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Turning on your lights when the visibility is low is one of the most important things you can do to stay safe out on the roads. Check out our guide to front and rear bike lights as we explain all you need to know and share our recommendations.
In recent years, bicycle lights have become cheaper, more powerful, more durable, lighter, and more diverse. Therefore, the common excuses cyclists used in order not to carry lights are no longer valid.
If you’re thinking about purchasing a pair of bright lights for your bike, you might be confused with the huge selection available on the market.
Check out our guide below that will teach you all you need to know, as well as our recommendations for the best bike lights on the market.
Not all lights are made the same. There are two main types you should know about when shopping:
The first kind is the so-called “blinkers” and their purpose is to make you more visible to other drivers and riders. They are commonly mounted on the handlebar and the seat post and work in several blinking modes.
If you only ride in the city with well-lit streets, or you only ride in daylight and low light, blinkers will suffice.
However, if you ride in complete darkness or on roads without good street lights, it’s advisable to get a set of powerful front and rear lights that will make you seen and help you see as well.
Moreover, if you ride in the city, you can use only frame-attached lights. However, if you ride a mountain bike off-road at night, a helmet-attached flashlight is a must as well!
Whenever possible, the answer is always BOTH. If you have a limited budget, a rear blinker is a good place to start. It will make you significantly more visible in low-light settings.
But being visible from the front is extremely important as well. Without a front blinker or a front light, you might be invisible to oncoming traffic which can be dangerous. Luckily, blinkers are usually bought in pairs.
However, if you’re buying a proper front light, it’s a good idea to hunt for a set that includes a rear light as well, because you’ll pay less compared to buying both lights separately.
Lights are usually measured in lumens, which is a unit that represents the light output of the setup. The more lumens your lights have, the brighter they will be.
This question is not simple to answer. It depends on where and how you ride. As a rule of thumb, if you ride in the city, on well-lit streets, a 400-500-lumen front and a 50-lumen rear light will get the job done.
Don’t believe “Chinese lumens”! Cheap bike lights from China usually have misleading lumen readings that overestimate the power output of the setup.
However, if you like going off the beaten path and ride on completely dark roads, you should get a pair of lights with more lumens. We recommend at least an 800-1,000+ lumen front light and a 50+ lumen rear light.
Many modern lights come with several power modes, so you can choose how bright you want them to be, depending on where you’re riding. This way, you can preserve battery life and make your lights more efficient.
Lumens are important but they’re not the only metric that matters when buying bike lights. You should also consider some of the other features below:
Most bike lights are mounted on the handlebar.
This is a good starting position, but it is no ideal for all situations.
Bicycle Guider TIP: If you’re riding on a trail on a mountain bike, you definitely need a light that points exactly where you look. The problem with handlebar lights is that they point where the bike is pointing. So, when cornering, you will have blind spots. Also, crossing bridges is quite risky, especially if they’re narrow or in poor condition.
A helmet light will make this problem disappear. It’s even better if you use it in combination with a handlebar light. This way, you will eliminate all dark spots and see everything that’s in front of you at all times.
The problem is that there are not that many helmet lights available for sale in the US. You can find some Chinese bike lights on Aliexpress, but these usually come with some disadvantages.
All of the lights that we recommend here have been thoroughly tested by our team for the purposes of this review or used before as our go-to lights for daily rides.
We relied on our experience, knowledge, user reviews, and market trends to choose which lights to include on the list you see below.
We thoroughly researched and tested many of the most popular bike lights in numerous categories, rode lots of miles with them illuminating our way, and tried to push their limits.
The result is what we believe to be a list of the best front and rear bike lights you’ll find on the market right now.
MSRP $60 on REI
The Light & Motion Vya Pro is a premium rear bike light jam-packed with clever solutions that make it easy to use it and improve your visibility.
You mount it on the seat post and forget that it’s there until the time comes to recharge it. Thanks to the auto-on smart sensors, the light will turn on whenever your bike is in motion and turn off when you’re no longer moving. There’s no chance to forget to turn it on.
The Light & Motion Vya Pro has a rechargeable lithium-ion battery that will give you six hours of light in flashing mode. Once you run out of power, you can recharge it fully in just two hours, so you can continue riding in no time.
This light also has two subtle sidelights that make you more visible at intersections and is waterproof so you can use it in all weather conditions.
Best bike light with a worry-free design.
Slimmest Design for Aero Seatposts
MSRP $34.95 on JensonUSA
Cygolite Hotrod USB 50 is an affordable and straightforward rear light that shines bright and gets the job done. It will make you seen at night from afar and you’ll forget when you changed the batteries the last time.
