Broadly speaking, 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?
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 another two categories: 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.
If you're looking for lights for off-road riding, you need something more powerful that can light up unlit trails in dark woods, though we have included a handful more powerful lights here.
Magicshine MJ906B 2018
- £140 / $170 / AU$N/A
- Incredible value for money
- Excellent battery life
Magicshine has long been the brand to beat in terms of value for money. While the app-tuneable 906B isn't totally issue free, it still presents amazing performance for remarkably little outlay.
The claimed 3,200 lumen max power is focussed around a central hotspot, making it easy to pick out road debris at a distance. The free app also allows you to program up to 20 different solid, SOS, flush or pulse modes.
The separate battery pack won't appeal to everyone, but this is one well worth considering if you value battery life and power over low weight.
Knog PWR road
- £85 / $90 / AU$120
- Genuinely innovative modular lighting solution
- Nicely constructed
Knog's recently released modular PWR system was released to much fanfare earlier this year. The whole system is based around a central power pack that is available in a number of different capacities, and Knog has plans to include camp lights, Bluetooth speakers and more as part of the PWR family.
We've spent seven months testing the 600 lumen head and a medium (5,000mAh) battery and have found the PWR system to be totally fuss free. The battery life is also pretty decent for a mid-powered light.
As a new-ish product, we can't speak for long-term reliability, but so far the light has been very hardwearing and we don't expect any long-term issues.
Guee SOL 700 Plus
- £60 / $79 / AU$104
- Automatic power adjustment
- Nice CNC machined body
If you're the sort of person who always forgets to dip their full beam (stop being that person), the automagically power adjusting Guee SOL 700 might just be the light for you.
While this might sound a little gimmicky, in practice we've found the automatic adjustments to be quite useful, particularly while riding at dawn or dusk when street lighting can be a little patchy.
The light also fixes onto GoPro mounts, opening up a whole host of potential mounting positions.
Exposure MaXx-D Mk10
- £375 / $514 / AU$680
- Ridiculous 3,300 lumen power
- Great reliability and direct manufacturer back-up
If you subscribe to the more is more mantra when it comes to bike lights, the retina searing 3,300 lumen Exposure MaXx-D Mk10 might be the one for you.
The MaXx-D is more than just a lumen-bazooka though — with built in accelerometers that automatically dim the light when you stop moving, a huge number of accessories, mounts and excellent manufacturer-direct support, the light is well worth considering despite its high cost.
Niterider Lumina OLED 1100 Boost
- £140 / $150 / AU$250
- OLED information panel is genuinely useful
- Clear and long-reaching beam
The Niterider Lumina is built around a relatively simple, single 1,100 lumen Cree LED that is sat behind high-quality optics that give a clear, long-reaching and useful beam.
What makes the Niterider unique is its nifty OLED top panel that clearly displays the current mode and remaining battery life. Data fields are selected via two soft-touch buttons.
If you're not so fussed by the idea of the techy display, the light is also available without the OLED info pane for £30 less.
Exposure Strada 1200
- £290 / $398 / AU$525
- Cable free design
- Long battery life
If you think that the MaXx-D Mk10 sounds like a little too much light for you, then you may want to consider the more reasonably powered Strada 1200.
The light uses the same super-secure bolt-on clamp as used on Exposure's mountain bike lights, but mounts for four-bolt stems, helmets and more are also available.
Compared to Exposure's mountain bike lights, the beam pattern of the Strada lights is quite wide spread, with a purposefully flat and wide beam — this makes the quoted 1,200 lumen output feel a little more like 800, but visibility is good right up to the front wheel as a result.
Blackburn Central 700
- £79.99 / $99 / AU$N/A
- Excellent beam pattern
- Mount compatible with other accessories
- Good side visibility
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.
If you're after a slightly cheaper light with a mere 50 lumens less power, you could also look to the virtually identical Blackburn Central 650.
Lezyne Macro Drive 800XL
• £64.99 / $82.49 / AU$107.99
- Rubber ladder-mount works with most bars
- High-quality build
- Good value for money
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 work 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
- £104.99 / $119.99 / AU$177.49
- Impressive 1,250 lumen power
- Excellent battery life in lower power modes
The Lezyne Super Drive packs an impressive 1250 lumens — a power that would have required a separate battery pack only a few years ago — into a remarkably compact and nicely machined head unit
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 for road riding.
Hope R2i LED Vision
- £175 / $235 / AU$305
- Super robust construction
- 'Double barrel' LED setup improves visibility
The R2i LED Vision carries over Hope's signature machined aesthetic, housing two eye-friendly, warm coloured LEDs in a very sturdy all-alloy body.
The 'double barrel' setup of the LEDs causes a binocular-like effect that helps decipher what's ahead, with the smooth transition at the edge of the beam avoiding stark reflections and sharp edges.
The light is relatively heavy, but our experience shows that the weight penalty is worth it, with legendary reliability and factory-direct support to boot.
Best rear lights for bikes
We've also tested a whole host of different rear lights and some of our favourites include;
- CatEye Rapid X3
- Alpkit Tau
- Moon Nebula
- Knog Blinder Mob V Mr Chips
- Bontrager Flare R
- Exposure TraceR MK1 DayBright
- Specialized Stix Comp
- Bontrager Flare R City
This article was last updated on 14 November 2017.