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BUYER'S GUIDE

Best bike lights 2022 — see and be seen with our selection of bright beams for your bike

The best bike lights will help you see and be seen at the front and rear. Browse our selection to decide which lights are ideal for you and your riding

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Even if you almost never ride when it's dark, a set of decent bike lights are essential for all cyclists. In this guide we'll help you choose from some of the best bike lights, front and rear, and offer some handy tips to help you decide which type and price point will be best for you. 


If you're returning to cycling after a very long hiatus, you'll be pleased to know that bike lights have come a long way this century! The rechargeable, LED light is now king, and unlike the notorious Ever Ready lights that were popular in the '70s and '80s, you don't need to spend a fortune on batteries to get your feeble beam to work for a couple of hours. 

Nowadays, you can pick up front lights that can illuminate an unlit path like it's daytime, rear lights with various different settings that can be as bright as car tail lights, and they're all relatively inexpensive. There's also dynamo lighting, that converts the energy from your wheel into charge for your lights so you never need to recharge them, and even lights that double up as action cameras. 

The idea of this guide is to provide you with a solid introduction to the different types of bike lights out there, so you can leave this page armed with the information you'll need to inform your choice, and (hopefully) a front and rear bike light from our top recommendations that are suitable for you. Bear in mind these are our top 10 picks, front and rear, from a rather large archive of bike lights we've reviewed and beam tested over the years; so if you want to refine your search you can always check out our more detailed guides to the best front bike lights and best rear bike lights

To further help you inform your choice when deciding on a front light, we'd also recommend checking out the very handy road.cc Beam Comparison Engine. Our annual tradition sees us head out onto a country lane with a selection of bike lights, capture the strength and shapes of the beams and then express the beam shape data on a graph that uses a logarithmic scale to display the output of the lights. If that doesn't mean much to you, first and foremost, the beam test simply allows you to see still images of the beam shapes as they would look when mounted to your bike. There are other considerations, such as mounting, charging/run time and how easy your light is to use, but we think our Beam Test is a super handy extra tool to help you decide. 

As the lights from this year's beam test get dished out to our reviewers, we'll have new front light reviews go up as well as some new rear lights, so be sure to check out our reviews section on front lights and rear lights in the coming months. We'll also update this guide with any outstanding additions that deserve to be included amongst our top picks. 

Right then, let there be light(s)! 

The best bike lights: our top picks

Front lights

Ravemen CR450 USB Rechargeable front light

Ravemen CR450 USB Rechargeable front light

9
Best front bike light under £50
Buy now for £36 from Merlin Cycles
Small and light
Remote switch
Long burn-times on pulse settings
Short burn-time on high
Remote switch weatherproofing is questionable
Remote switch doesn't allow you to switch the light on or off

Ravemen's CR450 is small, light and runs for a long time on the lower lumen setting and flashing/pulsing settings. It has a rather useful remote switch and you can even keep using it while it charges from a battery pack. 

It weighs in at just 105g, and the wired remote switch attaches to your handlebar with a rubber o-ring. While it's certainly not the brightest light you can buy, for being seen this light is well worth it for the reasonable price, and is bright enough on high to see by on dark lanes. As mentioned already, it also has useful extra features. 

Read our review:
Giant Recon HL 1800

Giant Recon HL 1800

9
Best compact front light with a big beam
Buy now for £98.37 from Amazon
Very bright beam
Compact size
GoPro-style fitting included
Improved usability compared to HL1600
Strap loose on some bars

The Recon HL is an improvement over its predecessor, the very good HL 1600, and has even better usability and some improved features that include a 200-lumen power bump, a more compact size and some Garmin head unit integration. It's also decent value at under £100 if you shop around. 

There are five modes, and on the brightest setting our reviewer could get almost two hours out of it; you will get much more on lower beam settings, of course. 

The bracket is secure, and you also get a GoPro mount if filming is your thing. Our review concludes: "If you're after a single unit/compact front light that can handle the darkest of conditions and impress in practically every measure that matters, it's hard to see past the Giant Recon HL1800."

