Bike lights, especially front lights, are measured in lumens. The more lumens, the brighter the light.
And for most city riding when you’re commuting in the dark, a light with between 300-500 lemuns with a flashing capacity is sufficient.
If you want to do longer rides and venture out into the country without much lighting, then front lights with 600-1,200 are best since the beams are brighter, reach further, and the batteries last longer.
And if you want to ride the dark roads and venture off-road at night, lights with lumens over 1,000 are necessary.
road.cc Reviews NiteRider Lumina Micro 350 and Cateye Volt 1600
road.cc really liked the NiteRider Lumina Micro 350 and the Cateye Volt 1600 in two reviews recently.
Both front lights will light your way on dark streets and allow you to be seen by oncoming traffic. But the two are very differently-powered lights!
NiteRider Lumina 350 Micro Front Lights
The NiteRider is an economical light designed for recreational road use. Its beam will allow you to see potholes coming at you and allow vehicles to see you.
If you want to ride in the country or in dark trails, the NiteRider Lumina 700 is probably a better bet because of the higher power. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to order these lights.
Here’s what road.cc said about the Micro 350:
Overall, the Lumina Micro 350 is a very competent and likeable torch lamp for those who like to inject a bit of semi-rural fun into their nocturnal riding. The lower settings strike an excellent balance between output and economy in urban contexts too. However, while the beam focus and purity is good, 350 lumens is underpowered for serious back road fun.
Here’s a short video demonstrating the differences between a Lumina 350 and a Lumina 650.
Cateye Volt 1600 Front Lights
If you need serious power in your front light for all-around road and trail use, the Cateye Volt 1600 is a great choice. road.cc says it is a “superb light… the best you can get for the money.”
road.cc says the Volt 1600 is likely too much power if all you’re doing is riding around the city. Here’s the beam test:
Here’s what road.cc’s tester said about the Cateye Volt 1600:
For pure road use I’d argue that the Volt 1600 has simply more light than you need, and I’d be likely to save money and go for the Volt 800, which is lighter and has all the lumens I want to light up the tarmac. But if I were in the market for a light suitable for on and off-road riding, bright enough that I could go flat-out across any terrain, this one would be right at the top of my list. Combining relatively low weight, mega output and proper battery life is a real achievement at any price point.
CatEye upped its output from 1200 Lumens to 1500 Lumens this year. It still uses the same reliable chassis and mounting.
Price has gone up a hair to $220, but it is still a fair deal for such a powerful, high-quality light. 2-hour run-time is quite good but the implied bonus is at a very useable 800 Lumens and a 4 hour run-time.
Cateye makes a great product, and if you don’t need all that power, the Volt 300 is a solid choice. Call or email Ben’s Cycle (414.384.2236; email@example.com) to order any of the Cateye Volt front lights.