Howling rim dynamos and flickering bulbs are a thing of the past. Better light on the bike brings greater safety. What is the current state of lighting technology and which light can be retrofitted?
Berlin (dpa / tmn) - Bend down, press and "Zump" - accompanied by a quiet howl, a yellowish flickering light shines your way through the darkness. Do you know as a cyclist, right? But the typical side dynamos and incandescent lights have had their day - how is light on a bicycle better today?
"State-of-the-art in bicycle lighting are LEDs that shine very brightly and widely," says Sören Heinze from Auto Club Europa (ACE). Basically, a distinction is made between battery or battery-powered clip-on lighting, for example for mountain bikes, or hub-powered dynamo lighting, such as that installed in the factory for trekking bikes.
It can easily shine from around ten euros
"If you haven't had any lights on your bike yet, you can easily remedy the situation with a clip-on light consisting of headlights and taillights," says Roland Huhn of the General German Bicycle Club (ADFC). "The lights are attached to the handlebar or seat post with a rubber band or inserted into a holder that remains screwed onto the bike." You can get such a light set from the discounter from around ten euros.
But you should definitely pay attention to the mandatory test mark for bicycle lights when buying. It consists of a wavy line, the capital letter "K" and a number. "Only lights with this test mark are approved according to the StVZO", says Sebastian Böhm from the magazine "Active Cycling".
In any case, the experts interviewed agreed that cheap light was better than none at all. However, they also advise in unison to invest a little more. Although the light source is always suitable per se thanks to the test mark, there is already a lack of processing or the plug-in function for cheap offers.
Better to invest a little more in the lighting
You can get a decent set for around 40 euros. Sören Heinze also points out that for this price you can get lights that are powered by rechargeable batteries, not by batteries, and that you can charge them from any USB port. "If you are on the road unexpectedly a bit longer, you can also recharge with a power bank that you have with you."
You can also do too much of a good thing when it comes to light. For example, if you improperly use outdoor lamps for mountain bikes. These headlights have an enormous luminosity. "Outdoor lamps have no business in traffic," says Sebastian Böhm. Dazzling oncoming traffic can hardly be prevented. Street-legal headlights can also blind oncoming traffic or pedestrians if they are misaligned. Böhm's rule of thumb is therefore: "The brightest point of the headlight should shine on the floor about ten meters in front of the front wheel".
Hub dynamos are now standard
Retrofitting or reworking a wheel that is already equipped with light ex works is somewhat more complex than the original equipment, for example with clip-on lighting. Today hub dynamos are standard. Nobody has to be afraid of more effort like in the past with the side dynamo on the tire. "The hub dynamo sits, as the name suggests, in the hub of the wheel and rotates without contact, so that there is virtually no perceptible, additional resistance," says Roland Huhn.
The hub dynamo does not have a sudden light failure, which is not impossible with battery or battery-operated lighting. This makes it possible to drive with lights on even during the day. "I am an absolute advocate of driving with lights even during the day," says Sebastian Böhm. "What has long been standard for cars and motorcycles due to the higher level of safety should definitely also apply to bicycles"
Brake and high beam like in a car
Sören Heinze lists headlamps with integrated daytime running lights and even high beams as well as taillights with brake light function. Additional functions that Sebastian Böhm also recommends. Electronics detect when the bike is slowing down, then an energy store feeds additional LEDs and the rear light shines brighter. From around 17 euros you have to expect such a rear light, expensive high-end models with a battery sometimes cost around 100 euros.
The price range for the front lights is significantly larger. "We recently carried out a light test, where the price range ranged from 14 to 280 euros. But from 20 euros there are good lamps, the test winner was 42 euros." Sebastian Böhm's verdict is that the normal driver doesn't really need anything else.
The subsequent installation or replacement of lights and, if necessary, the dynamo requires some technical knowledge. So it makes sense to leave the whole thing to a specialist, advises Huhn. "Bicycle dealers offer a flat rate of around € 100, which then includes the hub dynamo, the headlights and the rear light, as well as the installation," says Roland Huhn. His additional advice: "The installation of the dynamo in the rim is only worthwhile with expensive wheels." Otherwise, replacing the complete rim with one with a hub dynamo is often even cheaper.