LED Bike Lights

LED lights were once considered basic blinky lights. Simple, light and forever lasting. Up until the past two years lights were considered “to be seen” or “to see” with. “To see” often meant halogen or HID lights with rechargeable batteries. They cost between $150-500 and often were finicky with various battery types. “To be seen” were the LED blinky lights for the front and rear of your bike. You used these if you commuted or road at dusk or dawn when you could see fine but there was worry of a car not seeing you. The point, to me, was to catch the drivers attention so they could have time to swerve around you.

In the past two years we have seen the light market revamp itself. LED is the future. Longer burn times, cheaper and durable. My favorite light for this past year was the Light & Motion Stella with lithium ion battery. This light was found on my helmet for night rides on the dirt during the winter. Now it is on my handlebar in case I am caught in the late afternoon showers or rain clouds. With a burn time of 20 hours on low I can leave this battery and light on my bike for weeks with out charging or worrying about it cutting out on my ride.

LED is the future and even the Chicago Tribune has taken the time to review a bunch of lights. From rechargeable lights in the $500 range to a AA (or maybe triple AAA) operated $40 light. There are ample photos and specs if you are in the hunt for the perfect light.

Another great resource for lighting is Peter White Cycles. The photo is from his site and his site is the one I go to with any commuter light questions or needs.  If you want to learn more about mountain bike ready lights check out our sister site TheBikeLab.com.

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0 thoughts on “LED Bike Lights”

  1. john t says:

    I chose the planet bike superflash blaze headlight/taillight set. It is economical, bright, and the batteries last a long long time. With this light set, you become very visible to drivers and fellow bikers. It won’t light up the road very well, though. I paid around $50 4 months ago and only changed the batteries once since then, commuting daily.

  2. Mase says:

    The light you feature from Peter White’s site — Busch & Muller’s Ixon — is the very light I use. Two settings (very bright and very, very bright). For the rear I have the new PlanetBike Superflash Stealth.

    The Ixon is great because it uses rechargeable AAs — and you just need to plug the charger into the light itself to recharge! Little pricey (over $100), but well worth it. Combined with all the reflective stuff I have, I am definitely ‘seen’ (and, as my riding is exclusively urban, I definitely ‘see’ well with the Ixon).

    On my old commuting bike I used Reelights as well. The rear Reelight was blocked by my pannier so, although generally I agree the light should have been on the left side, I should have mounted it on the right (as I always ride with just the sole pannier on the left). The Reelights got the most comments from people, mostly due to the fact it would continue blinking with its capacitor.

  3. Kris says:

    Unfortunately until very recently one still ~needed~ and HID to be going full speed on the trail. I am talking about race conditions, etc. However, Light & Motion has a new LED light called Secca they claim is just as bright as a HID system. I am very excited! Light and bright!

  4. I heart my Niteflux LED system. Astonishingly bright, and it burns for ages. Rock on!

  5. tad says:

    I use the Blackburn Quadrant Mars 3.0 combo. Fantastic set and very nicely priced. I hate to make you all jealous but I got it on sale for $18. But even now you can get it on amazon at just over $30. It’s really a fantastic light set. I ride with my lights in blink mode even in broad daylight. Oncoming cars turning left DO yield, and I think the Quadrant has a lot to do with that (yes, it is very bright!). Those moments of safety outweigh any feeling of silliness I might get for having lights on during the day. Plus other cyclists love my lights 🙂

  6. david in fla says:

    My Cree Surefire C2 with the Q5 element is hard to beat at $26 for ~200lumens….zip ties right to my helmet.

  7. mitchx3 says:

    Where did you get a C2+Q5 for $26? By my calculations that should be closer to $150.

  8. vegancommuter says:

    I’m using the Cateye TL-LD1100 on my seat post – 10 LEDS including 2 on each side, plus it’s bright enough to be seen in the day time hours. For the front I’m using their HL-EL220 headlight, which is pretty bright with 5 LEDS that will get you noticed but not so good “to see” with so when the morning darkness rolls around again I’ll upgrade to the SIngle Shot.

  9. SteveP says:

    I use the PrincetonTec Switchback 3, and it’s great. It’s a little heavy and a lot expensive, but it’s worth it. The light is crazy bright and the burn time is longer than most lights. PrincetonTec has great customer service too. I have some more thoughts about it on my blog.

  10. Paul in Minneapoils says:

    My touring bike I use for most commuting has a Schmidt Dynamo front hub with Busch & Miller lights. The main headlight is a 1 watt LED, it’s very bright and lights the road well. I also have a halogen powered by the dynamo, but hardly ever need to turn it on too. Back in 05 when I baught them they were cheaper, that was over 10,000 miles ago. My LED turn on by its self and I never feel any drag. Like today it was over cast and my lights turned them selves on, I didn’t notice till I was home and saw the taillight still glowing . Peter White lists a dynamo powered 3 watt LED comming soon. I am afraid that might blind motorist. ; )

  11. gear says:

    I use the Lupine Wilma6 for a headlight (830 lumens) and a Dinotte tail light. After messing about with various head and tail light systems I bought this combination.

    Had they been available fifteen years ago when I began commuting by bike and had I’d know I’d be wasting a lot of money on lesser lights (lesser in quality and lumen output); I would have bought these first.

    I recamend them without reservation. The Lupine headlight is only surpassed by other Lupine models and the Dinotte tail light will completely change the way automobiles approach you on the road.

  12. Stevep says:

    I’m a fan of the PrincetonTec Switchback 3. It’s a little heavy and expensive, but the brightness and burn time make it worthwhile. PrincetonTec was also really helpful when I had a problem with the light.

  13. Stevep says:

    I wrote a blurb about my PrincetonTec experience here: wheeliebiscuit.blogspot.com/

  14. Hal says:

    I just got the Sigma Sport PowerLED–VERY bright, fairly inexpensive (at ebikestop.com) and powered by 4 AAs or optional LiIon pack. I have various blinkies for “being seen”, including the excellent PB Superflash Stealth, but the PowerLED is doing a good job allowing me to see what’s ahead of me.


  15. Mike Myers says:

    I’m a big fan of DiNotte’s lights. I have three—a 600L, a 200L, and a taillight(140L). The 600L puts out 600 lumens on high, and it’s a revelation. Lighting is addictive but you also develop a tolerance. I don’t like riding with only my 200L now because the 600L has spoiled me. It’s awesome to have bright lighting.

    The taillight is great. It’s bright enough that motorists see me. I even run it in the morning daylight.

  16. bikesgonewild says:

    …there was a similar discussion at ‘bicycle design’ & one of the commentators was convinced that not only was reflective material or an unblinking light more than enough but that “blinkies” created a dangerous cycling environment…

    …i wouldn’t be caught w/out my blinkies but i’d love to hear any thoughts from others in that regard..

  17. Waterwomyn says:

    Blinkies might attract the attention of a drunk, who will drive at the light. But I think this doesn’t happen as often as soccer mom just not noticing me, so I use blinkies.

  18. ClubPenguin says:

    However, Light & Motion has a new LED light called Secca they claim is just as bright as a HID system. I am very excited! Light and bright!

  19. Donald says:

    I have a Lupine Wima front light with a Lupine 6.8Amp-Hr battery. I’d like to get a Dinotte 400R tail light and power it from the Lupine battery (using one battery to power two lights)–the Lupine charging system is excellent has enough capacity to power two lights. The 400R is normally powered by a lithium battery and has a voltage cut off of 6v.

    Do you know anyone who has done this?

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