If you are looking to buy a light for your mountain bike, you might be overwhelmed with all of the options that are available. Choosing the right light for your bike does not have to be a daunting task. You can make this easier by knowing what you should be considering when you choose a bike light.
The Trails And Terrain
Before you start looking at the lights that are on offer, you need to consider the trails and terrain that you are going to be taking on. If you are going to be hitting some of the more technical trails, you will need to have a very bright light. You will also need to ensure that the light is able to fill the wide paths that you are going to be taking.
If you are looking to go as fast as possible, you will need to have a light with more power. The increased power will provide a greater range which ensures that you can see the path as you race down it. Of course, you also need to consider how often you are going to be hitting the trails in the dark. After all, you do not want to spend hundreds on a light that you are only going to use once or twice a year.
Where Is The Light Going To Be Mounted?
When it comes to lights for your mountain bike, there are 2 choices available in terms of mounting. The first is on the bar and the second is on your helmet. Each of these options will have their pros and cons that you need to know about to make an informed decision.
The helmet-mounted light will ensure that you can see in the direction that you look. This is something that a lot of riders prefer as it enables them to focus the light on the hazards that they face. The drawback to these lights is the fact that they make your helmet heavier and this can take some getting used to. The weight will come from the light and the better pack which needs to be in the helmet or in your pocket.
The bar-mounted light arrangements will vary depending on the lights that you get. There are some lights that are better for tapered bars while others can handle varied bar diameters. The batteries for these lights will be mounted separately and can be placed under the stem of the bike. The only issue that you may have with a bar mounted light is the fact that you cannot change where it points unless you turn the bike in that direction.
The Type Of Light
It is becoming harder to find mountain bike lights that are not using LED lamps. This is not surprising because LED lights are more reliable and will be more efficient than others. However, it is important to note that there are still other types of lights on the market.
These other lights will generally be cheaper than the LED ones and you need to consider this. They will often use HiD-based systems or halogen lamps. These lamps will drain your battery very quickly and produce a lot of excess heat which can be a nightmare on the trails.
When you are considering the type of light being used, you will also need to consider the brightness. To check this, you should look at the number of lumens the light has to offer. The minimum that you want for a night ride will be 400 lumens, but if you want to go fast you have to look at a much higher number. 750 to 1000 lumens will be better for reasonably fast trails and those that are more technical. Of course, if you want to go all out, you can get lights with 6000 lumens.
The beam pattern will also need to be considered before you buy. The most common pattern will be the round one, but this will waste light on the edges of the trail. There are some lights that have a center hot spot and diffused outer haloes which are good for highlighting your peripheral vision. Having a good beam pattern for your bar mounted lights will make up for the fact that the light does not move with your head.
The Batteries Are Important
While the lamps of the light are very important, the batteries are the heart of the whole system. This is why you need to pay attention to the reliability and quality of the batteries. Most of the middle and upper-level lights will have rechargeable Li-ion batteries. The cheaper lights will often have NiMH batteries.
The charge times for the batteries will vary depending on the manufacturer of the light and you need to check this. After all, there is nothing worse than realizing that you forgot to charge your light before the big ride. If the charge time is very long, you will generally not have the time to remedy this mistake.
While longer battery life is the best solution, there is a downside to it. This is the fact that the batteries will be heavier and the lights will be more expensive. This is why you should look for a battery runtime that is at least as long as you generally ride for. A runtime a little longer than your usual ride is recommended to ensure that you are not stuck without a light.
There are many people who consider buying used bike lights because they can get a longer runtime for less. This is not actually recommended because batteries will degrade over time and their efficiency could be compromised. Additionally, technology is always changing and the batteries in the used lights could be out of date.
Choosing the right lights for your mountain bike is important because you do not want to hit the trails without the right illumination. To choose these lights, you have to consider the trails you are going to ride as well as the mounting that you want. The battery and lamps being used should also be considered.