The Beginner’s Guide on How to Buy Bike Lights

By John

Before you go buying any lights for your bike, you might want to read this guide.

Bikes and lights are what seems to be a very common combination.

Venture out into getting some for yourself and you will then realize that it is not as simple as it seems.

At least for some of us.

So before you start slapping some lights on your bike, let me give you a breakdown of what you should look out for when buying some lights for your bike.

But before any kind of buying is done, you need to figure out what your wants and needs are as what might work best for a commuter will not be as functional for a mountain biker.

What Kind of Rider are You?


Maybe it should be, what kind of riding will you be doing most?

Are you nothing but a mountain biker that will find himself or herself riding into the dark and will need to see everything that comes their way?

Will you be doing more commuting than anything?

These simple questions will start you off on the right track, so consider them when purchasing your first set of bike lights.

There are Two Types of Lights

When it comes to bike lights, there are always going to be two types, regardless of what the topic is.

It’s either going to be cheap or costly.

Rechargeable or battery operated.

Front or rear.

You get my point.

Whatever the case may be, there are going to be two types of lights that will be available to you and your bike light needs.

Now within the two options, there are some little things that you need to know or you might just get something very unnecessary.

So before you do anything crazy, let’s get into the very basics of bike lights.

To See and/or Be Seen

This goes for any type of riding you will do.

As a commuter, there are quite a bit of things you need and the right bike lights is just one of them.

The most important light you will need is going to be one that will allow others to see you.

Reflectors are always a must but it does not work better than a light that does more than what a normal light will do.

These types of lights are usually on the back side of your bike and can be found under your seat or on your backpack.

With lights like what Beryl has to offer, you can do more than just be seen by having them light up when you are about to stop.

Pretty neat, right?

Then you will have lights that you will use to see.

Very much a headlight, these kinds of lights are usually what would be mounted to your handlebar.

Depending on the type of riding you will be doing will determine the kind of light you need.

Mountain bikers that will be doing any kind of night riding will of course need a really bright light that will allow you to see everything.

As a commuter, not so much.

You will be better off with a more dimmer light that lets you see what is directly in front of you but not one that will blind anyone on your path.

Thanks to technology, you will most likely have different settings that can give you a spotlight if needed but tone it down when you are riding on the road.

This goes right into our next topic, so I’m glad we covered that last.

Lumens – Fancy Way of Saying Brightness

As a newb to bike lights, you will hear the term lumens being mentioned a lot.

Like most measurements, the higher the number, the brighter the light will be.

100 lumens are probably best for “be seen” type of lights that will not blind anyone, while 800 + lumens are a lot better for “seeing” and on a more pitch-black setting.

Again, there are lights that will adjust to any situation, so do try and get one of those and please use the necessary settings as you don’t want to use the wrong lights.

When shopping though, remember this little segment on lumens as your salesman will most likely mention such a thing that you can understand a lot better than going into the store without any prior knowledge.

Front & Rear Lights

Just like with lumens and see-or-be-seen lights, you need to mount them in the proper areas.

Seeing lights will of course be in the front, which can be mounted on your handlebar but you can also consider mounting it on your helmet if you find it to be more helpful.

Be-seen lights are usually mounted under your bike seat or strapped to your backpack but that does not mean you can’t use a be-seen light in the front.

If you are riding in a well-lit area, a dimmer light in the front will be great for others to see you as being able to see around you will not be a problem.

Battery Operated or Rechargeable

Bike lights are drifting more to the rechargeable option but batteries are very much still an option.

The difference will always be in price and battery-operated lights will usually be cheaper.

They cost less but you will find yourself changing batteries a lot if you do a lot of night riding.

A rechargeable light will cost you more upfront but will save you more money in the long run.

If you have the money to invest, I would always recommend you go with lights that can be recharged as they are obviously the better option.

Now if you plan on using it once in a while or you for some crazy reason think you will break them, then a battery-powered light will be just fine.

Cheap VS Quality

Not all bike lights are created equal and that’s just how it is.

If you plan on getting a $10 combo pack of bike lights, chances are high that they will not last.

Sure they might look great in pics but the quality can only be measured if you touch it and actually try it for yourself.

Again, if you don’t plan on using bike lights that much, you can get away with some cheap bike lights.

If you plan on going for longer rides and you know you are going to use lights quite a bit, your best bet will be to invest.

A solid front and rear bike light combination will usually run you around $30 + and is very much worth the investment.

Go For the Combo

As a beginner rider, you will get a better deal and everything you need if you got a front and rear light type of deal.

Some headlights will cost you the same price as a combo set but they both do the same job.

If this is your first bike, you’ll be fine with the basic combo set, so get a front and rear light but get them rechargeable as they will last you for a really long time.

Buy a headlight by itself and it will cost you more than if you were to get it with a rear light and the same thing goes if you were to get the rear light on its own.

Combos are always a better deal with almost everything we buy in life and the same thing goes with bike lights.

Always Go With the Best

At the end of the day, you need to remember that you are constantly investing in yourself and the gear that gets you around.

Whether it be your first bike or one that you’ve been riding for years, you always want to get the best initially so you don’t have to deal with any headaches later.

Look at my first bike (Cannondale SL3) that sat for years without me even paying attention to it.

I got it tuned up and you can bet that I put some quality bike lights on that bad boy.

The same thing goes for any other parts you plan on investing in.

Settle for mediocre or poor quality and you will definitely pay for it later.

Get the best bike lights and you will never have to worry about it again in the future.

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