Read our review:
Magicshine Ray 2600

Magicshine Ray 2600 Smart Remote Bike Light

9
Best value big beam front bike light
Buy now for £124.99 from Amazon
Good range of modes for most situations
Light sensor system very responsive and genuinely useful
Well made
USB C charger
Wired remote
Mount doesn't feel the most robust

This light is very capable and as the name suggests, pumps out a whopping 2,600 lumens on its max setting using a dual lens design. 

You get four steady modes – Eco, Low, Mid and High – when using either lens in isolation or together (so 12 in total), plus flashing and pulsing. Our reviewer was able to hit high speeds on descents when riding trails using this light on its full beam setting, while the mid is fine for unlit roads and the low setting is great for urban environments. There's a memory functions so you can pre-set your modes for your next ride to avoid having to scroll through, and charging is via USB-C. If you're after a light for every occasion that won't break the bank, the Ray 2,600 is a solid choice. 

Read our review:
Bookman Curve Front Light

Bookman Curve Front Light

8
Best compact front bike light
Buy now for £23.99 from Chain Reaction Cycles
Good run-times
Fast recharge time
Stylish
Light
Easy to fit/remove
Sturdy
Shape doesn't suit all bar setups

The Bookman Curve is light, bright and has a decent run time in multiple settings. It's a good choice for urban commuting or as an emergency back-up, and it looks a bit different to most lights out there. 

Although the Curve only fits in one orientation, it fits on bars from 22mm up to 42mm with a simple silicone band and buckle that clips back into the light. There are five modes, the build quality is great and you won't have to worry about any water ingress as it's properly waterproof. 

While there are cheaper LED lights, for the price it's hard to find one as bright as this on the highest setting, with the Curve putting out 220 lumens on its high setting. 

Read our review: 
Cycliq Fly12 Sport front bike light

Cycliq Fly12 Sport

8
Best front light with a camera
Buy now for £299 from Cycliq
Bright beam
Great quality camera
Good battery life
Slightly fiddly mount
App can be clunky

The Fly12 Sport from Aussie brand Cycliq was the Fly12 HD when we last reviewed it in 2018, and now it's got even better features such as an OLED display screen, 4K playback and up to seven hours' battery life. It's also quite a lot lighter than the previous version, shedding almost 25% of its weight to come in at just 148g.

A 64gb microSD card is supplied, which should capture many hours of footage before you need to buy another, and we've found the footage from Cycliq cameras to be good enough for projects with higher production values, as well as just recording the commute for reporting near misses

The beam itself has a max brightness of 400 lumens with solid, pulse and flash modes, and is ideal for road cycling in all environments and brief forays onto unlit paths. 

Read our review of the previous Fly12 HD model:
Supernova E3 Pro 2 dynamo front light

Supernova E3 Pro 2 dynamo front light

9
Best front dynamo bike light
Buy now for £109.99 from Merlin Cycles
Near-perfect beam pattern
Fit and forget
Easy to fit
Remote switch doesn't allow you to switch the light on or off

The ES Pro 2 hasn't really changed in a decade, and neither should it: this is probably still one of the most reliable dynamo lights we've come across, and if you're into long-distance bikepacking or audax riding it should be high up your wishlist when choosing a light that works off your own steam. 

The beam is a German road-legal one that directs 95% of the light downwards to avoid blinding oncoming traffic, and once you're over about 5mph the beam holds steady. We found the beam pattern to be more or less ideal for road riding, with the majority of the light concentrated directly ahead of you but still enough throw for picking out turns and suicidal rodents in the verges.

If you don't care for worrying about whether or not your light is charged, this is a great option. 

Lezyne Mega Drive 1800i

Lezyne Mega Drive 1800i front light

8
Most innovative front bike light
Buy now for £104.99 from ProBikeKit
Very bright for road use
Good beam shape
Smart Lezyne design
Build quality
Smart functionality
Large size on road bars
Heavy
Strap loose on some bars

Lezyne's Mega Drive 1800i offers plenty of power and some potentially useful smart functionality as part of the company's Smart Connect range. It's a very good piece of kit and Lezyne's most powerful standalone front bike light. 

