Commuter lights show down

A massive round up of lights to make you visible

The long winter nights are drawing in and that means one thing – you’re going to need lights to get to and from your destination safely. Visibility on the road the all-important concern here, but we also recognise it’s useful to be able to see on cycle paths or dingy country roads once dusk has fallen.

With that in mind, we’ve gathered together this year’s top commuting lights for a show down of epic proportions. Each round is grouped by price for the wallet conscious, while stand out efforts are highlighted at the end.

Prepare to be illuminated.

The bargain bin – lights for under £15

When we say bargain, we mean just that – not everyone wants a set of lights that cost as much as a child’s bike. So, which of these are deserving of your pocket money and which should be left to languish in the dark?

RSP LAA875| £6.99

Positives:

  • Good all-round visibility
  • Great light output

Negatives:

  • Sealing isn't great
  • Mounting isn't the most durable against tools

Max illumination time: 70 hours

Verdict: 

Decent but could use better weather protection  

Revolution Vision Ultraslim| £7.95

Positives:

  • Enough light to see by when riding slowly
  • Great visibility from acute angles

Negatives:

  • Sealing is poor

Max illumination time: 32 hours constant

Verdict:

Very good at  being seen and at a rather good price, too

Smart 5 LED Front| £7.99

Positives:

  • Well designed waterproof casing
  • Doubles as a reflector

Negatives:

  • Mounting isn't tool-free
  • Not enough light to see by

Max illumination time: 174 hours

Verdict:

For the money this is quite a good little 'be seen by' light

Cateye LD150F| £12.99

Positives:

  • Fast, tool-free installation
  • 'Press and hold' off switch prevents accidental deactivation
  • Great visibility

Negatives:

  • Not enough light to see by
  • Accidental activation is still possible  

Max illumination time: 84 hours flashing

Verdict:

Well made and well sealed, with good run times for its batteries 

Torch High Beamer| £14.99

Positives:

  • Flood-style light helps peripheral vision 
  • Sideways and rearwards light spill gives great visibility at all angles

Negatives:

  • Bracket isn't the best

Max illumination time: 21 hours 10 mins

Verdict:

The Torch High Beamer is a great all-rounder at a great price

The winner: 

The Revolution Vision UltraSlim: The amount of visibility the UltraSlim kicks out more than makes up for its weather-proofing – a problem that can be solved with some sealant tape. That it can also passably illuminate dark paths just goes to show how much value you're getting for under a tenner.  

The middle men – £15-50

Shying away from their low-cost brethren, these lights are usually made of sterner stuff. If style’s a concern on the way home, or you’ve got a hankering for a feature that the cheaper lights just can’t provide, then these are for you…

RSP LAA883| £15.99

Positives:

  • Light can be seen from a distance and plenty of angles
  • The beam is good enough to ride with

Negatives:

  • The sealing isn't perfect when dry

Max illumination time: 34 hours

Verdict:

This is an all-round top performer at a very attractive price

Smart Superflash 317R| £15.99

Positives:

  • Intense light output 
  • Flashing modes make you very visible

Negatives:

  • Flashing modes can be distracting when riding in a group

Max illumination time: just under 60 hours

Verdict:

Perfect for being antisocial when you've got someone all over your rear wheel. Makes you totally visible at all times

Cannondale Foresite| £16.99

Positives:

  • Part of a set (8LFR1), so you get a front light for your money  
  • One flashing mode is particularly eye catching

Negatives:

  • Light isn't the brightest

Max illumination time: not tested 

Verdict:

Really attracts attention to you and your bike, even though it's not the most luminous of the group

Smart Polaris II 5 LED| £19.99

Positives:

  • Beam is just strong enough to ride with
  • Decent all rounder with flashing and constant modes

Negatives:

  • Sealing and mount leave a little to be desired

Max illumination time: 23 hours

Verdict:

Not a bad little unit for the money, despite the fiddly mounting

S-Sun L121R| £19.99

Positives:

  • Fantastic all-round visibilty
  • Strong light can be seen from a distance

Negatives:

  • Takes an odd number of batteries (3xAAA) which can be awkward to use with rechargers

Max illumination time: Not tested

Verdict:

Despite the odd power requirements, this is a fantastic value light that's visible everywhere   

Cateye LD610-R| £19.99

Positives:

  • Press and hold switch prevents accidental blackouts
  • Flex-Tight mount will fit seatstays and seatposts of any diameter
  • Plenty of modes, including: a legal flashing mode, constant beam and two other flashing modes

Negatives:

  • Still possible to accidentally activate

Max illumination time: Just over 60 hours

Verdict:

One of the best rear lights money can buy

Blackburn Mars 4.0| £19.99

Positives:

