LED lights were once considered basic blinky lights. Simple, light and forever lasting. Up until the past two years lights were considered “to be seen” or “to see” with. “To see” often meant halogen or HID lights with rechargeable batteries. They cost between $150-500 and often were finicky with various battery types. “To be seen” were the LED blinky lights for the front and rear of your bike. You used these if you commuted or road at dusk or dawn when you could see fine but there was worry of a car not seeing you. The point, to me, was to catch the drivers attention so they could have time to swerve around you.
In the past two years we have seen the light market revamp itself. LED is the future. Longer burn times, cheaper and durable. My favorite light for this past year was the Light & Motion Stella with lithium ion battery. This light was found on my helmet for night rides on the dirt during the winter. Now it is on my handlebar in case I am caught in the late afternoon showers or rain clouds. With a burn time of 20 hours on low I can leave this battery and light on my bike for weeks with out charging or worrying about it cutting out on my ride.
LED is the future and even the Chicago Tribune has taken the time to review a bunch of lights. From rechargeable lights in the $500 range to a AA (or maybe triple AAA) operated $40 light. There are ample photos and specs if you are in the hunt for the perfect light.
Another great resource for lighting is Peter White Cycles. The photo is from his site and his site is the one I go to with any commuter light questions or needs. If you want to learn more about mountain bike ready lights check out our sister site TheBikeLab.com.