How To Choose The Best Bike Lights That Help You Shine Bright & Stay Safe

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After thoroughly reviewing dozens of bike lights available today, we think the Bright Eyes LED Lights are the best option available.

Bike lights are one of the essential pieces of equipment for your bicycle, but one that cyclists often overlook. Bike lights are essential for bicycle safety, giving you optimal vision on trails and roads and increasing the likelihood of passersby in vehicles seeing you.

Manufacturers make lights for your bicycle or clothing in a variety of budgets and types so you can find the best lights for a road bike, mountain bike, or even your bicycling helmet to best meet your needs.  

Our Recommendations

Now you know what constitutes the best bike lights for your safety on the road, off the road, and everything in between. But, with so many options for bike lighting to choose from, it can still be a confusing process to know where to start looking.

For your convenience, we chose a few of the top options for best lights for a road bike or mountain bike so that you can find the right safety lighting for your needs. 

Light & Motion Urban 350 Bike Headlight

This Light and Motion bike light may be a good choice for urban bicycle commuters. With 350 lumens, it provides enough brightness to light your way and allows others to see you without being too bright that it distracts others sharing the road.

This light has both front and side lights in one convenient handlebar-mounted encasement to make you and your bike more visible to commuters. The side lights are amber, which can help your bike stand out on the road.

The adjustable mount makes it easy to install and remove on various handlebar sizes.

You’ll get four handy lighting modes from this light, from flashing to high power. On the lowest setting, this light can hold power for up to 12 hours; on its highest setting, you’ll still get up to 1.5 hours of light to get you to and from your destination safely.

With a waterproof encasement, the Light & Motion Urban 350 can withstand cycling through rain and puddles and can even stay protected in water submersion of up to one meter, or about three feet. And, in case of a drop from your bike, this strong light can also stay protected in up to a one-meter fall. 

This is one of the best bike lights under 50, coming in at just under that price tag. And, it includes a 2-year warranty to ensure that you can feel confident in your purchase. 

Blackburn Bike Light

The Blackburn Bike Light is a simple option for those who want a grab-and-go light without a lot of fuss. This light can sit on the front or rear of your bike, and priced around $30, it’s an affordable option because it comes with two lights for placement in each spot.

This light requires no tools to install. It’s compact and clips where you need it to go. You can even place the lights on a backpack strap, helmet, or rear bike rack, making them a versatile option that can go where you need them to for the best see-and-be-seen safety.

Don’t be fooled by these small lights, though, because they provide excellent peripheral lighting that allows riders to see 180-degrees around their bikes, as well as others in that path to see the bike. The exceptional brightness of this lighting set can be helpful for off-roaders and night riders. 

You can charge each light using a micro USB charger. One comes with your light set, but any micro USB charger will work. When your light is getting low on its charge, the useful indicator will let you know that time is running low.

Blackburn Bike Lights are functional, too. You can choose from white or red lighting, depending on where you place the lights. Also, choose from steady or flashing lights, depending on where and when you ride. 

Bright Eyes Bike Headlight Set

The Bright Eyes Bike Headlight Set is one of the best mountain bike lights for the money. Coming in at just under $40 for a full set of lighting, you’ll have virtually everything you need to keep you illuminated and safe wherever you choose to ride.

This set is an excellent option for off-roaders. The 1200-lumen light is exceptionally bright and allows for plenty of visibility on dark trails or nighttime country road-riding. The lighting set also comes with a rear red light to keep your bike visible from the back. The Bright Eyes Bike Headlight Set provides up to 3,000 feet of visibility. 

You can choose to mount the light on your handlebars or your helmet, as the set comes with everything you need to install your light how you prefer.

Your light will come with five modes: Low, Medium, and High power, plus a strobe function and an S.O.S. function. Use the strobe function for daytime riding on the road to make yourself more visible to others and the S.O.S. pattern for emergencies. Depending on the lighting setting you choose, you can get from 5 to 26 hours of light. 

This set has a 6400mAH rechargeable battery pack that includes a wall charger for easy charging when needed. Bright Eyes also has battery packs for purchase separately if you’d like an extra to keep handy for your rides. 

Cygolite Metro 400 Bike Light

Cygolite Metro 400 is one of the best mountain bike lights under 100. This is a set of lights that includes a headlight and taillight to make your bike visible to others and keep you safe while commuting in urban environments. At 400 lumens of brightness, this lighting set provides plenty of lighting to help illuminate yourself, your bike, and your path on the road. 

You can get up to 12 hours of run time from this set depending on your power mode. The Cygolite Metro 400 taillight offers six modes, including one steady beam and five flashing modes. The headlight also has six modes of its own, with two flashing, three constants, and one walking mode.  

