Five of the best cycling lights for under £100

LED cycling lights bright enough to see by costing between £55 and £100

by David Arthur   December 23, 2013  

5lights

road.cc reviews

Road and commuter lights are primarily designed to make you visible to other road users, but if you cycle regularly along dark unlit roads and country lanes, you need a light to see by.

These lights are bright enough for after work training rides in the dark, as well as longer commutes taking in urban and country roads. They have more brightness and better battery life than the five lights under £50 that we recently looked at.

Lezyne Macro Drive front light  £54.99

The Lezyne Macro Drive is a sleek light with a CNC machined housing containing a single Cree LED pumping out 300 lumens. That’s enough to see where you’re going on a dark country lane at a reasonably lick of speed. It’s light, just 94g, and the Li-ion battery is easily charge from the USB port and is good for 3-hours on the brightest setting.

Light & Motion Urban 200 front light  £69.99

Not the brightest here, but the Urban 200 is perfect for round-town cycling with enough light for cycling along the road and cycle paths, and does a credible job at lighting the way on dark lanes, though you might have to rein the speed in a bit. There’s several modes to suit different situations, including a flash. On high you’re looking at a burn time of around 1.5 hours. The tough stretchy rubber mounting strap is basic but simple and works. The light is charged with a USB port, so you can plug it into your computer to top up the juice.

Magicshine MJ808-E front light  £79.99

Far and away the most powerful light here, with a staggering claimed 1,000 lumens. If you want the brightest light for not a lot of cash, and do a lot of cycling on dark roads, this is a good option. The light unit is nicely machined aluminium, robust and lightweight - those are cooling fins on the side - and connects to a separate battery that has to be strapped to the top tube of the frame. That’s the biggest difference to the other lights on this page, all of which have integrated batteries. The 4.4AH Li-ion battery claims to provide 160 minutes of juice.

Moon X-Power 300 front light  £90.00

Solid performance with an impressive output for the cash, the Moon X-Power’s funky looks reveal a 300 lumen light from a single Cree XP-G high brightness LED. The mount is easy to use and very secure. The light has several modes to eke out the battery life -3.5hrs on high -  and a flashing mode for riding through town.

Cateye Nano Shot Plus front light  £99.99

One of the brightest lights in this roundup, the Nano Shot Plus has a mighty 600 lumens from the two high intensity white LEDs, with a battery life between 1.5 and 4 hours depending on the selected mode. The beam pattern is cleverly designed to illuminate practically everything forward of the light. Mounted on the top of drop bars, this includes the drops, as evidenced by huge shadows of shifters to your right and left as you're riding along. Side visibility without being blinded: perfect. The Cateye universal bracket is a doddle to use as well.

In our next guide we'll look at cycling lights over £100.

21 user comments

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Would be good to get a comment on how many of these lights pass any EU or UK legislation, especially given this.

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posted by STATO [410 posts]
23rd December 2013 - 13:56

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STATO wrote:
Would be good to get a comment on how many of these lights pass any EU or UK legislation, especially given this.

£The specification for lights dates back to 1986 and is designed to apply to lights with filament bulbs. That doesn't mean that LED lights can't meet the requirements – some do – but lots of them aren't specifically tested for the ageing Brititsh standard..." more at http://road.cc/content/buyers-guide/34746-your-guide-best-front-lights-c...

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posted by David Arthur [1415 posts]
23rd December 2013 - 14:19

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No £15 (used to be £20) eBay Cree XM-L T6? Which should be about on-par with the Magicshine, and beat out the Lezyne Macrodrive in my eyes, according to the Official Road.CC AutoMagiLuminator2000 recently... Confused

p.s. I understand this is a £55-£100 test - but really, for balance you should be pointing out that price/= quality/quantity of light anymore - or for even more balance, point out that the newer dual-LED 'SolarStorm' ones can be had for around the £25 mark. I have one of these, it's a much nicer package overall, has a battery gauge and in full bright mode can almost lift the paint from an approaching car or set alight a loping badger* http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/2x-CREE-XML-U2-5000LM-Front-Head-LED-Bicycle-Lamp-Bike-Light-Headlamp-Headlight-/321244439921

* other mammals are available

I was told there would be Cake. Luckily there's http://TestValleyCC.org.uk

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posted by KiwiMike [437 posts]
23rd December 2013 - 14:33

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Dynamo lights FTW. I've a Busch & Müller Cyo T Senso and it's a;lmost as bright as the magicshine, without the mad flood-everything beam.

