Bike lights are extremely important to new and veteran riders alike. Whether you are a superstar BMX racer or very new to bike riding, there is a great chance that you will likely be riding your bike at night. That is why we decided to come up with this guide to show you how to properly install your bike lights.
Determine which bike light is right for you
There are some specifics you need to take into account before you consider purchasing which lights you need. Legally, you need a front-facing white light and a rear-facing red light. While some will want a high-powered light for greater visibility in more rural areas, others might opt for less brightness if they plan to be riding in more urban locations with greater traffic. In fact, having a light too bright in urban environments can be dangerous for oncoming traffic that may end up blinded by the light.
Bike lights can also come with affixed straps or screw-on clamps. If you are looking for something that has the best security to prevent your light from falling off, then screw-on clamps are best for you. On the other hand, some more casual riders may only need lights with affixed straps on, since they do not ride as fast or on as bumpy terrain.
Decide where to place the lights
Deciding where to place lights depends on a few factors:
- It should be comfortable for the rider and not get in the way of the ride.
- They should be easily visible to oncoming and rear-approaching traffic.
Putting the rear light too low, on the mudguard, for example, might prevent rear-approaching traffic from seeing your bike. This can be especially disastrous in suburban environments where drivers in fast-moving vehicles may not see your bicycle in time before potentially crashing into you.
On the other hand, putting the headlights at an angle not facing directly ahead can lower your visibility to fast-approaching cars as well as direct collisions with other objects and animals depending on where you are riding in the world. While some individuals may collide with parked cars in more urban environments, others may have to deal with wild animals like deer that could pop up at night in more rural environments. Either way, improperly angled lights can result in serious injuries or even fatalities.
Mounting lights on your bike
Screw on clamps
- Make sure the installation area is free of any debris or liquid. This can affect the ability of the clamp to screw on properly, may result in long-term damage to the bike, and may result in slippage that could inevitably damage the light itself.
- Prior to tightening the clamp, you will want to position it in such a way that the light itself is parallel to the ground, allowing the beam to face forward.
- Once you have made sure the light is in the right position for optimal visibility, you will need to tighten the screws. Carefully do this as the light may slip, causing you to have to untighten the screws and start over again.
- Keep a bag available for small screws that may go unused. You may need them later and having screws lie on their own separately can lead to losing them.
Strap attached lights
- Again, you will want to clear the place where you will strap the light of any debris or liquid. Debris may rip the strap over time and liquid could prevent it from holding its tightness.
- The strap will need to be held in the proper position to make sure that the light is parallel to the road. This will allow optimal visibility for riders to see oncoming traffic as well as in the case of the rear light where rear approaching vehicles will need to see the bike.
- After looping the properly positioned strap around the bar or seat clamp, make sure to pull it to the tightest position. Since you don’t have any screws to worry about, you can continue to do this until the light is properly in the right place and as tight as possible.
- Avoid going on bumpier terrain that could cause the strap to loosen. Instead, try riding on flatter surfaces that won’t risk the strap coming undone and eventually damaging the light.
Figure out how to maintain your lights
Making sure your lights are properly well-fitted is the first step to maintaining your lights. If you follow the steps above, this first step is a breeze. The next thing you need to figure out is how your lights are powered.
Since most bike lights are rechargeable, you will want to make sure that you are charging them with a USB cable on a nightly basis. Going for a long time without charging can wear out the lifecycle of the battery. Just because you can still get light does not mean you don’t need to recharge the light.
The next thing you will want to make sure that you are doing is properly cleaning the light. If you prefer to go mountain biking, this is especially important as mud and grime can cake up on your light and cause the plastic material exterior to degrade without proper cleaning over time. These lights can also fog over from time to time, so making sure you are using some kind of defogger on the light is necessary and important.
At the end of the day, installing bike lights properly is not only a legal concern but is also, and perhaps more importantly, a matter of safety. No matter where you are riding, you will need to deal with a number of external objects that could get in the way. Having proper visibility is essential to bike riding anywhere in the world. Installing bike lights properly is the first step towards that goal.