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The ultimate guide for the 40 best bicycle lights for night riding

This article offers you a comprehensive overview of the best bicycle lights for night riding. It’s all the lights I reviewed across three cycling disciplines: road, gravel, and mountain biking.

If you’re more interested in a specific discipline you can read one of the following articles:

How do I choose a bicycle light?

You choose a bicycle light based on its usage. Road cycling differs from gravel riding, which in turn differs from mountain bike riding. In turn you have different road cycling lights, gravel bike lights and mountain bike lights.

In general the lights for each discipline varies in terms of light output. With the requirements for road cycling on illuminated roads being less demanding than trail riding in a dark forest.

Obviously you can choose to put an MTB specific bike light on your road bike. But the three cycling disciplines roughly determine where you should be looking.

What are different type of bicycle lights?

Besides the three categories of road, gravel, and trail, you can furthermore divide bicycle lights into ones with integrated batteries, and ones with external batteries.

External batteries power your (smaller) lights through a cord, so you’ll need a bit of cable management in this case. As well as a spot to place the battery itself.

To be compatible with various frames, batteries are usually fastened using velcro straps. Having the battery located outside the light usually means the light itself can be smaller, since it just have to contain the bulbs and some other electronics.

You do have to contend with some extra cable management and a bulky battery located somewhere on your bicycle frame.

Internal batteries are a light and battery combo in a single package. The advantage is you don’t have to deal with the cables and loose battery. Another advantage is that more easily you can opt for a dual-setup, effectively doubling your lumen output. The downside is the design is somewhat similar across the board with elongated shapes dominating.

How many lumens do I need for a bicycle light?

Brighter is better, right? Well, generally speaking the answer to that question is yes. And with lights we talk about two parameters: lumens and lux.

Lumens is the overall output of a certain light. Lux is the amount of lumen that covers a certain area. One lux is equal to one lumen per square meter. So the larger the area covered by x amount of lumens, the lower the lux count is going to be.

Ranging from 800 (Garmin Varia UT800 Smart Headlight) to 8000 lumens (Magicshine Monteer 8000S Galaxy V2.0 Remote Version), you’ve got lights that’ll make sure you can ride safely on unlit roads versus riding confidently on highly technical trails with drops and sharp turns.

The average and safe lumen in car headlights falls between 2,000 – 4,000 lumens. That means that some lights on this list are just as- or brighter than the average headlight on a car.

The 800 lumen Garmin Varia has the lowest lumen count on this entire list. But 100 lumens is already enough to ride safely on well-lit roads, and you don’t need more than 1000 lumens in unlit areas. However, this article is about the best bicycle lights for night riding, not lights to simply get by. So I apply the following rules:

  • Road cycling: between 1000 and 2000 lumen
  • Gravel riding: between 2000 and 3000 lumen
  • Mountain biking: 3000 and up

What are the brightest bicycle lights?

You’ll find the brightest bicycle lights in the MTB category. Twisty downhill single tracks in a dark forest demand the highest power output for a prolonged period of time. These lights run in the thousands of lumens with the aforementioned Magicshine Monteer 8000S Galaxy topping the entire list at 8000 lumen.

led bicycle front lights
dual setup on my Killer V

You don’t always need to look into a single light to increase the brightness (lux). The same output by two lights effectively doubles your lux amount (lumen falling on the same area), thus increasing the brightness. It’s also a great way of increasing brightness without needing to resort to a light with an external battery.

How long do rechargeable bicycle lights last?

All lights on this list have more than one setting, oftentimes distributed across multiple programs. Typical settings are low, medium, high, and the maximum setting or boost. Besides these settings you have one or more interval settings or flash mode.

These settings determine how long your light will last, with a higher brightness obviously resulting in a lower battery life. On average a good battery life sits between 1.5 to 2 hours.

Other requirements to take into consideration

Price

Price is obviously an important factor, especially considering the fact that high-end mountain bike light can run into the hundreds of dollars. So if you dig deep into your wallet for some premium lights you want to make sure they perform as promised.

There’s a tremendous gap between the cheapest light (BrightEyes 1600 Helios – $61.99) versus the most expensive (Niterider Pro 4200 Enduro – $674.99) on this list.

