Best bike lights reviewed 2022

The best bike lights rated, including how much to pay, the features you need, and our pick of the best bike lights on the market

best bike lights Group of cyclists riding on an unlit road with bike lights
The best winter bike lights will make winter riding much more enjoyable

The best bike lights are essential if you're planning to ride after dark or before daybreak or even if you're out in poor conditions during the day.

Most cyclists will regularly ride after dark in autumn and winter, making bike lights an essential piece of kit, although daytime running bike lights are growing in popularity because they help you to be seen out on the road, even in bright sunlight.

We've split our guide into four categories: high-power front lights, mid-power front lights, rear lights and light sets. 

Below that you’ll find all the details on our recent four-way grouptest, covering a selection of top-flight high-powered front lights. At the bottom of the page, we delve into all the techy details of what to look for in the best bike lights.

Best high-power front bike lights

Lezyne Macro Drive 1300XXL

(Image credit: Future)
2021/22 grouptest: Best performance/value blend

Specifications

RRP: £90/$99.99
Lumens: 1300
Battery life : 2.5hrs (lasted as claimed)
Modes: 7
Mount: Rubber strap
Weight: 226g (claimed 208g)

Reasons to buy

+
Solid construction
+
Reliable mount
+
Wide beam

Reasons to avoid

-
Takes up quite a bit of space on your handlebars

The Lezyne Macro Drive 1300XXL, as its name suggests, puts out 1300 lumens. It provides a wide beam and attaches to the handlebar via a rubber strap, which is thick and stretchy, resulting in a robust overall package when paired with the CNCed aluminium body.

You can choose to use the 'Race' mode, which lets you switch between 1300 lumens and 130 lumens, or the standard mode, where you can cycle through all seven options. The Race mode is handy as it effectively lets you 'dip' the beam.

Charging is via a micro USB cable. The battery life is a claimed 2.5 hours. We tested this twice, and found we still had either a flashing red light (indicating 5% battery left) or solid red light (indicating 5-10% left) after 2 hours 20 minutes.

All in, we concluded that this is a solid light which we would wholeheartedly recommend. 

Read the full review of the Lezyne MacroDrive 1300XXL here, for an alternative check out the Lezyne Micro Drive Pro 800XL review or Exposure Lightdrive 1000XL review

Exposure Strada MK10 SB

(Image credit: Future)
2021/22 grouptest: Best 'money no object' option

Specifications

RRP: £300/$411
Lumens: 1500
Battery life: 2hrs
Modes: 20
Mount: Alloy mount
Weight: 228g (claimed 230g)

Reasons to buy

+
Super bright with a helpful beam pattern
+
Wide range of easy to use modes
+
Quality construction
+
Long burntime

Reasons to avoid

-
Mount is very fiddly to attach
-
DC charging cable not as universal as USB

Exposure has been a market leader for some time and the Sussex based brand is known for engineering products that really last - members of the CW team have managed to keep some of Exposure's beams going for over a decade. So, whilst the price is high, if you've got the cash we'd fully recommend the Strada MK10. 

The 1500 lumens is measured, not calculated - meaning that you really do get a full 1500 lumens. The beam was quite visibly the brightest of the bunch in our group test. 

Battery life is 2 hours, and Exposure's digital screen actually displays the number of minutes you have left; these figures rang true for us.

Exposure also offers a full 20 modes, with a feature that allows you to select a 'sub mode' so you don't have to cycle through all 20. 

The mount is a beautifully engineered aluminium construction, though it is fiddly to swap between bikes when compared with a simple rubber strap.

View the full Exposure Strada MK10 SB review here. For alternatives, read the Exposure Sirius MK9 DayBright review or the Exposure Toro MK12 front bike light review

Knog PWR Trail 1100

(Image credit: Future)
2021/22 grouptest: Best operation when wearing gloves

Specifications

RRP: £119.99
Lumens: 1100
Battery life: 1.7hrs
Modes: 6
Mount: Clamp
Weight: 220g

Reasons to buy

+
Even spread of light that’s very bright for 1,100 lumens
+
Twisting to change modes is easy with gloves on
+
Mount holds it securely, doesn’t need tools and isn’t too fiddly to swap between bikes
+
Programmable with ModeMaker app
+
Modular system means battery can be used as a powerpack

Reasons to avoid

-
Doesn't switch to eco mode when charge is low
-
Fuel gauge could be more meaningful

Knog's PWR Trail 1100 didn't perform as well, across the board, as the offerings from Lezyne and Exposure, but it still scored 4/5 and is a solid product.

