The best bike lights will not only help you to see where you're going after dark, they also keep you visible to traffic at any time of day. In fact, many brands recommend using lights during the day as well as the night, particularly in fog, low light and rain, to promote safer cycling as well as to improve awareness among motorists.
If you consider that most cycling collisions occur during the day, it’s probably worth investing in a daytime running light (DRL) with multiple modes that can also serve as a night light. Most contemporary bike lights offer varying degrees of brightness, battery life and flash patterns, and have a built-in DRL function — the output of which is measured in lumens.
Like everything else in the bike industry, the best bike lights are improving at a rate of knots with options available for all types of riders and terrain types. Whether you're a seasoned cyclist or currently running through our commuter bike accessories checklist to ready yourself for the return to the office, there are plenty of great options listed here.
To keep things as simple as possible, we've broken our list down into three sections: best front lights, best rear lights, and best light sets. We usually recommend buying your lights as a set because they tend to offer better value for money, however if you have very specific needs, or you just want to have full control over what you buy, you may want to mix and match from the other two lists.
Read on for our recommendations, or jump ahead to read about how to choose the best bike lights.
Jump to the lights you need:
Best front bike lights
Excellent power for the price, good mount and decent run-time with smart auto mode
Lumens: 1,600 | Battery: Lithium-ion, up to 100hrs | Mounts: Quick release | Price: £99.99 / $TBC / AU$TBC
Giant's Recon HL1600 is one of the best bike lights on the market, and the most powerful in the brand's HL range. Not only does it put out a whopping 1,600 lumens for dazzling brightness, it has a solid and reliable mount, as well as a very decent battery life of up to 100 hours of run time.
The Recon puts out an even beam without any distracting sudden edges or holes, and the beam pattern points slightly downwards so as to light up the path or road ahead. While its long battery life is based on running it in more eco modes, it still boasts 100 minutes of full-power running, which should be perfect for you getting you out of a poorly lit area.
Garmin Varia UT 800
Light at any speed
Lumens: 800 | Battery: Internal | Mounts: GoPro-style and Garmin quarter turn | Price: £149 / $100 / AU$249
There is nothing worse than outrunning the beam on your light on a ride after dark, and it can lead to some pretty scary moments on the bike. Garmin’s Varia UT 800 light aims to prevent just that by working with your Edge head unit to tailor the light to your speed.
The Varia light sends just the right amount of light down the road to match the speed you are riding. Unfortunately for the time being the ‘smart’ functions of the Varia are restricted to the Garmin cycling computers.
Using a single CREE LED, Garmin says it offers 270-degrees of nighttime visibility and can be seen up to a mile (1.6km) away during the day. At full blast, this front bike light will last a little over an hour and the light uses a GoPro-style mount or can be paired with Garmin’s universal out-front mounts using the quarter-turn adaptor.
Knog PWR Road
Modular light that doubles as a powerbank
Lumens: 600 | Battery: Modular | Mounts: Quick release | Price: £85 / $90 / AU$120
Knog’s PWR lights are an innovative idea that pairs a light head to a battery pack, allowing you to customise the pieces depending on your riding situation. With a quick-release bar mount, the battery doubles as a power bank should you need to top up your phone or head unit — although you can't use the light at the same time.
The light gives you 600 lumens of brightness and throws a nice oval-shaped beam that you’re unlikely to outrun. Swapping between light modes is done by twisting the head, easily performed even with thick gloves, and the light modes themselves can be customised through the brand's ModeMaker app.
Even though the lights pull apart, they are fully sealed from dust and moisture.
Lezyne Mini Drive 400 XL
Best brightness bang for buck
Lumens: 400 | Battery: Internal | Mounts: Silicone | Price: £30 / $29.99 / AU$N/A
Packing 400 lumens into an extremely compact unit, the Lezyne Mini Drive 400 features what it calls a MOR (Maximum Optical Reflection) lens to focus every lumen into the best possible beam pattern. Side reflectors help other road users see you when the light isn’t painting in their direction, and the CNC-machined casing does well to dissipate heat and resist the elements.
With seven modes (three solid, four flash modes, including a daytime flash) the light has built-in mode memory so the light returns to the mode it was in before being turned off. A simple silicone mount makes for a stable and faff-free install.
There is no need to rummage around for a charging cable as the Mini Drive 400 XL has a built-in USB stick that plugs directly into your computer or wall plug and a charge indicator lets you know how much battery the light has.
