Lighting technology continues changing rapidly. In the last couple of years, we’ve seen LED headlights become the norm, with halogen bulbs relegated to only the least expensive offerings. LED’s offer far superior performance, and are well worth the modest additional investment. The best lights are those coming from Germany, where lighting requirements and standards are set by the German government. For unracing bikes ( a nod to Grant Petersen here) these regulations make all kinds of sense. After all, why shouldn’t a bike used for transportation, touring, or recreation not be as safe as possible for not only the rider, but for the drivers and pedestrians they encounter in their travels?
For uses other than MTB night riding where overhead illumination is important, the head light beam should be asymmetrical, like a car’s low beam. The best lights focus the beam on the road where it is needed. Not glaring into the eyes of oncoming pedestrians, drivers, or other riders, not to mention the trees and sky.
The battery powered lights we prefer have USB rechargeable lithium-ion batteries. These are the same kind found in today’s phones and lap-tops. They are light and long lasting. The brightest of them all is the new Supernova Airstream II (pictured above). The Original Airstream runs a very close second and is on a deeply discounted closeout sale. The beam these throw is at least two car lanes wide and extremely smooth. Both can be found here.
Busch + Müller’s IXON Core uses their IQ2 technology and throws a beam focused like that of the Supernova Airstream (though somewhat less bright and broad) for a lot less cost. Burn time is from 3 – 15 hours, depending upon how the two power settings are used. It is a great value alone or paired with their IXXI tail light (also USB rechargeable). Both are listed here.
All of these lights are far superior to those available 3 or 4 short years ago. They are bright enough to be effective at any speed with sufficient burn time to get through many hours on the bike without recharging. And they have charge level indicators to show much power you’ve got left.
On their lowest power setting, they are effective daytime running lights with an extraordinarily long run time (24hrs for the Supernova, 15hrs for the Core).
This is how I run them, ’cause there’s no future in stealth biking!