The Knog light is a modular system; you can actually use it as a power pack, should you find you're riding in daylight but (for example) need to charge your phone. This is a great touch, however, its battery life is only 1.7hrs, and we did find that claim rang true - giving it the shortest burntime of all those on test.

Changing modes is performed via a twist function. This is very easy to use, and could be particularly useful when wearing gloves.

The mount is a clamp with a ratchet wheel; whilst a little more fiddly than a rubber strap, it is robust. 

View the full Knog PWR Trail 1100 light review here

Blackburn Dayblazer front on

(Image credit: Future)
2021/22 grouptest: Solid option, but there's better out there

Specifications

RRP: £89.99/$85
Lumens: 1500
Battery life: 2hrs (surpassed this)
Modes: 5
Mount: Rubber strap
Weight: 143g (claimed 140g)

Reasons to buy

+
Low weight
+
Battery life surpassed claim

Reasons to avoid

-
Rubber strap is too skinny
-
Helmet mount need additional purchases

The Dayblazer 1500 from Blackburn is the lowest scorer on test. It lost marks for the mount, which broke during testing, largely due to its skinny profile and the amount of force required to fit it to a chunky road bike handlebar. In addition, whilst it claims to come with a helmet mount, we'd suggest it comes with a helmet mount adapter which doesn't provide all you'd need to fit the light to your lid.

On the plus side, the Blackburn Dayblazer 1500 does put out plenty of light, and it was the lightest option on test, at 143g. The body is robust, and water and grit protection is excellent. 

View the full Blackburn Dayblazer 1500 review here

Raveman

(Image credit: Raveman)
Best for on/off road versatility

Specifications

RRP: £139.99
Lumens: 1600
Battery life: 1.4hrs
Modes: 8
Mount: Plastic fixed
Weight: 215g

Reasons to buy

+
Powerful
+
Even beam pattern
+
Easy shortcut to full beam
+
Useful battery meter display
+
Remote switch

Reasons to avoid

-
Lack of side visibility

The PR1600 is the second most powerful of a five light line-up. We liked its beam pattern that combined spread and spot illumination well for fast riding on unlit, potholed lanes, while its price for its output undercuts better known brands. As well as the light itself you get a wireless remote in the pack that makes it easy to dip the light for an oncoming vehicle without having to toggle through the multiple modes, of which there are eight total: five for road use and three for trails. 

Battery life on the highest mode is 1.4 hours, which is OK if not amazing, but you do have a digital display built into the light telling you how much burn time is left - a marked improvement on the usual colour-changing LED.

There's a USB plug built in which, like the Knog PWR range, lets you power up other devices, but the Ravemen light doesn't provide any side-on visibility features, so it's not the best for commuters.

Read our full review of the Ravemen PR1600 for more.

Best mid-power front bike lights

Exposure Sirius

(Image credit: Exposure)
Best for high power in a small package

Specifications

RRP: £100
Lumens: 850
Battery life: 2 - 36hrs
Modes: Up to 8 programmable
Mount : Bracket with Silicone strap
Weight: 84g

Reasons to buy

+
Build quality
+
Beam power and pattern

Reasons to avoid

-
More expensive than many of its rivals
-
Bracket won't fit aero bars as standard

The Exposure Sirius Daybright packs a lot of light for a compact. lightweight package. Like Exposure's other lights, it's programmable so you can choose the light settings that work best for you. There's a bright central spot with plenty of peripheral illumination as well.

It's worth bearing in mind though that the standard rubber strap mount, although it functions perfectly on standard round handlebars, is too short to wrap around a wider aero bar top, so you may need to buy a second strap to daisy chain to it. If you add a helmet mount to your purchase, the Sirius is a great option for a lid light.

