Best Bike Headlights (2018)
Today we are talking about bike headlights. If you are already looking for the best bike headlight it means that you’ve already understood the importance of it. The bike headlight is one of the key pillars of the bike safety. The bike headlight is both important for allowing you to better see the road in front of you and for an alert for the other road users. In my humble opinion, the bike headlight is as important as the helmet and the taillight. Depending on where you live, it could even be illegal to ride in the dark without bike lights. Also, you could get into an accident if you don’t have lights on and you might be held liable even if it wasn’t your fault.
In this article we will review the following bike headlights:
- Light & Motion Urban 350 Bike Headlights
- Cygolite Metro 400 USB Light
- BLITZU Gator 390
- Bright Eyes 1600 Bike Headlight
There are so many options out there for headlights that it may easily become a nightmare to find the best bike headlight for you. As in many other cases, every cyclist needs different headlight depending on his needs and necessities. With this complete buying guide article, we will try to find out which bike headlight is best for your needs and what is important when choosing one. You will see our top selection of the best bike headlights, the most important characteristics of any headlight and you will also learn how to choose the best one for you.
What To Consider When You Choose The Best Bike Headlight
In general, the lumen is a measure of the total quantity of visible light emitted by a source. When you are shopping for any kind of light source the lumens are the number one characteristic. In a few words, the lumens are the amount of light or level of brightness. In the past, we bought any kind of light source based on watts, but today we know that the lumens are most important. Bike headlights, in general, tend to range from around 100 lumens to over a 1000 lumens. Headlights with 100 lumens are too weak and the ones with 1000 lumens could be problematic for the drivers in front.
I can say that the best bike headlights have between 350 and 600 lumens, especially for city riding. If you are riding more on the mountain or in the woods you might look for 600+ lumens. It is very important to note that some companies are misleading about the number of lumens a light contains. There is a certification which certificates the lumens and it’s called FL-1 and you should definitely check if the product contains it. All of the bike headlights we have tested are certified with FL-1 so this is one less thing to worry about.
The battery life is one of those things that we always argue about. This characteristic is very important for any kind of cycling equipment because this sport is tough on any device. Many cheap bike headlights run on disposable batteries that can freeze or have a very short life-span. Unless you are using the headlight only occasionally, we suggest looking for a better model with a rechargeable battery which is included in the device.
With 4-6 hours of continuous use per charge, you will have enough light for practically any ride. This may not seem like much, but when you divide your commute into chunks, you will see it’s more than enough. Of course, the devices with the rechargeable batteries tend to cost a little bit more than the ones with the disposable batteries. But this is just a small investment you need to make if you want to have a good bike headlight.
Headlights are designed to illuminate a wider path to help you see and be seen. They also have a blinking pattern for better visibility. My recommendation is to buy a bike headlight with at least two settings – steady and strobe. The steady beam is for seeing the road ahead and the strobe makes you visible for other cars and bikers. Many good models now blink and illuminate simultaneously which is really nice. We are looking for models with at least those two settings included and preferably with the option to illuminate and blink at the same time.
A good headlight has to install easily, quickly and securely. You want a mount that holds firmly and won’t slide even on a bumpy road. It is crucial to be easy to remove as well because you should never leave it on the bike when parked. The buttons should be easily reachable when the headlight is mounted and you should be able to use it even with a pair of winter bike gloves. The buttons must be easy to push, but not too easy because you can turn on the device when it’s in your bag, unknowingly draining the precious battery.
The Best Bike Headlights
Light & Motion Urban 350 Review
- nice pulse mode
- low, medium, high settings
- internal Lithium battery
- battery level indicator
- micro USB-rechargeable
- strap mount
- 121 g
- 350 lumens
- made in the US
Light & Motion Urban 350 Bike Headlights is the best overall bike headlight in my opinion because it has the best optics, it projects the light perfectly in 180 degrees, and has additional side illumination. The device is very simple to install, it looks like a very high-quality product and it is manufactured in the US. The good news is that this headlight is not as expensive as some of the other devices. Light & Motion Urban 350 Bike Headlights is definitely the best bike headlight for any cyclist, casual commuters, or even for adventurers. As we know one of the most important things about a headlight is that it keeps you safe.
