Shopping for a bicycle headlight can be a bit overwhelming. Figures for lumens, lux, watts, and candlepower get thrown around with abandon, and each manufacturer tries to outdo its competitors by simply pumping out more and more raw light.
More is not always better, however. The majority of the headlights on the market rely on a round, symmetrical reflector to project the light. Like a flashlight, the light is dispersed equally in a circular pattern. The result is a beam that puts light where you don’t want it (into oncoming riders’ or motorists’ eyes), and at the same time, doesn’t focus the light were you do want it (namely, on the road’s surface)
Enter the Philips SafeRide 80 LED bicycle light. Philips leveraged their automotive lighting technology to deliver one of the brightest, longest, and most powerful beams of light available. The SafeRide beam features a sharp upper cutoff, and the twin Luxeon LEDs put out a brilliant white light with an output of 80 lux (1000 lumens). With some lights, you’re forced to choose between distance, foreground illumination, or “spread” (i.e., width), but that’s not the case with Philips’ SafeRide. The high-performance reflector creates uniform lighting with powerful foreground illumination and an extra wide 50º illumination zone.
Transfering the light between bicycles is easy, thanks to the tool-free mounting bracket. A system of interlocking shims enables compatibility with handlebars ranging from 21mm to 32mm in diameter. During testing, I was able to leave the clamp loose enough to make minor adjustments, but I didn’t detect any slippage (even when used on dirt roads and trails).
Powering the Philips light are four, AA rechargeable batteries (included). A 2.5mm allen key (also included) is required to install or remove the batteries. The SafeRide is equipped with a mini-USB port, making it easy to charge via a laptop or tablet. Charge-time was seven hours with the included wall charger. On a full charge, the light can run for approximately two hours on high-power, or roughly eight hours on the city / eco setting. As a safety feature, the light will switch from high- to low-power when the battery has approximately 30 minutes remaining.
My 12-mile commute is a combination of multi-use paths, suburban streets, unlit back roads, and dirt trails. The SafeRide performed well in all conditions, and for the first time that I can remember, I didn’t feel like I would “out-run” the light when descending at higher speeds. Off-road, the light proved capable for non-technical trails at speeds under 20mph. The beam pattern proved very effective, eliminating the need for a secondary light to fill in any dark spots/areas.
Suggested retail price for the SafeRide 80 is $219.99, and the light is available in anodized black or silver finishes. Additional information can be found on the Philips website.
Disclosure: Philips provided a review sample for this article, but offered no other form of compensation for this review.