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 available?
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.
You can find out more about mountain bikes lights in our buyer’s guide to mountain bike lights and best mountain bike lights round-up.
Read on to see our summary of the lights with links out to the full reviews.
Best front lights for bikes
Exposure MaXx-D Mk10
A retina searing 3,300 lumen ouput is impressive BikeRadar
Price: £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.
The Gemini provides genuine daylight-style vision BikeRadar
Price: £325 / $462 / AU$669
- Unparalleled strip LED illumination power
- Custom modes and a wireless switch
- Excellent reliability and the best way to light up your bike rides
If you want rally car levels of illumination on your ride, nothing beats Gemini’s radical Titan. By using six LEDs in a horizontal strip you get a detailed 3D rendering of the road/trail rather than harsh single/double point shadows for genuine daylight-style vision.
While it maxes out at a darkness-detonating 4,000 lumens, half that is enough for 90 percent of situations, so the bag battery capacity is ample for epic rides.
Each mode is programmable in 10 percent steps and you get a wireless remote as standard. We’ve been using Titans for years without a glitch.
Guee SOL 700 Plus
Automatic power adjustment is a great feautre BikeRadar
Price: £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.
Knog PWR road
The PWR system seems to be totally fuss-free BikeRadar
Price: £85 / $90 / AU$120
- Genuinely innovative modular lighting solution
- Nicely constructed
Knog’s modular PWR system was released to much fanfare. 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.
Knog’s new PWR is the Swiss Army Knife of powerbanks
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.
Blackburn Dayblazer 800
With submersible waterproofing, it’ll survive even the wettest of rides BikeRadar
Price: £55 / $77 / AU$109
- Multi-mounting options
- Bright and long running enough to be really versatile
- A tough and powerful light
Blackburn’s slimline Dayblazer uses a combination of GoPro-style tabs and a rubber band strap to mount it almost anywhere, so no matter your handlebar configuration, you’re bound to find space for the light.
You’ll be grateful for the 800 lumen ‘Blitz’ mode that can pick out trouble in the darkest alleys and gutters on any ride too.
The TIR lens, with diffusing side cutouts, gives a good ‘see me’ spread, with flash and pulse modes for daylight running. There’s basic battery info and the 1.5-hour runtime at max power can be USB recharged in four hours.
It’s submersible waterproof too, so if you live somewhere with plenty of rainfall it’s sure to live up to Blackburn’s light reputation of being super tough.
Exposure Strada BikeRadar
Price: £300 / $411 / €375
- Remote high/low beam switching
- Tunable output and plug-in extras
- It’s a well-designed, high-tech, high-performance UK illuminator
Exposure has been making high-performance, high-tech lights in the UK for over a decade. The latest Strada road light is 300 lumens brighter than the previous model for uncompromised back road riding and a wired remote for flicking between high and low beams is included as standard.
Runtimes for multiple programmable modes are communicated through a strip OLED. Plug-in batteries, rear lights and USB chargers are all available as extras and the latest version recharges 40 percent quicker than before.
The CNC-machined light, bar and stem mounts are beautiful and UK factory backup is excellent.
Hope R2i LED Vision
Hope R2i LED Vision BikeRadar
Price: £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.
Lezyne Macro Drive 800XL
Lezyne Macro Drive 800XL
Price: £65 / $83 / AU$108
- 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.
Reasonably priced and top-performing BikeRadar
- Mega-light 20g weight
- Long run time
Renowned for its reasonably priced and top-performing kit, Alpkit’s Tau featherweight 20g light boasts a 20-lumen LED light strip with five modes, including high and low flash and constant and a pulse function.
The light will run for 3 hours 30 minutes on full-whack and the light’s switch indicates the charge level.
CatEye Rapid X3
At 51g it’s light enough even for the fussiest of riders
- Low profile design
- Compatible with most frames and posts
Like its similarly-named counterpart, the Rapid X2, the X3 shares the same low-profile design but boasts a higher 150-lumen max power output from the LED light source.