The best front bike light with an inbuilt camera
Lumens: 600 | Battery: Internal | Mounts: Go-Pro style | Price: £255 / $279 / AU$399
What started as a Kickstarter project spurred on by a time Kingsley Fiegert, Co-Founder of Cycliq, was hit with an object flung from a slingshot out of a passing car, has turned into full-coverage front- and rear-light camera combos. The Fly12 is the front-facing piece of the puzzle and pairs 600 lumens to a full 1080p camera with built-in stabilisation, 60fps capability and a 135-degree field of view - something that no other light on the market can offer (except for Cycliq's own Fly6 rear).
The light itself throws out a well-shaped beam for nighttime riding and features a home-safe mode where if the battery drops below five per cent the camera cuts out to extend run time.
The light also features Bluetooth and ANT+ connectivity, an accompanying app, and a bike alarm, too.
Exposure Strada MK10 SL
A dedicated road beam in a durable, well made unit
Lumens: 900 | Battery: Internal | Mounts: Bar and helmet | Price: £210 / $287 / AU$410
With a 900-lumen output, the Strada MK10 SL has Cree LEDs, is cable-free and features a road-specific beam which is optimised to light up the tarmac without blinding oncoming traffic.
The 3400mAH lithium-ion battery will give you two hours at full brightness and up to 36 hours on lower modes. The six-hour charge time isn't as fast as some of its contemporaries, but weighing in at 386g and at 100mm x 44mm in size, it's a compact front light that is built to last.
While we think the 900-Lumen MK10 SL is the best option, the Strada MK10 is available in three variations, topping out with the 1500-lumen MK10 SB (Super Bright).
Compatible with bars from 31.8mm to 35mm, it can be used on both your road and mountain bikes, but it's certainly designed for pounding the pavement.
The light features Exposure's OMS (Optimised Mode Selector) with a choice of 10 programs, so you shouldn't have any trouble finding the right brightness for your ride. Like all Exposure products, it's anything but cheap; however, in our experience, it's an investment that is well worth the cash.
Lezyne Micro Drive Pro 800XL
A solid and reliable light for daily use
Lumens: 800 | Battery: Internal | Mounts: Quick release | Price: £60.00 / $69.99 / AU$71.46
The Lezyne Micro Drive Pro 800XL is a solid and reliable light that arguably provides one of the best power-to-price ratios available. With two LEDs sat side by side, the Micro Drive Pro 800XL emits a wide central beam with a large-coverage diffused light surrounding it. It throws out sufficient light to illuminate the road ahead while still maintaining a steady pace.
In terms of build quality it feels bombproof, and represents excellent value for money. It comes with eight light modes (great for some, while maybe too many for others), with a claimed run time ranging from 1 hour 45 minutes at full 800 lumen capacity, to 87 hours in its dimmest setting.
It comes with a non-removable rubber strap, making it easy to mount to all bars, and you can check the battery life by tapping the power button. Finally, the light it emits has a slight green cast to it, so if you find the bright white of other brands' lights, these might be for you.
Bontrager Ion Pro RT
A versatile and powerful front light that performs exceptionally well
Lumens: 1,300 | Battery: Internal | Mounts: Quick release | Price: £99.99 / $129.99 / AU$189.99
When it comes to powerful brightness and a consistent beam pattern, the Bontrager Ion Pro RT is difficult to beat. It produces a warm, yellow beam with up to 1,300 lumens on offer, without any glare, and that feels easy on the eyes. The beam pattern it emits is also well-focused and soft at the edges, making for clear illumination when riding at night.
It comes with give light modes to choose from, ranging from the full 1,300 lumen output down to 400 when preserving battery life. At the sides it emits small amber beams for increased visibility at junctions, and thanks to its Bluetooth connectivity you can sync it with a Garmin to monitor its battery life.
Cateye Volt 800
A high intensity beam well suited to unlit roads
Lumens: 800 | Battery: Internal | Mounts: Quick release | Price: £89.99 / €115
Cateye's Volt 800 feels robust and well-built, if a little heavy at 134g. However if you're not counting the grams, it makes an excellent light riding in unlit areas, whether it's cruising along country lanes or getting from one side of the city to another.
It comes with five modes to choose from, with three constant beam options and two flashing. Its maximum run time is claimed to be 80 hours on its flashing mode, while running consistently at 800 lumens maxes out around 2 hours.
It comes with a plastic bracket that stays affixed to your bars, which the light can be easily mounted onto and then removed in seconds. It's claimed to be weather resistant as well, which is an added bonus.
