The law requires a white light be mounted on the front of a bike, and a red light at the rear. But the law does not stipulate what sort of light it should be, which leaves the choice open to the cyclist. The halogen light has been a popular choice for ages, and although in recent years many cyclists have switched to LED lights, the halogen bike light still has its devotees. These cyclists appreciate the halogen bulb's ability to throw a bright, clear beam a good distance ahead.
Shopping for halogen cycle lamps can be confusing at times, as there are various technical specifications that the cyclist needs to understand. The ideal lights for a given bike differs depending on when and where the cyclists cycles. Before taking the plunge and buying a halogen bike light, the cyclist needs to investigate the variety of lights available. This means researching the market, and gaining an appreciation for some of issues involved in setting up a lighting system on a bike.
Almost as important as what to buy is the question of where to buy it. It is recommended that the cyclist not confine the search to their nearest high street cycling shop, where stocks may be limited. Fortunately, it is easy to find halogen bike lamps on the Internet, where an online market such as eBay has a good selection of halogen bike lights available, at very agreeable prices.
The Halogen Bulb
Halogen light bulbs work on the same principle as ordinary incandescent light bulbs. The bulb differs from the incandescent variety in that it has a form of halogen added to the filament. This added halogen affects the chemistry of light production, enhancing light output. The halogen bulb produces a bright light, with the added benefit of a long bulb life. Halogen lights are small, durable, and reasonably lightweight. Halogen bulbs have been used for many years in car headlamps because of the bulb's compact size, and the clear, intense beam of light the bulb emits. These same advantages saw halogen bulbs being utilised as cycle lamps. For this application, bike lights frequently come with quick release mechanisms. This attachment fixes the light to the handlebar of the bike. To avoid the theft of the light, the cyclist need only slip off the light and slip the light into their pocket.
Halogen Bike Lights vs. LED Lamps
The main drawback to halogen lamp is that it is not as power-efficient as the LED lamp. The LED lamp uses less battery power for same light output when compared to a halogen lamp. However, many cyclists favour the halogen lamp, because with an LED light, it more difficult to focus the light into a tight, intense beam. For this reason, many cyclists still prefer to fix halogen bike lights to bicycles.
One area where halogen lights particularly shine, when compared to LEDs, is beam intensity. When a light is required to illuminate the cyclist's path ahead, a halogen light packs more punch when it comes to to projecting intense light ahead into a dark space. If a cyclists just wants to be seen by other road users at twilight, then LED lights are sufficient. This is because an LED is good at producing a near distance floodlight effect.
When a cyclists like a mountain biker goes off-road, they encounter very poor lighting conditions. This is why off-road cyclists prefer to use powerful halogen rigs for their bikes, as opposed to LEDs. A halogen light projects its beam, illuminating the track ahead, giving the cyclist time to see and react to obstacles.
Given the suitability of halogen for off-road use, it is not surprising that they are popular with mountain bike enthusiasts, who often mount them on their headgear. Although this does not fulfil the legal requirement for a light to be mounted 'on the bike', mounting the rig on the rider's helmet minimises the risk of accidents caused by the cyclist looking one way and the lamp illuminating the other way.
Halogen Bike Lights and Power Consumption
Halogen lamps tend to use a fair amount of power, and this represents one of the main limiting factors when it comes to installing a lighting rig on a bicycle. For average, everyday city cycling, or for cycling on lit country roads, this power consumption should not represent a major problem. Most small halogen lamps of the sort designed for everyday cycling accept commonly available AA-size rechargeable batteries. As the bike light is usually mounted on the handlebar, the weight of the batteries is not a major concern.
The lamp should burn for at least several hours on a single set of charged batteries. The burn time of the lamp is dependent on the wattage of the bulb. A halogen bike lamp of the sort which attaches to a the handlebar and lights the road ahead, normally has a power rating of 2 to 3 watts. This is all that most cyclists ever need. Rear-facing red lamps do not need to be as bright, as they simply need to be visible to other road users.
