After last years grandiose commuter light review this year we embarked on a similar but a little bit different endeavor: we tried tested visibility packages in three different price ranges. While some of cyclists mostly ride in well lit urban environments, thus they don’t need powerful lights to illuminate the road, people who want to go for a training ride on the countryside in the dark will need all the lumen they can get.
We have created three groups of lights and complemented them with items that enhance the visibility greatly. The pictures were taken not long after dark, we set up the camera 4-5 ft from the bike and illuminated the rear of the cyclist with a flash to imitate a car from behind.
1. Small lights that will allow you to be seen on the road
The Cateye SL110 Loop Lightset (£17.99) was very easy to mount and the rear unit emitted impressive amount of light. The cords and the adjuster allows you to pop on virtually any bike’s handlebar/seatpost.
The Knog Frog Strobe Lightset (£21.49) was another nice surprise: while the rear light was ok, the front unit was surprisingly strong and while it won’t substitute a bigger light, it will make the front end of your bike surprisingly bright. As usual, putting it on the handlebar/seatpost and removing it is dead-easy.
We expected a slightly bit more from the Smart 4 Lux Light Set (£19.99). While we didn’t hold the clunky design against it, it fell behind the other lights in terms of light power and the front light’s pattern was very focused and thus only lit a very small section of the road. The ease of attaching to the handlebar/seatpost was also less pratical than the first to sets’.
While these accessories might not be the pinnacle of cycle-chic, they can make a surprisingly big difference when it comes to visibility. The Altura Night Vision Lightstick (£12.99) is an active light source that helps to draw attention to the cyclist in the dark. The Respro HiViz Helmet Band (£15.99) and the Madison HiViz Slapwrap Band (7.99£) creates reflective surfaces on unexpected but often exposed part of your body, thus making your ride safer in the dark.
2. Lights for darker roads
The performance of the Cateye EL530/LD1100 (£71.00) was impressive, both front and rear. The front light was bright enough to light the road ahead to a certain extent, thought some might like a bit more spread out light pattern.
The Exposure Flash/Flare set (£67.49) is deceptively small, but the quality of the light is very good, especially the rear one blinds anyone easily. What we didn’t like was the way you can turn the light on – while it simplifies the unit, turning on the light is definitely cumbersome.
The Madison Hi Visibility Arm/Ankle Bands (£7.99) not only make you more visible but can help you to regulate those flapping trousers. The Altura Night Vision Evo Vest (£39.99) has got both reflective patches and a hi-vis colour, but it can come handy on chilly mornings, too. Similarly, using the Respro Hi Viz Hump (£24.99) while wearing a backpack will not only make you more visible but will protect the content of your backpack in adverse weather conditions.
3. The heavy hitters
The Exposure Toro Mk3 (£275) provides ample light for most situations a commuter can come across. The very bright light can come very handy even in busy urban areas where people tend to walk inadvertently into the path of cyclists. They also improved the design of the light by sealing the charge port with a storm cap, thus keeping the unit truly waterproof.
The Exposure Maxx D Mk4 (£325) is a true monster and brings daylight into the night. While the price tag is certainly heavy, it provides more than enough light and makes sure that drivers and pedestrians alike see you from a distance. This model also sports the storm cap over the charge port.
The remit of this kit goes well beyond of visibility and it can also protect you from rain and cold – if you don’t believe in fenders but prefer not to have a wet bum throughout the day, make sure you give the Alture Night Vision Overtrousers (£59.99) and the Altura Night Vision Evo Jacket (£99.99) go, while the Respro Hi-Viz Hump (£35.99) will keep the contents of your bag dry.