Best rear bike lights
Compact yet super powerful with neat seat tube profile and excellent reliability
Lumens: 100 | Battery: Lithium Ion, up to 30hrs | Mounts: Silicone band | Price: £36.99 / $44.95 / AU$39.99
Topeak's Taillux range comes with three models, with the 100 being its most powerful. Despite being brutally bright, it's also super compact and has a neat fitting system for all seat posts. It's loaded up with six powerful LEDs alongside three emitters up the centre, and it toggles through four different lighting modes that sequence the two sets of LEDs in different patterns.
Topeak claims that the Taillux 100 makes you visible up to a distance of 3.2km, and from our own experience with it, we reckon that's about right. It's IXP6 waterproof-rated, making it a great option for riding in all weathers, and it doesn't even cost an arm and a leg - what's not to love?
One of the brightest and most affordable bike lights in the segment
Lumens: 180 | Battery: Li-Poly USB, 16 hours | Mounts: Silicone band | Price: £39.99 / $50.78 / AU$50.78
The Moon Nebula is one of the lightest, brightest and most affordable rear bike lights on the market. Rated at 180 lumens in its highest mode, the Nebula is incredibly bright which makes it an ideal option for those who spend a lot of time in the saddle during the day.
That said it does possess eight modes which differ in terms of brightness and flash patterns. The 20-lumen flash mode is the most economic setting providing a good balance between visibility and battery life, nearly 20 hours.
In terms of mounting, the Nebula can be fixed to the seat post, saddle and helmet in both a horizontal and vertical format. Everything from universal brackets, clips and rubberised o-rings are included in the package. This is an excellent overall rear light.
Lezyne Zecto Drive Max
Ultra-compact in design, the Lezyne Zecto Drive Max is one for the minimalists
Lumens: 250 | Battery: Li-ion USB, 24 hours | Mounts: Silicone band | Price: £48 / $49.99 / AU$73.49
The Lezyne Zecto Drive Max might be one of smallest rear lights on the market but it’s also one of the hardiest units, too. Built to last, it benefits from a two-piece, plastic outer shell which mounts securely to the seat post via a rubberised band.
Each of the eight modes is controlled through the power button on the top of the unit — press and hold to switch it on or off and then a single click to scroll through each mode. The most powerful setting is the 250-lumen day flash, which is claimed to last an impressive nine hours, followed by the 125-lumen flash and 35-lumen steady blast.
The Zecto Drive Max also benefits from a nifty ‘mode memory’ feature which returns to the last selected mode each time the light is turned back on.
Garmin Varia RTL510 radar rear light
A pricey add-on but the early warning system makes it worth every penny
Lumens: 65 | Battery: Li-ion USB, 16 hours | Mounts: Garmin quarter-turn mount / silicone band | Price: £169.99 / $199.99 / AU$299
Ideal for nervous riders or those who commute on dangerous and congested roads, the Varia RTL510 is a great piece of kit. It provides visual and audible alerts to warn of vehicles approaching from behind up to 140 metres and can be synced to a dedicated radar display unit or paired with a Garmin Edge computer.
Doubling up as a 65-lumen tail light, it offers day-time visibility of up to 1.6km (1 mile) within a 220-degree range.
In terms of battery life, the Varia RTL510 is on par with the Bontrager Flare RT with a maximum running time of 15 hours in flashing mode or six hours in steady- or night-flashing mode.
Lezyne Strip Drive Pro
The best rear bike light for daytime riding
Lumens: 300 | Battery: Li-ion USB, 53 hours | Mounts: Silicone band | Price: £50 / $54.99
As the company’s flagship rear bike light, the Lezyne Strip Drive Pro boasts some impressive features including a 300-lumen daytime flashing mode and a 53-hour battery life.
With 11 different output modes to choose from – including three constant modes, six flashing modes and two daytime flashing modes – the Strip Drive Pro caters for all types of riding conditions and disciplines.
Unlike its rivals, the Strip Drive uses an integrated cable-free USB stick for recharging purposes — a nifty feature but the chunky body housing can get in the way when mating it with certain laptops and charging devices.
Cateye Rapid X3
One of the brightest, most adaptable rear bike lights money can buy
Lumens: 150 | Battery: Li-ion USB, 30 hours | Mounts: Silicone band | Price: £49 / $40 / AU$59
The Rapid X3 is the most powerful rear bike light in Cateye’s range, doubling the brightness of the company’s popular X2 with an output rated at 150 lumens (maximum power mode).
In this setting, the light will stay on for around one hour - not great by any stretch - but there are five alternative settings including a 30-lumen flashing mode that boasts a 30-hour battery life.