At 51g it’s light enough even for the fussiest of riders and will stay on for 1 hour and 20 minutes in its maximum setting. It’s also compatible with curved or aero seatposts.
Topeak Redlite AERO 1W
It’s always ready to go and has never failed us out on a ride BikeRadar
- 55-lumen max power setting
- Lots of mounting options
On paper, Topeak’s Redlite Aero 1W is nothing remarkable, but it’s always the one that’s ready to go and has never failed us out on a ride.
Four modes max-out at 55 lumens (two-hour runtime) with a low battery indicator. Different back pieces and bands fit various shaped tubes/posts, the single LED strip is angled and it charges in two hours.
Bontrager Flare R
There are multiple LEDs to project light in various directions BikeRadar
- Good light projection
- Compatible with wireless controllers
The 47g light can be fixed to your bike with an angled mount so that it can be positioned in the correct direction for optimal visibility.
There are multiple LEDs to project light in various directions and it can be paired up to work in harmony with Bontrager front lights using a Transmitr wireless controller that costs an extra £44.99 — or you can use your Garmin device.
At max output, the light can run for 4 hours 50 minutes.
Bontrager Flare R City
In max setting it’ll keep on going for just over five hours. BikeRadar
- Quick charge time
- Lightweight and long-lasting
The light’s single LED emits 35 lumens using a wide-angle reflector, and in its max setting, which is daylight-flash mode, it’ll keep on going for just over five hours.
With a 2 hour charge time and a 26g weight, it’s a solid companion for both daytime and night time rides.
Cateye Rapid X2
Twin LED strips scroll through six modes with a 50-lumen max BikeRadar
- 180-degree visibility
- Two hour re-charge time
Cateye started the LED rear light revolution and still rules in terms of reliability. Twin LED strips scroll through six modes with a 50-lumen max and 180-degree visibility.
It’s aero seatpost-friendly, but a lack of angle correction is irritating.
Its light 30g weight limits max runtime to one hour, but the two-hour recharge is useful for busy riders.
Exposure TraceR MK1 DayBright
The light boasts a two-year warranty and the metal body means it only weighs 49g BikeRadar
- High 75-lumen output
- Six modes
With the option to change between three constant modes and three pulsing modes to get the most from the battery’s output, you can expect the light to last around 3 hours 10 minutes on the maximum 75-lumen output.
The light boasts a two-year warranty and the metal body means it only weighs 49g. It’s also built in the UK.
Exposure Tracer ReAKT+ Peloton
The 75-lumen max light, with three-hour runtime, is very visible BikeRadar
- It doesn’t require much space to mount
- Brightens when you brake in high-light situations
Luckily for those with lots of clutter or not much space, the TraceR’s mount doesn’t need much frame/seatpost space to fit.
The 75-lumen max light, with three-hour runtime, is very visible, has six modes, low battery indicator and charges in four hours.
ReAKT is a feature that brightens the light when braking or in bright traffic situations, while Peloton dims if it detects a light following you.
Lezyne Zecto Drive Max
Eight modes max-out at a 250-lumen daylight flash
- A max 250-lumen flash mode for daylight running
- Very reliable
With a versatile clip mount for straps or tubes, plus a robust construction, the ZDM is a bikepacking winner.
Eight modes max out at a 250-lumen daylight flash (nine-hour runtime). It’s heavy (69g) and sideways visibility is limited. There’s no waterproof rating, but we’ve dropped and hosed it without issue.
Specialized Stix Comp
In the power flash setting, which projects 20 lumens, we got nine hours of run time BikeRadar
- Long battery life
- Plenty of mounting options
The lightweight Stix Comp (29g) treads the thin line between power and battery life. The six modes mean it’s versatile and can be tuned for a variety of needs. With battery life that starts at three hours, extending to 27, so you’re unlikely to get caught short.
In the power flash setting, which projects 20 lumens, we got nine hours of run time. There are lots of different mounting options for clothes, lids, saddle rails and even for on arms.
This article was last updated on 4 January 2019.