You have the option to toggle between various modes, including flashing, or change the setting so you're simply toggling between a high and low beam if that's what you prefer. The 'i' bit of the name refers to Lezyne's SmartConnect, which means you can connect the light to the app via Bluetooth and it enables you to select the modes that matter most to you (up to four of them), and control which order you cycle through them using the single power button. You can also do this from the app, as well as switch it on and off.

The performance is impressive and if you need a lot of lumens, the Mega Drive 1800i is well worth considering. 

Read our review:
Cateye AMPP 400 Front Light

Cateye AMPP 400 Front Light

8
Best cheap front bike light
Buy now for £23.99 from Amazon
Great value
Versatile mount
Excellent battery life
Micro-USB rather than USB-C charging

Our reviewer said the very affordable Cateye AMPP400 punches above its weight with plenty of useful modes, an excellent mounting system and good battery life. 

The rubberised on/off button is sturdy and easy to operate, and Cateye's FlexTight mounting is really flexible and can even fit on ovalised aero handlebars. The light slots into the mount firmly, and it's also possible to mount it under your bars for a cleaner set-up. 

For such an inexpensive light, the AMPP400 is really impressive and projects a bright, round beam that's enough for pitch-black lanes. There's also a pure flashing mode which lasts a whopping 60 hours.

Read our review:
Knog Bilby

Knog Bilby Headlamp

9
Best headlamp-style front bike light
Buy now for £43.29 from Amazon
Fun design
Lightweight
Bright
Long run-times
Huge range of options
Overcomplicated
Recharging tab position

This head torch from Knog is feature-loaded, rechargeable and has plenty of features and functions.

Weighing just 88g, the Bilby is super comfortable to wear and easy to adjust. Our reviewer found he could sneak it on his forehead just below a helmet, although it's important not to compromise your helmet's position here. On the max 400 lumens output it should last you over five hours, although we found it could run for as long as nine hours. 

The 'world's most powerful silicone headlamp' according to Knog definitely impressed us. It's light, bright and typically Knog-ish in that it comes in various bright colours (or grey or black if you'd prefer) and is a bit different to the norm. The sheer range of lighting options can make it bewildering, but once you get to grips with it, it's impressive. 

Read our review: 

The best rear bike lights

Lezyne Zecto Drive Max 250

Lezyne Zecto Drive Max 250

9
Best super bright rear bike light
Buy now for £38.99 from Merlin Cycles
Excellent build
Long run-times
Very bright
Brighter than you might really need
A little expensive

While you can go even brighter, the Lezyne Zecto Drive Max 250 remains an excellent, highly reliable and very visible rear light.

It has five flashing modes, and on the 35 lumen mode it can last a full 24 hours. It's very solidly built and should last you many years, and our only real criticisms are that it's not cheap, and that it might even be too bright!

Read our review:
Moon Cerberus rear light

Moon Cerberus rear light

9
Best value rear bike light
Buy now for £26.89 from Ebay
Best-in-class side visibility
Fits any seatpost
Aerodynamic shape
Cable-free charging
Buttons not easy to use with gloves

If you are often negotiating roads with lots of side streets and weaving around traffic, then the Moon Cerberus offers "best in class" side visibility according to our reviewer. 

The three-sided COB (chip on board) design supplies outstanding side visibility, and is genuinely as bright from the left or right as it is down the middle. An innovative hinge system makes it compatible with all shapes of seatpost, and there's a dimmer function that allows you to fine-tune your output and battery life. Charging is via USB-C, it weighs just 35g and as it works with aero seatposts too, this is a solid choice for time triallists as well as the rest of us. 

Read our review:
Knog Plus Rear Light

Knog Plus Rear Light

9
Lightest road.cc-recommended rear light
Buy now for £12.99 from Chain Reaction Cycles
Light and slim
Easy to detach
Highly visible
Cable-free charging
A bit wobbly on aero posts

It might be called the Knog Plus, but this rear light is anything but plus-size as it weighs a tiny 18g! 

Described as "an impressively simple light that weighs almost nothing" by our reviewer, the 20 lumens it pumps out is bright enough for a useful visibility boost. The mount is magnetic, and light most Knog lights, there's a USB port built into it so you don't need a cable to charge. 

