How Long Can the Light Hold a Charge?
Along with brightness, one should consider a light's power source. Some are powered by standard batteries, while some by USB rechargeable batteries. The ones we looked at ranged from a single charge life of a low 1.5 hours (with supreme brightness) to an amazing 320 hours for a flashing Cateye HL-EL 135 (a low-cost commuter light).
Of the lights we reviewed, here are our favorites, ranging from the high end, to the most affordable lights:
NiteRider MiNewt 600 Cordless
Warning: do not stare directly at this light in its high beam setting! At 600 lumens, this is the brightest light we tested; however, it pays for that brightness with only a 1.5 hour charge at that level. If your bike commute is less than 1.5 hours, though, it is easily USB rechargeable while at work; or, with its "low" setting of 275 lumens, you can squeeze out 4.5 hours. At $150, you get a ton of illumination for the dollar! (niterider.com)
Like the NiteRider, this light is crazily bright, when on its full high beam—540 lumens—and gets 4 hours of battery life at that level (10 hours at 180 lumens). With a unique mounting strap, this light can also go on your helmet nicely. This is the newest bike light just now coming onto the market; so it has not been fully vetted by the public, in general; but, our test was quite positive, and those we know who have been using the Nova are very happy with it. At $135, it boasts of its value of "dollar per lumen." (ibikesafe.com)
Cateye Nano Shot
It was tough to choose between this excellent mid-range light, or Cateye's entry level HL-El 135. We chose the Nano, though, due to its combination of being quite lightweight, USB rechargeable, a very powerful beam of 250 lumens—all at a cost of $100. With Cateye's unique "opticube lens technology," also, the light seems even brighter. Quickie on the HL-EL 135: basic, easy commuter light—super long battery life (80-320 hours) ...just 20 bucks! (cateye.com)
Planet Bike Blaze
My son has been both a pedicab operator and bike messenger, and was quick to point me to Planet Bike's products. I can see why. As a company, Planet Bike is a strong supporter of bicycle advocacy, and their products are simple, straight-forward, and cost-effective. We tested the Blaze 1W which, at $46, up to 76 lumens, a battery life of 7-20 hours, and a super simple attachment/detachment mechanism makes it a nice, dependable, modest choice for the everyday commuter. (planetbike.com)
So, from $20 to $150 (and more), there are some terrific lights out there, to help you see and be seen in the early mornings and evenings.
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