It can’t be ignored that Winter is getting closer and the nights are drawing in. We’ll soon be at the Equinox and as the days become greyer and duller we need to make sure we’re seen.
Lighting up a foldie isn’t too much of a problem generally as we have vast expanses of both seat post and handlebar post to affix lights to – so any of the vast array of silicon banded lights will work just fine.
My lights of choice are the BTwin CL500 – for around 15 quid a pair from Decathlon.
These lights are a great all rounder for being seen (but not for seeing with – more on that later). They come as a clip light with Micro USB charging facility behind a rubberised flap. On the front is a single button with a very easy to remember code – long press for on and off, short press to change to one of the four modes:
1. White, Steady
2. White, Flashing
3. Red, Steady
4. Red, Flashing
Also included in the pack is an adaptor with silicon rubber band to turn them into a belt on light so they affix to the seatpost, as well as a self adhesive clip for if you want to fix them to trailers or hard flat surfaces.
So what are they like in use?
Well as I said before they’re lights to be seen with, not to see with. You’re hardly going to light up a forest glade with a paltry 15 lumens in white or an even dimmer 5 lumens in red, but the lights are visible from a decent enough distance behind and in front that even drivers with the poorest vision should see you.
They’re sold as secondary lighting. It’s important to remember that legally they aren’t suitable to be your primary source of lighting – anything you’re using as your main lights must comply with BS3648 or BS6102/3 – something increasingly difficult to find, although in all my years cycling I’ve used these sort of lights with a bright front light to see by and I’ve never ever been pulled on the matter.
The big advantage from my point of view though is that they fit really well onto panniers – bearing in mind most panniers and rear bags do have a light attachment loop – and so one on each of your panniers does a great job of adding to your main seatpost light for real visibility. Add another two on the front of your bags and you could quite literally decorate your bike with baubles!
In use they give you a fairly decent 3 hours on solid white, all the way up to around 10 hours on flashing red, but with their tiny batteries they charge all the way from empty to full in just 45 minutes – just bear in mind that some USB bricks will turn off if they detect a low load and so you may want to check this if you’re charging them that way.
I’ve had these lights for a while now, and I’ve replaced my set a couple of times – mostly because the plastic clips get brittle with age and snap off – but the light still works fine.
The only problem I’ve ever had with them is the button isn’t too well protected and a couple of times I’ve come to turn them on at they’ve been flat.
Overall, they’re a great enough buy – but I wouldn’t use them as my main light source on a dark winter night.
🟡🟡🟡🟡🟡🟡🟡🔵🔵🔵 7/10 – decent low priced auxilliary lights which are good to keep a pair in your bag.