At ExperiencePlus!, we mount back of bike red flashing lights onto all our bikes for added daytime safety. While research on the effectiveness of this practice is limited to a 2004-05 study in Denmark, popular opinion leans towards using ‘daytime running lights’ on the back of the bike to increase visibility and therefore reduce the chance of car-bike crashes. Here in Northern Colorado, we increasingly see road and gravel cyclists using rear daytime running lights.
When I adopted this practice two years ago – the race I had entered required I use one – I simply dug around in my bike bin for one of my red blinky lights and went about my business. It never occurred to me that the quality of the red flashing light might be a factor to take into consideration. Sure the red light doesn’t shine as bright during the day as it does at night, but does that make the light useless? Better some blinky light than no blinky light, right?
As a consumer and a cyclist, you have plenty of choices when it comes to outfitting your bike with a back of bike daytime running light. I think I get by just fine using a red blinky light I purchased primarily for night time riding and then can double for daytime and gravel rides. But, Trek and other manufacturers would prefer that I think more critically about this and purchase a light that is specifically designed for use during the day, such as their Flare R.
How much you choose to think about this issue and noodle over the pros and cons of purchasing day-specific lights is entirely up to you. As you might expect, you have many choices to consider when it comes to outfitting your bike with lights – both front and rear. My handlebar mounted front lights have multiple beam options that I toggle through depending on darkness levels. It would make sense I could do the same on a rear blinky light. How much you choose to spend on a light or two is up to you. Here are just a few of the features that are helpful to consider as you shop around:
- Attachment system. Does the light easily yet securely mount to your seat post or rear triangle? If you want to use the light on multiple bikes, can you swap it from one to the other without needing a secondary mounting device? Can the light be easily removed by you (or someone who might like to have it for their own)?
- Powering up or down. Does the light easily turn on, or too easily turn on? If you have a seat bag that might touch the light, will it inadvertently turn off the light if it gets jostled around on gravel? If you need to stuff it in a bag or pocket, will the slightest touch cause the light to turn on?
- Recharge. Is the light rechargeable with a USB connection?
- Longevity. How many hours can you ride before you need a recharge?
- Lumens and flash pattern. Is there a daytime and a nighttime mode? If only nighttime, how bright is the light and how is the light directed? Has it been tested or reviewed for use during the day? Is there more than one flash pattern?
With these questions in mind, we invite you to go forth in search of a rear blinky light that meets your needs. We scanned the internet for reviews and commentary directed at daytime running lights for bikes and found a handful that we think offer excellent feedback and insight into the question of what light you need to feel most safe on your bike.
You might first start your foray into the world of bike light shopping by perusing See and Be Seen: What Every Cyclist Needs to Know about Daytime Running Lights from cyclingtips.com.
I find it useful to compare reviews of the same products from different reviewers but also review the product across years, to see what, if anything has changed. How is the manufacturer improving the product from year to year? Are they taking into account customer feedback? Is what someone considers ‘the best’ light actually the best for my needs and purpose? With that in mind here are some resources:
- For a comprehensive look across years, check out the reviews on BikeLightDatabase.com
- Tomsguide.com’s Best Bike Lights in 2022 – scroll down for review of rear lights
- Bicycling Magazine’s 6 Best Rear Bike Lights You Can Buy on Amazon from July 2022
- Roadcc.com’s 10 Best Rear Bike Lights from May 2022
- Bikeradar.com’s Best Rear Bike Lights from October 2022
Have a favorite back of bike light that that you recommend for daytime riding? Drop us a line and let us know. Meanwhile, pedal on and be seen!