10 Best Bike Lights Fully Reviewed
Changing up your commute by biking to work has countless benefits for you and the environment. Getting outside and exercising before and after work is great for your physical and mental health and can improve your performance in the office as well as reduce your carbon footprint. However, poorly lit roads and high traffic areas can pose danger to the cycling commuter. Getting set up with the proper safety equipment and learning to cycle defensively can help you safely take advantage of this beneficial practice. Finding the proper bike light is essential for bike safety particularly when commuting in the fall and early winter. We reviewed the best head and tail lights for bikes to determine this best options for helping you see the road and make sure you are seen by motorists.
- Bright Eyes 1600
- Long Lasting Battery
- Cateye Volt 1200
- 5 Settings
- See.Sense ICON+ Rear Light
- Controlled by Smartphone
10 Best Bike Lights
1. Bright Eyes 1600
This light provides a strength of 1600 lumens at its highest setting, 900 lumens at medium and about 350 lumens at low. Users report the light feels as strong as a motorcycle headlight and the diffusing lens provides wide coverage that increases visibility for the rider and makes the rider more visible to cars.
The mount is easy to set up and the angle of the light can be easily adjusted. Some users find the light is too easily changed and find it pointing further down as they ride. Many reviewers recommend mounting the light below the handlebars rather than on top for a more consistent, forward-pointing light.
The company reports that the battery should last over 4 hours at the highest setting, over 10 hours on medium and more than 26 hours on low.
This bike light has three light settings and a strobe setting for added visibility. It is also fully waterproof and comes with a lens diffuser for wider light coverage.
This bike can be found between 50 and 100 dollars. It may seem expensive for a bike light but this is actually a reasonable price for a light of this strength. It may last as long as some more expensive models but users are impressed with the strong light, wide coverage and reliable battery life.
1600 lumens at the highest setting
Easy to mount
Diffuser lens for wider light coverage
3 light settings plus a strobe setting
Light angle may change with bumpy trails
2. Cateye Volt 1200
The Cateye Volt provides 1200 lumens of light at its highest setting. This is strong enough for dark roads and trails. Users who also own the 1600 lumen version find the difference negligible when it comes to lighting the road. The double bulb design also provides a wider area of coverage than your typical single-bulb, spotlight.
The mount is solid with an adjustable angle that is handy for casual cycling. Reviewers report that the light maintains its angle even through bumpy trails and roads.
The battery lasts a long time and users report recharging is easy with the mini USB charger.
This light has 5 different settings. In addition to a high, middle, and low, mode it also offers hyper constant for a wider beam and flashing light mode for daytime awareness.
This light can be found between 100 and 200 dollars. Users seem to agree that it is a better value than the more expensive Cateye Volt 1600 as the light is almost as bright and the light maintains its angle better on bumpy roads.
Double bulbs provide more flood lighting
Provides 1200 lumens of light
Rechargeable with a micro-USB
3. See.Sense ICON+
The new ICON+ emits light at 250 lumens, 30% more than the original ICON. At 250 lumens, this is light is bright enough to be seen during the day.
This light has a clip that can be used with a variety of surfaces. The included seat mount is designed to fit on round parts of the bike but additional mounts and adaptors can be purchased to work with the equipment you already have.
The battery on this little light can run for up to 15 hours. Users find this to be an accurate estimation when in practice and enjoy being able to track the battery life through their smartphone app.
This smart light has an array of features to ease use and improve safety. It is equipped with a smart sensor that monitors the environment to adjust flashing patterns and brightness in areas of higher congestion or changing light. Bluetooth capabilities allow you to link your light to your smartphone to more easily control it and to check the battery level. Additionally, GPS location can alert you if your bike is moved or can send your location to an emergency contact in the event of a crash.
The high tech smart features and impressive visibility on this tail light help to justify the hefty price tag. If you are looking for the top of the line tail light, look no further than the ICON+.
250 lumens for a tail light
Long battery life
Smart sensor changes modes and brightness
Can be controlled through your smart phone
Expensive for a tail light
Smart features may not be necessary
4. NiteRider Pro 1800
This high-intensity light is stronger than the average car headlight at its maximum strength of 1800 lumens. The light is designed to provide a wide angle of coverage for maximum visibility when riding unlit trails at night.
The handlebar mount is lightweight and easy to adjust. This light can be mounted to a helmet as well but some riders find it a bit heavy for comfort on the head.