Ok, you've got to get a dyno-hub, but I'm a total convert. No batteries, always on, super-bright, hard-to-nick, can't forget them...

posted by localsurfer [160 posts]
23rd December 2013 - 21:21

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Just a quick heads up the magicshine light is the same one 7 day shop sell for £25, I know having bought both. Even the box is the same just with different graphics

posted by bikebuyer [1 posts]
23rd December 2013 - 21:38

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Bought 15 quid jobbie off amazon, wayyy better the the 300+ quid lupine I was using.

posted by lookmanohands [94 posts]
23rd December 2013 - 21:44

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Never know why the Phillips Saferide is omitted from these lists. I have one. Its perfect for commuting, really bright but not dazzling and adheres to German lighting regs so probably goes beyond UK regs. http://www.philips.co.uk/c/Bicycle%20bulbs/led-bike-lights-80-lux-batter...

posted by bigbluebike [16 posts]
23rd December 2013 - 22:58

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The magic shine beam can be improved for the road with a diffuser lens (see ebay) and little bit of white tape along the top edge to reduce the glare at drivers eye level.

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posted by joemmo [779 posts]
23rd December 2013 - 23:44

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bigbluebike wrote:
Never know why the Phillips Saferide is omitted from these lists. I have one. Its perfect for commuting, really bright but not dazzling and adheres to German lighting regs so probably goes beyond UK regs. http://www.philips.co.uk/c/Bicycle%20bulbs/led-bike-lights-80-lux-battery-driven-black-aluminium-bf48l20bblx1/prd/

I'll second this after getting flashed too many times while commuting with majicshines I decided to get a more commute specific light. I narrowed it down to the Phillips a lezyne deca drive and cateye Volt 1200.
I can't remember why I dismissed the deca but the Phillips beat the cateye on (real life) light levels, battery life and charge times. Add to that the fact it uses standard AA batteries which can be easily replaced pretty much anywhere in the world and that it was nearly half the price and it's a no brainer.
If you find yourself exceeding ~40kph a lot then you may want to supplement it with a good helmet based torch.

posted by pinecooler [9 posts]
24th December 2013 - 1:22

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I got a copy of the Magicshine on eBay for £16 and it is quite incredible for the money.

posted by MrGear [84 posts]
24th December 2013 - 10:37

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And now: 3 x Cree LED's for under £30. Mental.

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/3x-CREE-headlamp-6600Lm-bike-Solarstorm-Headlight-flashlight-fast-delivery-/200990607030?pt=UK_SportGoods_CyclAcces_RL&hash=item2ecbf946b6

At this rate of evolution vs. price drop, in a few years we'll be able to purchase a 1KW heli-searchlight equivalent for £4.99.

I was told there would be Cake. Luckily there's http://TestValleyCC.org.uk

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posted by KiwiMike [437 posts]
24th December 2013 - 11:20

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bigbluebike wrote:
Never know why the Phillips Saferide is omitted from these lists. I have one. Its perfect for commuting, really bright but not dazzling and adheres to German lighting regs so probably goes beyond UK regs. http://www.philips.co.uk/c/Bicycle%20bulbs/led-bike-lights-80-lux-battery-driven-black-aluminium-bf48l20bblx1/prd/

I don't think we've ever managed to get one in on test, it's not being excluded because it smells. We did test the Trelock 950 a couple of years ago, which is very similar - excellent beam pattern, superb controls and the best run-time indicator (in hh:mm) I've ever come across.

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posted by Rob Simmonds [251 posts]
24th December 2013 - 16:39

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KiwiMike wrote:
And now: 3 x Cree LED's for under £30. Mental.

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/3x-CREE-headlamp-6600Lm-bike-Solarstorm-Headlight-flashlight-fast-delivery-/200990607030?pt=UK_SportGoods_CyclAcces_RL&hash=item2ecbf946b6
At this rate of evolution vs. price drop, in a few years we'll be able to purchase a 1KW heli-searchlight equivalent for £4.99.

Surely you mean a quad-copter drone, synched to your smartphone and designed to keep station a few feet above with an array of spot/flood beams lighting everything within a twenty foot radius?

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posted by Rob Simmonds [251 posts]
24th December 2013 - 16:41

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That would be fine, except in a peloton there could be 'issues'. I'd pay to watch, though.

