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We pick some of the best LED front lights to get you through the winter without breaking the bank

If you want to cycle through the winter, whether you’re commuting or training in the evenings, a good front light is essential.

Front lights come in a vast range of prices and outputs, but you don’t need to spend a fortune as the lights in this roundup demonstrate. Most front lights these days use LEDs which take very little battery power so you can expect decent runtimes, and brightness levels that were unimaginable a couple of decades ago.

If you’re cycling in a built up urban area, you want a light to be seen by rather than one that can light up the road ahead. Many are designed for commuting with a lens and reflector intended to offer a good range of visibility. Been seen from the side as well as the front is an important consideration. If you’re venturing onto poorly lit streets and dark country lanes, then you need to think about a more powerful light to help illuminate the way.

Most of the lights below fall better into the first category of lights to be seen by. At the top of the price range you can start to get powerful lights that will be good for a bit of country lane night riding.

The five LED lights here are priced at under £50, and all of them having been tested by road.cc staff. Click the heading to read the full in-depth review if you want to know more about a particular light.

Moon Meteor front light  £49.99

The Moon Meteor front light punches well above its weight and costs half as much. It's dinky wee but looks purposeful and business-like. According to Moon it will kick out 200 lumens for 1 hour and 50 minutes, which is quite impressive for such a small unit. Buy it here

Knog Blinder 1 front light   £23.99

Knog's Blinder 1 is essentially a slimmed-down single LED version of the Blinder 4, weighing in at a mere 15g and cutting a very low profile. It may be small in size, but it certainly makes a style statement, with the anodised aluminium fascia available in four colours – black, red, white, and the rather fetching blue pictured here.

Moon Comet Front light  £29.99

The Moon Comet front light resembles an office strip light that's been passed through a matter-shrinking device. The result is an extremely powerful and surprisingly tuneable light source capable of 110 lumens in overdrive setting.

Cateye Rapid 3 front light  £19.99

It's the purity of delivery that separates Cateye's Rapid 3 front light from a host of similar blinkys. Sharing identical guts with its rear sibling, there's a central 0.2watt spot flanked by two 5mm LEDs powered by two AAA cells. Their Opti cube technology features a lens and reflectors matched to optimise output and it seems genuinely effective.

Electron Micro 1W Front Light  £24.99

Electron's Micro 1W light is a commuter light with, as the name implies, a single 1W LED. This puts it at the 'being seen' rather than the 'seeing by' end of the bike light spectrum. Even so, it does provide a degree of road illumination, as our light data shows; enough for badly lit urban streets.

There are plenty more front light reviews of various prices in the review archive here. And why not check out the big road.cc lights test 2013 with the useful beam comparison, and if you want to know even more about lights, here's our buyer's guide to them. 

About road.cc Buyer's Guides

The aim of road.cc buyer's guides is to give you the most, authoritative, objective and up-to-date buying advice. We continuously update and republish our guides, checking prices, availability and looking for the best deals.

Our guides include links to websites where you can buy the featured products. Like most sites we make a small amount of money if you buy something after clicking on one of those links. We want you to be happy with what you buy, so we only include a product in a if we think it's one of the best of its kind.

As far as possible that means recommending equipment that we have actually reviewed, but we also include products that are popular, highly-regarded benchmarks in their categories.

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You can also find further guides on our sister sites off.road.cc and ebiketips.

Road.cc buyer's guides are maintained and updated by John Stevenson. Email John with comments, corrections or queries.

David has worked on the road.cc tech team since July 2012. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds.

39 comments

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Paul_C [583 posts] 5 years ago
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Wot no Lezyn units? Just invested in a pair of Lezyn units that are USB rechargeable and don't require carrying a USB cable around with me... I did have a previous pair of rechargeables, but the charging adapter was never in the right place when it needed recharging. The rear lamp could not do my 45 minute commute each way without going dead...

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Paul_C [583 posts] 5 years ago
0 likes
Peowpeowpeowlasers wrote:

When you're cycling, your light is invariably illuminating the ground in front of you. I see no point in buying a 1,000 lumen light which spends 50% of it's time illuminating the sky, when you need 100% of it on the road.

it's about time we had dipped beams to prevent dazzle... they're so bright now, everybody else is being dazzled...

Avatar
mrmo [2097 posts] 5 years ago
0 likes
Paul_C wrote:
Peowpeowpeowlasers wrote:

When you're cycling, your light is invariably illuminating the ground in front of you. I see no point in buying a 1,000 lumen light which spends 50% of it's time illuminating the sky, when you need 100% of it on the road.

it's about time we had dipped beams to prevent dazzle... they're so bright now, everybody else is being dazzled...