Burn time isn't the greatest in steady mode at two hours, but on eco flash you can get a huge 40 hours out of it according to Knog. There are five modes to choose from, and at ell under the 20 quid mark you can't really go wrong. 

Read our review:
Prime 360 Super Bright Rear Light

Prime 360 Super Bright Rear Light

8
Best cheap rear bike light
Buy now for £17.99 from Chain Reaction Cycles
Good choice of modes
Decent output
Solid build
User-friendly switch
Short run-time in high constant mode
No auto kickdown when battery reserves dwindle

This highly capable rear light is very keenly-priced, with seven modes, a memory function and a solid build. We were less impressed by the mounting function, but it still works therefore this light is well worth your consideration. The high settings kick out as many as 50 lumens, and our reviewer was very impressed with how bright the flash modes were. Run time is up to 20 hours in the lowest-lumen flash mode. 

The Prime 360 rear light is a great option for the money, and does the important things very well. 

Read our review: 
Exposure Blaze MK3 With ReAKT And Peloton

Exposure Blaze MK3 With ReAKT And Peloton

9
Best money-no-object rear bike light
Buy now for £92 from Tweeks Cycles
Peloton and ReAKT both function as claimed and work well
Great durability
Long battery life
Very expensive

This smart rear bike light from the always-innovative Exposure is described as arguably "the best commuting and general riding rear light" you can buy according to our reviewer. It is expensive, but for the money you're getting a light that will last you years, plus the smart features: ReAKT can detect braking, put the light into a flashing mode to increase visibility and adjust brightness depending on the conditions, while the Peloton feature senses when another rider is positioned on your wheel, and gets brighter or dimmer according to the conditions. 

A max 48 hours of battery life on the low setting is impressive, and while with all Exposure products the buttons take some getting used to, it's fairly intuitive. It mounts with a simple rubber band fastening and separate plastic mount to put the light in which is simple, but works great. If you have the cash to invest in this light, you won't be disappointed. 

Read our review:
Cateye Wearable X Rear Light

Cateye Wearable X Rear Light

8
Best wearable rear bike light
Buy now for £24.95 from Halfords
Good brightness
Impressive battery life
Loads of mounting options

This simple, slimline light works really well and, although it's shown mounted to a seatpost as standard here, you can also wear it as the name suggests. A strong clip on the Wearable X allows you to mount it pretty much anywhere, such as your rear pocket, on your bag or on the back of your helmet. 

The beam pumps out 35 lumens at full strength, which is quite a lot for a rear light, and it's not particularly blinding either. There are six modes in total, and to switch between them it's simply a case of pressing the single button until you find the setting you want. It also has a memory function to remember the last setting you chose. Battery life is from one hour in high mode up to 30 in flashing, which is more than reasonable. 

Read our review:
Giant Recon TL 100

Giant Recon TL 100

9
Best lightweight rear bike light
Buy now for £20.49 from Cyclestore
Lightweight
Bright
Good run-times for its size
Side visibility could be better

It might be tiny, weighing just 39g, but Giant's Recon TL 100 is more than bright enough to use as a daytime running light thanks to its huge 100 lumen output on high mode. 

The run times are between three and 18 hours, with the LEDs behind the switch changing from green to red to indicate battery life; it also automatically switch itself to low flash mode before expiring. The clamp to mount it can be positioned horizontally or vertically, and the switch to toggle between settings is easy to operate, even with thick gloves. 

It doesn't really offer much in terms of side visibility, but if you simply want a bright, well-designed light than will help you to be seen from behind, the Recon TL 100 is a good value offering. 

Read our review: 
Garmin Varia

Garmin Varia RTL515

8
Best rear light with smart features
Buy now for £169 from Halfords
Great rear light
Alerts you about overtaking objects well before you can see or hear them
Expensive

The Garmin Varia RTL515 combines a radar and a rear light, with a bright light and a radar that gives you an effective early warning for 'objects' overtaking.