The flashing modes of the taillight can help urban cyclists attract the attention of others and make themselves more visible during the day. Flashing modes include a triple flash and a single flash that light up red to allow others to see your bike from the rear.

The headlight’s steady modes have a mix of power settings to help you control brightness and your light’s battery life. In well-lit areas, bump down the power to keep your light shining for longer on a single charge. 

Cygolite Metro 400 charges with a micro USB cable for its lithium-ion battery. The lights also include an indicator to warn you of a low charge.  

Cygolite Metro 750 Bike Headlight

Cygolite Metro 750 is a headlight that offers more brightness and long-lasting power than the Cygolite Metro 400, making it an excellent choice for distance road riders who enjoy riding at night. 

​​​​This is one of the best bike lights for night riding, providing steady streams of bright light to help the visibility of riders and oncoming vehicles.

One bonus feature of this light compared to others is that it has day and night options that provide optimal safety measures for each type of cycling. Unique flashing modes alert traffic of your presence during the day, whereas the optimized steady modes for nighttime ensure that you can see and that others see you in dark areas.

You can switch quickly between modes with the click of a button on the headlight.

For additional safety for night riding, this light has an extra wide beam that illuminates your peripheral view so you can stay clear of obstacles. 

Depending on your mode and power, you can get up to 150 hours of run time on a single charge. The LED indicator will let you know when your light needs a charge and indicates when the charging cycle is complete.

A unique mounting system helps your mount adjust to fit your handlebar correctly and ensure that your light and mount don't move as you ride.  

What are Bike Lights?

Lighting for your bicycle isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach. These lights can work in several ways to increase your visibility as you ride and help others see you. 

Bike lights are different than reflectors in that they don’t just reflect light; they give off light that illuminates street signs, cat’s eyes, oncoming cars or pedestrians, and other obstacles that may get in the way of your bicycle ride.

Some lights attach to the handlebars or other parts of your bike. However, some cyclists prefer also to wear safety lights on their helmets to provide further safety for themselves and other riders or vehicles. 

Lights to Be Seen vs. Lights to See

When you are choosing the best bike lights for commuting, it's crucial for you to understand the difference between lights that help you see and lights that help others see you. Both are equally essential for bike safety.

Often, the lights overlap in their purposes. For example, a white light in the front of your bike can both illuminate the roadway before you to increase your line of sight, while also allowing oncoming cars, cyclists, and pedestrians to see you.

Similarly, a helmet light can light the roadway and provide increased visibility of you for others using the road or trail.

Different type of cycle lights

But, some lights are explicitly made for others to see you better. A red light on the back of your bike, much like a car's brake lights, can help those driving behind you see your bike from a distance.

Your town may even have laws regulating what type of lights, at a minimum, you should have installed on your bike. Most states, for example, require cyclists to use a white front light with at least 500-foot visibility.

Types of Bike Lights

There are a variety of bike lights to consider. The kind you choose depends mostly on the sort of cycling you do, your budget, and where and when you ride the most.

Fortunately, there are plenty of bike lights that can fit within just about any budget. But, it's important not to merely search for the best budget bike lights and instead focus on the lights you need for your type of riding.

Main Ligh​​​​ts

Your main lights are those that fit on your bike and can help you see in a wide range of conditions. These lights should be durable and have excellent visibility, as they’ll likely be the ones you use most. 

The main lights on your bike are usually attached to your front handlebar and on the rear of your bike. Some cyclists place side lights, also, to further illuminate their bikes and the road, especially for night riding. 

Main bike lights should provide plenty of visibility for you and others on the road. They should also be extremely easy to operate with your fingers as you ride to prevent potential crashes and injuries.   

Safety Lights

Safety lights are those placed on your bike in addition to your main lights that can offer some extra safety for you and others on the road. 

Safety lights can include everything from high-beam lights for especially dark locations, turn signals for those who ride mainly on the road and in traffic, and taillights that illuminate as you brake.

Lights on Cycles

Bicycle safety lights should also be powerful so that oncoming cars can see their brightness from a distance. Additionally, a long-lasting battery is incredibly necessary to ensure that your light lasts for as long as your ride.

Off-Road Lights

If you tend to cycle off-road, your bicycle light setup may differ from those who cycle in urban environments or country roads. The best mountain bike lights for the money tend to offer powerful, long-lasting, and durable lighting systems that can keep you safe when traveling off-road.

One of the most important things to consider for off-road lighting is the brightness of your lights. Your setup should provide plenty of bright light to get you through shaded trails. Many off-road lighting systems come with a high-beam option for this purpose.

Additionally, durability and security are of the utmost importance. Off-road bicycle lights should attach securely to your bike so that they won’t move even over bumpy terrain and tolerate rocks, dust, and other debris that may kick up during your ride.

