Bike lights are essential if you want to ride at night. On the trail, there are no lamp posts so you need to bring your own light. If you’re a bike commuter in a city like Metro Manila (where motorists crash into each other with frightening regularity) bike lights and blinkers are a must kung ayaw mong masama sa report ni Doland Castro sa TV Patrol.
Sometime ago, a reader here asked me if I could do a review of bike lights. I thought that was a great idea. But since I was not exactly blessed with a glamorous bank account like Instagram king Jolo Ejercito, I didn’t know how to go about it. I did not have any spare cash to buy several bike lights.
Fortunately, our friends at Glorious Ride Bikeshop were cool enough to lend me some of the bike lights they had on stock and test them out. They’ve got lots of bike lights there for every budget level, so do visit them when you have the time. Here are a few of the bike lights and blinkers you ought to consider if you want to ride at night.
The generic bike light
I am not sure if these lights come with a name. These are cheap things which you can buy for just 40-50 pesos in most bike shops. I bought mine for that much at the Bike Tiangge in Timberland. They are simple LEDs that hook into your handlebar and seatpost. These things blink brightly enough, but don’t expect them to adequately illuminate the road ahead of you.
They use a battery similar to the ones found in most cheap digital watches, so I guess they’re replaceable. But these things are prone to breaking down—either they would stop blinking or would refuse to be turned off thus wasting a lot of power.
If you want to really ride at night and you’ve got some spare cash, I suggest you skip these for more serious lighting gear.
Cateye HL- EL135
I see a lot of other riders using these lights when I bike at night. Costing just 750-800 pesos, this light is fairly bright. It uses three bright LEDS which work very well for bike commuters who want to see the road 3-7 meters ahead of them. Sometimes this light also gets paired with Cateye’s Omni 3 rear blinker for just 1150 pesos, which is a great value. Sometimes this also gets sold with the Omni 3 blinker and the Cateye 7 Cyclocomputer for 1780 pesos, which is a terrific value.
The HL-EL135 runs on two AA batteries which are good for up to 80 hours of continous lighting mode, or up 320 hours in blinking mode. If you want bright lights that won’t break the budget, you should consider getting this. But consider getting some rechargeable AA batteries too.
Orp 2-in-1 Bike Light and Horn
This is very good for bike commuters. Besides adequately illuminating the way, the Orp also has a loud horn to warn pedestrians, other bikers and even motorists of your approach. Joggers will sometimes ignore bike bells, but they won’t be able to ignore the Orp’s distinct 76 decibel beep. If you really need to shoo people away, you can even up that to 96 decibels.
The cool thing about it is that the Orp is also rechargeable by USB. It can run for up to 6 hours with the light constantly on, or up to 12 hours with the lights blinking. This may seem a bit pricey at 2950 pesos, but it’s a solid performer for those long bike commutes.
Lezyne Zecto Drive Front Light
This is another very good bike light. Lezyne says that this light is primarily designed for alerting motorists that a bike rider is nearby. But it is also good enough for lighting the trail.
It can run on constant light mode for up to 3 hours or blinking mode for up to 5 hours. Like the Orp, this light is also rechargeable via USB. This sells for about 1200 pesos.
Knog Blinders are also worth considering if you want to cut through the darknes. The Knog Blinder 4 has four bright LEDs that can sufficiently illuminate the trail. And just like the Orp, it is also USB rechargeable. One charge can last up to 3 hours in constant beam and up to 5 hours in the different blinker modes. These lights are available for 1490 pesos.
But if you really want to see your way in the dark, the way to go is the Knog Blinder Arc 5.5. I was not able to test this during our UP night ride, but the folks at Glorious Ride swear by its brightness. This thing pumps out up to 550 lumens which is enough for motorists to mistake you for a motorcycle equipped with HID lights. 550 lumens is actually the same brightness level of many portable projectors. If you are venturing into unknown territory at night, this is the light you need to get.
The Arc 5.5 can last up to 1.8 hours in high beam, 3.5 hours in medium beam, 7.9 hours in low beam and 17 hours in flashing mode. It is also USB rechargeable. This gear doesn’t come cheap at 3500 pesos. But this is one of the best and brightest bike lights out there.
Biking at night is lots of fun when you’ve got lights like these. Last weekend, we did a night ride along UP’s Forbidden Trail. With the Supermoon in the background, it turned out to be one of the most interesting bike rides we had done in a long time.