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The Bicycle Light Buyer's Guide

Unlike a car where the choice of lights are barely a consideration, a cyclist must carefully choose the right lights depending on the riding conditions, the type of riding, the bike of choice and the duration of the ride. With this helpful guide, we aim to outline the terminology you need to know, so that you can make a quick decision when buying a bicycle light.


The number of lumens represents the total amount of light emitted by a given source.


Lux is the measure of the intensity of light on an area or surface, most commonly this is measured at a distance of between one and ten meters. If you imagine that 'lumens' represents the total amount of light emitted by a bike light, lux measures the amount of that light that gets transferred onto a surface a distance away. So assuming that the number of lumens in a light remains constant, the larger the surface area, the less lux. The opposite is also true, a light with the same amount of lumens will have a greater lux value if the surface area is smaller. This aspect is particularly important as we discuss beam angle and bundle later in this article, and which light is best for different cycling disciplines.

Beam angle: 
The beam angle gives an indication of how much the light spreads from the original source. Some lights have an acute beam angle that focuses directly ahead (increasing a light's lux), while others have a broader beam angle that spreads (decreasing a light's lux). This is sometimes referred to as a 'bundle'. The wider the bundle, the greater the beam angle and disbursement of light; the smaller the bundle the narrower the beam angle and light disbursement.

Beam Type / Setting: 
Super, High, Full, Standard, Regular, Low, Flash, and Pulse are just some of the various beam types or settings you may encounter. Brands describe the type of beam exiting the light their own way, and so it pays to delve a little deeper into these descriptive terms to find out what each name represents and how that impacts on run time. For example, a light may promote it has a five hour run time (sometimes called burn time), but that may be on 'flash' mode which emits a small amount of light intermittently, whereas the same light on 'full' or 'high' that is emitting light constantly may only last for 30 minutes.

Burn time: 
How long a light takes to go from full charge to flat on a given beam type or setting.

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RN3500 & RN180 TL

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