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I was out with my gravel bike the other night and I didn't thought it would be dark before I would be back. So I didn't bring my attachable lights because its kind of big and bulky.

Is there a bikelight product which is very hard to steal or very portable ?

Do you always bring your light, or have you had situations like this as well ?

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    "Very portable" could mean various things. Do you mind lightweight? Resistant to dropping? Easy to install and remove with one hand? I do have a front light which is attached and removed with one hand only (twist and click) and I would expect that rear versions exist.
    – pateksan
    Commented Jun 12, 2023 at 21:40
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    Do you always bring your light - there is a strong case to do so even if you're rarely on the road
    – pateksan
    Commented Jun 12, 2023 at 21:45
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    Product recommendations are outside of scope for this forum, but yes, there are lots of high-quality bike lights that are roughly cylindrical and about 30 × 100 mm.
    – Adam Rice
    Commented Jun 12, 2023 at 21:51
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    Why not attach a light permanently to your bike?
    – gerrit
    Commented Jun 13, 2023 at 6:35
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    @gerrit For example: it is heavy, it creates drag, it takes up space on the handlebar, it can be stolen, it can get damaged byt he daily handling of the bike by hitting the rack or something else,... Commented Jun 13, 2023 at 11:53

12 Answers 12

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I always carry lights with me when riding. If I'm parking somewhere safe, like my garage at home or our locked bike room at work, then I'll leave lights attached.

If I'm at the shops then I lock the bike and take off all the easily-removed lights and computer etc and take them inside with me. I don't remove pedals or anything bolted down. I have one rear light which is bolted on, so that can stay on the bike.

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I think your question is two-fold, I will answer accordingly:

Is there a bikelight product which is very hard to steal?

As long as common fasteners (hex bolts, philips screw, etc...) are used to attach an accessory (such as a light) to your bike, it will be relatively easy to remove by anyone with a multi-tool.

My approach to deter accessory theft is to use less widely available fasteners such as tamper-resistant / security torx bolts. This solution can be applied to any bikelight as long as it is attached to the frame with some threaded fastener. This previous question has other suggestions as well.

Is there a bikelight product which is very portable?

The Stackexchange format does not work well for product recommendations as they quickly become outdated. What does work on this website is explaining how to look for a product that matches certain criteria.
In the current case the Bike Light Database could be a very helpful resource. You could use the weight filter to search for portable lights:

enter image description here

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    Anti-tamper torx is what I was using when someone destroyed a light trying to get it off. The housing snapped when they used it as leverage to try and force the bracket
    – Chris H
    Commented Jun 13, 2023 at 15:50
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    For every fastener there exists a matching driver bit somewhere. Even a brand new standard like Pentalobe is available to buy though its still not in common kits.
    – Criggie
    Commented Jun 13, 2023 at 22:23
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    @Criggie, absolutely, how else am I going to screw in the fastener if there was no matching bit? Is that bit found on a standard multitool or or other common toolset though? I mentioned it's a deterrent, meant to slow down or discourage thieves, it's not a solution to lights being stolen. After all, you can quite easily break them off as Chris H describes. Commented Jun 14, 2023 at 0:02
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    @Criggie but most bike (accessory) thieves seem pretty basic in terms of equipment (and skill). Reasonably common fasteners that aren't on a typical multitool do seem to be a decent deterrent. On a really nice bike, that might have really nice accessories, it might be a bit different
    – Chris H
    Commented Jun 14, 2023 at 12:10
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    @SaaruLindestøkke there are actually screws designed to go in but not be removed. Some snap off the driving part above a certain torque, leaving a smooth head, others, known as one way screws are designed to be driven in with a normal driver, but try to remove them and the driver will cam out. They're a real pain to deal with, though off course they can be defeated
    – Chris H
    Commented Jun 14, 2023 at 16:37
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I personally use a helmet which has lights built in, but I've recently noticed that the same manufacturer has released detachable lights: Lumos Firefly. They attach magnetically to a mounting plate.