This light is powered by a rechargeable li-ion battery that you can charge easily with a standard USB charger. You can use this light in six modes — High Flash, High Steady, Group, Zoom, SteadyPulse, and Low Flash. Depending on which mode you use the most, you can get between 1h30min to 100h of runtime out of a single charge.
Cygolite Hotrod USB 50 has a universal silicone mount which means that you can attach it to any bike in a matter of seconds.
It has a large power button that you can easily press even when riding or wearing gloves, without stopping or taking them off.
If you have a limited budget and you just want something that will make you seen, Cygolite Hotrod USB 50 is the slimmest bike light around.
Powerful Daytime Mode
MSRP $50 on JensonUSA
If you want to make sure you gain the attention of any car driver that drives behind you, the Lezyne Zecto Max Drive 250 rear light is your best bet.
This powerful light emits up to 250 lumens of light that one can simply not ignore. It’s compact and weighs just 69 grams, so you can easily carry it in your pocket.
Lezyne Zecto Max Drive 250 is powered by a USB rechargeable battery that recharges in 2.5 hours and offers up to 24 hours of runtime, which is pretty impressive.
This light operates in eight models, including daytime mode and nighttime modes. You can mount it on any bike in no time thanks to a handy silicone band.
Consider getting the Lezyne Zecto Max Drive 250 if you don’t want to take any chances when it comes to being seen and you need the best bike tail light.
Maximum Power Output
MSRP $40 on JensonUSA
The Lezyne Strip Drive Pro 300 is one of the most powerful rear lights you can find. It’s ridiculously bright! It has a 300-lumen maximum power output which will ensure you remain seen at night or during the daytime.
This light operates in 11 different modes suitable for completely different conditions and purposes. The battery can last anywhere between 2 hours (Blast Mode) and 20+ hours (Flash Mode).
Lezyne Strip Drive Pro 300 also has a unique design that emits light to the sides as well, making you visible at intersections from all directions.
It comes with an Integrated USB charging stick that recharges the battery in just 2.5 hours. You can then attach the light to your bike in a second, even on aero seat posts.
It’s, without a doubt, one of the best rear bike lights you can get at any price.
Most Powerful Front Blinker
MSRP $35 on JensonUSA
Lezyne Zecto Drive 250 is a front light that will help make you more visible to drivers and other cyclists. It won’t help you see where you’re going, so it’s suitable to be used before it gets pitch black or in well-lit areas.
This Lezyne light is completely water-resistant as it’s fitted inside a weather-resistant casing. It also features a silicone band that lets you mount it on any bike.
Lezyne Zecto Drive 250 recharges in just 2.5 hours via USB and provides between 3.5 hours and 15.5 hours of runtime. The entire light weighs just 47 grams, so it’s super-light.
You can run this powerful front light in 7 bright modes, including a daylight mode that can flash for up to 4.5 hours.
If you want the best possible visibility from all sides, get the Lezyne Zecto Drive 250 front light in combination with the Lezyne Zecto Max Drive 250 rear light.
Best Night and Day Front Light
MSRP $33 on evo
If you ride your bike at night, having front and rear lights is not something that can be negotiated — they’re a must. If you want a front light that will help you see where you’re going and make you more visible to others, you should consider the Blackburn Dayblazer 400.
This USB rechargeable front light runs in four modes: Blitz, Low, Pulse, and Strobe. It’s equipped with the famous Total Internal Reflection (TIR) lenses that focus the light beam where you need it the most.
The battery has an excellent capacity, providing you with up to 10 hours of continuous use. You can then recharge it fully in just 3 hours and get back on the road.
Thanks to the Blitz mode, Blackburn Dayblazer 400 is useful during the day as well, as its name tells you.
See and be seen with the best front bike light.
2 in 1 Front and Rear Light
Blackburn 2’Fer is a unique bike light because it can be used both as a front and as a rear light. By changing the mode, the color will change as well between bright white and red.
As a front light, Blackburn 2’Fer emits 60 lumens of light, whereas as a rear light it emits 20 lumens. You can mount it on the handlebar or on the seatpost with a durable silicone band.
There’s no need to worry about running out of battery. This light has an LED charge indicator that will tell you when you need to plug it in. It takes around 3 hours to charge it fully, which is not too bad.
Apart from front and rear visibility, Blackburn 2’Fer also provides excellent side visibility due to its smart design. Therefore, it will ensure that you are visible from all directions at all times.
Brightest Blinker Set
MSRP $68 on JensonUSA
Lezyne Zecto Drive front and rear lights are one of the most popular choices among cyclists of all kinds. They can be purchased individually or as a pair. If you don’t have any lights on your bike, we recommend going for the set because you’ll save some money that way.
These powerful lights operate in numerous modes that are suitable for daytime and nighttime riding. The most economic mode will give you 15+ hours of runtime, whereas the most powerful mode will drain the battery in around 3 hours.
