12 Best Bicycle Lights in 2017
Lumens, beam patterns, battery types, mounting locations, colors…
Choosing the best bicycle lights was a bit more complicated that you originally thought!
While it’s true that there are many small details to take into consideration as you shop for this type of cycling accessory, choosing one will be much easier if you refer to our guide.
Here, we will help you navigate your way through the top bike lights and provide you with useful tips to help steer you toward the right one for your cycling needs.
Start by comparing and contrasting the top 12 lights in our table, then head down to see how to choose one step by step.
We’ll finish off the guide with reviews of the top five products and then give you our final thoughts based on our experience and everything we reviewed!
Top 12 Bicycle Lights Comparison Table
Where Are You Cycling?
The first step to choosing the best bike lights is by taking your cycling route into consideration.
- Road – For city cycling or even in residential areas where street lighting is ample, your focus should be on making others aware of your presence.
The best bicycle lights for city use offer a variety of modes – both fixed and flashing – that help both cars and pedestrians understand where you are.
If you ride on a mixture of well-lit and poorly lit areas – whether it be during your daily work commute or riding for fun – 200 lumens or a little more is plenty.
If you happen to go through poorly lit areas, then you should opt for something with a higher output (600 lumens would be plenty to light the area in front of you and make sure that others see you).
- Trail – When it comes to trail riding in the dark, you want floodlight power lighting your way.
Both a helmet-mounted light and a headlight that you mount to your head tube or handlebar will provide you with enough light.
If you’re riding in a group, taillights are still important because they let the other riders know where you are.
Where Will You Place the Lights?
Next, narrow down the options even further by deciding where you’ll be mounting them on your bike.
Not all lights are appropriate for all areas of the bike, so you’ll need to make sure that the clamps and hardware will fit.
- Headlight – Do you plan to place the light on your handlebar, head tube, on a basket or your helmet?
Keep in mind that the light beam from helmet headlights will turn whichever way you turn your head, and lights that are fixed to your bike or a basket offer a fixed beam of light.
When it comes to the mounting system, it’s best to have a clamp mount headlight for trail riding since it can support the weight better (headlights are usually heavier, and you don’t want it sliding down your bike as you ride).
Some headlights can be fixed to your helmet or somewhere on the front of your bike frame, so again, just make sure the hardware matches the mounting location.
- Taillights – Taillights are usually placed on the seat post and most these days seem to be designed with the “quick release” technology.
Others need to be fixed on with brackets, but check to see what materials the manufacturer used on it because anything made of stainless steel is going to rust.
Since these are usually lighter than headlights, the clamps aren’t as heavy-duty.
- Side – The easier you make it for other drivers and cyclists to see you, the safer you’ll be.
If you really want to render yourself visible, think about mounting some lights on the spokes or the frame of the bike so that people can see the entire outline of it.
What About Lumens and Brightness?
The amount of visible light that a source produces is measured in lumens.
The simplest explanation: lumens refer to brightness!
There is a delicate balance between being seen by other users of the road and blinding them with a light that it too bright, which is why you need to choose a light based on your riding location as we mentioned earlier.
- 200 lumens is great for average city cyclists going through well-lit areas.
- If you want something a little more powerful for darker areas or if you’re a more serious cyclist, then 600 lumen lights are great.
- For off-road use, you can opt for a brighter light – 1,000 lumens and up.
Avoid using these in the city or even on rural country since they are too bright for oncoming traffic and could end up being more of a danger than a safety device for you.
Taillights usually only produce between 20-40 lumens and not all manufacturers bother to tell you up front how many lumens their taillight produces.
If you really want to know, a little digging on the manufacturer’s website may provide you with the info you need.
Top 5 Best Bicycle Lights Reviews
Magnus is by far the best bike headlight on our list. If you’re a serious commuter cyclist looking for something that will light your path in the dark without blinding other users of the road, this is a good choice.
A few things we like about this light:
- You can rotate it left or right (a full 45°)
- Rechargeable battery
- Waterproof body
What’s great about this light is the fact that you can adjust the brightness based on the conditions outside: 860 lumens is the highest setting, and 90 lumens is the lowest for daytime riding (in full sun). It also has a flashing mode. They even throw in an extra battery for free!
While you may end up spending more for this light than some of the others on our list, it is worth every penny.
It’s easy to install and remove (no tools required), and the light output is awesome.
If you’re a serious cyclist, this is the type of headlight you need!
Everyone should have a versatile taillight like this in his or her possession.
The lumen output is pretty good for a taillight: 50 lumens! The offer you six different modes, as well, including Zoom, Steady Pulse, Steady, Triple Flash, Single Flash and Random Flash.
Like the Magnus, this also runs on a rechargeable battery, and on a single charge, you can expect up to 500 hours of light time – pretty good for a taillight.
The brightness is superb compared to most standard taillights and since you probably have one of the “other” ones on your bike at present, the brightness of this one will “Wow!” you once you turn it on.
The buttons are easy to press (they aren’t too close together like some lights), and it is versatile: clip it to a bag or your coat for a run or mount it to your seat post with the mounting clip they include.
The CygoLite is another excellent choice for city cyclists.
If your budget is a little restricted and the Magnus was a little too expensive, then give the Night Owl a try. As a set, this comes with headlight and taillight, so it’s a pretty good deal in this price range.
Obviously, there is quite a different in lumen output between this one and the Magnus, but if you ride in well-lit areas and just need a light for short, poorly lit areas, then the 200-lumen output of this headlight will be fine.
Like many lights these days, this one also runs on a rechargeable battery, but you shouldn’t expect it to offer you the 500 hours that the CygoLite did simply because this produces a brighter light and requires more juice to power it. This light will provide you with two hours of light on the highest setting: not great, but not bad if you recharge it between uses.
Both lights are water-resistant and easy to attach to your bike thanks to the rubber straps, but keep in mind that rubber does have its limitations. A). It isn’t durable and B). The grip is much looser than a standard clamp, so a large bump may cause it to slide down or move.
Overall, this is a great set for the price, and if you’re in need of something in the 200-lumen brightness range, this is the one for you.
Blitzu’s Cyborg light probably outshines (pun intended!) the CygoLite in the popularity category. TONS of cyclists love this light, and we found it to be better for those of you need a taillight exclusively for use on your bike.
For a taillight, the lumen output is impressive at a whopping 168 lumens, and we love that you can turn the light vertically or horizontally on the mount. Another reason why cyclists love this light is that it is easy to mount onto the back of the helmet, too.
The light has six different modes (three for brightness and three flashing modes). One of the flashing modes looks like a disco ball, which is great if you want to be seen but can be a bit distracting for some drivers.
If you already have a great headlight and set out in search of a decent taillight, this is the brightest one on our list.
These are probably the best bicycle lights for the budget shopper: do you just need something so that you aren’t illegally cycling on the road and didn’t want to spend much money? If so, these lights will do.
Like the Night Owl, the lumen output for the headlight is 200 lumens but we love that they used aluminum on the body of the light rather than plastic or stainless steel. Aluminum doesn’t rust!
Again, these have the rubber brackets which make them easy to install but the grip isn’t as strong, which means they may slide down over time.
These lights actually run on standard AAA batteries, so get yourself a pack of them if you’re out!
They may not take home the gold medal for quality, and that’s to be expected in this price range, but they get the job done and if you don’t use your bike often, that’s pretty much what you need!