Good quality bike lights should be one of the first cycling accessories on your shopping list. Needless to say, they are essential when cycling at night or if visibility is poor, making lights a must-have during the winter and a smart addition to your bike even in the summer.
It’s a legal requirement in the United Kingdom to have lights on your bike if you’re cycling after sunset (we’ve got a full guide on bike light laws), but some riders like to use them during the day as well, especially during the winter, in order to increase visibility to other road users.
Like everything, though, there are many different brands offering an endless array of options, so it can be a near-impossible task to figure out the best bike lights for your needs.
Fortunately, here at BikeRadar, our expert testers have used and abused dozens of light sets to bring you the definitive list of what we believe are the best road and commuting lights on the market.
Best bike lights at a glance
Here’s BikeRadar’s pick of the best front lights, best rear lights and the best light sets we’ve tested. For more options, plus our reviews and buyer’s guide, read on.
Best front light for under £100: Bontrager Ion Pro RT
Best front light for under £60: Blackburn Dayblazer 800
Best front light for under £40: Lezyne Hecto Drive 500XL
Best rear light: Topeak Redlite Aero 1W
Best rear light for urban riding: Bontrager Flare R City
Best front & rear light set: Lezyne Lite Drive 1000XL and Lezyne KTV Pro Drive 75
How many lumens do you need for bike lights?
Bike lights are split into two categories: those that provide enough illumination to enable you to clearly see what’s ahead of you, and those that are designed to simply ensure that you’re seen by other road users – lights to see and lights to be seen, as it were.
We’ve mainly focused on front lights that will enable you to see where you are going on unlit cycle paths or rural roads.
Generally speaking, we’d recommend a minimum of 200 lumens for urban commuting and 400 lumens for riding on unlit roads.
If you’re after lights for riding off-road on trails, you’ll need something brighter, with greater power and battery life. Check out our separate round-up of the best mountain bike lights.
Once you’ve browsed our reviews, don’t forget to check out our buyer’s guide to road and commuting lights at the bottom of the page. We’ve covered all of the key factors you should consider, including light output, battery life, beam pattern and more.
Best front lights for bikes in 2021 as rated by our expert testers
- Bontrager Ion Pro RT: £100 / $125 / €119.99 / AU$189.99
- Gemini Titan 4000: £300 / $350 / €370 / AU$450
- Guee SOL 700 Plus: £60
- Blackburn Dayblazer 800: £55 / $65 / €TBC / AU$90
- Exposure Sirius MK9: £100 / $137 / €120 / AU$TBC
- Exposure Strada 1200: £290 / $398 / €TBC / AU$525
- Halfords Advanced 1600 Lumen: £50
- Hope R2i LED Vision: £175 / $221 / €215 / AU$320
- Knog PWR Road 600: £85 / $90 / €TBC / AU$120
- Lezyne Macro Drive 1300XXL: £85 / $90 / €94.99 / AU$TBC
- Magicshine Allty 1000 DRL: £70 / $85 / €85 / AU$119.95
Bontrager Ion Pro RT
- Claimed max output: 1,300 lumens
- Run time (max power): 90 minutes
- Warm-coloured and well-shaped beam
- Bluetooth compatibility
- Good band-on mount
Bontrager’s Ion Pro RT strikes an excellent balance between a high lumen output and a consistent, pleasingly-coloured and well-focused beam pattern.
The clamp is super easy to use and – while its real-world usefulness is questionable – the Bluetooth integration, which allows you to control the light via a Garmin or Di2 shifter, is fun. It’s also super easy to use.
Gemini Titan 4000
- Claimed max output: 4,000 lumens
- Run time (max power): 1 hour 50 minutes
- Unparalleled power via six LEDs
- Custom modes and a wireless switch
- Excellent reliability and the best way to light up your bike rides
If you want rally car-like levels of illumination on your ride, nothing beats Gemini’s radical Titan. By using six LEDs in a horizontal strip you get a detailed 3D rendering of the road/trail rather than harsh single/double point shadows for genuine daylight-style vision.
While it maxes out at a darkness-detonating 4,000 lumens, half that is enough for 90 per cent of situations, so the bag battery capacity is ample for epic rides.
Each mode is programmable in 10 per cent steps and you get a wireless remote as standard. We’ve been using Titans for years without a glitch.
Guee SOL 700 Plus
- Claimed max output: 700 lumens
- Run time (max power): 2 hours 50 minutes
- Automatic power adjustment
- Smart CNC-machined body
If you’re the sort of person who always forgets to dip their full beam (stop being that person), the automatically power adjusting Guee SOL 700 might be just the light for you.
While this could sound a little gimmicky, in practice we’ve found the automatic adjustments to be quite useful, particularly while riding at dawn or dusk when street lighting can be a little patchy.
The light also fixes onto GoPro mounts, opening up a whole host of potential mounting positions.
Lezyne Hecto Drive 500XL
- Claimed max output: 500 lumens
- Run time (max power): one hour
- Eight modes
- Compact with a simple mount
The Lezyne Hecto Drive XL’s 500 lumens is enough for a decent pace on unlit bike paths, though with only one hour of run time at max output, the Hecto is best for use as an urban light.
It charges quickly, stays in the mode you last used it in (surprisingly handy) and offers a total of eight flashing and constant modes, with claimed run times of between one hour and 20 hours.
The Hecto is also a compact unit with a simple rubber band to strap it to your handlebar.
Blackburn Dayblazer 800
- Claimed max output: 800 lumens
- Run time (max power): 1 hour 26 minutes
- Multiple mounting options
- Bright and long-running enough to be really versatile
- A tough and powerful light
Blackburn’s slimline Dayblazer uses a combination of GoPro-style tabs and a rubber band strap to mount it almost anywhere, so no matter your handlebar configuration, you’re bound to find space for the light.
You’ll be grateful for the 800-lumen ‘Blitz’ mode that can pick out trouble in the darkest alleys and gutters on any ride too.
The TIR lens, with diffusing side cutouts, gives a good ‘see me’ spread, with flash and pulse modes for daylight running. There’s basic battery info and the 1.5-hour run time at max power can be USB recharged in four hours.
It’s submersible waterproof too, so if you live somewhere with plenty of rainfall it’s sure to live up to Blackburn’s light reputation of being super tough.
Exposure Sirius MK9
- Claimed max output: 850 lumens
- Run time (max power): 90 minutes
- Super high-quality build
- Road-friendly beam shape
Exposure’s road-specific Sirius is now onto its ninth generation and is still one of our all-time favourite lights.
Combining a high-quality alloy housing with well thought-out optics, the light makes full use of its modest 850-lumen output.
It does require a proprietary cable to charge, but we’re willing to forgive this given how well it performs in other areas.
Exposure Strada 1200
- Claimed max output: 1,200 lumens
- Run time (max power): 2 hours
- Remote high/low beam switching
- Tunable output and plug-in extras
- It’s a well-designed, high-tech, high-performance illuminator
Exposure has been making high-performance, high-tech lights in the UK for over a decade.
The latest Strada road light is 300 lumens brighter than the previous model for uncompromised back-road riding and a wired remote for flicking between high and low beams is included as standard.
Run times for multiple programmable modes are communicated through a strip OLED. Plug-in batteries, rear lights and USB chargers are all available as extras and the latest version recharges 40 per cent quicker than before.
The CNC-machined light, bar and stem mounts are beautiful and UK factory backup is excellent.