What to Look For
Bicycle lighting ensures cyclist visibility after dark. All fifty states require some sort of light system to aid motorist and pedestrian identification of bicycles at night. Many states require front headlights and light reflectors on the rear and pedals of a bicycle. Cyclists may use more lights as long as the lights do not output more light than the law permits in car headlights. The best bicycle lights allow cyclists to see and be seen while riding. Many cyclists need lights for on-road safety while others need lights, typically far different in construction, for off-road night racing.
Many cyclists believe a small flashing light not illuminating the road ahead is bright enough for motorists to see. Many motorists cannot see small bicycle lights amidst the light pollution of traffic, storefronts and housing. Blinking lights often capture attention more, but two lights typically arrest attention faster. Many cyclists, such as Randy Swart with the Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute, use several lights attached to the bicycle and the rider to ensure motorists recognize a cyclist as a cyclist. Many cyclists construct rechargeable light systems at home, such as the one outlined by the Nordic Group, online cycling information resource.
Where to Buy
Many local bicycle shops, outdoor specialty stores and online retailers provide a variety of lights and lighting systems for cyclists desiring visibility at night. Many lights attach directly to bicycles, but several powerful headlights mount to bicycle safety helmets. Cyclists often purchase materials to construct a full lighting system from hardware stores, electrical suppliers and mail-order businesses. Constructing a bicycle lighting system requires knowledge of soldering and basic electrical function. Many online distributors and cycling websites offer free plans for constructing a variety of rechargeable or solar-powered bicycle lighting solutions to enhance cycling visibility.
Many fine lighting manufacturers provide bicycle lights for a variety of uses. Simple flashing or steady beam headlights and taillights often retail under $20 each. Standalone rechargeable headlights or taillights often cost $40 each. Systems incorporating detachable rechargeable battery sources and high light outputs may run $85 to $200. High output dual beam lights designed for racers and long distance evening cycle tourists often cost $300 to $600 for total systems. Materials to construct a working light system typically cost mechanically minded cyclists between $40 and $50. Many cyclists use multiple lights, both steady and blinking, for the best visibility.