each have their own advantages:
- Dynamo-powered bike lights use a rotating magnet to generate power
- LED bike lights run on batteries and are becoming increasingly popular
- Reflectors are used to provide extra visibility in addition to your main lights
Dynamo-powered bicycle lights
Most bikes still have a classic bicycle dynamo.
A dynamo is a small generator in which a rotating magnet generates electricity. It is usually located on the impeller and serves as a power source. As the wheel rotates, so does the dynamo and the magnet inside it, which generates electricity (around 6 volts at normal speed). This electricity is then sent through a wire to activate the front and the rear light of your bike.
A bicycle dynamo has great advantages: it’s always ready for use, doesn’t require any maintenance, and has a long service life.
In contrast to rechargeable bicycle lights or standard battery lights, a dynamo is also more weather-resistant. New bike models often come with a dynamo integrated into the hub. That means these dynamos no longer touch the tyre. A hub-integrated dynamo performs even better in rainy weather. Dynamos that start spinning by touching the tyre function poorly in wet conditions.
The increasing popularity of LED bike lights
Bike lights that run on batteries (rechargeable or not) have one big disadvantage: the possibility of being left alone in the dark when you’re caught short on battery power.
Nonetheless, battery-charged bicycle lights are becoming increasingly popular. LED bike lights especially are the new must-have lights on the cycling market. They’re efficient, energy-saving and extremely durable.
LED bike lights produce a bright and powerful light which increases your own road safety and the safety of others. What’s more, switching the lights on and off or using a flashing light functionality does not affect the service life of LEDs.
In contrast to the bike dynamo, an LED bike light also stays on when you stand still – for example at a traffic light. Bicycle dynamos, on the other hand, stop emitting light when you stop moving.
Since LED bicycle lights are mass-produced, they are not much more expensive than conventional lighting. Classic bike lights can be considered outdated, although they’re still available. Demand for these older types of bike lights is declining.
Reflectors for additional visibility
You can also opt for additional reflectors and lighting, such as wheel lights, which are installed on your wheel. This significantly increases your visibility. But don’t overdo it with lighting either – your main focus should always be road safety.
Requirements for front and rear bike lights
A bicycle must always be equipped with a front and rear light. The front light must be white, the rear light red. The Road Vehicles Lighting Regulations (RVLR) precisely defines what bike lights should look like and what requirements they must meet.
We offer a wide range of bike lights, which run on your dynamo or on batteries which meet the legal standards. The front and rear bike light both need to meet a minimum of light intensity specified by the RVLR.
No maximum power output is currently defined by law, but you don’t want to dazzle other road users. To avoid discomfort for other road users, UK law does define the optimal height of your front and rear lights. As long as the front and rear lights produce enough light intensity, they can be flashing lights.
Why high-quality bike lights are so important
It’s probably not a surprise that UK law makes it illegal to cycle without lights between sunset and sunrise. It’s all about road safety, of course. Good bike lights ensure not only that you can see where you’re going, but also that you can spot possible obstacles in time.
Additionally, there’s the “see and be seen” aspect. Bicycle lights help you to be seen by other road users. A driver, for example, can anticipate well in advance when he or she notices a cyclist by their cycle lights, helping to avoid accidents. When you cycle without lights a driver might not (or not in time) notice you. This often leads to accidents, even fatal ones.
With e-bikes, the bike light aspect has become more important than ever before. E-bikes move at higher speeds, and that’s why good visibility is so important. We recommend choosing bike lights that suit your bike and how you use it, to ensure your own safety on the road.
The Road Vehicles Lighting Regulations (RVLR)
The regulations that apply to bike lighting are defined in the Road Vehicles Lighting Regulations. If cyclists are out and about without proper cycle lights, they not only endanger other road users, but they also risk a fine of at least £50.
A dynamo is still allowed as your bike light power source. We do recommend using battery-powered lights, though, because they continue to emit light when you stop.
Bicycle lights should also be mounted up to a maximum distance from the ground: up to 150 cm for front lights and between 35 and 150 cm for rear lights. Front lights should face forwards, rear lights backwards. Both lights should also comply with the minimum light output of 4 candelas. The front light should be white, the rear light red.
According to the RVLR, a white front wheel reflector is not compulsory. But a red rear wheel reflector is compulsory.
Last but not least are the bike pedal reflectors. Your bike should have at least one amber-coloured bike pedal reflector at the front and another one at the rear of each pedal.
Lights and reflectors must comply with BS6102/3 standards. You’re allowed to follow other corresponding standards like EC standards, as long as they offer at least the same level of safety.