If you’ve never been mountain biking at night before, you’re missing out. It presents an awesome challenge; obstacles come at you faster, it feels like you’re riding at warp speed and there’s something majestic about the woods at night.
You’ll need a high-powered front light to illuminate the trail, though, and these are the best mountain bike lights from our 2019 and 2020 tests.
The brighter your lights are, the better your night riding experience is going to be. You’ll be able to see more of the trail, obstacles shrouded in the shadows pop out at you and speed comes naturally.
In this guide, we’ve focused on high-powered lights for mountain biking. Otherwise, check out our guide to the best bike lights for road cycling and commuting.
The best mountain bike lights 2021, as rated by our expert testers
- Magicshine Monteer 8000S Galaxy: $400 / AU$650 – approx £310
- Gemini Titan 4000: £350 / $350 / AU$450
- Lifeline Pavo Motion 2400: £150 / $170 / AU$265
- Magicshine Monteer 6500: £226 / $350
- Niterider Lumina Dual 1800: £160 / $149
- Halfords Advanced 1600 Lumen: £50
- Hope R4+ LED Std: £230 / €285
- Lumicycle Apogee Carbon Extender Pack: £366 / €400 / $395 / AU$550
- Moon X-Power 1800: £220 / $270
- Exposure MaXx D MK13: £385 / $473 / AU$619
- Gloworm XSV: £289
- Hope R8: £295
- Ravemen PR1600: £130
- Light & Motion Seca Enduro: £350
What makes a good mountain bike light?
We set a lower limit of 1,500 claimed lumens for this test, which is more than ample to provide safe and well-lit shredding. You could get away with less, but how suitable that is will depend entirely on how fast you want to go and how technical the trails are.
In the same way that claimed battery life, weight and a host of other things vary from their real-life measures, the number of lumens a manufacturer claims their light has compared to how many it actually has can vary significantly. Don’t fret, though, while claimed lumens is relatively important, what really matters is how that light is projected, not necessarily how bright it is.
The same for run times. We timed each of the lights on their max setting to find out just how long the juice will last.
Obviously, if the LEDs push out lots of light, more battery power is required. All of our lights have at least one-hour of run time at the 1,500-lumen minimum requirement, but most offer considerably more burn time at their max output, so it’s unlikely you’ll get caught short.
Battery and LED tech is improving all the time, and although lights with dedicated, separate battery packs will last longer than combined all-in-one units, the gap between the two is narrowing.
Light output isn’t the only factor to consider, beam patterns are just as important. Some lights project their output into one specific area, illuminating everything within that space with exceptional detail, but that’s frequently at the expense of broader coverage.
Lights that flood their output illuminate more of the trail’s surroundings giving a better sense of where you are and highlight details easily missed with a more focused beam. This wider beam spread means it’s easier to see around turns, too – something that needs to be considered if you’re not running a dual bar and lid mounted setup.
Lights with multiple lenses or beam reflectors can combine spot and flood outputs, with the further option to toggle between them. In theory, lights with both beam patterns are the best of both worlds.
It’s also important to check out what extras are included with the light such as remotes, extra-long cables to connect battery and head unit, multiple mounting brackets, and whether they’ve got a certified waterproof rating, are shock-resistant and have battery or mode indicators.
The lights on test range widely in budget, from £130 to £350 / $350 / AU$450. Although it’s possible to spend even more or a bit less, with a 1,500-lumen lower limit this is the sort of price bracket you’re looking at unless you’re considering buying an eBay special.
Scroll through the gallery below to compare the beams of the top-rated lights (each in its most powerful setting) from our 2019 and 2020 tests.
While every effort has been made to provide fair comparison (our 2019 and 2020 images were shot using the same camera settings), these images should be viewed as illustrative of each light’s beam pattern.
Magicshine Monteer 8000S Galaxy
- Buy direct from Magicshine
- RRP: $400 / AU$650 / approx. £310
- Claimed max output: 8,000 lumens
- Run time (max power): 1 hour 15 minutes
- Huge power for technical trail riding
- Great focused beam and peripheral lighting
Boasting a brain-bending 8,000 lumens, the Galaxy’s immense brightness is second to none. It lights up the trail and its surroundings with fantastic competence, making it a one-stop-shop for gnarly trail riding.
The beam is super-broad with a virtually imperceptible cut-off point to the sides and front. As well as this impressive spread, there’s a bright spotlit area directly in front of the bike that lets you pick out details such as rocks and roots as if it were daytime, further aided by the beam’s white hue.
There are three programs, each with four constant modes and one flashing setting, selected via the power button on the tough alloy head unit.
The 10,000mAh battery pack straps securely to the frame and, because it’s quite thin at 34mm, can squeeze into small gaps.
Gemini Titan 4000
- RRP: £350 / $350 / AU$450
- Claimed max output: 4,000 lumens
- Run time (max power): 2 hours 25 minutes
- Very impressive brightness
- Long run time
The Gemini Titan claims to output a very respectable 4,000 lumens, and while we didn’t specifically confirm the claim, we can confirm that its output in the real world is enormous – with our tester finding it could “turn night into day”.
Furthermore, it has a phenomenal run time at around two and a half hours for such a powerful light.
It misses out on a five-star rating because it’s pretty expensive and the beam spread isn’t quite perfect, but if you need this sort of power you’ll be very impressed.