The best bike light
A bike light is a simple tool that can allow you to see obstacles clearly in dark conditions while increasing your visibility to vehicles. While these lights can be somewhat pricey, they can also go a long way in keeping you safe and allowing you to keep riding well after the sun sets or before it rises. These lights vary in their placement on your bike and may even be worn on your helmet. In addition, their brightness -- measured in lumens -- varies.
Our top pick by Cycle Torch stands out for its impressive brightness and multiple modes. To learn more about the types of bike lights available, continue reading our shopping guide.
Considerations when choosing bike lights
Bike light styles
The two primary types of bike lights are those that allow you to see where you're headed and those that alert your presence to others.
Headlights, as the name implies, point forward on your bike and are designed to illuminate your path. These typically mount on the handlebars and have a high-power level, which may consume batteries quickly.
Safety lights are designed not to light up the road in front of you but to make you and your bike more visible to motorists. These can be attached to your bike in a variety of locations.
Helmet lights attach to your helmet and offer an alternative to safety lights, blinking in different patterns to alert motorists.
Like flashlights, the brightness of bike lights is measured in lumens. Generally speaking, the higher the lumen rating of a light, the brighter it will be. Safety lights are not designed to illuminate the area around you; as a result, they typically have lumen ratings of below 100. For riding in dim conditions, lights with 100 to 300 lumens are usually sufficient. The brightest lights reach up to 1,200 lumens, though 500 to 700 lumens is usually enough to light your way at night.
The beam pattern of a bike light is the shape of the light it projects. A wide beam illuminates the area in front of you as well as to your sides, but it may not be as powerful as a narrow, focused beam. You should also consider what modes you want your light to have. Most lights feature a steady and flashing mode.
Take note of the type of battery required by your bike light and consider keeping a spare in your bag. Some models may be rechargeable via USB, which can save you some money in the long run.
Bike light prices
For around $15 are a variety of safety lights that may attach to your helmet, spokes, handlebars, or frame. Bright headlights for illuminating your path at night can cost $40 or more, but they are generally durable and have excellent output.
Q. Can rain damage a bike light?
A. Yes, but many models are water resistant or waterproof. If you like to ride rain or shine, consider an extra rugged model made to withstand the elements.
Q. How hard is it to program a bike light?
A. Changing modes is typically as simple as pressing the power button, which cycles through the available modes of a bike. You may also be able to change the color of the light.
Bike lights we recommend
Best of the best: Cycle Torch Shark 500 Set
Our take: This well-constructed light is a great choice for the commuter with its water resistant design.
What we like: For its price, 500 lumens is fairly bright. We love that this set includes a headlight and a tail light.
What we dislike: The battery life of this light varies.
Best bang for your buck: Ascher Rechargeable Bike Light Set
Our take: With two lights in one set, this is one of the best value options out there.
What we like: The battery life and water resistant design make this set a good option for commuters. Easy to install in a variety of locations.
What we dislike: Sometimes there are issues recharging these lights.
Our take: This is the best option for maximum brightness.
What we like: Though this is not an expensive light, it is one of the brightest available at 1,200 lumens. The rechargeable battery keeps this light going.
What we dislike: The case of this light is larger than most.
Peter McPherson is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
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