Helmet Lights

Helmet lights provide additional safety to you wherever you ride, especially if you prefer to ride your bike at night. These lights attach directly to your helmet, giving you extra sight in front of you and others the ability to see you more easily.

A helmet light is typically very lightweight for comfort. The most user-friendly options have at least two hours of battery life on their highest illumination settings and the ability to swivel if needed.

Many helmet lights offer USB charging for a convenient way to have your light ready when you need it. Others have battery power, which is helpful for those who may ride longer than a charge will allow.

Why Should You Choose Your Bike Lights Carefully?

Aside from your bike helmet, your bike lights are one of the most critical safety features for cyclists. Not only can you help yourself stay safe on the road by using bicycle lights, but you can also help other cyclists, pedestrians, and motorists remain safe by increasing your visibility and preventing crashes and injuries.

You should choose the best bike lights for commuting, night riding, off-roading, and more the same way you’d approach buying a bike helmet: Carefully, considering all your options based on how and where you usually ride your bike.

Searching for the best inexpensive bike lights isn’t always the best option, even though there are several that meet a variety of budgets. Instead, you should consider lights that make sense for you and your cycling habits and consider saving for the perfect lighting setup if needed.

Your bike lights are ones that should last you a long time and protect you from unnecessary accidents as you cycle. Your choice in lighting can affect your safety on the road, so taking your time to find the right setup is a responsible step for all cyclists to take.   

On What to Pay Attention When Choosing Your Bike Lights

We've covered the basics of bicycle lights, like the different types of lights and the best kind of setup for the cycling that you do. But, there are a lot of features on bike lights that you should be aware of before purchasing them.

Of course, you don't want to spend over your budget and some features may not be necessary for your bike and your type of cycling. But, you'll want to be sure that you do get the essential features you need for safety and convenience.

Here are several essential points to consider before making your purchase:

Where are You Cycling?

First, consider the areas that you cycle.

If you usually cycle in more than one type of location, such as both off-road and urban areas, then you may need extra lighting that can help you in either situation. However, if you typically mountain bike, your lighting setup should hone in on your off-roading needs.

Road

Country road cycling is much different than urban road cycling. Urban cyclists share the road with commuters, whereas those who ride on country roads don’t have many other vehicles, cyclists, or pedestrians to worry about.

Lighting made for road cyclists tend to provide a suitable distance of illumination in front of your bike to keep you safe during fast cycling and warn you of oncoming animals, potholes, and other potential dangers. These lights will typically mount on your handlebar.

It's vital that you can also adjust your lighting to provide better visibility during night riding and in different environments. If you cycle long distances on the road, you may even want to consider a backup lighting system just in case your power runs out on your main system.

Additionally, safety lights that attach to the side and rear of your bike can help keep you safe from oncoming vehicles. Flashing lights can be helpful to increase the chances that others see you coming on the road. 

Commuters

Those who cycle in urban environments don’t typically need a long-distance illumination because they follow traffic and often ride in well-lit areas. However, you need to be extra aware of your visibility to others on the road, including pedestrians and other cyclists.

For urban riding, then, it’s essential to have an excellent safety lighting system in place. Your bike itself should be well-lit with front, side, and rear lighting. You should also consider keeping yourself visible to others with a helmet light.

Urban cyclists can also benefit from adding turn signals and flashing lights to their bikes so that they can keep themselves safer on the road and adhere to traffic laws. Turn signals and flashers can warn others – including pedestrians – of moves you’re about to make to help prevent potential accidents.  

Most urban cyclists won’t necessarily need a light with a lot of power, but you will if you ride down dark alleys or roads with little lighting. A good light power to search for is one with at least 200 lumens to provide enough brightness for darker areas in the city.

Off-Road

Off-road lighting systems should be the most durable options for cyclists who ride in a variety of environments and terrains. Your front light is the most crucial piece of this setup since it will help illuminate the path in front of you and keep you safe from holes, fallen branches, animals, and other obstacles you may encounter.

Importance Cycling Lights

Lights with at least 800 to 1,000 lumens are the best choice for off-roading. You should consider a front light with which you can conserve power using a lower setting when it’s not needed and switch to the higher setting on dark paths or during night rides. 

You'll also want bike lights that mount securely onto your bike and helmet and remain in place during any ride. Your lights shouldn’t have room to move or shift when you hit a bump or cruise downhill. 

If you opt for a helmet light for off-roading, you may consider a light with a wide beam. Not only will your helmet light help others on a trail see you, but a broad light can also help make tight turns more visible to you.

Brightness

Manufacturers rate the intensity of bicycle lights by lumens. The higher the number of lumens, the brighter your lights should be.

