It’s hard to know which bike headlights are the best, especially when there are so many different types available. Not only is it hard to know which bike headlights are the best, but it’s also tough to figure out what features you should be looking for in a good set of bike lights.
We’re here to help. In this article, we’ll introduce you to the different types of bike headlights and recommend some of the best models on the market. Plus, we’ll give you some tips on how to choose the right set of lights for your needs.
Without further ado, let’s dive into the subject.
Best Overall: NiteRider Lumina OLED 1200 Boost
Whether you need 1 hour of burn time or 18 hours, the Boost offers you 5 levels of light providing 75-, 275-, 550-, 1000- or 1200-lumens.
Choose the light level that fits the environment in which you are traveling and count on the wide beam’s distribution of light to illuminate your path. The OLED digital display keeps you apprised of how much lithium-ion battery (included) life remains.
Fast recharging? You bet! NiteRider’s proprietary Intellicharge feature makes sure of that. At just over a half-pound and measuring 10(L)- x 3(W)- x 2(H)-inches, explore all 5 solid and flashing options delivered by CREE LED bulbs and count on this light’s locking system capability to make sure it isn’t accidentally turned on and drain the battery.
Hard to find, you could keep hitting roadblocks as you try to find one of these, so try the company website if you come up empty.
Related: Best Bike Tail Lights
Runner-Up: Garmin Varia UT 800
You know the brand and you trust the company’s GPS products, so why not let Garmin help you get where you’re going when environmental circumstances require the help of a powerful bike light?
Lumen output maxes out at 800 and output only lasts for up to 1.5-hours, but what this light lacks in lumens it makes up for in visibility: this high-intensity headlight makes you visible in daylight from a distance of 1+ miles away.
This Garmin automatically adjusts to ambient light conditions, speed and your ride profile so battery life is extended when you most need it. Choose from 5 distinct light modes: high, medium, low, night flash and day flash.
If you’re tech-savvy, interface the Varia UT800 with an Edge cycling computer to automatically turn your light on and off and control brightness without lifting a finger.
Blackburn Countdown 1600
You’re going to have to take off your cap and put on your Sherlock Holmes chapeau to find a Blackburn Countdown 1600 because this light vanishes fast.
Features include an off-road mount that keeps the unit steady yet, according to Blackburn, it won’t hog handlebar real estate. Install fast and fully charge in 4 hours via the USB port or 8 hours using a lamp port (charging cable included).
The backlit, digital fuel gage gives you accurate battery readings to “squeeze every second out of your ride” via countdown logic based on whichever mode you are using: Super bright blitz mode, plus high, medium, low, pulse and strobe.
The dustproof cabinet can survive an unintentional 30-minute water immersion and at just 12.8-ounces, this streamlined bike light may be hard to find, but not impossible if you head for the Blackburn website and ask nicely.
Light & Motion Trail 1000 FC
Made in the U.S.A. and offering you 1000 lumens of light (adheres to the ANSI FL-1 Standard), attach this waterproof, compact front bike light and allow the beam to do its thing.
A customized reflector optimizes output so the beam focuses the light exactly where you need it.
If you once cursed the darkness because bike light was prone to “the snowball effect” that diminishes depth perception and fails to transition cleanly, this 4-ounce light won’t let you down. In trail mode, toggle between high and medium and use the pulse mode to enhance visibility when the sun is bright.
Once night falls, darkened crimson red side markers can enhance lateral visibility. Lockout mode prevents accidental triggering of the unit and the rechargeable lithium-ion battery does the job in just 2.5 hours using micro-USB Fast Charge technology.
When the battery starts to drain and auto-shutoff prevents battery damage. Tool-free mounting to your handlebar or helmet is a breeze and the GoPro mount adapter makes this one versatile product.
REFUN Bicycling Light Set
Let’s say you’ve spent every cent of your bike shopping budget on your kid’s ride but she really needs a bike light. Here’s your solution: Small, high-intensity front and rear silicone lights that come as a 4-pack with batteries included.
It gets better. The price tag matches that of a Happy Meal at McDonald’s with change left over, so don’t be afraid to order this product weighing in at just 1/3rd of a pound for all 4 lights.
Attach these beams using the brand’s “meticulously created silicone mount strap,” and let your child decide where to put each of them, since they fit handlebars, seat risers and forks.