Heavy Duty Halogen Bike Lights
More powerful halogen front lamps are available with 10 watt or even 15 or 20 watt power ratings. These are exceptionally bright, and many cyclists consider them too bright for city use, where city streets are well-lit. Heavy duty halogen bike lights are ideal for off-road use and dark country roads. However, such powerful lights consume a lot battery power. Standard AA batteries are not up to the task. Therefore, these powerful lights often come with their own battery packs. Ordinarily, such battery packs are Nickel-Metal Hydride, or 'NiMH' technology. This is the same battery technology that used was once widespread in mobile phones. There are also Li-Ion (Lithium Ion) alternatives, of the sort that came to replace NiMH in most mobile devices. Li-Ion batteries are lighter and are faster to charge, and have better capacity than NiMH batteries. However, they are more expensive. This table shows the options for batteries to power a halogen bicycle lamp and compares them.
Nickel Cadmium (Ni-Cad)
Nickel Metal Hydride (NiMH)
Lithium Ion (Li-Ion)
Cheap; heavy, disposable batteries
Rechargeable; suffers from memory effect; not friendly to the environment
Lightweight; rechargeable; no memory effect issues; relatively cheap; good compromise solution
Lightest; holds charge the best; quite expensive
Battery packs are often only be good for 500 to 1,000 charges. This limitation can further add to the expense of heavy duty lamps. Overall these heavy duty lights are located very much at the premium end of the market. They are likely to cost a hundred of pounds and possibly much more, and are favoured only by those serious cyclists who have a genuine need for heavy duty lighting. For more powerful lighting rigs, and for those cyclists who have especially long morning and evening commutes, the choice of battery is an important one.
Important Buying Considerations
Because there is such a difference in price between a good, average 2- to 3-watt halogen light for a bicycle, and a 20-watt halogen light with Li-Ion battery pack, it pays for cyclists to decide at the outset what sort of lamp they really need. If you are cycling across town to work in the winter, then certainly, you need lights, but the lights do not need to be especially powerful. On the other hand, if your route is across unlit country lanes, or if you have a taste for nighttime off-road cycling, you may well want to splash out on a powerful halogen lighting rig with a spotlight and perhaps a second bulb to provide a wider angle beam.
If your return journey is more than about three hours, you risk exhausting the battery pack in most high power systems, so you may want to invest in an expensive Li-Ion pack which can be quickly recharged at the office. Before buying a halogen bike light, you need to look at the prices and specifications of as many lamps as possible.
This research helps to crystallise your needs, but it can be difficult to do if you restrict yourself just to the options available in high street shops. Therefore, it makes sense to look online, where Internet markets such as eBay have a good selection of halogen lamps for bikes.
Looking for Halogen Bike Lights on eBay
The eBay site's search engine is simple to operate. All you need to do is enter a search term such as 'halogen bike lights' into the search bar on the eBay home page. The site's search engine then populates several pages full of listings for halogen bike lamps offered for sale. These listings are likely to include both new and used bicycle lamps, and span the full range of popular manufacturers. If you are not sure what you want, just take the time and browse the listings. If you do have an idea of exactly what you require, you can narrow the listings down, by specifying in more detail what you are looking for. For example, if you want a spot light, perhaps for off-road use, you specify that in the search query. If you want a halogen rear light, perhaps to replace one that you have lost or broken, you can sort the results to only show listings for rear lights.
If you need help, perhaps with details about suitable battery packs, you can contact the seller through their profile page. The seller’s profile also features feedback from previous customers. This feedback helps you judge the seller's performance. The sellers with the best feedback are called ‘Top-rated Sellers’ and should be considered especially knowledgeable about what they are selling.
The halogen bike light is a special type of incandescent bulb. It is favoured by many cyclists for the tight, high intensity beam the bulb emits. Halogen bulbs produce a clear, bright light, which makes them ideal for illuminating dark country roads, or for off-road use. Although halogen bulbs are less energy-efficient than LEDs, many riders prefer the intensity of the halogen light, with the LED better for close floodlighting than distant spotlighting. Halogen bike lamps are often powered by rechargeable battery packs, including Nickel Metal Hydride and Lithium-Ion technology. These batteries give very good performance, although they can be expensive. By shopping around, and in particular by shopping online, buyers can find halogen bike lamps at much better prices than in the high street. eBay offers a good range of halogen bike lights, both for specialised or general use. eBay boasts a wide breadth of choice, keen prices, and an easy to operate search platform, making it the ideal venue to purchase halogen bike lights.