This device has four light settings to help do that – low, medium, high, and pulse. The pulse option is patented by Light & Motion and I can say hands down that this is one of the best light settings found in any headlight. It’s a very nice combination of steady and strobe light pattern which is the best option for any high dense night traffic. This option lets you see very well ahead of you and at the same time alerts the traffic to your presence. The device doesn’t have a blinking option like a solo flash and if you really need such setting you should look for another headlight. In my opinion, you would never need this option so you won’t miss it.
Another feature that I like about this device is that it has amber side cutouts for side visibility. The light from the cutouts of Light & Motion Urban 350 Bike Headlights is so bright and visible from the side that you can feel safe and secure. Some bikers would prefer to have dedicated side LED lights but I think that with this device, you will have enough side visibility.
The mounting strap of the Urban is just perfectly made, easy to install and use over time. The battery life of the headlight is also very good and similar to another headlight in this class. If you are using the pulse setting which is the most demanding for the battery you will have around 12 hours of light which is more than enough. If you are using your bike for a few hours per day you could easily use it for a week or two without charging it. It will run on high for one and a half hours and on low for around six hours which is more than enough.
The device is rechargeable via Micro USB and a full charge will take around five hours. It has a very nice battery status indicator in the back which changes from green to amber to red depending on the charge. Another great feature of the Light & Motion Urban 350 Bike Headlights is the full waterproofness. It has an IP67 standard which means it can survive for 90 minutes under 1 meter of water.
Why You Should Buy Light & Motion Urban 350
Light & Motion Urban 350 is hands down the best overall bike headlight for any biker. It’s such a good product and value for money. You will get practically everything you need from a bike headlight for your money. As mentioned before the device is made in the US and has a two-year warranty. Many of you might say that 350 lumens are not enough but the engineers from Light & Motion made the device so flawless and because of the good optics, it seems like the device has 400+ lumens.Buy Light & Motion Urban 350 on Amazon
Cygolite Metro 400 Review
- internal Lithium battery;
- 110 g.
- flashing mode;
- no pulse mode;
- low battery indicator;
- mini USB-rechargeable;
- 400 lumens;
Cygolite Metro 400 is the runner-up in our list of the best overall bike headlight. This bike headlight is discontinued anymore, but still available for sale online. Cygolite is a very famous and reliable manufacturer of bike lights and there is a very good reason for that. Cygolites are always rated the most visible. This unit has a very good mode called Steady-Pulse which is simultaneous blink/steady pattern, and it’s very noticeable.
Another great setting which is included in this device is the super bright day flash, which is the most eye-piercing in our review. This mode should be used only in the last daylight hours of the day because if you use it at night you’ll blind literally everyone. Another light setting included here is a walking mode which is nothing more than running the light very low saving as much battery as possible.
The mount on the Cygolite Metro 400 is also a little bit different than the others. It’s a hard quick-release mount that installs to your handlebars. Most of the headlights use the standard silicone strap, which is preferred by many cyclists. This mount is one of the best hard quick-release mounts but still not so good as any silicone strap. It’s definitely very secure and well made but in my humble opinion, it looks a little bit old-school.
Note that there is a more powerful model – Cygolite Metro 550 which is very often on sale on Amazon!
Why You Should Buy Cygolite Metro 400
Cygolite Metro 400 delivers excellent brightness for your money. The device is one of the best bike headlights on the market even though it is discontinued anymore. I can recommend it practically for any kind of cyclists. It will be a very good choice for commuters who very often need to ride in the night.Buy Cygolite Metro 400 on Amazon
Blitzu Gator 390 Review
- USB rechargeable;
- 390 lumens claimed;
- super easy to install;
- 59 g;
- IPX5 rated;
- one touch dismount button;
Blitzu Gator 390 is the best selling bike headlight on Amazon for a very long time now. I have to admit that the main reason for that is its price. This unit is one of the cheapest headlights I’ve ever seen and the manufacturer even offers a free bike tail light. There is no doubt that the Blitzu Gator 390 is a very good value for the money. Both the headlight and the tail light included in the package are rechargeable with an included Lithium battery.