Have a look at B&M, Philips et al, Lights designed as bike lights not modified torches. I would like to see some more real lights being developed for road use by the likes of hope, exposure etc.

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Initialised [337 posts] 5 years ago
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allez neg wrote:

Unlike movies, (Blockbusters closure anyone?) I don't think you can download or stream a bike over your broadband line.

Just wait until 3D Printing takes off!

Avatar
Giles Pargiter [83 posts] 5 years ago
0 likes
mrmo wrote:
Paul_C wrote:
Peowpeowpeowlasers wrote:

When you're cycling, your light is invariably illuminating the ground in front of you. I see no point in buying a 1,000 lumen light which spends 50% of it's time illuminating the sky, when you need 100% of it on the road.

it's about time we had dipped beams to prevent dazzle... they're so bright now, everybody else is being dazzled...

Have a look at B&M, Philips et al, Lights designed as bike lights not modified torches. I would like to see some more real lights being developed for road use by the likes of hope, exposure etc.

N+1 and all that. Of course none of these lights tested are even road legal. They all have rubbish beam patterns and I'am fed up with being dazzled by them.

Just goes to show how much of a "slut" to the cycle (rip off) industry that "Road CC" is that they do not even mention whether they are actually certified road legal.

Avatar
Giles Pargiter [83 posts] 5 years ago
0 likes
Ush wrote:
Giles Pargiter wrote:

none of these lights tested are even road legal. They all have rubbish beam patterns and I'am fed up with being dazzled by them.

Just goes to show how much of a "slut" to the cycle (rip off) industry that "Road CC" is that they do not even mention whether they are actually certified road legal.

Road.cc has extraordinary good quality reviews of bicycle lights. They're one of the reasons I started reading road.cc. It's probable that the only reason you're aware of the beam patterns is because road.cc testers spent hours making up the great graphs and photos.

Honestly, some people just don't know how to say "thank you".

Main reason why I become aware of the beam patterns is because most of the beam is into my eyes.

IMO they are not "Cycle" lights unless they are type approved for road use - which Road cc do not even indicate.

If you did use a "type approved" light you would find nearly all of them are very nearly as bright as ordinary dip beam head lights which are measured in Lux at specific distances and points. These do not shine light into others eyes, when correctly aligned, but do light your way. This is far more meaningfull than using a measure of lumens.

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mikeprytherch [227 posts] 5 years ago
0 likes

What Creed are doing is showing up all the other manufactures as being over priced, yes there are some issues with Creed such as the lens and reflectors, but they are getting better all the time.

As for the comment about the idiot who says that a "A bike qualified mechanic can be just as skilled as the average car mechanic"... what world are you living in ! I am not for one second trying to put down the excellent bike mechanics of this world or suggesting that they could not be car mechanics, but lets strip down an engine or gearbox, compare that to stripping a rear hub ! you cannot compare these 2 very different jobs.

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allez neg [496 posts] 5 years ago
0 likes

Rohloff 14 speed internal hub?

Avatar
oldstrath [981 posts] 5 years ago
0 likes
Giles Pargiter wrote:
Ush wrote:
Giles Pargiter wrote:

none of these lights tested are even road legal. They all have rubbish beam patterns and I'am fed up with being dazzled by them.

Just goes to show how much of a "slut" to the cycle (rip off) industry that "Road CC" is that they do not even mention whether they are actually certified road legal.

Road.cc has extraordinary good quality reviews of bicycle lights. They're one of the reasons I started reading road.cc. It's probable that the only reason you're aware of the beam patterns is because road.cc testers spent hours making up the great graphs and photos.

Honestly, some people just don't know how to say "thank you".

Main reason why I become aware of the beam patterns is because most of the beam is into my eyes.

IMO they are not "Cycle" lights unless they are type approved for road use - which Road cc do not even indicate.

If you did use a "type approved" light you would find nearly all of them are very nearly as bright as ordinary dip beam head lights which are measured in Lux at specific distances and points. These do not shine light into others eyes, when correctly aligned, but do light your way. This is far more meaningfull than using a measure of lumens.

I do use a "road approved" light (b&m dynamo), and it's undoubtedly good at lighting the road. It does, though, need to be supplemented by a torch, for two reasons. First, part of my commute is offroad, for which all that light "shining into the sky" is useful for seeing tree branches, deer and so on. Second, some people coming out of driveways are not really looking, so don't always notice my nice polite legal lights. Dazzling them may upset them, but at least they notice and stop.

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