Stay safe in the darker months with our selection of the best bike lights on the market, from £22 to £112
Whether you’re commuting in the dark or hitting the road for long training rides, a good set of bike lights is essential. Even if you can see where you’re going, you need to make sure that others can see you from a decent distance.
Here’s our rundown of the best individual front and rear lights, plus the best light sets – along with our buyer’s guide to help you decide exactly which lights are right for you and your bike.
How to buy the best bike lights for you
Do I really need bike lights?
Yes, you do. If you’re cycling on the road after dark, you’re legally required to have a white light at the front of your bike and a red light at the rear. These must be clean and working properly, and they must be bright enough – which we’ll discuss below. Your front light should be positioned no more than 150cm from the ground, and your rear light should be between 35cm and 150cm from the ground.
Technically, you’re also required to have reflectors at the front and rear of your bike, but as long as you have working lights it’s extremely unlikely that you’ll be challenged on that point.
How bright should my lights be?
Light intensity is measured in lumens, and front bike lights can range from around 10 lumens up into the thousands. Rear lights don’t need to be so powerful, partly because of the different way our eyes receive red light: typically they’ll run from 5-150 lumens.
Whatever lights you choose, remember the importance of being seen by other road users. Even if you’re cycling through a well-lit area, brighter lights are almost always better. For unlit roads, we suggest you look for a light rated at 500 lumens or more. If you cycle lots of different routes, consider investing in a set of lights with different modes, or even multiple sets to suit different conditions.
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What will I get for my money?
Generally, the more you shell out, the brighter your lights will be. You’ll also likely see more choice in terms of light modes – including steady lighting at various intensity levels and numerous flashing modes.
Premium lights may have extra features such as alerts when your battery is running low (such as an intermittent beep from your rear lights, or a flashing red light on the front). Most lights these days have built-in batteries that can be recharged via USB, but at the bottom end of the market, some still get their power from disposable batteries, so bear that in mind when you make your choice.
Battery life will vary from model to model, and depending on what lighting mode you’re using, but all of the lights on our list will get you through at least a three-hour ride. And don’t worry about the extra weight: bike lights usually come in under 100g, and even the bulkiest light on our list isn’t heavy enough to have a noticeable impact on your ride.
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The best bike lights you can buy
1. Ravemen PR1600 Front Light with Remote: Best for combination of features and illumination
Price: £108 | Buy now from Amazon
A super-bright light with a clever dippable beam to ensure you don’t dazzle oncoming traffic. With two lenses sitting side by side, a tap of the large button on top of the light switches it between full beam and dipped modes. There’s even a remote switch available that lets you achieve this without taking your hands off the bar, which is useful when you want to signal traffic. It has a run time of around 1.4 hours (84 minutes) on full gas, but the 400-lumen mode will do for most situations and sees run time increase to around four hours. Cleverly, a push-and-hold of the button on the unit or remote will also pop the light back to full strength when needed.
Key specs – Weight: 220g; Strength: 1,600 lumens; Runtime: 84 minutes – 24 hours; Modes: 9; Power source: Integrated rechargeable battery; Charge time: 3.5 hours
2. Cateye EL-135 and Omni 5: Best bike light set on a budget
Price: £22 | Buy now from Wiggle
Compared to some of the more expensive options on our list, these bike lights don’t offer a great deal in the brightness department. But, if you’re after an affordable yet decent set of lights, then you can once again rely on Cateye.
While we wouldn’t recommend racing down unlit roads in pitch darkness with these lights, they’re a good choice for the commuting cyclist when it comes to the short winter days. With a three-LED beam on the front EL-135 light, and a rear light of up to 25 lumens, you can feel safe on the roads without breaking the bank.
Key specs – Weight: 94g (front), 41.8g (rear); Strength: 150 candlepower (front); 25 lumens (rear); Runtime: 80 – 320 (front), 60 – 120 hours (rear); Modes: 2 (front); 3 (rear); Power source: 2 x AA batteries (front), 2 x AAA batteries (rear)
3. Lezyne Zecto Drive Pair: Best for city-style illumination
Price: £65 | Buy now from Tredz
The latest version of Lezyne’s Zecto Drive light still makes a great choice for urban commuters that want to attract attention. Simple to attach via a rubber strap or integrated belt clip, their tough aluminium and composite bodies are impressively water-resistant. With seven modes to choose from both their output and runtimes are above what you’d expect from such small units, while colour-coded displays on their sides gives an indication of the remaining charge. Great as extra lights due to their ability to fit in awkward spots, the Zectos are still easily bright enough for commuting through areas with overhead lighting.