Do you need the Varia system? Some would say not, but our reviewer found that the distinct multi-tone sound is loud enough to hear over any wind noise when Garmin detects something, and it's genuinely better than looking over your shoulder. The radar can't tell you how dangerous the overtake is going to be and is won't be able to prevent a crash, it just tells you something's coming up behind, to give you an idea of how you can use it. Our reviewer didn't experience any false alerts when riding alone, and found it easy to pair with GPS units over Bluetooth and ANT+.

The rear light is one of the best out there and the radar function works very well on the Varia RTL515, although it certainly isn't cheap.

Read our review:
Oxford Ultratorch Slimline R50 Rear LED

Oxford Ultratorch Slimline R50 Rear LED

9
Another excellent cheap, lightweight bike light
Buy now for £14.69 from Ebay
Great value
Decent performance
Easy fitting
Not as bright as some

If it's simplicity you want and you want a good deal, look no further than the Oxford Ultratorch Slimline R50. It's easy to fit, great value and offers decent performance for the money.  

The bracket is a simple rubber wedge that fits to the back of the unit, held on by a rubber band. It won't fit aero seatposts, but for the rest of us it'll work just fine. 50 lumens is quite a lot for a rear light, and plenty to use it as your main rear light. The weight is just 27g, and battery life is from two hours on the highest steady setting up to 23 hours on the lowest pulse mode. 

This simple rear light does the job of making sure you're seen, with ample light output, good mode choices and easy operation. 

Read our review:

How to choose from the best bike lights

faq-icon
Do I need bike lights?

If you're going to be riding in any conditions other than bright sunshine then yes, it's essential to own a set of bike lights; in fact, in the UK and many other countries, it's actually illegal to ride on public roads between sunset and sunrise without lights (and pedal reflectors in the UK, although this is rarely enforced or understood by most police officers).  

Some cyclists swear by running lights at all times to add extra visibility and alert the less competent drivers around them of their presence. In the UK and pretty much everywhere else in the world it isn't a legal requirement to use lights before dusk or after sunrise, so this is really up to you. 

faq-icon
Which light is best for my bike?

Though most modern bike lights are very versatile, there are a couple of things to think about when purchasing a set of bike lights to make sure they're suitable and compatible with your bike. 

First, you might want to check how they mount: does your bike have a non-standard seatpost that is aero-shaped, or anything other than round? Go for a rear light with a flexible mounting system, as a hard plastic, round mount won't fit. The same goes for the front, as if your handlebars are integrated and flat in the middle, it could be difficult to mount most front bike lights. 

You should also consider what environments you will be riding in and how much power you'll need (more on that in a minute). If you only ride on roads and never really stray onto unlit paths, you won't need to splash out on any front lights that are suitable for trail use. The sheer number of lumens isn't everything, as beam shapes have a big influence on how dazzling lights can be, but you're unlikely to need a front light with more than 800 lumens as the max setting if you only ride in town; even then, the highest setting will rarely need to be deployed. 

Consider what settings you will need. Most modern bike lights come with a number of steady, flashing and pulse modes, so go for some that have options if you're not sure what is best. A popular combination is a steady front light with a rear light on flash mode in urban environments; although, use your judgement to decide on how bright your rear light needs to be if you're running it on flash. Dazzling drivers and other cyclists doesn't really improve anyone's safety, so get a second opinion from friends or relatives if you're in doubt about how bright your beams are to others. 

Any light worth buying nowadays is rechargeable via USB (we only recommend rechargeable lights in this guide other than our dynamo option) so run time is less important for most cyclists nowadays; but of course, if you plan on doing multi-day adventures without access to electricity very often, you'll want lights with decent battery life unless you go down the dynamo route. 

Make sure the lights you choose are intuitive and easy to use, particularly if you anticipate you might need to switch settings on your front light quite often. If you ride year-round you'll want the buttons to be easy to use even wearing thick gloves, and lights that allow you to toggle between high and low modes easily are a good option if you want to pass other cyclists politely without dazzling them. 

faq-icon
How bright should my bike lights be?