  • Amazingly sealed and extremely weatherproof
  • Lifetime warranty
  • An array of tool-free mounting options

Negatives:

  • Not the widest array of modes

Max illumination time: 150 hours

Verdict:

Excellent performance in a well sealed package

NiteRider UltraFazer 3.0| £20.00

Positives:

  • Waterproof to 50m 
  • Just enough light to ride with and great side visibility, too
  • Good quality mounting

Negatives:

  • Light could be stronger for off-road use

Max illumination time: 58 hours

Verdict:

One of the best all-round affordable small battery lights available

BBB HighWatt Single| £24.95

Positives:

  • Focused beam is easy to ride with 
  • Well made alloy housing 

Negatives:

  • Side-on visibility is poor

Max illumination time: 32 hours on constant

Verdict:

A nicely made light, but the side visibility just isn't good enough

S-Sun L130| £24.99

Positives:

  • Long battery life in constant mode
  • Decent visibility

Negatives:

  • Not quite up to riding in the dark
  • Didn't live up to 50m waterproofing claim 

Max illumination time: 62 hours

Verdict:

Quite pricey for a light not up to being ridden with enthusiasm in the dark

Trelock LS730| £29.99

Positives:

  • Kicks out an impressive amount of light in a usable beam pattern
  • Well made
  • Low battery indicator and socket for an external charger

Negatives:

  • The strap isn't the best mounting method
  • No extra modes, just on or off

Max illumination time: 11 hours before dimming

Verdict:

Although the mount can be a fiddle, the light itself is a cracker

The winner: 

The RSP LAA883  and Cateye LD610-R: For commuting duties the LAA883 gives out fantastic visibility and enough light to ride by in return for a tiny dent in your wallet. There are other great lights in this range, but few can compete in terms of value for money. The Cateye, meanwhile, is well worth a look for its great modes and attraction power once dusk has hit.

The heavy hitters - £50 plus

They’re sure to take a chunk from your wallet, but sometimes it’s worth it. If you want the most durable, the flashiest or the best light output you may find it among these. But beware; all that glitters is not gold.

Hope Vision Single LED| £79.00

Positives:

  • Four power settings for constant mode and a long-life flashing mode
  • Bright light is good enough to ride at speed and is visible from the side as well
  • Range of mountings makes it a doddle to fit
  • CNC alloy construction is sturdy 

Negatives:

  • Light is a bit too dazzling and could use some beam control 

Max illumination time: 12 hours 30 minutes

Verdict:

This is a versatile and long lasting light, but it's a bit of a dazzler

B&M Ixon IQ| £85.00

Positives:

  • Great visibility and traffic-friendly beam cut off
  • Perfectly adequate for riding at pretty high speeds on full power
  • Low power setting is ok to ride with 

Negatives:

  • Oversize mounting costs extra

Max illumination time: 21 hours

Verdict:

Oversize mount is extra, but it's not a huge issue on a light this good

Cateye Singleshot Plus El-610| £89.99

Positives:

  • Good side visibilty thanks to light spill windows
  • Excellent all-round light output with a useful beam pattern
  • Mounting will fit almost anything
  • Even when heavily tested it still works almost as well as box fresh

Negatives:

  • Could be a shade brighter when off-road
  • Looks leave a little to be desired for the style conscious

Max illumination time: 8 hours 54 minutes

Verdict:

Offering dependable quality and a handy amount of power for the commute

Topeak Moonshine Commuter| £99.99

Positives:

  • Bright enough for riding at a reasonable pace
  • High quality unit build 
  • Steerer tube top cap allows battery to be stem mounted  

Negatives:

  • Still uses older technology such as NiMH battery back and Halogen bulb 
  • Side visibility isn't great

Average illumination time: 2 hours 30 minutes

Verdict:

Getting a little dated, but still a well made performer

AyUp Roadie kit| £149.00

Positives:

  • Lights are independently adjustable
  • More than enough light to ride by 
  • Durable with a switchless option 
  • Good run time for the fantastic light output 

Negatives:

  • Side visibility is just ok 

Max illumination time: 5 hours 48 minutes

Verdict:

Raw, but they work a treat. Refinement would get these 5 stars.

The winner: 

It's hard to pick between the three stellar systems in this category - the AyUp Roadie kit is powerful enough to use beyond the relms of many commuter's needs, the Cateye Singleshot is sumpremely durable and the Ixon IQ is a well controlled and traffic-friendly commuter's dream. If you're hard on your gear we suggest the Cateye, the Ixon IQ is our pick for those who have a long commute on the roads and we recommend the AyUp if style is a concern or you'll be taking your bike for late night woodland jaunts at the weekend.

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