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The Best Bike Lights

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Make yourself visible at night with our selection of the best bike lights on the market

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 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.

The best bike lights you can buy

1. Ravemen PR1600 Front Light with Remote

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 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

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, you can 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 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

The latest version of Lezyne’s Zecto Drive light makes a great choice for urban commuters who 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 give 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. Cateye Volt 400 Duplex

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 ten-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

How to buy the best bike light for you

Do I really need bike lights?

Yes. 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 ten 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 five-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.

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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