As a very rough rule, you front light needs to be at least three times the brightness of your rear light, and a lot more than that if you plan to ride on unlit trails. We've already mentioned that lumens isn't the only thing that tells you the total brightness of your light, but generally you'll want something that is advertised as having at least 100 lumens on the front to be visible to other road users, preferably 200 or more. General feedback we've had from the road.cc team tells us that most lights with round beams advertised as kicking out 800 lumens or more can be dazzling on their highest setting; but again, use your judgement and choose a front light that is easy to toggle between high and lower settings if you're switching between lit and unlit sections on your ride. 

Lights for riding off-road at night need to be much brighter, and thanks to modern technology you can get front lights that will illuminate a trail almost like it's daytime. Trail lights will often have beams advertised at well over 1,000 lumens, sometimes as high as 5,000. 

Rear lights don't need to illuminate your path and red/orange beams require less power than white ones, so the number of lumens you need will be much less. A 20 lumen rear light is usually more than adequate for riding on the road and can be seen from quite some distance.

faq-icon
What is the difference between lumens and lux?

In short, lumens is the total amount of light emitted from the source in all directions, while lux measures the total amount of light that falls on a surface, taking area into account. To give a brief example, if you shine a beam that has a total of 1,000 lumens at the wall, at its max brightness but on a setting where the beam spreads 80 degrees wide, there will be far less lux on the wall than if you had the same brightness but with a beam that spreads 40 degrees wide. It's because of this that we use lux in our Beam Comparison Engine, measuring the lux value of the beam at two metres distance, in 10cm increments from the centre of the beam to 1m from the centre, which gives a total of eleven readings.

To clarify: most brands will advertise how bright their lights are using lumens and this is a decent indicator of how bright they can be, but it doesn't tell the full story.

faq-icon
What is an StVZO-compliant bike light? Do I need one?

In Germany, front lights have to be StVZO-compliant, which means they have a beam that is cut off to avoid dazzling other road users; these are often square as opposed to round. The legislation also requires that front lights must be on constant and not flashing, which means Germans are forbidden from using flashing or pulsing settings. The reasoning for this is because flashing or pulsing lights are distracting, according to the StVZO rules.  

Do you need to abide by these rules? If you live in Germany then yes, of course! For the rest of us, we can use our own judgement to decide which beam shape and style is best for us. It is perhaps polite and common sense to use front and rear lights that don't dazzle other cyclists, motorists and pedestrians, and if you want to make sure of this then you can look for beams that are StVZO-compliant. The problem is that not many manufacturers outside of Germany make them, with Lezyne and Cateye being two rare examples of brands that sell StVZO-compliant lights in the UK. Some brands such as Ravemen and Moon use refractive lenses to shape the beam so less of it's going into the sky, and we've found Ravemen's version with refractive elements to spread and lower the beam to be especially effective. 

In short, do what's best for you and your riding, but be considerate of others. You might feel the need to up your beam strength momentarily to alert someone of your presence if you think they have not spotted you, so in this case a quick, strong flash of light might achieve this without causing any harm. 

faq-icon
Are LED bike lights best?

The very short answer to this question is yes, bike lights that use LEDs in some form or another will be your best option in most situations! 

As we mentioned in our intro, LED lights have improved massively in the last two to three decades and are pretty inexpensive to make and to buy. They're tiny, they cost tuppence to make, they last for ever, they're rugged, they run fairly cool and they're easy on the juice, so it's a no-brainer. Any lights that don't run off LEDs are not really worth bothering with nowadays when you can pick up rechargeable LED bike lights for under 15 quid. 

Arriving at road.cc in 2017 via 220 Triathlon Magazine, Jack dipped his toe in most jobs on the site and over at eBikeTips before being named the new editor of road.cc in 2020, much to his surprise. His cycling life began during his students days, when he cobbled together a few hundred quid off the back of a hard winter selling hats (long story) and bought his first road bike - a Trek 1.1 that was quickly relegated to winter steed, before it was sadly pinched a few years later. Creatively replacing it with a Trek 1.2, Jack mostly rides this bike around local cycle paths nowadays, but when he wants to get the racer out and be competitive his preferred events are time trials, sportives, triathlons and pogo sticking - the latter being another long story.