GEAR REVIEW: Bike Lights for the Beginner

Riding at night is mainly new to me. It’s not something I’ve normally done. Lately, I’ve begun an after dinner ride, which often puts me out after dark. For the first week or so, I strapped a headlight I bought for a home project to my helmet in place of a proper bike light. It worked alright. I could see in front of me. But I was concerned that drivers weren’t as aware of my presence as I’d like. Plus, I had no blinky behind me, which is arguably more important.

Ascher bike lights. USB rechargeable, and inexpensive.

So I set about to find something inexpensive, just something to illuminate the road in front of me and be seen by traffic. I bought two sets of lights — one to see and one to be seen — for just more than $30. I”m quite pleased with both. It might suit you as well.

Holy cats how many choices of bike lights there are, all of varying quality and price. It was absolutely overwhelming. I spent hours and days reading review after review. I finally settled on the Ascher USB Rechargeable Bike Light Set. It costs a cool $18, is rechargeable and works.

Pros:

  • Inexpensive.
  • Easy on, easy off with rubber straps.
  • Rechargeable.
  • Extra straps included.
  • Solidly built.
  • Stands up to light rain.
  • Bright enough in front; definitely good in back.

Cons:

  • Straps definitely going to break at some point.
  • Not the brightest headlight in the world.

I’m pleased with this set. My requirements are low, admittedly. I need these to work for an hour, at best, a night. I’m not riding all night. I get two solid night rides of out these before I need to charge. Plug them in with the included USB cords and they’re good to go in a couple of hours. The rear light is fabulous, with several different settings. I use the standard steady blink. It’s bright enough to be seen.

The headlight, for $18, is great. Probably not the brightest thing in the world, but it shows me the road a few feet ahead nicely. I might also use my helmet light too, just for kicks. You can’t expect a perfect solution for less than $20, so curb that enthusiasm a bit and you won’t be disappointed.

In addition to the Ascher lights, I also broke my rules and added four small, battery operated lights from REFUN. Why? They’re cheap as hell and add more light to be seen and come with more

These little lights are not going to illuminate the road enough for you to ride with only these. Their main purpose is to be seen. For $12, they’re well worth the money. Strap a pair to your front forks and the other two to your rear stays and there is no way you cannot be seen by traffic. Combined with my Ascher lights, it’s like I’m riding a Christmas tree at night. They run on little watch batteries and come with eight extra to begin with. There’s honestly no reason not to buy these.

Both of these light sets have glowing reviews on Amazon and elsewhere. I’ll leave it to you to read them and decide for yourself, but for my purposes, these more than do the trick without spending a fortune.

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