Nearly 500,000 people sustain injuries annually in bike-related accidents, according to the CDCP. In an attempt to quell this problem, many states now require bicyclists to use a front headlight in tandem with a basic rear reflector. A headlight enables bicyclists to see approaching hazards sooner while alerting oncoming vehicles of their presence. From a budget option to some of the most powerful models on the market, these are the best bicycle lights intended to help you stay on your bike and (most importantly) off the pavement.
NiteRider Pro 1800
The best overall
The NiteRider Pro 1800 boasts one of the best power to weight ratios and while it might be more than the average cyclist needs, it scores the highest marks in every category — and costs just $230. This powerful light produces 1800 lumens of light output, using 3 CREE LEDs. The NiteRider Pro is ideal for lighting up the darkest of trails on the longest of night rides.
The Pro 1800 features a handy eight step fuel gauge so you’ll be plenty aware of your battery level at all times. Its rugged design ensures durability, featuring Dupont fiberglass reinforced nylon housings. The product is powered by a lightweight 4 cell lithium ion battery and weighs just 484 grams total. The handlebar mounts fit up to 35-millimeter diameter bars and, better yet, it’s also helmet mountable. With its impressive distance and quality beam, you can’t go wrong the Nite Rider Pro 1800 whether you’re tearing down mountain trails or cruising down city streets.
CatEye Volt 1600
The best light output
There’s no doubt a higher light output has the ability to be a legitimate lifesaver. Increased visibility helps cyclists training at higher speeds see hazards sooner, giving them more time to alter their course. Capable of delivering up to 1,600 lumens, the CatEye Volt 1600 is one of the most powerful bike lights on the market.
A pair of lamps emit a wide beam to illuminate approaching obstacles, as well as those in your periphery. The CatEye Volt 1600 boasts five light settings for greater adjustability and increased battery life. Once the battery depletes, however, it’s easy to recharge this unit via a USB cable.
The CatEye Volt 1600 also incorporates one of our favorite mounting systems. Unlike many bike lights, this model doesn’t require a permanent frame mount. When using the CatEye Flextight system, you simply use a thumbwheel to tighten the clip and remove the light using a small release button. These easy setup and breakdown features enable convenient stowing between trips around the city.
At 5 inches in both length and height, this model is a bit cumbersome, meaning individuals with multiple handlebar accessories may prefer a more unobtrusive model. At $220, the CatEye Volt 1600 certainly isn’t ideal for the casual cyclist, however, those looking for a wide field of light will be perfectly pleased.
KMASHI Rechargeable Bike Light
The best multifunction
For safety purposes, more states now prohibit individuals from listening to music via headphones while cycling. Due to recent legislation, cyclists are now turning to Bluetooth speakers to play their favorite playlists while biking around town, however, there’s only so much space along the handlebar for these added accessories. Thankfully, the KMASHI Bike Light incorporates a Bluetooth speaker directly into its bike light. This model easily connects to your smartphone to support hands-free phone calls and Bluetooth connectivity.
This device uses three light settings, allowing for up to 32 hours of illumination per charge. Like many of the newer models on the market, the KMASHI Bike Light is also rechargeable via USB for added convenience. The light also functions as a 4,800mAh portable charger, which allows you to quickly recharge your phone and other gadgets on the go. The device is a little clunky but if you’re in the market for an inexpensive ($20), functional Swiss army light rather than a basic headlight, this unit is a great way to keep you safe and your handlebar clear.
Blitzu Cyborg 120T
The best tail light
Although a headlight is a great way to illuminate your path, a tail light helps alert approaching vehicles and cyclists in your blind spot. Many bike headlights come with cheap tail lights as deal sweeteners, but, sadly, these are often non-rechargeable options which produce a low number of lumens.
The Blitzu 120T taillight doesn’t fall into the latter category, however. The light uses 30 micro-LEDs to deliver an impressive 120 lumens of red light. The device also features six lighting modes, including a flash and strobe to keep you out of harm’s way. For convenient mounting and stowing, this model quickly clips onto a frame, seat post, or even your helmet. The water-resistant exterior touts an IPX-5 rating, too, meaning it’s capable of handling the inevitable splash.
Some individuals may be more than satisfied with the basic, low-lumen taillights often packaged with bike headlights. That said, if you’re looking for a more powerful unit, the Blitzu 120T is one of the best and it costs just $15.
The best budget headlight and tail light set
The Gator 320 is one of the most popular bike light packages on the market. This rechargeable model dishes out up to 320 lumens for roughly two hours. Using one of the lower power settings or the flash option, however, greatly extends the device’s battery life. Like the aforementioned CatEye model, the Gator 320 utilizes a quick-release mount, allowing the unit to double as a handheld flashlight for roadside emergencies. Similarly, the mount swivels a full 360 degrees for a wider range of placement along the frame or handlebar.
This unit also comes with an IPX-5 rating, allowing it to withstand the occasional downpour. There are more powerful headlights on this list — and higher-quality tail lights — but for a bike light package costing just $20, this popular Blitzu combo is our pick.
Blackburn Countdown 1600
The best for mountain biking
Mountain biking in the dark requires much more illumination than road biking due entirely to the added challenge of obstacles and uneven terrain. The Blackburn Countdown 1600 is the ideal bike light for mountain bikers not only thanks to its brightness but also because of its reliability. This light provides you an accurate measure of exactly how much battery life you have remaining, so you’re never left in the dark.
The Blackburn Countdown 1600 — priced at $160 — offers six different lighting modes ranging from low (300 lumens) to Blitz (1600 lumens). Additionally, pulse and strobe options make for a complete repertoire of illumination. Runtimes range from eight hours on low to around 80 minutes on Blitz, allowing you to easily adjust your light output depending on the terrain and your comfort level. Remaining battery life is featured on an easy-to-read backlit digital display, estimated down to the nearest minute. The bike light recharges completely in four hours via micro USB port and its IPF-67 waterproof rating ensures you’ll maintain illumination even in the event of a downpour.
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