Depending on where and when you tend to ride your bike, you’ll need to consider what lumen is right for you. Do you usually ride during the day or at night? Do you need to see short distances ahead of you or several feet in front?

Brighter lights with a higher number of lumens, like 800 and up, are best for off-roaders, night riders, or those who ride on country roads. Typically, a lower brightness is better for urban road riders who cycle with traffic, as well-lit city streets don’t require you to need as much lighting.

The type of light will affect its brightness, too. The best LED bike lights, for example, can illuminate you and your bike as well as a vehicle’s lights can. 

Battery

The batteries your lights take are also an important point to consider when choosing the right lighting set. Some lights have rechargeable battery packs, which we’ll discuss in a moment, whereas others use AAA or AA batteries to provide power.

  • Battery type. Whether your bike lights need AA or AAA batteries shouldn’t matter, but some may not work with rechargeable batteries. If you want a light that accepts rechargeable batteries, which can save money over time, look for a light that mentions NiMH or NiCAD batteries are acceptable to use for power.
  • Runtime and battery life. Some lights for your bicycle may drain your batteries faster than others, especially higher-power lights. Most manufacturers will give approximate run times and battery life suggestions so you can make an informed decision when choosing an option. 

Rechargeable Option

Rechargeable bike lights have lithium-ion batteries that you can charge before you ride. If you frequently cycle, purchasing the best rechargeable bike lights may save you money over buying regular batteries.

Often, these lights will come with a power gauge that warns you when power will soon run out. For long-distance cycling, you may want to consider purchasing an extra battery pack to take with you on your trip.

Rechargeable battery packs usually last through at least 500 charges. Look for one with a smart charging system that will prevent your battery from overcharging, which can extend its life. 

Many rechargeable battery packs charge with an AC adaptor, but some manufacturers also make USB rechargeable bike lights. These can conveniently charge in most USB ports, such as those located in a car or computer. 

Beam Angle

You may need a specific type of light beam depending on where you ride. As we mentioned previously, a wide beam is an excellent choice for night riders and off-roaders who need a full span of lighting to illuminate trails and roads ahead of them.

Beam Angle For Cycle Lights

A front light with a narrow beam, on the other hand, is a good option for those who ride in traffic. Well-lit streets make it so that you won’t need as much light coming from your bike to see, but a light with a narrow beam can focus the light so that others see you more easily.  

Mounting

You have several options when it comes to mounting your bike lights, but many are location-specific, so you'll need to look for ones that attach where you want them to.

Your front lights often go on your handlebars, but you also have the option of mounting one on your helmet, or in both locations. Sidelights can fit on the frame of your bike, but some manufacturers make ones that you can place on your wheel spokes to make them more visible to others.

Rear lights typically mount to the rear of your seat post, but there are also options for installing them on bike racks.

Light Modes

If you want the most functionality from your bicycle lighting, you should consider purchasing one with optional modes for safety and versatility. Some lights for bikes can dim to save power, use a high-beam mode for especially dark areas, and even flash to catch the attention of oncoming cars, pedestrians, and animals.

Daytime riders can benefit from the optional flashing mode on their bike lights. A steady light may not always be bright enough to catch the attention of others on the road, but a flash can do so quickly. 

Waterproof Option

Do you bike in the rain as much as the sun? A waterproof lighting system is probably your best option.

Even if you don't typically cycle through any weather, a waterproof light can protect your investment by preventing water that kicks up on your lights from damaging them.

Look for a light that has a waterproof casing. Top waterproof options can typically withstand water submersion up to 25 feet or more.

Conclusion: Be a Safe Rider with Bike Lights

Bike lights are an essential part of overall bike safety. With them, you can see your surroundings better during a night ride and others can see you more easily when you cycle anytime, night or day.

The best bike lights for you depend mainly on where and when you ride your bike. Day riders should look for lights with low brightness and flash modes to help make themselves more visible to others. Night riders need exceptional brightness and a wide beam to help illuminate their path.

Choosing the best lighting option for your bike keeps you and others protected from unnecessary accidents and can help you feel more confident in any riding environment.

About the Author Max Shumpert

Over the last few years, I’ve taken my love of the outdoors, hiking, skiing, trekking and exploring to the next level by starting this site. I started a bike shop in Denver, CO, and have seen amazing growth over the last few years. Getting paid to do what I love has been a dream come true for me. That’s also what led me to start BikesReviewed.com. In my shop, I spend a large amount of time helping people find the perfect bike for them and the style of biking they’re going to be doing. It only made sense that I expanded my reach and got online, making it possible for me to help people all over the world. If biking and staying fit is your priority, too, you’ve come to the right place.

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