Our full review of the Exposure Sirius Daybright light will give you more info.

Lezyne Micro Drive Pro 800XL

(Image credit: Lezyne)
Best value for money

Specifications

RRP: £60
Lumens: 800
Battery life: 1:45 - 19hrs
Modes: 8
Mount: Silicone strap
Weight: 114g

Reasons to buy

+
Excellent beam pattern for road riding
+
Long run time
+
Simple bracket fits all bars

Reasons to avoid

-
Too many modes
-
Side visibility could be better

With two LEDs, there's a wide cast of light from the Micro Drive Pro, although we'd have liked a little more side illumination. The four constant modes give you lots of options, although you can cut that down to just two by selecting the Overdrive mode, making selection as you ride a bit easier.

The light has a green hue, that we found more comfortable to the eye than the bright white of many front lights. The hefty alloy light feels very robust and mounts easily to a range of bars with the attached rubber strap.

There's more on the Lezyne Micro Drive Pro 800XL in our full review.

Knog PWR Rider

(Image credit: Knog)
Best for versatility

Specifications

RRP: £58
Lumens: 450
Battery life: 2 - 90hrs
Modes: You choose
Mount: Silicone strap
Weight: 114g

Reasons to buy

+
Configurable lighting modes
+
Double up as a power bank
+
Easy operation with gloves

Reasons to avoid

-
Recesses in lights can accumulate dirt

Like the other lights in the Knog PWR range, the PWR Rider has a built-in USB port so you can use it as a power bank to charge other devices. It's also programmable, so you can set as many modes and light levels as you want, if the six ready-programmed modes don't suit.

At 114g, the PWR Rider is not too heavy to use as a helmet light and it's easy to attach to the bars with its integrated rubber strap mount. There's a good, elliptical spread of light that lets you ride at a reasonable pace even on unlit roads.

Best rear bike lights

Lezyne KTV Pro rear light

Lezyne KTV Pro rear light uses a simple USB charging stick

Best for charging simplicity

Specifications

Lumens: 75
Battery life: 4–19.5 hours
Battery type: Integrated rechargeable
Weight: 50g

Reasons to buy

+
Great visibility
+
Durable build
+
Burn time is impressive

Reasons to avoid

-
Rear light tends to twist on seatpost

A bright 75 lumen rear which offers a variety of modes, including a daytime option and the KTV Pro offers long run times for multiple rides between recharges. There's a wide 270 degree angle of illumination, upping side-on visibility. There's good waterproofing, as attested by a series of long, wet rides.

Charging is via an inbuilt USB adapter: you just whip the rubber bottom end off the light and plug it in. The light has a narrow indent in the rear to hold it in place on your seatpost. There's a rubber band for mounting and can fit aero or round seat posts, though we did find it suited aero versions better and was prone to twist on round posts so that it wasn't pointing straight behind.

Read more: Lezyne KTV Pro rear light (opens in new tab)

Cateye Rapid X3 rear light

Cateye Rapid X3 rear light mounts simply, with an elastic band

Specifications

Lumens: 150
Battery life: 1–30 hours
Battery type: Integrated rechargeable
Weight: 64g

Reasons to buy

+
COB tech leads to large lighted area
+
Independent switches for each array make for lots of lighting options
+
Option to have a constant and a flashing array at the same time
+
Step down to flashing output leads to long run time

Reasons to avoid

-
Limited battery life in highest output constant mode

Plenty of modes and 150 lumens on the highest output make the Cateye Rapid X3 a very competent rear light. We like that it packs two sets of independently operated LEDs in the same body, which gives lots of output options, including a mix of constant and flashing at the same time or just using one light array to increase battery life. Runtimes are quite short if you set both arrays to constant though.

Lighting is provided by an array of COB LEDs which give a large illuminated area in comparison to smaller numbers of higher intensity LEDs, so there's more to spot for a driver coming up behind.

The light automatically goes into a reduced 'low battery' mode when it's running out of juice, while charging takes about 3 hours.

