Bicycle lighting guide: Guide and summary to the reviews and analysis section on my site

Herrmans H-track handheld

Guide and summary to the lighting section on my site

The lighting section on my site contains a lot of material, from analysis to reviews. The analysis section but also the early reviews tell you why certain technical aspects of products are good or bad, from LED light colour, overexposure close to you, beam pattern, vibrations from dynamo hubs etc. So after a query I decided to make this overview/summary as a guide for those new to my site who want to quickly find out what their choices are and what they should look for in products.

Addition 2021-5-25: Addition of the importance of awareness on how to judge beam shots and reviews and that beam shots are not enough to tell which light is the best.

See the section "Be aware of the problems beam shots not showing what you see, and of psychological issues, to judge lamps". This is not just needed to be able to interpret what beam shots show, but also on whether other reviewers actually understand the matter they are reviewing...

Addition 2021-4-7: Sources: Bicycle lamp brands vs. torch brands

There are 2 sources of bicycle lights:
1. lights from brands that deal esp. with the bicycle industry,
2. lights from brands that aim their products in particular at torch enthusiasts.

Comments about lights from these sectors:

Power source: dynamo, battery, bike's battery

For a standard bicycle the choice in bike ligthing is dynamo or battery powered lighting. I prefer dynamo lighting which is essentially an always full battery. With battery powered lighting I need to think about charging and I get into situations too often of a light cutting out on me.

For a pedelec or e-bike you could use battery powered lights but you may want to use e-bike lights which vary from standard power (similar to 2.4W dynamo headlamps) to high powered (10W or more), and from low priced to very expensive such as the Lupine SL (400 euros or more). What you can use on your pedelec depends on the system, old Bosch systems for example only support standard 2.4W+0.6W lighting. I dived into this related to a question from a manufacturer and figuring out which system supports what was quite a bit of work...

Be aware of the problems in reviews and in estimating the qualities of a light from beam shots as these do not show what you see, and be aware of psychological issues, to judge lamps (and to judge reviewers if they don't take these issues into consideration)

I analysed various odd differences that I came across, related to how some beam shapes can annoy me and how the beam shots do not show what I see in reality. As I said at the very start of my website, beam shots are not enough, a description of a (competent) reviewer is essential to make you understand what you can actually expect from a light:

1. The issues with beam shots from cameras, monitors and other reasons:

2. The issues shown in beam shots that you need to know about which are caused by psychological and physiological effects, to identify problem areas in lights from examining their beam shots:

Headlamps

On my site I discuss and review mainly cutoff lights, as these are not just required in Germany, a cutoff beam for a headlamp is in case of strong headlights implicitly required in many countries even if not stated in the rules, by virtue of having a general rule "do not blind other traffic", but I also focus on them because they are better than circular beams in most circumstances for the following reasons:

What to look for in headlamps:

Suggestions: Spanninga Axendo 40, Axendo 60, and for e-bike the Axendo 80, for battery all these options area available too. Have a look at the summary: The best dynamo headlamps.

Taillamps

The choice you have in good taillamps is fairly large these days. There are plenty of taillamps with a good light distribution, but poor taillamps with near point sources of light still abound and these are problematic in both other road users not being able to estimate distance/speed, but in actually causing a certain amount of blindness, coming from the effect of high brightness in a small spot in the eye, and everything around that area becoming dimmer. I mentioned that this can happen in my review of a fairly strong headlight of ca. 550 lm, the Magicshine, which caused total blindness at a certain distance, and with taillamps this is also possible. Usually it is a smaller circle of 'blackness' around that taillamp as I described in my rebuttal of the inane post by a moderator on candle power forums. Flashing is generally not good as I mentioned, there may be reasons to use them on e.g. long roads where cyclists are not expected (Australia, perhaps USA too), but I'd use them then only in fairly desolate areas, and only along with another steady taillamp. Note that the general argument that attracting attention is good is not convincing at best: It takes away attention from everything else which does not make the road as a whole safer, on the contrary, but also there are plenty of reasons why they don't help: The people who are likely to run into you are likely to run into you no matter what lighting you use. There are plenty of stories of people running into police cars and ambulances with their emergency lights on (and sirens) who then claimed that they didn't see (nor hear) these vehicles...

What to look for in taillamps:

There are many good and cheap taillamps so price is not an issue.

Suggestions: Spanninga Elips, Solo, Lineo, Axa Blueline. Have a look at the summary here: The best (dynamo) taillamps. There are e-bike and battery powered versions of these taillamps too.

Dynamos

Most dynamos these days are gearless hub dynamos. The disadvantages of these are flickering light at low speeds (below 7 km/h), and vibrations in the handlebar (depending esp. on the front fork and riding speed). The advantage is no noise. The Renak Enparlite 2 is the only geared dynamo hub and that gives no vibrations but has a fairly loud noise (I've discussed options and mr. Wangermann has looked into changing the dynamo, perhaps it will lead to improvements). This is similar in loudness to the noise of sidewall dynamos. The Pedalcell USB dynamo doesn't directly power lights, but has 2 USB outputs of which one can of course be used to power a light for long night time rides, if the light allows charging + using at the same time. It also has a low noise level compared to standard sidewall dynamos and compared to the whine of the Velogical rim dynamos.

What to look for in dynamos:

Suggestions: SP PV-8/PD-8, Shimano DH-S 501/DH-3N80, Renak Enparlite, Velogical rim dynamo. Have a look at theThe best 3W (StVZO) (hub) dynamos.

Analysis and reviews

For more details see the bicycle lighting analysis section and the bicycle lighting reviews section

To email me go to the email page