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An open letter to all light manufacturers


Dear manufacturers: we've come a long way since those grey boxes that took batteries the size of your fist and spat out enough light for you to see your front tyre, so praise where praise is due: we've had some progress. Now we've settled on what looks to be the perfect solution, the humble LED. In a decade we've moved forward a long way, from those green flashy things that cateye used to make to 1300 lumen searchlights you could use to light a football stadium. And it's all good. There's one thing that hasn't really changed though.

Can we try some reflectors/lenses that aren't circular?

It didn't matter when lights were rubbish, but with posh, bright lights it does, because:

  1. I don't need to see the overhanging trees, and I don't want aeroplanes trying to land on my head
  2. I don't – most of the time – want to blind oncoming traffic, though it'd be nice to have some sort of 'blind control', a big red bar-mounted button maybe
  3. I don't want to waste any light. it's valuable.

It must be possible. I can think of all sorts of shapes in my head, why not try a few of them? something that throws a nice patch of light on the road without wasting it illuminating the cosmos. And before you suggest it, just angling the light down a bit isn't the same thing: it restricts the beam spread too much. I just want what i've got now, but with the wasted bit redirected to somewhere it'll be more useful.

Lots of love, Dave

Dave is a founding father of, having previously worked on Cycling Plus and What Mountain Bike magazines back in the day. He also writes about e-bikes for our sister publication ebiketips. He's won three mountain bike bog snorkelling World Championships, and races at the back of the third cats.

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DaveP | 15 years ago

It's odd the manufacturers can't get their heads around directing the light from LEDs to where it's needed...

The technology to shape the beam is out there, optics are available to bend/spread/concentrate for all sorts of uses:

Even down to squares and flat ellipses:


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