Read more: Cateye Rapid X3 rear light (opens in new tab)

Lezyne Laser Drive rear light

Lezyne Laser Drive rear light can mount anywhere on the rider or bike

Best for daytime running

Specifications

Lumens: 250
Battery life: 2.5–17 hours
Battery type: Integrated rechargeable
Weight: 74g

Reasons to buy

+
Extra rear visibility through high output and laser guides
+
Lots of lighting modes
+
Very bright flashing option

Reasons to avoid

-
Quite a large unit
-
Expensive compared to the competition

At over £50/ $50, this is quite a pricey option and it's also quite bulky - but it's got a unique party trick. The 250-lumen rear bike light also incorporates optional flashing or continuous laser beams which can be displayed either side of the cyclist, designed to reduce the number of close passes cyclists experience. The four LEDs add to that with good side-on visibility.

There are some really high output options among its nine modes, with up to 40 lumens constant and a huge 250 lumens flashing. The light turns on in the mode last used though, avoiding the need to toggle through all the options.

The rubber band mount is compatible with both round and aero seat posts and angles the light horizontally, too.

Read more: Lezyne Laser Drive rear light review (opens in new tab)

Bontrager Flare RT rear bike light

Bontrager Flare RT rear bike light packs a punch in a small package

Best for packing a punch in small package

Specifications

Lumens: 90
Battery life: 4.5–13.5 hours
Battery type: Integrated rechargeable
Weight: 33g

Reasons to buy

+
Light weight
+
A lot of technology
+
Can turn off ambient light sensor as you wish

Reasons to avoid

-
Mode settings can be a bit confusing

Don't be fooled by the Bontrager Flare RT's compact size, this miniature tail light backs the punch of a flashbang. The LED inside only outputs 90-lumens, but the optics built into the lens focus the beam in such a way that the Flare RT can be seen from up to 2km / 1.2mi away. 

There are loads of different modes that can be tricky to find your way around, although you can lock in the one you prefer so the light uses this next time you switch it on.

ANT+ connectivity means it can be connected to Garmin computers to show battery status and for control. There's an integrated ambient light sensor adjusts brightness for maximum visibility dependent on the conditions. It's a feature you can turn off if you prefer, although it does help to extend battery life.

There's a newly designed mount that reduces your chance of losing the light as you ride. It's an impressive, compact, 33g package.

Read more: Bontrager Flare RT review (opens in new tab)

Exposure Blaze with DayBright bike light

Exposure's Blaze with DayBright might be pricey but it will last you for years

(Image credit: Exposure )
Best for build quality

Specifications

Lumens: 80
Battery life: 6–48 hours
Battery type: Integrated rechargeable
Weight: 77g

Reasons to buy

+
Lumen output (80)
+
Design
+
Finish
+
Burn time

Reasons to avoid

-
Price is higher than competition
-
Limited mounting options
-
Complicated mode selection

There's no doubt that you'll feel safer in the knowledge that you'll be much more likely to be seen by approaching cars and other traffic with the Exposure Blaze rear light attached to your bike. It truly is a dazzling light that cuts through the light pollution to grab the attention of other road users. It's really well built too, so should stand up to plenty of abuse, which is a good thing considering the light's high price.

The Daybright function is impressive in bright sunshine, especially at cutting through low level sunrays. You can also use the in-built accelerometer and set the light up to work like a brake light and set up Peloton mode so you don't dazzle your ridemates.

There's lots of programmability to the Blaze, although it's quite complex to get your head around. There is a video guide online though, which helps.

Read more: Exposure Blaze with DayBright (opens in new tab)

Garmin Varia RTL515 rear bike light

Garmin Varia RTL515 comes loaded with safety features

Best for extra safety features

Specifications

Lumens: 65
Battery life: 6–16 hours
Battery type: Integrated rechargeable
Weight: 100g (incl mount)

Reasons to buy

+
Ups your road presence
+
Usually quicker to spot approaching vehicles than you are

Reasons to avoid

-
Only one alert for vehicles in convoy
-
Does not spot all approaching vehicles
-
Expensive, but does offer extra features for the outlay

Garmin's Varia RTL515 has four light modes, 65-lumens under the hood, and has a viewing angle of up to 220-degrees, but that's not what sets this light apart.