I was told there would be Cake. Luckily there's http://TestValleyCC.org.uk

KiwiMike's picture

posted by KiwiMike [437 posts]
24th December 2013 - 17:12

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The lezyne light is OK, but it pops out of its plastic holder too easily, so you need an additional strap to hold it. The light spread is not even at all either.

posted by Trull [56 posts]
24th December 2013 - 19:33

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Just a warning about Lezyne lights. My partner and I bought one each (the Micro USB one) last March, and were well impressed with the sheer brightness of the thing.

Then, a month ago, my partner's started to malfunction. She had to press really hard on the rubberized button to get the light to go on.

Last week, mine suffered a similar fate, but slightly worse. Impossible to switch the light on, without getting the end of a retractable biro and forcing it onto the light switch. Then, when I managed to get it on, it went off after two minutes, before spontaneously starting to flash. Not the same 'flash' as I used to use on my commute, but a shorter, 'strobe-like' flashing. Amazingly, it's sitting on the kitchen table now, three days later, and it is still flashing. The missus and I joke that we've found a source of perpetual energy. Smile

It only cost us £30 each a year ago, so we're reluctant to go back into the shop and ask for a refund or a replacement, lest we get taken for a couple of pikeys. But now that we have to buy new lights (not really urgent, as my Surly commuter has dynamo lights on it anyway), we're going to be looking elsewhere.

Any ideas? We want very bright, and ability to mount on the crown (since we use massive Arkel handlebar bags).

Ta.

'It is well enough that people of the nation do not understand our banking and monetary system, for if they did, I believe there would be a revolution before tomorrow morning' (Henry Ford)

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posted by cyclingDMlondon [203 posts]
22nd March 2014 - 13:35

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Any 'rubber band" mount light is totally out of the equation for me ,they're garbage.

My personal favourite at the moment is the cateye volt 300 (they have other more powerful models ), I picked mine up for under £40.

It's an excellent versatile and powerful light,USB charged, helmet mounts are available, so impressed I bought 2.

Highly recommended !

posted by Urban_Manc [9 posts]
22nd March 2014 - 13:38

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when the Lezyne lights work, they are fine. problem is I've had a couple that fail after being charged and won't turn on.

will be looking for a different brand next time

posted by johnrh [0 posts]
29th March 2014 - 20:15

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Your link is not to a genuine Solarstorm, it's to a clone. If you opened it up I suspect you'd find a very basic LED driver circuit on a budget quality circuit board. It could be 30% less efficient than a true Solarstorm. Also look at the battery. The true Solarstorm doesn't need the textile bag to strap it onto your bike. Check this out
http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/261319647064?var=560239414493&ssPageName=STRK:... Still a lot cheaper than the lights in the review but without sacrificing so much quality.

posted by eclecticcyclist [4 posts]
30th March 2014 - 8:24

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The Cateye Volt 300 should be in this list. It's all you need for commuting and perfectly capable of being used on unlit roads. In the very effective hyper constant mode the battery lasts for about 9 hours which should cover most weekly commutes. Highly recommended

posted by LondonByCycle [9 posts]
6th April 2014 - 22:41

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cyclingDMlondon wrote:
Just a warning about Lezyne lights. My partner and I bought one each (the Micro USB one) last March, and were well impressed with the sheer brightness of the thing.

Then, a month ago, my partner's started to malfunction. She had to press really hard on the rubberized button to get the light to go on.

Last week, mine suffered a similar fate, but slightly worse. Impossible to switch the light on, without getting the end of a retractable biro and forcing it onto the light switch. Then, when I managed to get it on, it went off after two minutes, before spontaneously starting to flash. Not the same 'flash' as I used to use on my commute, but a shorter, 'strobe-like' flashing. Amazingly, it's sitting on the kitchen table now, three days later, and it is still flashing. The missus and I joke that we've found a source of perpetual energy. Smile

It only cost us £30 each a year ago, so we're reluctant to go back into the shop and ask for a refund or a replacement, lest we get taken for a couple of pikeys. But now that we have to buy new lights (not really urgent, as my Surly commuter has dynamo lights on it anyway), we're going to be looking elsewhere.

Any ideas? We want very bright, and ability to mount on the crown (since we use massive Arkel handlebar bags).

Ta.


£30 is still £30 and personally if I had a piece of defective kit I'd shelled out for I would still seek a replacement or recompense. Perhaps you should change your user name to "moneybags"!

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posted by gb901 [145 posts]
25th April 2014 - 23:56

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