I’m often asked about bike lights. What should I get? What works best? USB or battery operated?
The answer is, it all depends.
I know, that sounds like a cop-out. But – what kind of riding are you doing? Do you ride mostly during the day, or also ride at dusk or at night?
If you’re doing daylight riding, you should be looking for a light that offers a daylight strobe mode. This will operate at the brightest possible lumen capacity for the light (a lumen being a measure of the brightness of a light). You want to be seen.
If you’re riding at night, especially in places where there’s not a lot of ambient light, you should look for the light that offers a wide spread and throw (lux is the measure of spread of lumens) so that you can see obstacles in front of you – potholes can be really scary when you can’t avoid them. You want to see.
USB rechargeable versus battery operated – my view is this: you can always bring an extra (charged) battery along on a ride; you cannot always bring an extra computer or power outlet. That being said, the USB rechargeable lights will generally have a higher capacity of lux and lumen. Make sure you check your lights’ charge before you go out and make sure to add “charging lights” to your pre-bike ride routine.
There’s a whole other world of visibility accessories that you can add to your bike and to your clothing – I’ll delve into those soon.