The X3’s narrow profile and rubber-band-style mount means it’s compatible with most bicycles and can be attached to any part of the frame including round and aero seatposts, seat-stays, handlebars and forks.
Exposure Blaze MK2 DayBright
A dazzling light that slices through pollution to make sure you're visible
Lumens: 80 | Battery: Internal | Mount: Quick release | Price: £95 / €114 / $130.15
Whether you're riding at night or day, it's important to be seen by drivers coming up behind you. The Exposure Blaze MK2 DayBright is, as the name suggests, designed to improve visibility in daylight hours.
It achieves this by putting out a powerful 80 lumens (which is quite high for a rear light, generally), while its unique design points the beam upwards slightly in order to make it as visible as possible. It also emits light from the sides for added visibility at junctions and when joining traffic.
It has six modes, including two functions called REAKT and Peloton. The former is a motion sensor that automatically adjusts the beam output accordingly and also doubles up as a brake light when you slow down. The latter, as its name hints at, is for use in group riding conditions and it emits a slightly dimmer beam to avoid dazzling your team mates. While these functions are excellent, selecting them is quite complicated, so that's worth bearing in mind.
Best light sets
Bontrager Ion 200 RT & Flare RT
Compact yet powerful lights that punch well above their weight
Lumens: 200 / 90 | Battery: 420Li-Poly USB, 15 hours | Mounts : Silicone and Blendr | Price: £84.99 / $114.99
Bontrager claims the Ion 200 RT and Flare RT are visible from up to 2km away in daylight. With only 200 lumens of power up front and 90 at the rear, the lens focuses the light into a retina-burning flash that makes it one of the best bike lights for drawing attention.
Both use a silicone mount or Trek’s Blendr mounting system, and also have a built-in ambient light sensor to auto-adjust brightness for maximum 'be-seen' visibility. The beam pattern isn’t ideal for lighting up the road, so if you’re riding without streetlights after dark, we suggest looking at something with a higher lumen count and a more focussed beam pattern.
The Ion 200 RT and Flare RT are ANT+ and Bluetooth compatible and can be paired with your Garmin head unit to show battery status, change the light setting or toggle on/off.
Finally there’s a neat battery-saver mode that provides an additional 30 minutes of power when the charge drops to five percent.
See.Sense Icon2 Front and Rear Set
Interactive and smart, the See.Sense Icon2 set has every base covered
Lumens: 400 / 300 | Battery: Li-Ion USB, 16 hours | Mounts: Silicone strap | Price: £149.99 / $217.00
With 400 lumens up front and 300 at the rear, the See.Sense Icon2 light set uses both a high-powered CREE LED (visible from up to 3km away) and a CoB LED panel which gives a wide dispersion of light and 270-degree range of side visibility.
Like its forebear, the Icon+, the Icon2 connects to a smartphone through an app where you can customise the flash patterns and brightness as well as monitor the battery level. It can also be set up as distress beacon if you crash and an alarm in the event that your bike gets stolen.
GPS is used to alter attributes such as flash rate and brightness when approaching intersections and roundabouts or when cars are approaching by sensing the headlights. There’s also a new brake mode on the rear light which provides a constant beam as you reduce your speed reverting to the previous setting as you start pedalling again.
Lezyne Lite Drive 1000XL & Strip Pro Light Pair
A powerful multi-purpose bike light set with big battery life
Lumens: 1000 / 300 | Battery: Li-ion USB, 87 hours | Mounts: Silicone band | Price: £115.00 / $109.99
If you're looking for a set of lights with a decent power output and a big battery life, you could do much worse than the Lezyne Lite Drive 1000XL and Strip Pro Light Pair. The rugged set of lights put out 1000 lumens at the front and 300 at the back, emitting a powerful and wide beam for good night-time visibility.
With eight different modes to choose from, there's definitely a lot of versatility there, and when running on the lowest mode it can keep going for up to a whopping 87 hours. For the forgetful commuter, this could be a one-charge-a-week job.
Of the many modes included is a Day Flash mode, which is designed to help drivers to see you better even in daylight, though you might find yourself succumbing to mode-fatigue, as it can take a while to scroll through all of them to find the one you want.
Blackburn Dayblazer 800 Front & 65 Rear Light Set
One of the best value bike light sets
Lumens: 800 / 65 | Battery: Li-Poly USB, 6 hours | Mounts: Silicone | Price: £79.99 / $84.99
Diminutive in design, the Blackburn Dayblazer 800 Front & 65 Rear light set is one of the most underrated in the segment. Both are super easy to mount and dismount from your bars and seatpost thanks to the hard-wearing and stretchy silicone band.
