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How to install bike lights

When riding at night, it is important to install your bike lights correctly. A properly installed light should be screwed into place so that it does not twist or slip. It should also be parallel to the ground – if your lights are mounted at an angle and facing the road, it will be difficult for other vehicles to see it.

You should also make sure you have best bike lights Work. Lights attached with a screw mechanism are more secure than lights with straps. USB rechargeable models are easier to maintain than older battery powered models.

We’ve prepared a step-by-step installation guide for you, including how to install the lights and how to properly tighten them.For more tips and advice on cycling, read our roundup best bike helmet And our night riding guide.

Find the right light

front white bicycle light

(Image credit: Getty)

In order to comply with UK traffic laws, you need to have a white light in front and a red light in the back. In the US, you’ll also need a white headlight, but you can use a red rear reflector in place of the light (we recommend a red light anyway, as it helps with visibility).

If you want to be more visible, you can add some turn signals to the settings, but make sure you stay within legal limits. In the UK, flashlights are allowed as long as they flash between 60 and 240 times per minute and emit at least 48 lumens of light (check the lumens on the packaging).In the U.S., laws regarding flashing lights vary from state to state, so Check local regulations before buying anything.

Most lights come with a simple clip or strap that attaches to the handlebar; the clip can be tightened with a screw mechanism, and the strap wraps around the stem and holds it in place. In our experience, bolt-on clip lights are safer than strip lights and are less likely to fly away if bumped.

Choose where you want to place the light fixture

The white bicycle light is in front, facing forward, and the red bicycle light is in the back, facing back. Usually the white light is on the handlebar and the red light is on the seatpost, but if you have a red light on the rear wheel, you can also attach the red light to the bike rack.

Don’t try to mount the taillight on the fender because it’s too low for the driver to see it. It’s best to place your lights as centered as possible, as this will give you the clearest indication of where you are in the driveway.

Identify the clamping mechanism.

Bike lights come with a variety of mechanisms, but usually you’ll need to install something on the handlebar or saddle clip to hold the light in place. Your lights should come with instructions on how to do this, but if you lose them, you usually do this:

Clip and strap mechanism for bicycle lights.

Clip-on lights (such as the one on the left) generally provide a better grip than strip lights (such as the model on the right). (Image credit: Getty)

screw terminal

  1. Make sure the area where the bulb will be installed is clean and dry.
  2. Loosely place the clips where you want them on the bike. The light itself should be parallel to the ground so that the beam points forward.
  3. Once your clips are in the correct position, start tightening the screws on the clips. If your clip slides down when doing this, rotate it into the correct position before tightening it further.

belt

  1. Make sure the area where the bulb will be installed is clean and dry.
  2. Hold the wrist strap in place so that the beam is parallel to the ground.
  3. Wrap the strap around the handlebar or seat clip and pull as tight as possible, threading the notch on the strap through the hole.
  4. Before attempting a bike ride at night, make sure your lights are securely attached.

keep your lights on

Maintaining your lights is just as important as installing them properly. You should check them for safety before going out at night and make sure the lights are clean and fully charged. Dirty lights that are almost empty are weak and less effective.

Most modern lamps are charged using a USB cable. Get into the habit of charging regularly so you don’t have any surprises in the dark. If you have older battery powered lights, keep some spare batteries in your bike gear.

Content

How to install bike lights

It’s important to install bike lights correctly if you’re commuting after dark. A properly installed light should be tightly screwed in place, so that it can’t rotate or slip. It should also run parallel to the ground – if your light is installed at an angle and points at the road, you’ll be much less visible to other vehicles.
You also need to make sure you get the best bike lights for the job. Lights that attach with screw-tightening mechanisms are much more secure than those that come with a strap. And models that can be charged by USB are easier to keep powered than old-fashioned, battery models. 
We’ve pulled together a step-by-step guide on installation for you, which includes a guide to placing the lights and how to tighten them properly. For more tips and advice on cycling, have a read through our round-up of the best bike helmets and our guide to cycling at night. 
First, get the right lights 

(Image credit: Getty)
To comply with the rules of the road in the UK you’ll need a front-facing white light and a rear-facing red light. In the US you also need a white front light but you can use a red rear reflector instead of a light (we’d recommend using a red light anyway, because it helps with visibility.)
You can add some flashing lights to your set-up if you want to be even more visible – just make sure you’re within the legal limits. In the UK it’s legal to use flashing lights, as long as they flash between 60 and 240 times per minute and give off at least 48 lumens of light (check the packaging for the number of lumens). In the US the law on flashing lights varies from state to state, so check the local rules before you purchase any.
Most lights come with a simple clamp or strap that you affix to your handlebars; clamps can be tightened with a screw mechanism and straps loop around bars and fasten onto themselves. In our experience, screw-on clamp lights are much more secure than those with a strap based mechanism, and less likely to fly off if you go over a pothole.
Choose where to place your lights 
The white bike light goes at the front, facing forwards, and the red bike light goes at the back, facing backwards. Normally you install the white light on the handlebars, and the red light on the seatpost, but the red light can also be attached to a bike rack if you have one over the rear wheel. 
Don’t be tempted to put your rear light on your mudguard as this is too low and won’t be seen by drivers. It’s also best to position the lights as centrally as possible, as this will give the clearest indication of where you’re positioned in the lane.
Identify the gripping mechanism 
Bike lights come with all kinds of mechanisms, but usually you’ll have to affix something to your handlebars or seat clamp that will ‘hold’ the light in place. Your light should come with instructions on how to do this, but if you’ve misplaced them here’s what you typically need to do:

Clamp style lights, like the one on the left, tend to offer a better grip than strap style fixtures, like the right model. (Image credit: Getty)
Screw on clamp
Make sure the area where you want to install the light is clean and dry.
Loosely fit the clamp onto your bike where you intend to position it. The lamp itself should be parallel to the ground, so that the beam faces forward.
Once your clamp is in the right position, begin tightening the screw on the clamp. If your clamp slips down as you’re doing this, rotate it into the right position before tightening any further.
Strap
Make sure the area where you want to install the light is clean and dry.
Hold the strap in the right position, so that the light beam will be parallel to the ground.
Loop the strap around the bars or seat clamp and pull it into the tautest position possible, hooking the notch on the strap through the hole.
Make sure that your lamp is secure before you try cycling at night.
Maintain your lights 
Maintaining your lights is just as important as fitting them correctly. You need to check that they’re secure before you set off at night — and make sure the lights themselves are clean and fully charged. Mucky lights that are low on battery will be fainter and less effective. 
Most modern lights are charged by USB cable. Get into the habit of charging regularly so you’re never caught out on a dark night. If you’ve got an old-fashioned, battery-powered light, keep some spare batteries in your cycling kit. 

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