Lighting your eBike, be mindful in your choices.


Well-known member
Local time
11:12 PM
Jul 29, 2022
Upstate NY
While it's easy to understand the desire for excellent lighting to improve rider safety during bad weather, or in low-light or night-time situations, some forethought and care should be given before you go to the local auto-parts store, purchase some "off-road only" LED lights and adapt them to your eBike.

The two biggest components to consider are overall brightness and beam control.

In the United States a bicycle falls under the same rules as a motor-vehicle and thus headlight brightness is still legally limited to 1,500 lumens-per-bulb and the number of bulbs facing forward is also usually restricted (normally to four in States that spell it out). Since LED setups usually work in "arrays" of 6 or more emitters per unit the legal question is still in play as to what constitutes "one-bulb" and if a law enforcement officer decides to give you a hard time they can use this against you.

Many of the "offroad-only" arrays also put out light of more than 2,000 lumens. Some of them are capable of a -lot- more than that. Also, since they are intended for "off-road only" use the beam control ranges from mediocre all the way to non-existent meaning that you wind up with a very wide, very bright beam that is blinding from all angles for anyone approaching. Fantastic for off-road but annoying and extremely dangerous when you are talking about oncoming traffic.

General Recommendation:
1) Try to limit your light choices to 1500 lumens or less. My own lifetime experience has shown that 600-800 well-aimed lumens really is the sweet spot for bike riding and from a decently designed light can provide plenty of area coverage and distance punch for a cyclists needs and speeds.

2) Avoid "flood" style lights. Any light on a "motor vehicle" needs to have very defined edges (cut off) to the beam so that it can be properly aimed both to put the light where you need it, and also to avoid blinding any oncoming vehicles, pedestrians, et-al.

Yes I know this probably sounds silly, but this topic came up at a recent get-together of my local bike club and much to our astonishment we found out that in the past year a few members (regular bike commuters) had actually received warnings from law enforcement regarding the lights on their bikes and had to re-do what they had mounted and one guy was actually issued a $75 ticket for "improper use of high beams". The judge threw the ticket out but it still cost the guy time and effort to appear in court to appeal.
Thanks, this is good to know. I'm working on a headlight I'll be 3D printing, and I agree with you, the 750 lumen LED I'm working with is PLENTY bright. And I'm working on dialing in the aim and focus of the light using an off the shelf motorcycle turn signal fresnel lens, to keep the beam appropriate. Too many of the modern car headlights on the road are blinding even when I'm driving a car. The goal is to illuminate the road adequately and to be seen, not to kill everyone else's night vision! Auto manufacturers seem to have forgotten this.