That difference is made up of all the light characteristics that come next.

Mount

Your handlebar setup might demand a certain mount for convenience purposes. There are a lot of different types, ranging from o-rings and straps to brackets and Garmin mounts.

I much prefer asymmetric brackets which let you place your light away and in front of the handlebar clamp. This saves precious handlebar space and simply looks way better than lights atop your standard clamp or bracket.

However, your specific stem might not let you place the light exactly in the middle of the handlebars. And I’m the type of person that actually would be annoyed by such a thing.

Handlebar Diameter

Not all lights are compatible with the latest 35 mm diameter. So if you run such a bar, be sure to check whether or not you can actually use the mount.

Furthermore, the same goes for the older-style 25.4 mm diameter. This is a nuisance if you run a setup on your vintage mountain bike with old handlebars, which can be solved by adding some kind of shim.

Charge Type

There’s a pretty clear distinction between how you charge the battery that power your light. Overall, externally powered lights use fast chargers, whereas lights with internal batteries use a USB variant (A, C, or micro USB).

With USB C being used across a whole plethora of devices, I prefer this option over all others. If not for the fact you can charge your iPhone, and the cable is easily replaceable.

Fast charger are the obvious choice for external batteries because they speed up the charge process of some of the biggest batteries out there.

Weight

Weight varies greatly across different types of lights. Although probably not the biggest factor in MTB front lights you mount on your bicycle (rather than your helm).

That being said, a lot of lights with external batteries near the 500 gram mark, or even go over it. So if you’re a weight-weenie, you might want to take this into consideration.

Light Control

All lights have an on-off switch location on the light itself. But a lot of lights can be controlled using other means. The ways to do so can be through a physical remote, either connecting via a cable or through bluetooth.

Having a separate remote is a good thing, especially while trail riding at night. Trying to operate a light by moving your hand while going downhill is at least a nuisance and could possibly be dangerous. And operating a single or dual button remote is just as easy as shifting, provided you have the space on your handlebars to fit one.

Between cable remotes and bluetooth remotes, I prefer cable remotes because of their durability (which is higher). Even though of course there’s one extra cable to manage.

Some high-end lights actually have separate programs you can operate using a smartphone and an app. And some lights even set their own program based on how you ride. For instance, they dim the light when you don’t move.

I don’t necessarily like this, because all this extra technology can break and means you need to spend more money. Just give me more battery life and light output. That’s what I buy a light for.

Encasing

The far majority of lights are made with anodized aluminum, with only a few of the cheaper models (relatively) coming in plastic. The most expensive model is made from nylon.

Helmet mount

Some lights can double as a helmet light as well, provided you have the proper mount. Sometimes these helmet mounts are included, sometimes you can buy a proprietary mount separately, and sometimes they are compatible with third party options like the one from GoPro.

Contenders for the best bicycle lights for night riding

The following list comprised all the lights taken into consideration, sorted in alphabetical order.