Hidden inside this sleek looking taillight is a rear-facing radar which can pick up cars from up to 140m / 459ft away, and when connected to a Garmin, Wahoo or other brand head unit, alerts you to and tracks cars as they approach. It may sound like a gimmick, but in our experience, it is surprisingly accurate, and often picks up cars before our ears do.

The radar also means that the light can change its lighting pattern as a car approaches, flashing more brightly and more rapidly to make certain that you're seen.

There's a robust mount that can be converted to fit different shaped seatposts and an app to configure the light and which acts as a head unit if you don't have a bike computer.

Read more: Garmin Varia RTL515 review (opens in new tab)

 

Best bike light sets

Giant HL 100 and TL 100 Combo

The Giant HL 100 and TL 100 Combo lightset is simple and easy to use

(Image credit: Giant/ Cycling Weekly)
Best for combining function and form

Specifications

Lumens: 100
Battery life: 2.5–18 hours
Battery type: Integrated rechargeable
Weight: 33g per light

Reasons to buy

+
Lightweight
+
User friendly
+
Powerful for their size
+
Quirky design

Reasons to avoid

-
On/off switch not the easiest to operate

The Giant Recon HL 100 and TL 100 are very simple to operate, with no long presses, counting flashes to determine brightness level or anything like that. You just cycle through the five modes by short-pressing the on/off button and it’s the standard long press for on and off.

The switch, however, is a small oblong that needs direct pressure in exactly the right place. A protruding, rubbery switch would be easier but it would wreck the cube’s symmetry. I can live with form over function this time, but sometimes it takes a couple of attempts to activate it, especially with gloves.

The Tail-Light (TL) is surprisingly bright – blinding even – for such a small light. It’s really all you’d ever need from a rear light. The Head-Light (HL) is fine for streetlit commutes but is not enough for seeing on unlit roads – it is strictly a ‘be-seen’ light.

Landing in the middle ground price wise, they're well designed and have good functionality. Perfect for a lightweight, versatile, good-looking, commuter light set with a very useful daytime mode.

Read more: Giant Recon HL 100 and Recon TL 100 combo review (opens in new tab)

Lezyne Micro Drive 600XL and KTV Pro light set

The Lezyne Micro Drive 600XL and KTV Pro light set is solid and secure

(Image credit: Wiggle)
Best for durability

Specifications

Lumens: 600 front / 75 rear
Battery life: 1–44 hours
Battery type: Integrated rechargeable
Weight: 97g front / 50g rear

Reasons to buy

+
High level of visibility
+
Durability due to aluminium casing
+
Long burn time

Reasons to avoid

-
Rear light tends to twist on seatpost

At 600 lumens, the Lezyne 600XL packs a punch and isn't far off being a 'seeing' light.

The front 600XL uses a permanently attached rubber strap to wrap it tight around the handlebar but it also rotates on the clamp allowing you to fit on fork leg or any odd angled position. Despite being used on the fork leg for riding LEJOG, we had no issues with the light remaining steadfastly in place.

The LEDs are arranged in a side-by-side pattern and push out a decent spread of light that in most modes works as a flood light to light up the road ahead evenly. Only in the two brightest modes does it take on more of a spot pattern, highlighting a smaller but brighter patch of the road ahead. But we can attest that even the lower flashing modes are bright enough to light up road signs from over five hundred metres away easily.

With regards the rear KTV unit, mounting is reliant on the thick rubber strap and slightly compliant rear recess on the light body. This recess is a little too narrow and the rubber a little too stiff to hold it tight against a standard seatpost. This does result in the light twisting off centre during a ride and reduces rear visibility. Something you will need to keep an eye on.

