Modern bike lights can be split into two main categories — lights for road/commuting use and lights for mountain bike use. They differ vastly in terms of light output, run time, weight and expense so how can you make sure you're getting the best? That's where we can help.
- The best mountain bike lights
- Buyer's guide to bike lights for commuting and road cycling
- Women's Cycling reviews and products on BikeRadar Women
We review dozens of bike lights every year at BikeRadar and this page features our pick of the best front and rear lights for road cycling and commuting.
Road lights are split into yet another two categories, however; those that provide enough illumination to enable you to see what's on the road and those that are designed to simply ensure that you're seen by other road users.
For this guide, we've selected front lights that are more powerful and will enable you to see where you are going on unlit cycle paths or rural roads while the rear lights are designed primarily to make you visible to other road users. Factors such as battery life, weight and side visibility are more important than all-out power for the rear lights, and the prices are lower too.
If you're looking for lights for off-road riding, you need something more powerful that can light up unlit trails in dark woods littered with rocks, roots and other obstacles. You can find out more about lights for this purpose in our Buyer's guide to mountain bike lights and Best mountain bike lights round-up.
This article was last updated on 24 January 2016.
Best front lights for bikes
Blackburn Central 700
• Price: £79.99 / US$99 / AU$N/A
The Central stands out with cunning optical and mounting tricks. The double tab and thumbscrew mount is compatible with any GoPro camera mount as well as its own rotating ratchet double back rubber strap mount, which works on bars and stems.
The frosted lens edge and back-sloped lower section give peripheral and just-in-front-of-wheel awareness. Two tall side gills increase traffic visibility. You get a decent amount of central beam power for confident riding on back roads and battery life can be massaged with three constant and two flashing modes.
It’s splash proof but our sample’s survived showers fine.
Lezyne Macro Drive 800XL
• Price: £64.99 / US$82.49 / AU$107.99
Twin LEDs give a tall light fill in two distinct ‘double barrel’ spots for reasonably confident riding on dark lanes. The cutaway sides mean limited side visibility and the lower lip reduces vision just ahead of the wheel.
The rubber saddle and ladder mount works with most bar shapes too. Weight is relatively high but build quality and reliability are good, the micro USB port is well sealed and recharging is fast. Run times are average but there’s a constant high/low mode ‘Race’ setting if you find the flash and pulse parts of the default five-mode set up irritating.
It’s well priced for a shop bought light, too.
Lezyne Super Drive 1250XXL
- Price: £104.99 / US$119.99 / AU$177.49
Lezyne is one of the pioneers of LED technology and the Super Drive is one of its latest to exploit this white light to the full with this light that puts out a hefty 1250 lumens and it does this without needing a separate battery (it's all in the head unit). You can choose to favor battery life or brightness as well as running the XXL in 150-lumen flash or pulse mode.
At 268g, including the quick-fix rubber mount, and sized at 110 x 45 x 30mm, the XXL is big but that gets you the intensely-bright 'Overdrive' mode which might just be all the front light you'll ever need.
Best rear lights for bikes
Moon Arcturus Auto Pro
• Price: £36.29 / US$44.27 / AU$58.06
Moon’s Arcturus uses a very powerful 30-chip rectangular ring COB LED for very obvious wide-angle visibility from three steady and three flashing modes. The auto light sensor gives the option to let it self-asses your safety and the alloy body helps keep it cool and efficient on warm summer nights.
The built-in strap clip slots into a folding wing and the rubber strap seatpost clamp can be angled to keep the light vertical. It even comes with a saddle rail clamp if your seatpost won’t play ball. Full power life is short, but there is a built-in, low-power hour of safety reserve.
Best combo bike light sets
Niterider Lumina & Sabre
• Price: £60.00 / US$76.74 / AU$101.34
Niterider packs serious see and be seen power into this top value, lifetime-warrantied twin set. The Lumina’s embedded LED means zero sideways visibility, but the 450-lumen beam gives an excellent punch for fast road riding.
The 200-lumen, three-hour run time beam is still useful and there are charging and low battery indicators. The Sabre rear uses an equally powerful single strip COB LED with three standard and three flashing modes plus extra side LEDs. Both click easily into thick rubber strap mounts, which are heavy but adjustable to fit round bars, stems and the most perverse seatpost angles.
Exposure Sirius Mk5 & TraceR
• Price: £129.99 / US$138.61 / AU$183.01
Exposure’s UK-built twin pack is a versatile and function-rich set. Power is adequate rather than amazing for back lane blasting, but generous run times despite low weight mean you can run it higher for longer than most, and there’s a programmable settings menu.
The‘ warm’ coloured, mid-width beam also has cutouts for decent side awareness. An optional remote switch, auxiliary battery and USB device charging lead increase versatility, and recharge times are fast.
The TraceR rear is powerful, particularly from directly behind, and both lights have basic recharge and run time communication. The switches are indistinct in gloves and you’ll need the optional saddle rail clamp if you’ve got an elliptical aero seatpost.