The best bike lights for road cycling

Top options for urban and commuting use

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. 

We review dozens of bike lights every year at BikeRadar. This page features our pick of the best front and rear lights for road cycling and commuting.

This article was last updated on 2 December 2015.

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 Best Buy 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.

Related reading: Buyer's guide to bike lights for commuting and road cycling

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.

Best front lights

The following lights were the highest scoring in tests byCycling Plus and BikeRadar.

Run time and LED data for the top front lights tested in 2014

Cateye Volt 700Niterider Lumina 750Bontrager Ion 700Moon X-Power 780
Price£99.99 / US$120 / AU$179£99.99 / US149.99 / AU$179£89.99 / US$99.99 / AU$150£99.99 / US$N/A / AU$140
Run time (tested)1 hours 55 minutes1 hour 40 minutes1 hour 44 minutes1 hour 37 minutes
LEDsOne high-intensity white LEDOne LEDOne CREEOne CREE XM-L

Cateye Volt 700 – overall winner

£99.99 / US$120 / AU$179

www.cateye.com / Buy from Rutland Cycling

BikeRadar score4/5

Cateye volt 700:
Cateye volt 700:

Cateye's versatile Volt 700 is small in size but big on practical performance. The beam has a very tight focus for reasonable reach and good middle distance fill that works great in most riding situations – it was praised as one of the most balanced light outputs by our test team.

Read our full review of the Cateye Volt 700

Bontrager Ion 700 – best value light

£89.99 / US$99.99 / AU$150

www.bontrager.com / Buy from Rutland Cycling

BikeRadar score4/5

Bontrager ion 700:
Bontrager ion 700:

The 700 lumen output gives good middle distance coverage and reach so you don’t need to compromise your back road riding speed after dark. The backlight changes colour as battery life fades too, making this an impressively practical, usefully powerful full feature light for the money.

Read our full review of the Bontrager Ion 700.

Niterider Lumina 750

£99.99 / US149.99 / AU$179

www.niterider.com / Buy from Go Outdoors

BikeRadar score4/5

Niterider lumina 750:
Niterider lumina 750:

Niterider's Lumina 750 delivers a very impressive rounded beam with lot of light around lower edge to spot road debris and potholes, then a long reaching centre strip for confident high speed riding.

Read our full review of the Niterider Lumina 750.

Moon X-Power 780

£99.99 / US$N/A / AU$140

www.moon-sport.com / Buy from Chain Reaction Cycles

BikeRadar score4/5

Moon x-power 780:
Moon x-power 780:

Beam output is powerful too, with a broad fuzzy 'smile' and separate mid fill strip that stretches a decent length down the road for confident speed even on unknown roads. It's also fits very securely, and the battery is replaceable.

Read our full review of the Moon X-Power 780.

Also tested:

Also look at

These are the highest scoring lights from previous years' tests.

Best rear lights

The following lights were the highest scoring in tests byCycling Plus and BikeRadar.

Lezyne Zecto Auto

£40 / US$50

www.lezyne.com / www.upgradebikes.co.uk / Buy from Chain Reaction

BikeRadar score4/5

Lezyne zecto auto:
Lezyne zecto auto:

The well-made and solid-feeling Lezyne Zecto Auto comes with an interesting function that many lights don’t – it’s equipped with an accelerometer which means it’s able to turn itself on and off when you are/aren’t moving. It will shut itself off after three minutes of inactivity, restarting when you start moving again. How useful this is depends on your point of view, but it does at least mean that you won’t drain the battery power from accidentally leaving it on. We never found it a problem at traffic lights either, and the accelerometer is sensitive enough that if you were caught at a set of lights for an absurd amount of time, you’d have to be statuesque in your stillness for the light to go out.

The three rear LEDs are clear and bright, at full power it produces 20 lumens and the coloured LEDs in the side window usefully indicate the charge level. The six lighting modes works and the ability to mount it to a bike or luggage make it very versatile too.