When charged to it’s maximum the device will run for around 2 hours on the most bright setting which is not enough but considering the price it’s OK. Talking about the brightness I have to say that the device is very capable and you are going to see very well. With its 390 lumens claimed by the manufacturer, you will see up to 300 feets without issues.
Apart from the already mentioned super bright setting, there is also low, medium and flashing. The flashing option is quite good and it gets the attention of cars. In general nothing special in the settings of this unit but you will get almost everything that you will ever need from a headlight.
Blitzu Gator 390 is super easy to install on its mount. It will take you literally 3 seconds to install it. The mount is pretty robust and looks durable. It grips very nicely with any kind of handlebars. Also, it can tilt up and down by slightly loosening the screw in the center of the mounting square. The headlight slides easily in and clicks securely in position. We’ve tried the headlight on very bad roads and potholes too without any issues. Being also an IPX5 rated device you can use it when it rains. We tried the device on a few heavy drops of rain and it performed as expected without problems.
Why You Should Buy Blitzu Gator 390
In a conclusion, I have to say that Blitzu Gator 390 is a very good device and a great value. Of course, the first two headlights are much better in terms of quality, features and battery life. But the price here is the main selling point. If you are looking for a good headlight which can be used for commuting but you don’t want to break the bank, this should be your first choice. Especially now when the device is offered with a free tail light.Purchase BLITZU Gator 390 on Amazon
Bright Eyes 1600 Bike Headlight
- Fully Waterproof Headlight;
- 1600 lumens high-quality LED;
- Strope/Flash mode;
- 3 power options;
- Good battery life ( max 26 hours at low setting );
- External rechargeable 6400mAh battery;
Bright Eyes 1600 is another great option for a headlight which we recommend a lot. The reason for our recommendations is the versatility, features, and brightness of this unit. Bright Eyes 1600 is an extremely bright headlight, especially when put on maximum setting ( 1600 lumens ). The unit uses CREE T6 LED Technology which seems very good and reliable. If you want to use the Bright Eyes 1600 on the maximum setting note that the battery life is around 5 hours. In my humble opinion, this is enough for such powerful LED headlight, and most probably you will use it more often on the second option which is medium.
On the medium setting, you get still very good brightness levels ( around 800 lumens ) and the battery life is claimed to be around 10 hours which is great. You have also a low setting on which you get the maximum 26 hours of battery life and around 350 lumens of light. All these settings give you the ability to choose the best one for your needs. If you use the device with the medium setting you will have more than enough light if you ride in the city.
The good news is that Bright Eyes 1600 could be used on any type of bikes including on a mountain bike. As we know, riding your mountain bike in the forest at night is an extremely fun thing to do. And with this headlight, you will have enough brightness to stay safe. As mentioned in the notes above the battery is external, rechargeable one with a capacity of 6400mAh.
Why You Should Buy Bright Eyes 1600
Bright Eyes 1600 is one of the best bike headlights you can buy online and the prices are really good. You can find very often this headlight on sale on Amazon. If you are looking for powerful, versatile, and cheap bike headlight then the Bright Eyes 1600 should definitely be on your shortlist.Buy Bright Eyes 1600 on Amazon
How to choose the best bike headlight for you?
The most important thing is to understand exactly what you need. For example, if you are riding mostly in built-up areas, and the road or bike path is well lit, then the most important thing for you should be to make sure you’re visible to others. Your main priority will be to be seen. This means that you should look for headlights with a very good flashing mode.
If you are a more adventurous commuter who occasionally goes to more darker roads you would definitely need some powerful headlight with a lot of lumens. In this case, it will be very important to see well in front of you as well. Anything over 300 lumens should be enough for such cyclist. I know many people who use even two headlights in the city.
The more serious road bikers who cycle in the night need more powerful headlights. They should look for headlights with more lumens and additional features. In this case, the bare minimum should be 500-600 lumens. The headlight must include a combination of steady and strobe light pattern like in the one included in Light & Motion Urban 350. In general, any serious road biker should invest in a high quality, powerful headlight which can serve well many years.
About the Author
I'm a passionate cyclist and an adventurer. Writer and editor of Yes Cycling.