Fall has definitely come to Wisconsin and with our shorter days, softer light, and lingering twilights it’s time to think about putting some lights on our bikes.
Generally, my advise on lights is to go with USB rechargeable ones. But, with every rule there is an exception and in this case the exception is the Fender Bot from Portland Design Works. Not the brightest light out there, but easily bright enough, and with it permanently mounted to your rear fender there’s no worries of leaving it at home, it falling off, or being stolen (lost a few lights that way). When The Bot first showed up I was a little worried that it wouldn’t be able to stand up to Wisconsin’s extreme weather, but this light has been on a couple bikes, year round, for a couple years now and is holding up just fine. As with most things battery related, if you live in a part of the country that gets Real Winter you’ll want to use lithium-ion batteries as the temps start to dip.
I don’t have a lot of experience with different kinds of headlights, but my Urban lights from Light & Motion work well and are holding up great. Both models I have are now several years old and I haven’t noticed any dimming of the lights or shortening of battery life. One word of caution in that they, like most bike lights, take a while to charge.
In the winter time I usually have one light charging and one light on the bike. Rather than try and remember how long I’ve used a light for I just swap them out on a regular basis.
I find that 350 lumens is plenty bright for city riding, but if I’m away from street lighting I do prefer the 1,000 lumen light.
There are a whole lot of really good, really bright, and not that expensive lights on the market right now. There’s no need to let the winter dark stop you from doing your outandabouting, just get a couple lights and keep on trucking.