Like the smartphone in your pocket, most consumer electronics follow the same evolutionary trajectory. Bicycle lights are no exemption. Now that bulky replaceable batteries are largely history, a new crop of lights crams more lumens into even smaller and neater packages.
Few areas of cycle technology have seen faster evolution than lighting. Rechargeable batteries and LEDs that would be beyond the reach of most of us a couple seasons ago now appear at much lower price levels.
While it’s fantastic to see technology keep much more cyclists safe and confident, this fast progress may also encourage cyclists to upgrade. There are a bunch of great and super strong lights on the market to choose from. However, what we’ve been primarily interested in, are completely new ideas brought to the subject of keeping you seen on the road.
A big trend is having lights for the use in daylight, which are intended to be used for safety reasons, similarly to the compulsory daytime running lamp in many European countries.
Japanese lighting and computer brand Cateye has gone a step further with a light that keeps riders visible in the daytime but also encourages drivers to give them a break. The Rapid X2 Kinetic light notifies anyone behind a cyclist when the rider is braking. A built-in accelerometer automatically switches into a constant burst mode when it senses a sudden change in speed. Similar to daytime running lights on an automobile, the Rapid X2 Kinetic helps make your presence known as a cyclist. 180 degrees of visibility allows you to be seen from varied perspectives.
Roxim is another company making lights smarter. Most high-powered bike lights cast a narrow beam, illuminating what’s directly ahead of the rider but leaving the peripheries in shade. This can be enough when riding in the straight direction, but when cornering, the rider is compelled to veer into darkness, away from the narrow strip of light. Roxim’s Raptor X3’s clever lens design creates a panoramic 180-degree field of illumination close to the bike, while the main lights floodlight the road ahead.
The new Palomar Lucina light joins its popular sibling Lucetta, which uses magnets to stick onto any ferrous bicycle frame. Just like its sibling, Lucina uses a pair of magnets to attach to a piece of clothing or to a backpack or a pannier.
Equally minimalist are the lights from Lezyne. Thoughtful styling and low price have made its tiny Femto units popular with consumers. The new Femto Duo is combining both front and rear light into a compact, helmet-mounted set increasing night-time visibility. Integrated Velcro straps attach through the vents of almost any lid. Because the lights sit high on the helmet, it ensures that the rider won’t be invisible in traffic.