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Best Bike Lights for Road Cycling, Commuting, MTB and Touring

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Best Bike Lights

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This is a gear review about the best bike lights for 2023.

If you ever find yourself riding your bike at night time, then you know the value of having a good quality bike light.

I’ve been cycle touring around the world in more than 20 countries and I’ve used and tested many bicycle lights over the years. I know the difference between the best bicycle lights and the average ones.

In this article, I’ll be sharing with you the best lights for bicycles in 2023. Whether you are road cycling, on a mountain bike, fat bike, touring bike, and anything in-between, I have you covered. Let’s take a look at the best cycling lights.

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Best Lights for Cycling

The Best Lights for Cycling are:

Best Bike Light – Overall

Bontrager Ion Pro RT Front Bike Light

Bontrager Ion Pro RT Front Bike Light

Pros:

> Projects up to 1300 lumens of light
> Connects to Garmin® & Bontrager ANT+ devices
> 5 different light modes & a battery life of up to 26 hours
> Connects to devices for battery status and control
> Adjustable light mount that fits most bars
> Comes with micro USB charging cable

Cons:
> It can be a little heavy for wearing on a helmet

In addition to being a really good quality bike light, the Bontrager Ion Pro RT Front Bike Light has a special feature. You can connect it to Garmin and Bontrager ANT+ devices, through which you will then be able to control the light and check the battery status.

It has 5 different lighting modes, specifically, there are super bright 1300 lumens, 800 lumens, 400 lumens, night flash, and day flash. With the brightest being enough to light up most MTB Trails.

The battery life of the Bontrager Ion Pro RT Front Bike Light is very good, but it’s contingent on what setting you use. For example, at 400 lumens it will last 6 hours, and 3 hours at 800 lumens.

It can be adjusted to fit handlebars measuring between 25.4 and 35.0 mm in diameter. Or, if you prefer, you can attach it to the top of a helmet. It has a rechargeable integrated battery and comes with a micro USB charging cable. It doesn’t take long to charge up at all.

It’s lightweight at just 6.46 ounces and has a water resistance rating of IPX4, which means it can withstand rain.

Overall, the Bontrager Ion Pro RT Front Bike Light is the best bikepacking light for 2023. Whether you are a road cyclist, bikepacker, bike tourer, or mountain biker, there is no need to look any further. This is the best front bike light for cycling.

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Best Front Bike Light – Runner Up

NiteRider Lumina Pro 1200 Front Bike Light

NiteRider Lumina Pro 1200 Front Bike Light

Pros:

> Offers up to 1200 lumens
> 8 different modes to choose from
> Battery power levels LED indicators
> Can be charged up in just 4 hours
> Backed by a lifetime warranty

Cons:
> I wish it lasted longer on a full charge

The NiteRider Lumina Pro 1200 Front Bike Light is one of the best-rated bike lights for several reasons.

First off, it can offer up to a staggering 1200 lumens. Most riders will not need it that high. On the 800 lumens setting, it will last for one and a half hours. And on medium brightness at 400 lumens it will last up to 3 hours.

If you need it to last longer, and you don’t need a strong light, then you can do 150 lumens for 7 hours. This setting is perfect to use when cycling all day to increase your visibility, especially in foggy or dull weather. The NiteRider Lumina Pro 1200 Front Bike Light also has other light modes such as walk mode, fast flash, pulse flash, and super flash.

It has color-coded light modes shown through the power button switch to indicate which light mode you’ve set up. And the battery power levels are displayed through LED indicators on the top of the device. Another great feature is its lock mode.

You just press and hold the power button for 8 to 10 seconds to lock or unlock the operation of the light. This way, whenever the light is stored in a bag, you don’t have to worry about accidentally turning it on and draining the battery.

It’s very lightweight at just 193 grams. And it’s resistant to both dust and water, with a rating of IP64. It’s also impact resistant, too, thanks to the durable, yet light housing with DuPont Fiberglass reinforced nylon.

It comes complete with a steadfast mount that can fit on both standard and oversized handlebars, or on a compatible helmet if you prefer, and it comes with a USB charging cable and only takes 4 hours to charge.

I was also pleased to learn that it comes backed by a lifetime warranty, which covers all defects in both the mechanical components and the LEDs.

Overall, the NiteRider Lumina Pro 1200 Front Bike Light is one of the Brightest Bike Lights for 2023.

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Best Budget Bike Light

Bontrager Ion 200 RT Front Bike Light

Bontrager Ion 200 RT Front Bike Light

Pros:

> Connects to Garmin & Bontrager ANT+ devices
> Integrated light sensor for automatic light adjustment
> Long-lasting brightness above the industry standards
> 5 light modes altogether and emits up to 1000 lumens

Cons:
> Some customers have said it’s poorly designed to work with helmet mount

The Bontrager Ion 200 RT Front Bike Light is another great bike light worthy of a spot on my shortlist. While it is not super cheap, it comes in at a very reasonable price considering the quality that is on offer.

