Bicycle Rear Lights

Bicycle lights come in two varieties: dim, flickering things driven by dynamos which make your bike feel like the brakes are on, and battery-powered lights with a life measured in minutes, so heavy that they bend the lamp brackets. Right? Wrong.

In the 1980s, a lamp powered by ‘AA’ cells would have been a poor thing indeed. Incandescent lamps drained batteries at a staggering rate, so fast that rechargeable provided too short a duration to be useful. Alkaline batteries were available, but expensive. Most lights used heavy ‘D’ cells which required substantial built-on brackets.

Now, use of overvolted halogen lamps and LEDs (that is, ones run at slightly over the rated voltage, which produce more power at the cost of a shorter life) has revolutionised cycle lighting. The amount of light output per watt consumed is far higher, giving longer battery life and better vision.


Rear Lights have two purposes: seeing, and being seen. The type of light required for each may be different. The solution is obvious: fit two types of lights. You’ll never get in trouble for having too many lights on a bike at night (please don’t take this as an invitation to fill your Yak BoB with batteries and do a Blackpool illuminations impression just to prove this Entry wrong).

Battery Rear Lights

At the basic end, we have again the standard ‘C’ or ‘D’ cell tungsten lamp. As a rear lamp, it’s quite acceptable, if not outstanding. As with front battery lamps, you can buy a range of tungsten and halogen rear lights of steadily increasing brightness, some of which can be powered off rechargeable lighting systems.

Super-bright LEDs appear to be the choice for most riders, both for visibility and for battery life. The best of these will give considerably more light than an incandescent lamp (much less energy is wasted in heat), and fitting a pair to the carrier of your bike should make you visible to even the most nyctalopic (or night-blind) motorist.

Most LED lights will flash (chasers are the most visible of all). If you are hit from behind and you have flashing Rear Bike light , you will be held at least partly to blame – even though flashing lights have been scientifically proven to be more visible. Make sure your chosen LED light is British Standards-approved (or whichever body looks after safety standards in your country) as a rear light, and fit it using the correct brackets. Note: some LED lamps are BS-approved only when used with an optional fixed bracket; the type which clamp around the seat-pin don’t meet the standard.

This article is sourced from BBC Home UK

Pictures are sourced from

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