Read more: Lezyne Micro Drive 600XL and KTV Pro light set review (opens in new tab)

Exposure Trace bike lights

Exposure Trace lights are a long term favourite in the Cycling Weekly office

(Image credit: Exposure)
Best for ultimate quality

Specifications

Lumens: 110 front / 75 rear
Battery life: 3–24 hours
Battery type: Integrated rechargeable
Weight: 78g per light

Reasons to buy

+
High level of visibility including side visibility
+
Build quality is renowned from Exposure
+
Simple attachment

Reasons to avoid

-
Exposure lights are usually more expensive than the competition but they do last 

The Trace and TraceR lights are the smallest and most featherweight units Exposure produces and at first glance it's hard to imagine the sort of performance they are capable of. But just like David against Goliath, size isn't everything.

Tiny, robust, extremely bright and with long burn times, there really is nothing to fault the Exposure Trace and TraceR light set. Ideal for everything from commuting to being a backup set for longer trips, this is a set of lights that will provide reliable service for many a year.

The beam pattern and visibility for both lights are exceptional. The front throws out a good spread of light and in flashing mode easily lights up road signs for a few hundred metres ahead and the rear daybright mode is searingly bright. Both lights also have an extended lens that enables them to throw out a good level of side visibility, extending the safety levels.

Charging is simple and it takes just 1.5 hours to charge each from empty. A USB charging port is located under the rubber band that encircles the light. It can be a bit fiddly to pull it out of the way but you soon get used to the process. We’re yet to have any water ingress so despite its flimsy appearance it works really well.

Read more: Exposure Trace and TraceR MK2 light set review (opens in new tab)

CatEye Sync; Core and Kinetic bike light set

CatEye Sync; Core and Kinetic light set uses wireless connection to pair lights together

(Image credit: Wiggle/ CatEye)
Best for ease of use

Specifications

Lumens: 500 front / 50 rear / 40 wearable
Battery life: 2–25 hours
Battery type: Integrated rechargeable
Weight: 181g (set)

Reasons to buy

+
Additional wireless connection between lights 

Reasons to avoid

-
Battery life of the wearable light was short compared to the other two lights

The CatEye Sync range is the next step in bike lights where up to seven units are connected together wirelessly so that when one is switched on, the others light up too. Equally, when a mode is changed or the lights are to be turned off, one press of a button on one unit will change all the lights too.

It might sound a little excessive, but we found that it did genuinely make commuting easier – particularly with a train journey splitting up the riding and consequently having to turn the lights on and off twice as often.

The rear Kinetic light has an inbuilt accelerometer, which automatically turns on high mode when it detects a deceleration. This is very bright at 50 lumens and works very well to attract attention of road users behind.

The front light, which is 500 lumens, has extended side illumination for added 'be seen' credentials. It has five light modes and seems to be super bright during night time commuting. We were especially impressed by its quality build and the Daytime HyperConstant mode.

The Wearable is a nice addition too. It is a small light but still knocks out 40 lumens. Its shape lends itself to be seen from the side also and placed on the back, clipped to a pocket or bag, gives you some extra peace of mind that you'll be seen.

Read more: CatEye Sync; Core, Kinetic and Wearable review (opens in new tab)

2021/2022 Lights grouptest

Over the winter of 2021/22 we tested four lights in our high powered light grouptest: the Blackburn Dayblazer 1500, Knog PWR Trail 1100, Lezyne MacroDrive 1300XXL and the Exposure Strada MK10 SB. 

You can read our summary reviews for each light above and we've set out the detail of our testing and our comparison video here.

Test protocol 

Our team of three testers used these lights over the course of a month, and then met up for a ride after dark to compare the beams on a loop around Sussex.

As well as beam strength, other factors we took into account include the number of modes, how useful these were in practice, as well as battery life and the security of the mounting system and burn time.

The scores on the doors

LightBlackburn Dayblazer 1500Knog PWR Trail 1100Lezyne MacroDrive 1300XXLExposure Strada MK10 SB
Score3/54/54.5/54.5/5
Lumens1500110013001500
Weight143g (claimed 140g)220g226g (claimed 208g)228g (claimed 230g)
Battery life (claimed)2hrs (lasted 2hrs+)1.7hrs (lasted as claimed)2.5hrs (lasted as claimed)2hrs
Modes56720
MountRubber strapClampRubber strapAlloy mount
RRP£89.99/$95£119.99£90/$99.99£300/$411

Beam comparison