This light comes with a detachable battery that can be recharged. The battery should last 1.5 hours at the highest setting, three hours at 700 lumens, six hours at 400 lumens, and 25 hours at 80 lumens.
The Niterider Pro has 4 brightness settings as well as a flashing mode for added safety. The 8-step battery gauge keeps you informed on how much battery life you have left so you can adjust accordingly.
This bike light retails for well over 300 dollars. The very bright light, sturdy design, and wide angle are a worthy investment for endurance riding through the night. However, it may be overkill for a well-lit city commute.
1800 lumens at the highest setting
Brighter than a car headlight
Ideal for very dark trails and endurance riding
Wide spot light
5 settings including a flashing setting
Long battery life
8-Step battery gauge
Overkill for commutes
5. Cygolite Metro 500
At the highest setting, this light provides 500 lumens which is strong enough to light up a path at night or in the early evening. The spotlight helps you spot obstacles in your path but does not have as wide of a coverage area as lights intended for trail riding.
The Locktite handlebar mount is very easy to use and stays in place while riding.
The battery lasts for 1.5 hours at the highest setting and up to 150 hours on walking. Typically you can expect to get 3-4 hours on medium or steady pulse mode.
This light features 6 different light modes for improved safety. In addition to the standard high, medium and low, it also features a flashing DayLightning mode, a walking mode and the patent-pending SteadyPulse mode which provides a steady beam with attention-grabbing flashing.
At around 30 dollars, this is one of the less expensive options for a significant amount of light. The light is water resistant rather than waterproof and may not be as durable as some of the more expensive models.
SteadyPulse mode combines a steady beam and attention-grabbing flashes
6 light modes
500 lumens at the highest setting
Easy-to-use handlebar mount
Lower battery life
6. Apace Vision
Reviewers report this 100-lumen tail light appears bright and makes them feel safe while on the road. The COB LED light provides a wide beam with 120 degrees of coverage to ensure visibility.
This tail light comes with 6 rubber mounting rings of various sizes so you can securely attach this light to any part of your bike, helmet or bag.
The battery charges fully in less than 2 hours and typically lasts between 5 and 6 hours depending on the setting.
The Apace Vision includes 6 settings with three steady levels and three flashing modes.
Well under 30 dollars, this is an affordable and reliable tail light.
6 light settings
Wide angle beam provides 120 degrees of light
Versatile rubber mounting rings
Not very bright for day time use
7. CYCLIQ Fly12 CE HD
At 600 lumens, this light is bright enough to be seen at night and during the day. It can get you through unlit trails and paths but is not ideal for dark rural riding.
The quick mount system allows you to attach this light above or below the handlebars and it can be easily removed by a ⅛ twist.
The battery on this light lasts up to 8 hours and features a Home Safe mode that preserves battery when you are running low to give you an extra 30 minutes to make it home.
The 1080 pixel full HD bike camera sets this light apart from the competition. The Fly12 CE can detect a crash and automatically saves footage to the camera. It also connects via ANT+ so the light and camera can be controlled on any Garmin device.
At just under 300 dollars, this is one of the more expensive options. However, when you consider the convenience of the integrated camera and ability to control the Fly12 CE through your Garmin device, the price seems pretty reasonable.
Integrated 1080p full HD camera
600 lumens of light
ANT+ can be connected and controlled through your Garmin device
Home safe mode for better battery
Not the brightest light
8. Cygolite Hotshot 100
The Hotshot tail light emits a bright red light at 100 lumens. Users report impressive visibility from far down the trail.
The back clip on this light attaches easily to a saddlebag, backpack or the included seat mount. The included seat mount is hard plastic and only attaches to round areas on the bike which is a downfall for some cyclists.
The battery life on this little light lasts a long time and is easily charged with micro USB. The company reports it can last up to 270 hours on the lowest setting but in practice, users with a regular commute find themselves charging about once per week.
The 6 night and day modes of this tail light enhance visibility and improve safety. Settings include a steady light, Zoom, Daylighting, triple flash, random flash and Cygolite’s signature SteadyPulse to grab attention and make sure you are seen.
This tail light falls can be found for well under 40 dollars. While it is much more expensive than a cheap reflector, many users find this bright light a worthy investment for their safety.