The Dayblazer 800 Front puts out a bright 800 lumens on its most powerful setting, which is enough to light up the path ahead even in areas with no street lighting, and be able to see far enough to maintain a decent amount of speed.
The 65 Rear also packs a bunch, and its narrow profile makes for an easy and snug fit thanks to a recessed, rubberised backing plate.
Burn times vary from 90 minutes to 6 hours, mode dependent of course, and the battery life isn't the best so these are better suited for short rides when you need them at full beam. That said, if you're happy to run them on slightly less powerful settings, then they'll be good for most journeys, or just to get you back home after dark.
NiteRider Lumina 1200 Boost & Solas 250 Combo Light Set
Long battery life and good beam pattern
Lumens: 1200 / 250 | Battery: Internal li-ion battery | Mounts: Bracket / Silicone | Price: £130 / $149.99
The NiteRider Lumina front bike light has been around for a while in different guises, but the latest sees vast improvement for on-road users. There are numerous variations of the current Lumina, with lumen ratings going from 650 right up to 1800. The 1200-lumen model comes with a runtime of 1-18 hours.
Meanwhile the Solas 250 use two powerful LEDs to put out 250 lumens and features four modes (two flash, two steady). It features what NiteRider calls its 'Group Ride Mode', which provides up to 15 hours of constant beam without blinding those riding behind you.
The included quick-release mount is secure but takes up a heap of bar real estate, however, K-edge makes a metal GoPro-style mount adaptor that solves the problem. Thankfully the Solas mounts using a regular silicone band, so it doesn't require as much room.
How to choose the best bike lights
As a rule, the brighter the light, the better your chances are of being seen by other road users. It’s also worth looking for bike lights that are durable, waterproof and capable of emitting a strong beam regardless of the time of day. To help you make a decision, here are some frequently asked questions answered.
Do I need a light to ride my bike at night?
While legal requirements differ from country to country, it's at the very least common sense to equip your bike with lights for night riding.
There are two distinct types of lights for cycling on the road: those that help you see, and those that help you be seen. The best 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, 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 night time 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.
How many lumens do I need for a bike light?
With advancements in LEDs and batteries, it's possible to buy bike lights that are several times more powerful than car headlights.
However the brightness needed depends on where you're riding, and can impact the cost of your lights as well as their battery life. The higher the lumen-count, the harder they'll need to work, and the more they're going to set you back financially.
For riding on poorly lit roads you don’t need a 5,000-lumen light on your bars, as it will dazzle oncoming drivers. Instead you could opt for something between 500 and 1,500 lumens to do the trick up front, and something over 200 lumens at the rear.
Of course, if you're riding in well-lit areas and don't need to illuminate the path ahead of you, you can get away with fewer lumens, which would bring the price down. A 100-200 lumen front light and 60-100 lumen rear light can still do a great job of keeping you visible.
What battery type is best for a bike light?
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.
How long should my bike light battery last?
Lights that won't last the entire duration of the ride are 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.
Did you know that many batteries are affected by temperature, and therefore the cold can have a severe effect on run time? If you live in an area where night time temperatures go below freezing, consider buying a bigger battery.
Knowing how much juice your lights have left is also vitally important. Some bike lights have rudimentary green, orange and red battery indicator lights, while others will show you time or percentage remaining.
How do I mount a light to my bike?
For riding on the road, a single light mounted to your handlebars and seat post would be more than enough - mountain bikers often use a helmet-mounted light to illuminate where they are looking, but for road riding these aren’t necessary.
Many lights will come with a plastic/silicone 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 lights that can be quickly removed without a multitool.
Why are bike lights so expensive?
There are a lot of cheap, poorly constructed and unreliable options out there, and the truth of the matter is, you get what you pay for.
The last thing you want is a light that fails mid-ride, especially a rear one that you're unlikely to notice right away. Therefore, it’s imperative that you invest in a set of bike lights from a reputable brand.
While this might cost you a little more initially you can rest assured knowing they will last a good few years and often be covered by a warranty.
Should my bike light be still or flashing?
It’s important that your bike lights have at least two lighting modes: flashing and constant.
The RVLR (Road Vehicles Lighting Regulations) states flashing modes should pulse between 60 and 240 times per minute (1–4Hz) but there’s no clear indication as to which mode is most effective.
As a result, many cyclists run both flashing and constant lights just to be safe, and some lights feature a pulse setting which consists of a constant beam with a pulsing brightness.
Thank you for signing up to Cycling News. You will receive a verification email shortly.
There was a problem. Please refresh the page and try again.