Low weight is one of Lezyne Zecto Drive’s main selling points. Together, front and rear lights weigh just 100g, which is less than most smartphones nowadays.
Thanks to their low weight, these are the best road bike lights, as roadies are always worried about the weight.
Simply speaking, it’s hard to go wrong with the Lezyne Zecto Drive lights as they’re small, convenient, and run for a long time.
Best to Be Seen from All Angles
MSRP $159.95 on Jenson USA
Knog Big Cobber Twinpack are front and rear bike lights with a high price and an advanced list of specifications. They can be used on the bike with a silicone strap to make you visible from 330° thanks to their unique round design.
These lights recharge fully via an integrated USB plug so you don’t need to carry a cable. One charge provides up to 120 hours of runtime, which is impressive. However, there are eight diverse modes available, so you can drain the battery in 2h30min if you use it in the highest.
Knog Big Cobber lights are also fully waterproof, so don’t be afraid to use them when it’s raining, as they have an IP67 rating.
For around $160, Knog Big Cobber Twinpack provides phenomenal value for your money, even though the initial investment is a bit steep.
Best to Increase Your Visibility
MSRP $85 on JensonUSA
Lezyne Strip Drive Combo is everything a cyclist could ask from a set of bike lights. They’re small, light, easy to use, charge fast, and run for a long time.
If you commute in the city and simply want to be seen at all times without spending too much time, these lights are a great choice.
The lights put out up to 400 lumens of light, so you can use them at night or during daytime. That’s plenty bright to attract the attention of drivers and other cyclists.
Lezyne Strip Drive Combo lights are USB rechargeable so you can charge them anywhere. You can simply stick them into a USB port for a few hours until the LED indicator show’s the battery is full.
You can use them in 11 different modes and mount them on any tube, including aero and round posts, so they’re suitable for all types of bikes.
When riding in the dark, you need power. And lots of it! Especially when going for a ride in the deep forest and in pitch-black darkness. These lights will illuminate your way and turn night into day.
The best cycling light for maximalists
MSRP $400 on REI
When you need the best possible vision at night, you need the most powerful bike lights. The one we recommend is the Light & Motion Seca 2500. It is the best bike light for night riding.
This front light has a maximum light output of 2,500 lumens through a custom-made reflector that ensures a smooth beam pattern.
You can use Light & Motion Seca 2500 in three modes: High, Low, and Flashing. The modes are easily selected with the press of a button, so you can do it while you’re riding, even with your gloves on.
You can use the daytime pulse mode to stay visible even during the day. That will make you a lot more visible to trucks and cars on the road.
If you are a maximalist and you need a race-ready light, there are few more powerful at this price than Light & Motion Seca 2500.
Best Option to Mount on the Helmet
MSRP $139 on JensonUSA
Gloworm Alpha200 is every mountain biker’s perfect light. It has a 1,200 lumen light output which will allow you to see every pebble and branch on the trails in front of you.
This light has a durable casing weighing only 69 grams and ensuring impact and weather resistance.
The biggest selling point of Gloworm Alpha200 is the 2 Optic System that lets you use this light in the Spot/Flood mode and Spot/Wide mode. Each is useful for different settings.
Its lithium-ion battery takes a few hours to recharge and ensures a 2-hour runtime on max brightness, which is good enough for a long night ride in the mountains.
By far one of the best mountain bike lights around.
Best Auto Light Sensor
MSRP $74.95 on evo
Last but not least is the high-quality Kryptonite Incite X6 front light with some interesting engineering solutions. First of all, it has a lightweight but strong construction, so it’s perfect for mountain biking as it is resistant to impact.
It’s also completely waterproof, so no need to worry if it starts raining cats and dogs. Kryptonite Incite X6 can be used in 7 modes and offers excellent front and side visibility. It even has an auto mode that adjusts the brightness on its own.
This is one of the rare lights that has a backlit display that will tell you the remaining runtime in real-time, in minutes, for any mode you choose.
Depending on the mode, the lithium-ion battery will provide enough power for up to 30 hours of illumination. When you drain it, you can recharge it in a few hours using a standard USB port.
If you want to ride fast at night and avoid unpleasant surprises on your route, get the Kryptonite Incite X6.
Using a bike light is essential and there’s no debating about it. It is crucial when riding in the dark, but it’s a good idea to use it during the daytime as well.
If you still don’t have front and rear lights on your bike, we urge you to invest in a pair straight away. Lights are the biggest and the cheapest safety upgrade you can make.
Hopefully, after reading our guide, you now have a better understanding of exactly what kind of bike lights you need for your type of riding.
Consider one of the front and rear lights or sets that we have recommended above to get the most bang for your buck and turn day into night.