The best front bike lights will not only enable you to see where you're cycling when daylight disappears, but they will also ensure you remain visible to the traffic around you at any time of day.
Of course, you should always run lights front and rear whatever the time of day, so to complete the set, take a look at our guide to the best rear bike lights.
When winter rolls around, you don't need to resort to indoor cycling on Zwift on your turbo trainer. With the right lighting setup, you can keep pedalling for hours after the sun has set, and ride just as many miles as you did during the lighter months.
Like everything else in the bike industry, light technology is improving at a rate of knots with options available for all types of riders and terrain types.
To see or to be seen
There are two distinct types of bike lights for cycling on the road, front lights that help you see and lights that help you be seen. The best front bike lights which are designed to help you see also aid with visibility, but not all lights designed for visibility are bright enough to light up the road in front of you.
Lights to help you see will often have larger lumen counts, have reflectors and a lens that throws a wide beam of light down the road, while lights for visibility will put out an unfocused beam in every direction.
If you’re commuting down a well-lit road or bike path, a simple flasher will probably suffice, but if you’re heading out for a nighttime training ride or your route is lit like the beginning of a horror movie, look for something brighter with a more road-specific beam pattern.
With advancements in LEDs and batteries, it's possible to buy bike lights that are several times more powerful than car headlights. Lights are rated in lumens, however, which is an imperfect measure because the calculation is based on the LED power and battery charge in ideal conditions.
In the real world, lights deal with limitations created by circuitry, and thermal rollback (when a light automatically reduces its output to prevent from bursting into flames).
For riding on the road you don’t need a 5000-lumen light on your bars, something between 500 and 1500 lumens will do the trick.
Pretty much every light will use a rechargeable lithium-ion battery. Some lights will be completely self-contained, while others will use a separate battery pack.
On the road, we tend to go more for self-contained lights which eliminate the awkward cables and cumbersome battery packs, the latter of which are usually bigger and considerably more substantial.
For lights that consist of the head and separate battery joined by a cable; you'll need to find somewhere to put the powerpack. As batteries degrade over time, external packs can be replaced or upgraded, and some brands even offer options with different capacities.
For riding on the road, a single light mounted to your handlebars would be more than enough to light the way - mountain bikers often use a helmet-mounted light to illuminate where they are looking, but for road riding these aren’t necessary.
Many front lights will come with a plastic/silicone handlebar mount, however, some of the more heavy-duty bike lights will have a dedicated mounting bracket, often made from aluminium for extra security. With the advent of out-in-front computer mounts, there are plenty of options which see an action camera-style or brand-specific bracket on the underside; we like these as it cleans up your cockpit but still allows you to ride with a light.
If you’re commuting and you need to secure your bike outside with a bike lock, look for a light that can be quickly removed without a multitool.
A light that won't last the entire duration of the ride is about as useful as mesh cycling shoes in the Arctic Circle. Take into account how long you're planning to ride for and budget a bit extra when looking at run time.
Also keep in mind that many batteries are affected by temperature, and the cold can have a severe effect on run time. If you live in an area where nighttime temps go below freezing, consider buying a bigger battery.
Knowing how much juice your light has left is also vitally important. Some bike lights have rudimentary green, orange and red battery indicator lights, while others will show you time or per cent remaining.
1200 lumens to light up the night
With 1200 lumens, this light from Wastou will be sure to light up your way as you cycle through unlit areas, meaning it's suited to those riding longer distances and outside of the city streets.
Six modes cycle through high, medium and low constant output, as well as fast flash, slow flash, and SOS mode. The IPX6 rating means it's suited for all-weather riding, and it includes a rear light to complete the set. Both front and rear are USB rechargeable and you'll get at least two hours of run time on the highest setting, thanks to the 1200mAh battery.
850 lumens including a daytime flash mode
The Cygolite Metro features a Daytime Flash mode, which is designed to offer visibility during the daytime hours, with an extremely bright flash that alerts drivers of your presence, no matter the time of day.
Then when the sun goes down, the six different modes offer between 90 minutes and 100 hours of run time. The 850 lumens of brightness will light up the road in front of you, making it perfect for long distance night time riding, and the IP67 rating makes it great for winter use or all-weather commuting.
Rechargeable front and rear set
This pair of lights from Ascher is USB rechargeable and each features three LED bulbs to spread its light over a wide coverage for maximum visibility from all angles.
The 80 lumen output is ample brightness to be seen during dusky rides, but if you need to see where you're going on unlit roads, the higher-lumen options might be better suited to your needs.
The 650mAh battery offers hours of battery life between charges, and with a single rubber strap each, the lights are easy to fit and remove. Both front and rear lights come with four settings which include full brightness, half brightness, slow flashing and fast flashing, and a single button allows you to cycle between the modes.
Comes with free tail light and attaches in seconds
Using CREE LED technology, this easy-to-attach light from Vont is great for riders looking to 'be seen' on the road. With 120 lumens, it's probably not going to light up the road in front of you, but for someone looking to be visible in traffic and during the dusky commute, it'll do the trick nicely.
The Scope is powered by 3 x AAA batteries, which claim to offer up to 6 hours of continuous use, but with a choice of a high, low or strobe beam pattern, it could last much longer.
It also comes with a free rear light, which itself has three choices of constant, fast strobe and slow strobe.
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