Selecting the Right Mountain Bike Lights for Trail Riding

How Bright Should your Mountain Bike Lights Be?
Mountain bike lights are now available that can provide 2600 lumens of brightness, meaning that visibility for night trail riding has never been so good. This in turn allows you to ride faster round trails than ever before. However, remember that cycling in the dark, even with this level of brightness provided by your lights, will never be the same as cycling during the day, as it still isn't possible to pick out the same level of detail. This is down to the fact that with a helmet and front light you are only able to provide two sources of light, unlike the all round light provided during the day, so picking out information about say surface texture will still remain tricky. However, in situations where you are cycling in damp wooded areas or if it is misty or foggy, you will benefit from mountain bike lights that are not so bright, as these bounce back less glare than higher powered lights.
Lighting Components - What to Look For
Mountain bike lights for trail riding now commonly use LEDs, as these provide greater light for less power and are fairly robust. The prices are dropping the whole time, so are now available much more reasonably than they initially were. A range of different LEDs are available, which are suited to different types of biking, so choose the one that best meets your needs. The lights contain an optics system - a lens and reflector - which controls the spread and depth of the light beam and its consistency. "Spot" beams are best when long range vision is required at high speeds or for use on a helmet. "Flood" beams provide you with a broader spread of light for more detail of the surroundings, albeit at the loss of depth.
The Practicalities for Using Mountain Bike Lights
Batteries are essential to power your lights, with rechargeable batteries being more popular since prices have come down. Always make sure your batteries are fully charged before a long trail, so that they don't fail part way round. However, many mountain bike lights now come with spare batteries, so you can take those to have on standby. Switches for your lights need to be easy to operate, even when wearing gloves. Many switches now have a dual use telling you the remaining run time available. Although trail mountain bike lights are available in single units, many still consist of a helmet light connected to a battery by a lead, in which case you need to check for secure connections and a lead long enough for your bike.

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