Knog Blinder Road R

£43 / US$80 / AU$70

 www.todayscyclist.co.uk / www.knog.com.au / Buy from Evans Cycles

BikeRadar score4/5

Knog blinder road r:
Knog blinder road r:

The Knog Blinder Road R is a seriously powerful little light. The slim casing houses four LEDs and the Blinder Road R can chuck out 70 lumens of vivid red light across five modes.

Knog’s bungee and clip make the Blinder Road R easy to fit and swap between bikes. No tools are required and it sits securely on most seatposts. The power button is in a bit of an inconvenient location though – right at the top of the light, on the edge angled closest to the seatpost. Charging is easy if you have the USB extension cord, as you can just plug it into your laptop, and there are no wires to keep track of.

Cateye Rapid X

£35 / US$40 / AU$50

www.cateye.com / www.zyro.co.uk / Buy from Chain Reaction 

BikeRadar score4/5

Cateye rapid x:
Cateye rapid x:

The slender-looking Rapid X offers great side and rear visibility. On full power, constant mode, it is incredibly bright bright, but the rechargeable USB battery will only give you one hour’s run time. That's not a problem though because the range of six modes can provide up to 30 hours battery life and thanks to the battery saving feature, it’ll switch to a more power efficient mode as the battery depletes.

The light mounts securely to a seat tube or chain/seat stays with the supplied O-rings and a rubber backing, which also protects the USB charge port. On first inspection this rubber cover looks like it might be susceptible to water ingress but even in the wettest of weather, on a bike without mudguards, it kept the USB port well sealed.

Guee COB-X

£20

www.guee-intl.com / Buy from Evans Cycles

BikeRadar score3/5

Guee cob-x:
Guee cob-x:

The Cob-X is simple but effective rear and emits its light from a thin strip of small LEDs. Contrary to their size, they provide a good amount of luminosity across two flashing and one constant mode. The power button at the top has a positive click to it and works well with gloves.

The COB-X can be mounted to a seatpost, chain or seatstay with its rubber clasp and the piece of rubber on the back ensures it doesn’t slip. It charges in less than two hours with a mini USB cable and the port on the back is well protected from the elements, as long as you don’t pull or damage the bung that protects it. The COB-X is basic and simple and as long as you don't mind the limited modes and don’t need searing brightness, it’s good.

Also tested

  • Niterider Cherry Bomb 0.5W – 2.5 stars
  • RSP Spectre R – 2.5 stars

Worth considering…

These are the highest scoring lights from previous years' tests.

Moon Comet 

£28 / US$N/A / AU$50

www.raleigh.co.uk / www.moon-sport.com / Buy from Halfords

BikeRadar score5/5

Moon comet rear light:
Moon comet rear light:

Giving off an even glow that is visible even from 90 degrees to the side, the Comet is a very good rear light. There are six settings; the most impressive is overdrive where it kicked enough light out to illuminate the entire back wheel and road below. This is ideal when angled downwards (to reduce glare), and yet it still ran for nearly two hours. One very good thing about the light is that it comes with a mount for the saddle rails – if you have an aero section seatpost, being able to mount it to the saddle rails is a godsend. The only drawback we could find is that the button is difficult enough to locate when riding without wearing gloves. Stick on some gloves and it’s hit or miss. 

Topeak RedLite Mega

 £25 / US$40 / AU$40

www.topeak.com / www.extrauk.co.uk / Buy from Chain Reaction

BikeRadar score5/5

Topeak redlite mega:
Topeak redlite mega:

Offering excellent visibility without being distractingly bright, Topeak's RedLite Mega rear light is a well built bit of kit. It survived all of our abusive testing and offers great all-round visibility with a simple to fit but secure mounting system. There are some flashing modes which are a little on the gimmicky side, but beyond that the fact remains that this is still one of the best rear lights out there for being seen from behind and surviving life in the cold and wet winter months.

Of course, you need even brighter lights if you're planning on shredding off-road, especially if you'll be taking a trail-dog with you.

Related Articles

Back to top