Choosing The Right Bike Light With velofix
Bike lights have gotten so small, so powerful, and so long-lasting that it’s hard to think of a reason not to have a set for every bike in your garage. Thanks to LED bulbs, carefully designed reflectors, flexible affixing systems, and durable cases, you can light up the night or be seen during the day regardless of the bike you ride and the road or trail you take it on.
Lezyne is one of the leaders in the bike light game. Thanks to an office filled with cyclists, and a desire for lights that cover all their riding, they have a roster of illuminators so deep that they have at least several lights that work for every kind of ride you might consider embarking on.
Light Emitting Diodes, or LEDs, have been standard in bike lights for some time. As you’re probably learning with household lights, brightness is best described in lumens, not watts. Watts are a measure of energy; lumens are a measure of the quantity of light coming from a source. Lezyne designs most of their lights with multiple modes, with several choices of brightness and flash patterns, so you can adjust on the fly for everything from high-speed descents at night to being seen in daylight. The brighter the headlamp, the farther in front of you the beam shines. The brighter the tail light, the greater the distance an oncoming car or cyclist can see you. The tradeoff with brightness is that, with the exception of eBike lights, the greater brightness cuts run time.
Lezyne, like many in the game, has added rechargeable Lithium-Ion, Li-Ion, batteries to most of their lights. These batteries are compact and long-lasting, and Lezyne provides either a USB cable with the lights or an integrated USB stick, so you can easily recharge the lights by plugging them into your computer or an outlet-mounted transformer.
Li-Ion batteries can be charged and charged and charged. Never any harm in topping them off; just don’t leave them sitting on the charger. If you know you’re going to leave the lights for more than three months before using again, top off before storing. Lezyne has designed in a means to prevent a full drain while using, but sitting and letting the light trickle to zero charge is bad for any rechargeable battery.
Lezyne has built-in battery charge indicators into their lights. Green is full or mostly full, yellow or green and red is about half full. Red is low, and flashing red means you better recharge the light ASAP.
Mounting lights to bikes has also gotten easier. They combine molded plastic components attached to the lights and stretchy, durable, silicone rubber straps so that you can mount your Lezyne lights to just about any frame tube, handlebar, or stem, regardless of shape and diameter.
They are also fairly simple and straightforward to operate. There’s a single button on most lights. Hold it down to turn it on and off, and short taps cycle through the modes. The lights remember what mode you were in when you last turned it off, and when you turn them on again, they’ll start in the same mode you last used.
Cyclists can be rough on gear. Lezyne knows this as their employees ride every day. They make their cases durable, either of machined aluminum or co-molded plastic. This way, the lights can surf disaster, whether it means making it through a crash or surviving an accidental tumble off the bike.
We’ve taken the liberty of boiling down Lezyne’s wide range of light offerings into three distinct groups: eBikes, road bikes, and mtb’s. It isn’t to suggest our grouping is the only way to use their lights, but as a way to hone in on a few favorites and see the possibilities each offer.
EBikes, thanks to the presence of a massive battery to power the motor, often come with lights already wired into the system. Unfortunately, the bike companies aren’t always interested in supplying their bikes with top-notch lighting; bike geometry is their wheelhouse, not illumination. Lezyne has designed lights for eBikes that can easily replace stock lighting, providing a nice performance upgrade; you’ll both see and be seen better.
Lezyne’s eBike lights are wired and designed to be spliced into the existing wires that run from the battery. It can be done at home, but an expert will probably have an easier time with the install.
The brightest front light they make is the Macro Drive 1000. The 1000 refers to the brightest setting; the Blast setting which puts out 1000 lumens. There are six settings in all, including two flashing modes, and automatic daytime dimming. It comes with two bulbs packed into a machined aluminum case. The case is designed to be mounted either by replacing stem bolts or bolted to an existing mount on the fork or fender. At the back of the case is the mode button and a 130cm long cable, long enough to reach the battery.
The rear light they make is the Fender Rear StVZO. As the name indicates, it is designed to be mounted on a rear fender. It’s a solid 11 lumen “on,” and is on when the battery is on. StVZO is a German standard with a defined brightness and beam that can be seen beyond 180 degrees from the rear. It, too, comes with a 130cm cable to splice into the battery.
In terms of battery drain, the lights are negligible, so worry not that it will impact riding range.
The only question is whether or not it’s compatible with your battery. Lezyne has designed it for nearly universal compatibility. Still, you should check the chart here.
When you want a set of road lights that allow you to ‘see’ and ‘be seen’, Lezynes Connect Drive has you covered. It includes both front and rear lights as well as a wireless two-button switch controlling both. The switch might initially seem superfluous, but increasing and decreasing the brightness as well as adjusting the beam from solid to blinking has the benefit of both saving battery power and making you safer.
The headlamp, the Connect Drive 800XL, provides 800 lumens of light when on the Overdrive setting, great for going fast in the dark, but comes at a price of only 80 minutes of runtime. It’s the kind of thing you want to switch to when riding downhill, but you’ll want to back it off to something that has a longer life, like the 150 lumen Economy mode which lasts for nine hours, when noodling along or climbing.
The rear light, the Connect Drive Rear 150, can burn at 150 lumens in its Daytime Flash mode. But that only lasts for three hours and fifteen minutes. More likely you’ll want to be at the 20 lumen Flash mode, which lasts for six hours.
The wireless connection is to a two-button switch that easily affixes to handlebars, is run off a 2032 coin cell battery, and speaks via a wireless protocol to both lights. Pair them up when you get them, and they’re good to go for life.
When off roading, it’s good to have three lights. A handlebar-mounted light, a helmet mounted head light, and a seatpost- or bag/pack-mounted tail light. Lezyne makes a super-bright Decadrive 1500i handlebar mounted light, the Multi Drive light for helmets, and the Zecto Drive to cover being seen from behind.
The Deca Drive 1500i is designed to mount to handlebars. Of the seven modes, Overdrive is the brightest at 1500 lumens and 100 minutes of burn time. It can also back down to 250 lumens solid and has three flashing modes as well. You can increase the burn times by purchasing a secondary Power Pack, which ups Overdrive to 1600 lumens and three hours of burn time.
The Multi Drive is so named because it can be mounted anywhere. It’s excellent for helmets because the battery pack is separate from the light itself, with an 88.9cm cable joining the battery to the light. It can easily be stowed in a pocket, pack, or even on the frame if you choose to mount it to your bars or stem. The brightest of its six modes is Overdrive, which blasts 1000 lumens for up to three hours. It also has a Flash that can last 35 hours. It comes with a helmet and bar/stem mount.
The Zecto Drive is a rear light that can easily be mounted to any bike, bag, or pack. It comes both with a molded plastic clip and a stretchy rubber strap. The light has eight modes, three solid, five flashing, and can run for up to ten and a half hours on a ten lumen flash.
Lights are not only making riding easier and safer, but extend the possibilities of what your riding can be. Strap on and light up; you’ll be happier for it.
Ask your local velofix about the best bike like for you.