Name
Price
max lumen
battery type
battery (mAH)
battery life (hrs)
mount type
handlebars diameter (mm.)
charge type
rating
light control
weight (gr.)
casing
helmet mount
$139.99
1300
internal
4800
1.5
bracket
35, 31.8, 25.4
micro USB
water resistant
smartphone
178
aluminium
optional
$61.99
1600
external
6400
4
o-ring
fast charger
waterproof
light
662
plastic
no
$239.95
1700
internal
6800
2
strap
35, 31.8, 25.4
micro USB
waterproof
light
256
aluminium / plastic
optional
£320.00
3300
external
dna
dna
front mount bracket
35, 31.8, 25.4
dna
cable remote
80
aluminium
no
£250.00
2200
internal
5800
2
bracket
35, 31.8, 25.4
fast charger
light
186
aluminium
no
£435.00
5000
internal
15500
2
bracket
35, 31.8, 25.4
fast charger
light
386
aluminium
no
£485.00
5000
internal
15500
2
bracket
35, 31.8, 25.4
fast charger
wireless remote
386
aluminium
no
£320.00
1500
internal
7800
2
bracket
35, 31.8
fast charger
waterproof
cable remote
252
aluminium
optional
£305.00
3200
internal
8700
2
bracket
35, 31.8, 25.4
fast charger
light
236
aluminium
no
$89.95
2200
internal
5200
2
bracket
35, 31.8, 25.4
fast charger
waterproof
light
154
plastic
no
$99.99
800
internal
1.5
Garmin mount
35, 31.8, 25.4
micro USB
light / garmin
130
aluminium
optional
Gemini Duo Multisport
£229.99
2200
external
4000
2
o-ring
35, 31.8
USB C
wireless remote
253
aluminium
yes
Gemini Titan 4000
$199.99
4000
external
8000
2
o-ring
35, 31.8
USB C
wireless remote
491
aluminium
no
NZD$389.00
2000
external
5000
2
front mount bracket
35, 31.8
fast charger
water resistant
wireless remote
290
aluminium
yes
NZD$448.00
2000
external
10000
4
front mount bracket
35, 31.8
fast charger
water resistant
wireless remote
456
aluminium
yes
NZD$508.00
2800
external
10000
3
front mount bracket
35, 31.8
fast charger
water resistant
wireless remote
477
aluminium
yes
NZD$571.00
3600
external
10000
2
front mount bracket
35, 31.8
fast charger
water resistant
wireless remote
501
aluminium
yes
£59.99
1600
internal
6400
3
strap
35, 31.8, 25.4
USB A
waterproof
light
288
plastic
no
£190.00
1300
internal
3200
1.5
bracket
35, 31.8, 25.4
fast charger
waterproof
light
252
aluminium
yes
£250.00
2000
external
6200
2
front mount bracket
35, 31.8
fast charger
light
426
aluminium
yes
£325.00
4000
external
9600
1
front mount bracket
35, 31.8
fast charger
light
690
aluminium
no
AUD $299.99
2000
internal
10000
2
bracket
35, 31.8
micro USB
light
365
aluminium
optional
AUD $184.99
1100
internal
5000
1.7
out front bracket
35, 31.8, 25.4
micro USB
light
230
aluminium
optional
$169.99
1800
internal
6000
2
strap
35, 31.8, 25.4
micro USB
waterproof
optional cable remote
237
aluminium
no
£149.99
2400
internal
8700
3
bracket
31.8
USB C
light
319
aluminium
no
$224.99
2000
internal
1.5
strap
35, 31.8, 25.4
micro USB
waterproof
light
216
no
$399.99
2500
external
2.5
strap
35, 31.8, 25.4
fast charger
waterproof
light
495
plastic
yes
$349.99
2000
external
1.5
strap
35, 31.8, 25.4
fast charger
waterproof
light
355
plastic
no
£369.99
4000
external
6800
bracket
31.8
fast charger
light
183
aluminium
optional
$199.99
4500
external
10000
3.5
bracket / Garmin mount
31.8
fast charger
waterproof
light
382
aluminium
optional
$419.99
8000
external
10000
1.5
Garmin mount
31.8
fast charger
waterproof
wireless remote
606
aluminium
no
144.99
2600
internal
1.5
strap
35, 31.8, 25.4
USB C
waterproof
cable remote
190
$339
4000
external
6700
2
Garmin mount
31.8
fast charger
cable remote
400
aluminium
no
$265.99
3600
internal
2
bracket
USB C
cable remote
305
aluminium
no
$179.99
1800
internal
0.45
bracket
35, 31.8, 25.4
micro USB
water resistant
light
258
aluminium / plastic
no
$245.00
2200
internal
0.5
bracket
35, 31.8, 25.4
USB C
light
311
aluminium
no
$674.99
4200
external
1.5
front mount bracket
35, 31.8
fast charger
water resistant
cable remote
839
nylon
no
$245
2200
internal
2
front mount bracket
35, 31.8
USB C
light
311
aluminium
optional
£130.00
1600
internal
6000
1.4
bracket
35, 31.8
USB C
waterproof
wireless remote
220
aluminium
no
£200.00
2400
internal
batteries not included
1.5
bracket
35, 31.8
USB C
wireless remote
282
aluminium
no

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