Bright 100 lumen red light
6 flashing modes for attention-grabbing visibility
Good battery life
Clip mount for versatile application
Works for day and night time use
Round seat mount does not work on all parts of the bike
9. Light & Motion Urban 650
At the highest setting, this light emits 650 lumens, 300 lumens at medium and 150 lumens at low.
This Light & Motion light has a built-in battery pack for simple mounting. The standard handlebar mount is simple to strap on and use. This light is also compatible with a variety of different mounts such as a helmet mount, GoPro mount, and hand mount.
Due to the internal battery pack, this light does not have the longest lasting battery. It typically will last 1.5 hours at the highest setting and 6 hours at the lowest.
This light is fully waterproof and features amber side lights to make your presence known when riding alongside cars. In addition to the three brightness settings, it has a pulse mode for daytime use.
At around 80 dollars, this is not a budget option but a reliable light that is sufficient for urban riding.
Built-in battery pack for less bulk and wires
Easy to mount
Versatile mounting options
Amber side lights for added safety
650 lumens at the highest setting
Not the longest battery life
10. Blaze Laserlight
At just 300 lumens, this is not the strongest light out there. However, it does a good job of keeping the road lit in front of you and does an even better job at helping you be seen by motorists.
The mount is easy to set up and remains in place.
The battery holds its charge for 2 hours with the light at its highest setting and the laser on. At the lowest setting and with the laser on strobe, it may last more than 13 hours.
The selling point of the Blaze Laserlight is the laser projected image of a bicycle that shines on the road in front of you to warn motorists and other cyclists of your approach. This feature can be used with or without the main light. The light itself is also fully waterproof.
Coming in at just under 200 dollars, this is an expensive light for just 300 lumens of power. However, the added safety of that projected image makes this a worthy investment for many cyclists.
Projected laser image warns motorists of your approach
300 lumen white light
Laser and light can be operated separately
Impressive battery life
Not the strongest light
The Metrics We Used to Determine the Best Bike Lights
Modern bike lights are lit by LEDs (Light Emitting Diodes) the strength of which is rated by lumens. Lumens are a measure of how much light is passing through an area per second. So, the higher the lumens, the brighter the light. City commuters riding in well-lit areas no later than dusk can get away with 100 to 200 lumens while those hitting rural routes or mountain bike trails at night will want over 1000 lumens.
Bike head lights vary based on the cost and strength. The more powerful headlights typically require an external battery pack which also needs to be mounted on the bike. These packs are typically lightweight and easy to attach but it does require some additional organization. Most headlights attach easily and securely. However, if you are mountain biking or hitting rougher trails, you will want to ensure your mount is very stable and will not change angles or move around as you go over bumps. Tail lights typically have a clip on the back and can easily be attached to an additional mount under the seat or to a backpack or helmet.
You don’t want your light dying on you in the middle of an unlit road. Battery life is very important when it comes to your bike light. Higher lumen lights typically have an external battery pack to help them hold a charge longer. Smaller lights that come as a single unit are easier to mount and recharge but don’t tend to hold battery quite as well.
Most lights feature multiple brightness settings as well as some flashing modes to help grab the attention of riders. Higher tech lights such as the CYCLIQ Fly12 and the See.Sense ICON+ have additional features such as built-in cameras, Bluetooth compatibility, GPS location and smart sensors that automatically adjust your lighting. These features are great for convenience and safety. However, for the average commuter, these features may be overkill and they add significant cost to your light.
Other Things To Consider
Where and when are you riding?
This is probably the most important factor when choosing a bike light because it will determine the power and mount you will need. The urban commuter traveling on well-lit roads relies more heavily on their bike light to make themselves seen by other motorists. You can get away with a lower-lumen light but may want to invest in attention-grabbing features such as flashing modes or even the projected laser of the Blaze Laserlight to make sure you are seen in congested areas. If your commute includes poorly lit rural roads or trails, a stronger light with a wider angle is essential to help you avoid obstacles in the road. Mountain bikers and endurance riders who ride through the night will want to invest in the highest power lights out there, such as the NiteRider Pro, to give them maximum visibility of the trail ahead.
Q: When should I use flashing mode vs a steady light?
A: Flashing modes are typically recommended for daytime use as a steady light will not do much to make you seen. At night, a steady light is a better option as flashing light, particularly at higher power, can be distracting and dangerous for oncoming traffic.
Q: What else do I need to be safe on my bike?
A: A helmet that fits properly is the most important safety feature you can have. Reflective features and brightly colored clothing can also add to your visibility and safety.