is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more

How Do Bike Lights Work

how do bike lights work

I have been emphasizing over and over again the importance of safety when doing all your biking activities outside. There are many ways to make you safe, but the most essential is installing your bike with the right amount of bike lights. Bike lights are necessary because of the safety it brings to the biker and the other people who will be on the road while you are biking.

But how do bike lights work? What are the things we need to know about bike lights to make us safe while biking? These questions and other related queries will be answered as we tackle the bike light’s importance to the bike and the biker. Our team wants to educate all bikers why bike lights are essential and their ability to protect everyone while hitting on the road.

Everything You Need to Know About Bike Lights

Generally, bike lights can be divided into two categories: bike lights to let the biker see the road and bike lights that help the biker be seen. The first category is brighter and helps illuminate the road or what lies ahead of the biker. The other category warns other people of your presence while driving on the road. These two categories play an important role in keeping you safe all the time while biking at night.

Solid or Flashing Bike Lights: What’s the Difference?

Bike lights come in different settings ranging from solid to flashing and even pulsing. The solid light is my preference when it comes to seeing the road or what lies ahead. The solid light can also help in increasing your visibility to the other road users while not distracting them with their driving. However, solid lights are not good at capturing people’s attention which means this type of light is not good when used as a taillight.

If you want to gain attention with other road users, the best to use are the flashing lights. The faster flash rates can draw more attention from other drivers than the slower flash rates or even the solid lighting. Also, according to an eye specialist, when there is a light entering our eye, it will activate the photoreceptors located at its back. However, when a light in flashes enters our eye, it activates the photoreceptors repeatedly.

Two Types of Lights That Need to be Installed in your Bike

Front Bike Lights

Front lights are essential in keeping you safe, which means they should be chosen carefully by the bike owner. Also, depending on the place you are living, whether it’s an urbanized or rural area, the main point is to install a light which will make you see the road. If you are frequently riding on dark roads and pathways, you will need a bike light that will let you see potholes and other road imperfections. The biker must also see all the corners from afar before reaching them.

Today, many LED technologies and rechargeable lithium battery-powered bike lights produced optimum and bright lighting. If you live in an urbanized area, this type of light is not advisable as it might affect other road users. A front light that can produce up to 700 lumens with a flashing mode option is enough for an urban bike owner. Although, I also recommend another light that will serve as a backup.

When you are always riding on a dark road, you can use bright lighting with a flat beam which lessens gradually to the sides. The advantage of this light is that it will give the biker the ability to focus on a specific road point and what lies ahead. Meaning, it is all about seeing what is in front of you as you navigate the road.

Rear Bike Lights

It is good to know the improvement of front bike lights is increasing through the years. However, this is not the same when compared to rear bike lights. The development is somewhat slow or to be frank about it, stagnant. Although there are lithium-ion battery-powered rear lights with USB charging options, the downside is that all the output has all been the same. The leading cause of this issue is that most manufacturers use the 0.5 watts limitations on rear bike lights.

However, only the bicycle can show flashing lights at the back of all the road users. This situation can give due advantage in making the biker safe from other road users and making them extra visible while on the road. The flashing light is an excellent indicator of your presence, and you are driving a bike. So. it is crucial if you have a flashing rear light together with the front solid beam light.

setting up your bike lights

Setting Up Your Bike Lights

There is a big difference when setting up your bike light during daytime and nighttime. Of course, you will require more lights at night, but the right way to do it is explained below:

At Night-Time

My recommendation is to use two different lights on your bike when riding during the night. You can have one bike light facing in front while the other is a rear-facing light that helps other road users see you. The front light should be white and bright enough for you to see any potholes, obstacles, and other road imperfections. It should be set in a solid beam option and must be around 1000 lumens minimum. If you live in a city where the streets have have light, less than that will be enough.

Meanwhile, for the rear light, it needs to be red and pulsing. It does not need to be brighter, just enough for other road users to recognize you. The output should be around 100 lumens or less because it will just be enough for other drivers to see you.

Not all rear lights have a flashing option, so you need to do your research when choosing the brand. If you cannot find lights with a pulsing option, I suggest a flashing light alternative.

During the Day

Legally, it is not required to put any type of light on your bike when biking in the daytime. However, a researched study said that using a bike light during the day can help reduce the chance of an accident from happening. You can use daytime running lights, which come with a more concentrated beam pattern which means more bright and higher visibility. If you do not have a daytime bike light, you can switch your nighttime light and change its setting into its brightest mode.


Knowing how do bike lights work is essential for any biker to ensure his safety while on the road. Especially when riding at night, where the danger is at an all-time high, but if you equipped your bike will all the lights needed to make you visible from other road users while also seeing the road clearly, I assure you that everything will be fine.

4.7/5 - (12 votes)

Leave a Comment