Bike Lights Front

Being able to see only concerns the front lights. I use two: the Stella 200 on the handlebars, and a Stella 150 on my helmet. I aim my 200 at the ground just in front of me, so I can see the obstacles, snow, or ice on the road, and watch for hazards. The one on my helmet isn’t as bright, and of course it aims wherever I’m looking. You really need both, in these conditions, in the dark.

I usually run the helmet light at one setting lower than maximum, both for extended battery life, and to avoid blinding people coming in my direction. The mountain bike racers who race at night use even stronger lights in their night racing, but they’re all going in the same direction, and they’re all on bikes. These Stella lights are absolutely as strong as I’d want for a commute that includes roads, sidewalks, and unlit paths, and lots of snow and ice.

The Stella 200 is a perfect light. Unlike the 150 (which is warmer), it’s perfectly white. I use it on my bars, and I aim the bright spot about 1.5 metres in front of me. It washes out pretty well, allowing me to see the road or path, but not blind people coming toward me.

I use the 200 on full on the paths or dicey roads/walks. If I’m on the road, or especially when I’m entering/intersecting a road, I often switch from full to flashing mode. Usually the street-lighting is good, and it’s more about being seen, and being noticed, by drivers. The button can be hard to use, but I’d rather it didn’t by accident anyway. Three pushes, and I’m on blink setting. One more, and I’m back to full.

The helmet light helps me see where I’m headed. It has a pretty good beam, but nowhere near the 200. It’s noticeably more yellow. It’s a pretty good wash on an unlit path, and I tend to dip my head to avoid blinding oncoming pedestrians. All of the street signs, and reflective signs and clothing, light right up at night. It’s great for passing joggers on the paths.

I did ok with just the 200, but having the second light has allowed me to avoid blinding people (as often), and helps me see on the paths.

An important consideration regarding having multiple lights front and back, is that batteries can die quickly, and without warning. And I’ve broken lights, and had them malfunction. It’s nice not to worry about not having a backup light.

I even keep a couple little $13 led lights from MEC in my backpack. At very least, they blink brightly, and they are very tiny. I’ve thought about running one of these as a “blinkie” on the front. They attach/detach easily, and they are noticeable to drivers. And they’re cheap.

In fact, if you’re truly broke, and can only afford one light, this is the one. I’d even recommend one to strollers and joggers. If you have a dog, put a red one on their collar, and run it at night.

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