(I have no relation with the company or any of its employees)

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    Welcome to the site - thank you for answering with an idea instead of a direct product answer. That's hard to do.
    – Criggie
    Commented Jun 13, 2023 at 22:19
  • On checking, this helmet might not be legal in some parts of the world. EG, here in NZ the law says that bike lights must be on the handlebars. The second concern is whether the included electrics compromise the function of the helmet by limiting the depth of crush protection.
    – Criggie
    Commented Jun 13, 2023 at 22:27
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    @Criggie I maybe should have mentioned that the bikes I use are the public hire type (I have no room to store a bike at home where I live at the moment) and have flashing lights built-in to the frames. Where I live the law says that the bicycle must have front and rear lights, so the helmet alone wouldn't be enough.
    – Aaron F
    Commented Jun 13, 2023 at 22:42
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    @Criggie As for crush protection, the helmet has passed the crash testing required to sell it in the USA and EU, but I don't know how stringent that testing is. A quick search shows the manufacturer saying "they pass with plenty of safety margin to spare", but then you'd hope that would be the case and that they didn't just scrape past :-)
    – Aaron F
    Commented Jun 13, 2023 at 22:42
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    @ChrisH you're right. In complete darkness I'd prefer to have a stronger light. I think you could probably get away with using this on an unlit road, but maybe not going at 30km/h.
    – Aaron F
    Commented Jun 14, 2023 at 16:17
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Personally, I take lights if I'm going to ride in the evening: if I'm delayed because of a puncture or other reason, I prefer to ride safe home (I also have a light mounted on my helmet).

Hard to steal lights would be permanently mounted, which may be a problem for battery powered lights. That being said, there are lights with separate batteries, that you can mount "permanently" (although they are usually mounted with hex bolts, but that's ok if you just want to avoid that it's being stolen without tool). For these lamps, you can either fix the battery with straps on the frame, or in a top frame bag (gravel bikes commonly have mounts for that now).

For the "very portable" part, it depends on your goal and what you considered to be "very portable". In gravel, I consider that 1000 lumens is a minimum (not all the time though), so if you have something too compact, the autonomy will suffer. I'm using a bike light that is 100x30x34mm, that fits easily in a pocket, while having enough power when I need to, and last long enough for coming back safely, or even to ride in the evening.

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    1000 lumens is certainly not a minimum. It is already very bright and most lights will only be deliver that for an hour or two. One can do good riding with much less brightness even off-road. Not such a long time ago such light flood was not even realistically possible at all. Commented Jun 13, 2023 at 11:30
  • I checked what I am riding with and it is 500 lm but I rarely use the full power. Commented Jun 13, 2023 at 11:34
  • I imagine it depends on the environment. In my case, I mostly needs the 1000 lumens on the less technical paths in forests (gravel style, not MTB), these paths are dark (blackish earth) to start with, and have roots or hardened mud that can surprise you if the light is not powerful enough. But for the rest, I'm more at 500lm.
    – Rеnаud
    Commented Jun 13, 2023 at 12:07
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    @VladimirFГероямслава it is true that not that long ago we only had bad lights to choose from and yet we managed. My first LED lights were 2x100lm. BUT, we always had to compromise either taking risks or slowing down a lot compared to daytime speeds. Now with better technology available i'd agree with Renaud that 1000lm is about the minimum for gravel riding. There are times when you can go fast on gravel and then even more light with a good throw distance is preferable
    – Andy P
    Commented Jun 13, 2023 at 15:20
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    Saying it's a minimum doesn't imply it has to be at 1000lm all the time, just that the 1000lm are available when needed. For the lamp I use (Bontrager Ion Pro RT), about 1h at 1300lm, 2h at 800lm, 4h at 400lm (just looked at the specs), but as I said earlier, the 1300lm are for me only required in forests (I don't start to ride when it's already dark, that is for me max 30min, at the end of the ride + some bits in open fields and city). Otherwise, it's not common to have a caving helmet, I remember mine "whistles" quite a bit when used on a bike — a Petzl Ecrin Roc ;)
    – Rеnаud
    Commented Jun 13, 2023 at 19:07
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I think it's a gross mistake that bicycle manufacturers generally fail to include lights that are powered by one of the main power sources of the bike.

For non-electric bikes, this means lights powered by muscle power, i.e. hub dynamo lights. The most expensive component, the front wheel, can be stolen but you can lock it with cable and a dynamo front wheel is not that much more expensive than a non-dynamo front wheel so having dynamo won't increase the probability of theft all that much. Also for QR hubs you can use these five-sided Allen-like security skewers that are harder to steal since few people have the tool required for stealing them. (Unfortunately thru-axles have so many standards and it's very unlikely you will find compatible ones for thru-axle frames and forks.) The less expensive components, front and rear light, can be stolen with ordinary tools but they have little market value since few people are looking for a used bike light, but lots of people are looking for cheap used bikes (that could actually have been stolen). Also the factor that a front or rear light without its power source is about useless as a flash light makes theft less likely.

