What to look for in a front light

Biking through the dark evenings and nights not only stops winter slashing your saddle time options, it also takes the usual speed, silence and sensations of riding to a whole new level. The latest lights mean it’s safer, cheaper and easier than ever before too, but what do you need to know to find the ideal light for you and your riding?

Be sure to consider the following areas next time you’re shopping for a new front light:


The reflector behind the lens and in front of the LED controls the shape and intensity of the beam. This can vary from a focused spear of light that’s great for riding on roads you know, to a broader spread that lights up the road (and verges) and lets you see further round corners.


There are loads of different switch designs out there, from old school toggle switches that are great for use with thick gloves to non-moving touch sensitive units. Beware small or sticky switches that are hard to find or need pressing so hard you’ll accidentally move the light.


Most high-power front lights use a mini or micro USB connection for their battery, which plugs into a USB charger at the far end. Recharge times are often very slow with a typical computer or phone USB charger, so it’s worth investing in a fast charger if you’re often in a hurry.


Most lights use a three to four mode menu of brightness to manage run time, often including a flashing mode for use in traffic. Some lights let you select from a range of power options or even number of settings to create your ideal power/run time range.


Lightweight, efficient lithium-ion batteries are more tolerant of random use and recharge patterns than other cells. Battery life will reduce over time or in cold conditions though, which makes a clear run-time indicator even more iseful.


Most front lights are designed to fit on 25.4mm or 31.8mm diameter round handlebars. If your bike has a non-round aero or ergo handlebar then your options are a lot more limited, and you’ll need to check that the mount is compatible before you part with your cash.

Now that you know what to look for, check out the bike light reviews here.

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