And like the Bontrager Ion Pro RT reviewed earlier, this one can also be connected with Garmin and Bontrager ANT+ devices, where you can control the light and check the battery status.

The Bontrager Ion 200 RT Front Bike Light has a long-lasting brightness that goes over and above industry standards. For example, on the brightest setting, it can go up to 1000 lumens, which it can sustain for 1.5 hours.

On the medium setting, which is still very light at 650 lumens it can last for 3 hours, and on the low setting, which is 350 lumens, it can last 6 hours. It also has a night flash setting and a daytime flash setting, making 5 different light modes altogether.

These flash settings are great for enhancing your visibility in a high-traffic crowd. Better yet, this model has an integrated light sensor that automatically adjusts the brightness emitted by the light according to the light conditions.

It can emit a powerful beam that will light up the full width of the lane. You can attach it either to your bike’s handlebars or on top of your bike helmet if you prefer. It’s very lightweight at just 1.13 ounces.

Overall, the Bontrager Ion 200 RT is right up there in the running for the Best Bike Headlight 2023, and is the best budget bicycle light from the well-known brand Bontrager.

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Exposure Trace & Trace R MK2 Light Set

Exposure Trace & Trace R MK2 Light Set

Pros:

> Perfect for road use and keeping visible!
> Excellent price point and value for money
> Includes both a front and a rear light
> There’s a choice of different light modes
> There’s a color-coded battery gauge

Cons:
> Low level of lumens and brightness
> Not recommended for use on dark trails

With the Exposure Trace & Trace R MK2 Light Set, you get not one light but two, and at a fraction of the price of the bike lights reviewed so far. But what really stands out about this set is that both lights provide 360-degree visibility. There’s an optimized mode selector to determine the best light mode and run time for your journey.

The Exposure Trace & Trace R MK2 Light Set has a bespoke pulse pattern specially designed for bright daylight use that’s even more conspicuous than a regular flash.

The lights come in at 110 lumens and 75 lumens respectively, which might sound low, but because of the pulse action, you remain very much visible during the day despite this.

There’s a color-coded battery gauge to show you when the lights’ batteries start running low and need a recharge. And if you turn it to the high setting, it will only last for up to 3 hours. This gives you time to get home when it starts getting dark.

And if you need it the next day, it takes 4 hours to charge. They’re very lightweight at just 35 grams each, and they’re water-resistant at IP6.

Included in the box when it arrives are the two lights, a seat post mount, a handlebar mount, 2 micro USB charging cables, and a quick start guide.

Overall, the Exposure Trace & Trace R MK2 Light Set is another good option for bike lights. Note that there might be some supply chain issues with this product at the moment.

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Garmin Varia RCT715 Rearview Radar

Garmin Varia RCT715 Rearview Radar

Pros:

> Includes both a taillight and a radar activated 1080p camera
> Different light settings and camera settings to suit your needs
> The camera offers plenty of storage and a great run time on a full charge
> Footage is crisp and clear, and can start automatically as a vehicle approaches
> Compatible with smartphones, Edge bike computers, and Garmin wearables

Cons:
> Premium product at a premium price
> Doesn’t come with a front light
> Some jurisdictions prohibit the use of the camera function of this device

If you’ve got the budget for it, then the Garmin Varia RCT715 Rearview Radar with Camera and Taillight could be for you. It’s not just a bike light. It’s both a taillight and a camera.

The Garmin Varia RCT715 Rearview Radar with Camera and Taillight is perfect for recording what happens if you were to get into an accident.

It automatically detects an incident, and it has three settings to choose from, always on, lights and radar only, or radar-activated turn on. You can have sharp footage at 1080 pixels at 30 frames per second, or to save battery life you can turn it down to 720 pixels.

It can detect the approach of vehicles from up to 153 yards away. And it can store a lot of footage, thanks to the 16 GB of onboard SD card storage. The maximum run time depends on what setting you choose.

When the camera is recording at 1080p, it will last for 4 hours on solid high, 5 hours on solid low, and 6 hours on day flash. It connects to compatible smartphones on the Varia app (for Android and iOS devices), as well as Garmin wearables, and Edge bike computers.

You can control the device from the app and view footage via the app as well. And to top it all off, it’s ready to use straight out of the box!

Overall, the Garmin Varia RCT715 Rearview Radar with Camera and Taillight is the best bike tail light with a camera and warning radar. It is not cheap and not too many people will want to spend this much on a cycling rear tail light, even if it does have radar and a camera!