Key specs – Weight: 47g; Strength: 250 (front) / 40 (rear) lumens; Runtime: 3.5 – 15.5 hours; Modes: 7; Power source: Integrated rechargeable battery; Charge time: 2.5 hours
4. Beryl Pixel Front/Rear Light: Best light for design nerds
Price: £25 | Buy now from Beryl
Beryl’s Pixel performs the clever trick of switching between red and white as needed. Making it great when you want to add some extra illumination to a backpack or helmet, besides this adaptable nature, it also features a pleasingly minimalist design. In fact, its pulsing heartbeat mode probably owes a debt to the similarly humanistic sleep indicator on Apple’s MacBook. Thankfully, though, the Pixel isn’t all style; it’s got a useful feature set too, including an OK runtime and rapid recharge rate. With a decent lumen count given its small size, even a single unit makes a great addition to your kit.
Key specs – Weight: 25g; Strength: 40 (front) / 18 (rear) lumens; Runtime: 5 – 10 hours; Modes: 2; Power source: Integrated rechargeable battery; Charge time: 1.5 hours
5. Cateye Volt 400 Duplex: The best helmet-mounted light
Price: £58 | Buy now from Arthur Caygill Cycles
There are multiple benefits to sticking a light on your helmet. For one, its elevated position means it won’t get swamped among traffic, plus, you can use it to gesture at other road users. Combining a 400 lumen front light and a 10 lumen rear in a single tube, the Cateye Volt 400 Duplex is easily bright enough to use on its own. Legally though, you should still have lights attached to your bike, so it’s best kept for supplementary illumination. The rear light is capable of running for over a hundred hours, or three hours when at maximum brightness.
Key specs – Weight: 108g; Strength: 400 (front) / 10 (rear) lumens; Runtime: 3 – 150 hours; Modes: 5; Power source: Integrated rechargeable battery; Charge time: 6 hours
6. Bontrager Ion 100 R/Flare R City: Best for dedicated minimalists
Price: £60 | Buy now from Evans Cycles
Small but punchy rechargeable lights. Bontrager’s cube-shaped units won’t spoil the minimalist look of your bike, yet pack a stout 100 and 35 lumens respectively. They also boast a chunky feature set, including the ability to tailor their output to ambient light conditions thanks to an in-built sensor. With four modes, including a powerful daytime flash to draw attention to yourself before the sun goes down, all of these will revert to the most durable get-me-home mode once battery life drops below 5%. IPX46 waterproof, with a readily viewable battery indicator, and easy to fit brackets, they’re superbly self-contained.
Key specs – Weight: 48g; Strength: 100 (front) / 35 (rear) lumens; Runtime: 1.5 – 7 hours; Modes: 5; Power source: Integrated rechargeable battery; Charge time: 2 hours
7. Cateye Sync Core: Best ‘smart’ bike light
Price: £40 | Buy now from Tredz
The Cateye Sync Core gives you a decent 500 lumens to brighten up your ride. Offering just three hours of juice on the highest mode, the battery life isn’t fantastic, but the good news is that it can be charged via USB in a few hours.
Where the Sync Core really stands out though, is in its compatibility with the rest of the Cateye Sync range (including the rear Sync Kinetic and Wearable lights). The three can be synced together wirelessly so that when you switch one light on or off, the rest will follow suit. It’s a simple feature, but one that does away with the often laborious process of fiddling with each light individually.
On top of that, the lights can all be connected to the CateEyeSYNC app on your smartphone, allowing you to control the lights as well as customise light modes and check battery levels. All these features ensure that the Sync range is truly deserving of its name.
Key specs – Weight: 94g; Strength: 500 lumens; Runtime: 3- 130 hours; Modes: 5; Power source: Integrated rechargeable battery; Charge time: 3 – 6 hours
8. Cateye Volt 1700: Best front light for riding in total darkness
Price: £112 | Buy now from Wiggle
The most powerful lamp in our rundown, the Volt 1700 packs – you guessed it – 1,700 lumens of power, enough to light up even the darkest country roads. Impressively, the battery lasts for two hours in this mode, while switching to the city-friendly 200-lumen mode gets you a good 15 hours.
To ensure you’re not caught out, amber and red lights on the chunky power switch (which is very easy to use even in gloves) show when the battery is running down or near empty. It’s the largest light here, but it’s not overly bulky, and that’s hardly a big trade-off for so much power.
Key specs – Weight: 256g; Strength: 1700 lumens; Runtime: 2-15 hours; Modes: 5; Power source: Integrated rechargeable battery; Charge time: 5-15 hours (micro-USB)
9. Blackburn Dayblazer 65: Best budget rear light
Price: £23 | Buy now from Amazon
Light, relatively cheap and quick to charge, the Dayblazer 65 is a great-value option for rear visibility. Despite the name, this light isn’t just for dawn to dusk riding: its two LEDs combine to put out 65 lumens of light, so you’ll be clearly visible in the dark too.
Charging only takes two hours, which will give you up to six hours of use, depending on which of the three modes you use (steady, low strobe or high flash). That’s the only downside: other lights in this list will run for longer between charges.
Key specs – Weight: 48g; Strength: 65 lumens; Runtime: 1.5-6 hours; Modes: 3; Power source: Integrated rechargeable battery; Charge time: 2 hours (micro-USB)