That’s not all. Mount them on helmets, backpacks, scooters and anywhere else you can think of. Each light offers three specific modes: high, low and strobe. When your kid outgrows the bike, stow these handy illuminators with your camping gear.
Ascher USB Rechargeable Bike Light Set
On the topic of tiny wonders, this Ascher bike light set gives Refun a run for the money by producing an equally inexpensive 5.64-ounce product.
Each light is powered by a 650mAh USB rechargeable lithium battery and once installed, four light mode options are at your fingertips: full and half brightness; fast and slow flashing.
Like the Refun, it takes just seconds to attach these lights using silicone mount straps featuring two openings so you can easily adjust tightness if you prefer your lights emanating from your seat post, handlebars, seat risers, backpacks or helmets.
No tools are required. Get creative when you’re not riding your bike by using these lights when you go camping, canoeing or need an emergency backup if you get lost in the woods.
Gyhuego USB Rechargeable Bike Light
Must you sell the farm to afford a bike light that stands out? Not if you buy this versatile aluminum bike light that measures just 4.5(L)- x 1.9(W)- x 1.2-inches yet outputs 3000 lumens with a run time of up to 10 hours.
Waterproof and operated via two built-in 18650 rechargeable lithium batteries, no worries that your beam will conk out before you reach your destination.
Power up the light using a mobile phone charger, power bank, laptop or device of your choice and kiss your need for batteries goodbye. Enjoy this bike light’s max range of 300-500 meters and choice of 3 front and 4 taillight modes.
Like the last couple of products on our list, this light is versatile. Use it as an emergency flashlight or dog walking beam. The 360-degree rotation holder lets you position it precisely, and the one-touch quick release button means no install or removal issues.
Light and Motion Urban 650
If the Light & Motion bike light you read about above can’t be found no matter where you look, perhaps its closest sibling will do.
You couldn’t miss this product if you tried thanks to one outrageous color option (Shock top green) and if all you need is 650 Lumen Output certified to FL-1 standards, this bike light, with high-powered CREE LED bulbs, is likely to serve you well.
Innovative waterproof design with powerful amber safety side lights gives you 4 mode choices: High: (1.5 hours; 650 lumens); Medium: (3 hours; 300 lumens); Low: (6 hours; 150 lumens) and Pulse: (12 hours; 150 lumens).
The MicroUSB charge cable does the heavy lifting and a helmet mount gives you an alternative place to perch your light. Buy this from an authorized dealer and get a 2-year product warranty.
LEZYNE Micro Drive 500XL
If the classic motto KISS (Keep it simple, stupid) happens to be your credo, too, this sleek, silver headlight/micro drive tail light pair could probably end your search for the right product.
This model has been around the block a few times (it first hit the market in 2009), but like all great classics, it remains a favorite of cyclists looking for quality. Crafted of heat-dissipating CNC machined aluminum delivering up to 500 lumens, this LED Lezyne cycling light is well-reviewed for all the right reasons.
The mode memory function kicks in after you switch off the light, but when it’s on, enjoy maximum optical reflection with built-in side visibility. Get an integrated, cable-free recharging USB stick and a durable strap that won’t let go once in place.
Fitted with an advanced Li-Poly battery for superior run time, both the front and back lights are crafted of lightweight CNC machined aluminum. Take advantage of the “constant lumens power management” feature to save battery life, too.
Cygolite Metro Plus 800
If 800 lumens meets your needs, this mid-priced bike light with night and daytime modes should check off all of your “must-have” boxes.
It’s compact, durable, IP67 waterproof and if you don’t like the idea of lights that attach with silicone bands, this model offers you a secured hard mount. USB recharging makes re-powering your bike light a fast, easy process.
Does a motherlode of mode options impress you? This unit has 9 of them: Low (6:30), Med (3), High (1:30), Boost (1), Steady Pulse (3:30), Daylighting (12), Triple Flash (18), Zoom (3:30) and Walking (110).
Designed and made in the U.S., this 4.9-ounce, the extra-wide unit gives you pulse alerts that overlap steady beam lights at night and powerful flashes by day. The low battery indicator keeps you abreast of how much life is left in the battery and since it is water-resistant, rain won’t diminish its performance.
How many lumens do I need cycling at night?
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 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 that 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.
Bike Light Battery Life
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.
Bike Light Beam Patterns
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.
Bike Light Ease of Mounting
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.