And in case you fear dynamo drag: a powered-off hub dynamo creates about 1 watt drag at typical speeds, and has 50% efficiency when powered on so for 3 watt light there will be 6 watts of drag. The best bicycle tires, those intended for racing bikes, create more like 20 watts of drag at speeds casual cyclists ride (at racing speeds the drag is obviously more). The drag is almost non-existent. Besides, whatever little speed you lose to 6 watts of drag is maybe 0.47 km/h (according to a simple bike speed simulator I have written). After riding 100 kilometers, 5 hours, that's about 7 minutes. How much time would you use removing the light every time you stop at a grocery store, putting it on your bag, putting it back to the bike after continuing riding? How much time would you use charging the light at home? Well I suppose if the 100 kilometer ride is one continuous ride, then it would be faster to use a battery light and charge it at home.

For electric bikes, I think it's more logical to power these lights from the e-bike battery. Typical battery sizes are 500 Wh that give about 160-170 hours of light. Good e-bike systems, when the lights are on, cut electric assist at 5% battery remaining or so, giving still over 8 hours of light for you so certainly you won't be stuck in the dark. These, too, require the power source so same considerations apply as for dynamo lights: stolen lights don't have the kind of market value that stolen bikes have.

A typical battery light, in contrast, has to be removable to be practical. It has to be removable or else if it's AA light it's probably very hard to change the batteries, if it's Li-Ion light the battery can be non-removable so the entire light has to be removable, and anyway if the Li-Ion battery is removable, it's probably much easier to remove the battery for charging if you can remove the light from the handlebars.

And even though if a battery light manufacturer has magically made a light that's permanently mounted on handlebars, not removable with tools, and has managed to make it very convenient to change the batteries, still it's useful if it can be stolen with tools, since it can be used as a flashlight.

Switch to dynamo or ebike lights. You won't be disappointed. I have made the choice that not a single of my bikes lacks lights powered by one of the main power sources of the bike.

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  • Good luck powering those minimum 1000 lm from a dynamo. Commented Jun 13, 2023 at 18:25
  • But why on Earth would anyone want a 1000 lm light on such a slow-speed vehicle? To blind all oncoming traffic?
    – juhist
    Commented Jun 13, 2023 at 18:26
  • ...besides, a dynamo can provide 3 watts which given the current LED technology is good for over 500 lumens. I know there are people that have wired two lights in series, it allows dynamos to provide 6 watts at higher speeds even though they are not intended for such high wattages. It was more common when halogen lights were used. I think it's entirely doable to create a LED headlight, powered by a hub dynamo, that would provide 500 lumens at low speeds and 1000 lumens at high speeds.
    – juhist
    Commented Jun 13, 2023 at 18:28
  • Do not ask me, others say it is a minimum here. Commented Jun 13, 2023 at 18:41
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    media.tenor.com/xTCy9KA3RIYAAAAd/bart-simpson.gif
    – Criggie
    Commented Jun 13, 2023 at 22:24
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I use some very cheap lights which rarely gets stolen because they are so cheap

Something like this: https://www.amazon.com/Bicycle-Light-Front-Rear-Silicone/dp/B0BL7C75MH/ref=sr_1_9?crid=2QTZEN2WVYCTX&keywords=bike+lights&qid=1686638425&sprefix=bike+lights%2Caps%2C192&sr=8-9

I usually have a spare set mounted in case they run out of power, and you could put spares in a backpack in case they get stolen

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    These (and many similar) lights are good to have permanently in the tool back as en emergency backup but cannot really light up the road (the less an off road trail) when it gets dark (check the Renaud's requirement of 1000 lm). In the front probably only useful in the blinking mode to be seen. Commented Jun 13, 2023 at 11:50
  • I usually carry a set of these as back-up system, in case the main light fails or if I am out much later than planned and find myself in the dark near home. One of them is not enough to be seen if drivers do not expect bikes, but if you have two sets near each other you increase the odds by a lot. I also have sets with 5 or even 7 leds and those give out a lot of light.
    – Willeke
    Commented Jun 13, 2023 at 16:38
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It depends on your location and the local crime level but in general lights that require a screw driver or similar tool to remove are much much safer from being stolen than lights you can remove with your bare hands. From my personal experience in the US and multiple European countries: clip on lights do get stolen, screwed on lights do not.

