Monday, July 26, 2010

Safety Bike Helmet Lights: Cool Gear

Safety lights for bike riding - rear lights and headlights: what do you do when you have to unexpectedly bike back home late at night, if you do not have permanent bike lights front and back? We found the perfect safety light kit for night riding.

Bike safety lights have a few needs. They have to be compact and easy to carry around. Flashers are best as they get noticed much better and do not run the battery down as much. The battery run time should be long enough to allow for long rides if necessary. The headlight should be able to project a strong beam, wide and strong enough for the biker to see far enough ahead that she can bike safely at a reasonable speed. High visibility is important - otherwise you might as well not wear them... Safety lights need a solid mount, that can mount quickly and release quickly - unless it is a helmet mount, which is preferable if it is good and easy, as you do not need to actually mount the light on the bike:-) Finally, a back-up passive reflector is necessary in case you run out of batteries.

The $18 Planet Bike Blinky 3H Rear Bicycle Light with helmet mount is the anchor of the kit. The light is self-leveling on your helmet. It flashes high and hard. It has a passive reflector. It can remain permanently mounted on your helmet. If you only get one light out of this kit, get this one. It gets an excellent 91% approval rating with a likely error below 12% (high due to the small number of reviews).

The $110 CygoLite Million 200 is an extremely bright 200 lumen bike front light with a handlebar mount and a helmet mount.  It is very compact, with a rechargeable Li-Ion battery that can be charged on a USB cable or on a wall plug. The Million 200 comes with three modes: high, low, and flash. A few reviewers mentioned that the light can fall from the quick release mount - to make sure it does not, do not forget to put a few drops of blue Locktite on the threads on the screw with hold bracket and light together before tightening. Mounting on the helmet is definitely possible but can be a bit tricky, and you would be better off testing it carefully at home before actually using it for the first time. The flasher is particularly bright. The Cygolite gets 88% approval rating with  likely error under 14% (due to few ratings). If the Cygolite is too expensive, the $30 Planet Bike Sport Spot Headlight will do the job for a lot less, but also with much less brightness.

As a backup or an extra precaution, the $12 Planet Bike BRT Strap is a handy yellow passive reflector, but can also go active with a red LED (flashing or steady) for 100 hours on the included CR2032 batteries (they can be bought on Amazon). Small and compact, the BRT Strap can fit anywhere, in your pocket or around the saddle mount. It works very well as a leg light, and completes very nicely our safety bike night riding kit. The BRT Strap gets 86% positive ratings with a likely error under 15% (high due to few reviews).

Do you like your picks better? Let us know what you think!

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