StVZO - Straßenverkehrs-Zulassungs-Ordnung or German Regulations Authorising the Use of Vehicles for Road Traffic is a popular name on the Polish market. For many users, it indicates the lighting quality and that’s it. But what is StVZO really?
Besides the specifications regarding the power and construction of lights, two fragments are important for a road user, who undergoes these regulations. One - minimal lighting value of the area 10m in front of the bike should be no less than 10 lux of light (10 lumens / m2), two - prevent blinding other road users. It requires a specific light construction and optimises light use, as it lights up a road, not the passing trees.
A lamp following StVZO regulations will have a beam pattern similar to the one shown in the first picture:
A light not following StVZO, even properly set will blind oncoming bikers (example 2). Light not following StVZO and not properly set is oncoming biker’s nightmare.
Theory and practice
Lights following StVZO regulations are well marked on the packing and their light distribution is specific and hard to be confused with others e.g. Phillips Saferide 80;
Light shape on the road is rectangular with a visible horizontal cutoff point.
Some producers suggest that their lights also have the cutoff e.g. Fenix BT10/BT20. Press releases seem to confirm this statement:
However, in practice the cutof in Fenix BT10 is non-existent and the beam pattern is similar to a torchlight.:
Flashing and StVZO
The low-power flashing light is acceptable during the day as a warning but it is prohibited after sunset for both front and tail lights.
Many road users often set lights straight especially while using low-power lights to remain visible on the road.
Some countries are trying to follow those regulations, but increasing the commuters safety without a proper set of technical regulations sometimes might backfire on entire bike community.
In 2012 the regulations in Poland were changed, allowing the use of the flashing lights on the roads, although having in mind a rapid sales growth of a powerful Cree XM-L LED lights, gives hope for the withdrawal of those regulations. Who knows.
The Ordinance of the Minister of Transport, Construction and the Maritime Economy
From 3rd August 2012
Changing ordinance regarding technical vehicle conditions and their required equipment
8) in § 56
“1) position lights and reflex lights lighted up by another vehicle should be visible at night at a decent air transparency from the distance of 150m minimum; in case of bike and bicycle trailer flashing position lights are permitted;
CatEye NanoShot+ light fits exactly into this trend. In HyperConstant mode it shines at 40% of power, emitting a flash of 100% of power every few seconds. It is, without a doubt, a very interesting warning mode, which is unfortunately unpleasant for ongoing vehicles. Similarly the whole bunch of “900 lumens” lights of Chinese production or a popular ebay / aliexpress torch set, where strobe mode is one of the most important features.