How to turn on bicycle lights

Someone who has their bike as their daily driver will need bicycle lights to commute with utmost safety. Especially at night when it’s pitch black, the truck or other vehicle drivers clearly won’t randomly assume you are a bike rider. You need to have proper rear and front lights so that people are aware.

So, clearly, you need to get bike lights based on your usage and, of course, know the functionalities.

A colleague of mine bought a very advanced bike light and wasn’t able to turn the lights on as he thought the settings were like the ones he had before. 

You might be facing a similar problem, and I am here to assist you with this uncomplicated problem. 

How many types of Bicycle lights

How many types of Bicycle lights

So, first and foremost, before knowing how to turn them on and off, we must understand what the types are because, just like my colleague, you could assume you have one kind of light, but you actually have a bike light that has the polar opposite features. 

Light to see

These are the lights which are required for you to see. It is for you to see in the dark or inroads where lights are minimal. You could ride out of town into the rural or suburban areas where there is almost no light and has rough terrain.

In those areas, you would definitely require front lights. Lights to see are usually the brightest, meaning it has the highest amount of lumens.

Generally, if you have a front light that has lumens around 800-1200, then you are good to go. Try getting a light that is not too heavy and which is high lumens because the higher the lumens, the bulkier the light. 

Lights to be seen

Lights to be seen are those types that are for others to see you. The lights to be seen are generally the rear lights of the bike. You could ride down a quiet road with no lights or bumpy roads where it is filled with highway vehicles.

Then for your safety and the convenience of another rider behind, having a rear light will help you. Lights to be seen also work as a daytime light because the flashing mode can give signals to the nearby people about your stoppage and movement. 


Sidelights are the extras after getting the front and rear lights for your bikes. If you had to ask for my opinion, then I would tell you that sidelights can be just as crucial for a frequent user.

Accidents happen quite a lot in road junctions or in u-turn loops due to no or lack of lights at the side of your bikes. So, having sidelights can clearly save you from trouble. 

Dynamo Powered Lights

These lights can be on both the lights. It is when a hub or motor is placed at the bike of your bike which produces electricity.

So, basically, you ride the bike, and in return, the motor, this power generated from the movement of the wheels, is converted into electrical energy, which then lets the lights illuminate.

It is widely used in the European nations it is pretty safe as the lights will stay attached to your bike, and the process is environmentally friendly.

Dynamo lights are a bit rare on the North American side, but they should consider for their user-friendly features.

Why won’t your bicycle lights turn on

Most of the time, your bicycle lights won’t turn on due to straightforward reasons. The issues are hardly technical. It could be that your lights need a change of batteries.

Its functionalities may differ from your knowledge, or if it’s the new generation, the light simply requires a bit of charging.

Bear in mind that if the issue gets too technical, then you might as well look for a replacement than waste your mental and physical effort.

Some of these problems can also be related to electric bike lights, but if you seek to know more about why your electric bike lights are not working, then I have just the right thing for you.

How to turn on your Bicycle lights

How to turn on bicycle lights

You definitely should be able to know how to turn off your bikes if you know how to turn them on because, more often than not, the switches are the same. 

Adding the right battery

You may have gotten a bicycle light which has led to your confusion over the light not being on. So, you might need to change the batteries to turn it on. Careful in knowing which battery it might require.

It could require lithium-ion batteries instead of Alkaline or vice-versa. 

USB Charging

Like I have said before, you may have bought an advanced bicycle light that has given you the assumption that it should stay on no matter how much you use it.

But, the modern bicycle lights require charging through a USB cable which is quite convenient and reliable. So, be sure to check if there’s a USB port and a USB cable.

So you might have it out of the box and it would require some initial charging to turn on. 

Install the App

Current fancy bicycle lights can be run and monitored through apps. You are able to check the battery health, check the lumens as well turn on various settings like flashing mode. So, you may get access to turn on the light bulbs with an app. 

Pressing the right button

The pre-installed lights on various bikes where the speedometer is installed as well have different buttons that are related to the speedometer. Usually, holding the + button for 3 seconds should turn on the light. And most of the adjustable Bike lights have power buttons with a unique color or with the company’s logo on it. Simply press that button and your light should turn on.

E-bike Lights

Some bike lights especially e-bike lights draw power from the bike’s battery to run. So to turn it on you may need to attach the wire of the light to the bike’s battery. 

Dynamo Powered Light

A damaged Dynamo motor might be why your lights are not turning on. Dynamo Powered lights generate the light through you riding the bike. The movement of the wheels causes the power the convert into electrical energy then it lits up. 

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions

What should be the optimum lumens for your bike lights?

If you are an urban rider who rides on well-lit roads, then I’d recommend you to get lights around 100 to 300 lumens, and if you are riding on more minor lit roads where vehicles move, then you should get around 600 to 900 lumens and for off-road riding where good lighting is a must then you should get about 800 to 1200 lumens. 

How many lumens should a mountain biker have on their bike lights?

A mountain biker is a rider who rides on off-road trails with no light whatsoever. That person rides in the worst terrain and needs the best possible lighting.

So, a mountain biker should get lights above 1000 lumens at least. There are some bike lights that have to lits up around 8000 lumens. You could get those high lumens lights but you don’t necessarily need to turn it on at 8000 lumens. 

Are sidelights significant for regular bike users?

Yes, it definitely is. Because regular bike user uses their bikes as a daily driver, you might require to drive on highways that have plenty of junctions and u-loops.

On intersections where there aren’t enough lights, vehicles on the side won’t be able to see the bikes unless there are sidelights installed. So, for your own safety, you should attach sidelights.

Are bike lights supposed to be used in flashing modes?

Yes and No. Studies have found that flashing modes are more visible and noticeable than a constant emitting light.

So, you should be using flashing modes to indicate people, and also, flashing mode can help you save battery. It adds convenience and increases the longevity of the bike light. 

Are rechargeable powered batteries better or battery-powered better?

The rechargeable batteries are better than the battery-powered batteries. The lithium-ion batteries are typically better than alkaline batteries as they are smaller, carry less weight, and are more powerful.

Current rechargeable batteries have power indicators inside them, so you will always be able to see the battery.


Thus, I believe now you are well informed about this simple issue. You are not only knowledgeable about this issue, but you also know the many details of bicycle lights.

I believe you will be fine once this situation happens because I know you are an avid cyclist who enjoys learning about bikes.

Because it is a niche and highly fascinating subject, you can even share your ideas with your cycling enthusiast friends and colleagues.

Leave a Comment