As road cycling has become more popular in the last couple of years more cyclist have started using daytime running lights. For many cyclists they are something that you put on your bike at the same time as mudguards, a sign that it is the start of the winter. I had been in this camp myself, putting daytime running lights on my road bike in the autumn and taken them off in the spring, until I got caught in a thunderstorm this summer. One of the group I was riding with had daytime running lights on and was really easy to spot. Everyone else, including me, didn’t have lights and it certainly didn’t feel safe being on the road without them (fortunately we were very close to a café).
There is no legal requirement to use daytime running lights on a bike in the UK but it is an easy way to increase your visibility. If you are going to be riding on damp, dull days having a decent light front and rear really makes you stand out. Even when out cycling myself a daytime running light is often the first thing that makes me notice another rider on the road.
Having daytime running lights on your bike also means that if you do have a mechanical, or get lost, you can still get home safely even on really short days in the middle of winter.
Most light manufacturers are now doing specific daytime running lights. The best daytime running lights will be small, really bright and have a long run-time. In order to keep the size and weight down most manufacturers are using rechargeable batteries. Below are what we consider to be some of the best daytime running lights.
Bontrager are really into Daytime Running lights and have spent a lot of time researching and developing their range. The Flare R is their top of the line rear light.
Specifically engineered as a daytime running light the Flare R is visible from 2KM away, day or night. The Bontrager Flare R has 270 degree visibility and a 5.75 hour run time on full power. If you are going to be doing longer rides you can reduce the brightness of the light from 65 lm to 35 lm to make it last for 10 hours. The Flare R is USB rechargeable so you can easily keep it powered up ready for you next ride.
These British designed lights started life on Kickstarter in 2013 and now have a growing reputation for their smart bike lights. The See.Sense lights come packed with sensors that will adjust the brightness of the light automatically depending on the road and weather conditions. So, if it starts raining, or you are going under some trees the light will adjust for you. If you do have a crash the See.Sense can send an alert out for you which includes your location.
The Cateye Kinetic X2 uses a similar concept to the See.Sense lights but at a cheaper price point. The Kinetic X2 can detect when you are braking and will switch from flashing to constant mode for 2.5 seconds to alert other road users. The Kinetic X2 gives up to 30 hours of run-time and fits neatly to most bikes.
This light comes with two daytime running modes which will give you either 3 hours run-time at 300 lumens or 4 and half hours run-time at 150 lumens. The Strip Pro is designed to work on either aero seat posts or standard round ones and Lezyne make a big deal of how waterproof it is, ideal if you are going to be using on UK winter roads. Like the Flare R and the See.Sense it is USB chargeable.
You may not want to use these as your only daytime running lights but they are a nice fit and forget option. The Cateye Orbs replace the standard bar end plugs on your road bike, giving you added visibility from the rear and also indicating to drivers how wide your bike is, encouraging them to give you more space. The Cateye Orbs have up to 100 hours of run-time and the battery can be changed without having to remove them from your bike.