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Best Bike Lights Buying Guide

As promised, here’s your buying guide. Let me walk through all the different points to consider when buying bike lights.


Battery Life

To be honest, in my view, there are two important things to consider when buying a bicycle light. And the battery life is one of them.

Because the worst case scenario you’ll be trying to avoid, is having the battery run out on you when you’re in the middle of nowhere in the dark.

All of the bike lights I’ve reviewed here are 100% rechargeable, so you don’t need to worry about getting any replacement batteries. You could even consider cycling with a backup battery power bank to help with recharging when on the road.


Number of Lumens

The number of lumens emitted by a light source is basically a measure of how much visible light is thrown out. The higher the number of lumens, the brighter the light.

If you’re in a well-lit urban area, the number of lumens isn’t so important, but when you’re on some dirt trail, you’re going to need a minimum of around 600 lumens at the very least. Mountain Bike Lights should have higher lumens to be able to see the trails at night. The MTB Bike Lights will be best when they have more than 600 lumens.


Different Light Modes

It’s good for a bike light to have different modes for different levels of light. Yes, in a dark area, you need bright light ahead.

But in a relatively well-lit area, a lower brightness of the light will often suffice, and by using a lower light, you will preserve the battery life for longer. A flashing light is great for daytime visibility, especially on those dawn and dusk rides.


Easily Removed Once Mounted

Good quality bike lights often cost over $100, so you will want to take them off your bike. You don’t want to leave such an expensive item unattended. So you will want to be able to remove it easily from the bike and take it with you wherever you go.


Brand

I don’t know about you, but generally speaking, I like big-name brands. They have a reputation to maintain, so they can be trusted. One of my favorite brands for bike lights is Bontrager, and I’ve included not one but two Bontrager bike lights in my shortlist.


Charge Time

There may well come a time when you want to jump on your bike in low light conditions, and you’ve forgotten to recharge your bike light. That means you’ll have to waste time waiting around for the battery to recharge. In this instance, the quicker the battery recharges, the better.


Additional Features

You don’t have to settle for a bike light that’s merely a light – you can get yourself one with radar, taillight, and camera functionality as well, as with my number 5 pick, the Garmin Varia RCT715.

The downside to getting a product with special extra features is that they tend to cost more money, so I guess you’ll just have to weigh up whether you feel the special feature is worth the additional cost.


Value For Money

Sure, no one wants to pay more than they have to, but when it comes to bike lights, you get what you pay for. If you buy a cheap, unreliable bike light, then you’ll have wasted your money. I certainly wouldn’t trust any bike light that costs under $20.

But when you buy one for about $60 or $100 plus, with a warranty, then you know you’re onto a winner that won’t fail you. Personally, I like to own the best products that money can buy, and wouldn’t settle for anything less than the best.

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Conclusion

Here are the best handlebar lights for cycling:

Another one of the Best Cycling Gear Reviews from BikeHikeSafari.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why Are Bike Lights So Expensive?

There’s a lot of technology that goes into producing a good quality bike light, and it’s well worth paying for a good quality one as opposed to one which doesn’t perform well.

As the saying goes, if you buy cheap products, you’ll end up paying twice, because once you’ve discovered that the product is shoddy, you’ll have to buy another new one.

What Are The Brightest Bike Lights?

One of the brightest bike lights is the Bontrager Ion Pro RT Front Bike Light at 1300 lumens. This is significantly higher than most cyclists will ever actually need.

How Many Lumens Do I Need For A Bike Light?

If you’re in a well-lit urban area, the number of lumens isn’t so important, but when you’re on some dirt trail, you’re going to need a bare minimum of 600 lumens at the very least.

Best Bicycle Lights

BikeHikeSafari Gear Review Process

The author, Brad McCartney from BikeHikeSafari is a small independent adventurer and outdoor gear tester who owns and runs BikeHikeSafari.com.

BikeHikeSafari is not part of a large blog network and is proudly independent. All reviews on this site are independent and honest gear reviews of outdoor products by the author.

The author, Brad McCartney is a very experienced triple crown thru-hiker, adventurer, and bike tourer having spent 1000s of nights sleeping in a tent and sleeping bag (Read more). He was a manager of an outdoor retail store and is very experienced in what is important when using and testing gear for reviews like this.

BikeHikeSafari will never receive any money for reviews and they do not accept sponsored reviews on this website. All the comments about the gear reviews are from the author based on his years of experience. Hope this independent review was helpful for you.

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About the Author:
Brad is an Australian who has completed the hiking Triple Crown after he hiked the Pacific Crest Trail, Continental Divide Trail and Appalachian Trail. He has hiked on every continent (except Antarctica) and has cycled from Alaska to Ecuador. He is an expert on outdoor gear currently living in Chile.

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