It seems to depend on the country which kinds of lights are common and easily available but it should be possible to get the kind that requires screws to attach and remove anywhere.

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On the road bike I have Trek/Bontrager Ion200+Flare RT which I have always mounted and always turned on (even during the day, they automatically turn on with my Garmin Edge and change mode depending on ambient light). They are small, light and easy to take off. You can just put them in your jersey pockets.

I think lights during the day really improve visibility, especially in tunnels and forests. And of course they are a life safer when you don’t manage get home before nightfall.

On the cyclocross for commuting I have a pretty big and heavy Lezyne Power STVZO Pro 80 (there is a newer, stronger version available now) and two big rear lights. Too heavy for the jersey pockets but usually when I use the cyclocross I have panniers with me anyway.

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I have a hardshell lockable box on the pannier rack. It is heavier but holds against the rain very well. Another benefit, I can simply remove the lights that is easy and lock them in the box.

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  • There are places where that would be very nice, and places where such a box would be such an obvious target I'd want to leave it empty and unlocked
    – Chris H
    Commented Jun 14, 2023 at 16:34
  • At least in Switzerland, nobody seems touching the box. Well, most often there is only worn rainwear inside.
    – nightrider
    Commented Jun 15, 2023 at 13:47
  • Most places I go, it would be fine, but probably not outside the station all day - and that's when I want convenient lights
    – Chris H
    Commented Jun 15, 2023 at 14:00
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Any light which you can carry on your person would be considered difficult to steal.

Any light which is left unattended with a similarly unattended bicycle, would be considered easy to steal, as bicycles themselves are easy to steal.

Given these two things, a headlamp mounted on your helmet, or a removable handheld lamp 'flashlight type', that you could take with you when not with the bicycle, would fit your criteria.

1

I wrote a post listing out some locking lights and other alternatives to detachable lights on my website: Bike to Everything - Locking Lights. Here is some of the info rewritten specifically to answer this question.

You have a few options to prevent theft of your bike lights:

  1. Locking lights that use tamper proof screws on them (example: Orb Droid Anti-theft Lights.)
  2. Anti-theft lights that are extremely inconvenient to remove and use non-standard hex sizes (example: Bell Radian 850 anti-theft lights)
  3. Pedal Lights that thieves don't know to steal, such Arclight Pedal Lights.
  4. Concealed Lights. If you attach your light on a seat stay or underneath your rear rack for example, it may be less obvious to a thief that there's a light there.
  5. Get your own tamper proof screws and attach your (non-detachable) lights that way.
  6. Bike saddles can sometimes come with integrated lights (easier to find for a cruiser style seat), and bike saddles can be locked down.
  7. Helmet lights can come with you if you take your helmet in with you. There are now helmets with integrated lights (example: Lumos), you can get a light that attaches to the helmet, or you could even get a normal headlight that you put on your helmet.
  8. You can attach lights to your bag or pannier that you take with you, so you don't have to think about removing the lights.

I love using both my Fortified lights with tamper proof screws and the Bell Radian 650 & 850 lights, and honestly I hope more companies start coming out with some better anti-theft lights so you can lock your bike with only a U-lock!

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"Zoopabaus" is a brand of tracking tags, similar to Apple's airtags.

The tech has been integrated into larger items like bike lights.

These tags use Apple's "Find My" system so either Zoopabaus have licensed the technology of an airtag OR they've bought access to the Apple backend.

From Amazon's own page on this item

A Zoopabaus "airtag"
A Zoopabaus airtag.

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  • Welcome to the site - I've tweaked this answer to be less "spammy" looking. Please do take a moment to browse the tour
    – Criggie
    Commented Jan 18 at 11:33
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    The downside of trackers is that they don't really stop your light being stolen which is what OP was after. They do help if the whole bike is stolen AND the tracker pings AND your local police are interested enough to do something about the tracking info.
    – Criggie
    Commented Jan 18 at 11:35

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