Best cycle commuter lights

Bike lights lined up

Whether you just fancy an upgrade, or if you are a first time buyer, there’s a dazzling array of bike lights out there to choose from. There are a few things to consider that will make your selection a little easier.

Brightness

If you are cycling only on-road in London then you don’t really need to light the ground in front of you and your primary concern will be others seeing you. However, if you use unlit roads on your journeys in the dark, then you will need something a little stronger to light the road.

Power source

If you are commuting through the winter regularly, it’s a good idea to purchase a USB rechargeable bike light. Rechargeable batteries now are smart – they let you give them a little top-up without being ruined. Many also hold a charge for an extended period of time. Alternatively, if you really don’t cycle in the dark much and don’t want to worry about the light working the next time you need it, regular battery power might be the way to go.

Battery life

It is also useful to consider how long you need your selected power source to last. Do you have a fairly short commute or do you need the light to last all night. If you have a commute of an hour or less then you can pretty much pick any light currently available. However, for extended use such as an event, or in situations where you have no recharging options during the day, then ensure the light lasts long enough in the mode you are most likely to use.

Size

Size matters in many things, and bike lights can be one of them. You may not have much space on your handlebars and need a compact light. Or you may be intending to keep them in your bag most of the time, just incase you get caught out in the dark. Of course, larger lights have bigger batteries, so if you need to use the lights for long stretches then bigger may be better.

Cost

Last but not least there is the cost of the light. Occasional use lights don’t need to break the bank. If you are regularly riding in the dark though, it is worth spending a little money on your lights. Cost determines features and construction quality, and lights can take a battering on a bike and in a bag through through the winter.

Here are a few of our favourites to get you started on the decision making process.

Raleigh entry level bike lights

Entry level

Raleigh Night Wave

The Raleigh Led Front & Rear bike lights are the perfect for the entry cyclist. They provide a decent amount of light, they don’t break the bank (£13.94) and they feature a durable, waterproof design.

Available from Amazon.co.uk – £13.94

Lezyne Femto

 

Lezyne Femto Drive

The battery powered Lezyne Femto lights are great emergency lights. They are bright enough that you can be seen on the roads of London, although they won’t light up the road in front of you. They turn on with a simple push of the lease and have multiple settings.  At £14.99 they are great value for money.

Available from Wiggle.co.uk – £14.99

Mid range

Knog Blinder MOB Mr. ChipsKnog Blinder

The Knog Blinder MOB (£32 each) is a great little light. It is USB rechargeable and has plenty of power. The battery holds its charge for a good length of time while you are not using it. Available in a front a rear version, they are small enough to keep in a pocket and easily loop around your bars or post.

Available from Amazon.co.uk – £32

 

 

Lezyne KTV Drive Pro pairKTV pair

Another Lezyne winner, the KTV pro set has a high powered front light and a very visible rear light. At £27 they are great value for USB rechargeable lights and work well in the city. Each light has several settings so you can flash away or have a bright beam. I have been using these for a year and get on well with them.

Available from Evanscycles.co.uk – from £26.24

 

Higher end

Portland Design Works Lars Rover 650PDW Lars Rover

Portland Design Works make really high quality products, and the Lars Rover 650 is no exception. This is a seriously bright front light, with its high beam setting clocking in at 650 lumens. It is USB rechargeable and will hold its charge for at least a few months when not in use.

Available from Amazon.co.uk – £57.56

 

 

Blaze blaze bike light

The Blaze laserlight is a beautifully made, incredibly robust front light with a special trick: the LED is accompanied by a green laser image of a bike which projects a bike on the ground several meters in front of you. The aim of this laser is to increase your footprint on the road and alert others to your presence before they are directly next to you – perfect for London. The 300 lumen LED part of the light works independently from the laser and has two brightness settings and a flash mode. It is certainly bright enough to light your way across darkened paths.

Available from Amazon.co.uk – £125

 

Other options for secondary lights

There are of course other options for using lights to make yourself visible while on the road. Secondary lights in alternative positions are often very helpful for further increasing your visibility. They are the focus of a different post but in brief, the main options are:

Helmet lights and head lamps put the light up a little higher and mean you can have lighting wherever your head is pointing.

Fiber Flare lights attach to your bag (or pretty much anywhere) and are visible from a good distance and range of angles.

Fiber flare

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Of course staying safe on the road is not all about the right bike lights, but it certainly helps.

 

What are your favourite bike lights?

 

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As seen on The Guardian, BBC and The Independent.

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33 Responses to Best cycle commuter lights

  1. RH 20/09/2012 at 1:22 pm #

    Sadly, the last time I saw my Moon shield rear light – which was very bright – it was bouncing down the old Kent Road – so I’m not sold on the robustness of the clip catch on our potholed roads…

    • Andreas 20/09/2012 at 2:49 pm #

      Oh dear RH – that’s not good! I’ve been testing out the Moon and the clip feels springy so I don’t think it would snap. However, one of those things that only time will tell (so far I’ve tested for about 12 months).

    • Crispin Read 20/09/2012 at 5:03 pm #

      Seconded – I borrowed my mates moon lights the day and I also had to borrow his hairband to put them on the bike as the clip had failed

  2. Nick 20/09/2012 at 1:26 pm #

    What about if you’ve got thick handlebars. Lights never attach on – as the mounts are too small.. are the knog ones big enough?

    • Andreas 20/09/2012 at 2:48 pm #

      Nick: I’ve been able to fit the Knogs and Moons on my single speed, hybrid and my mountain bike without issue.

  3. rjc 20/09/2012 at 1:43 pm #

    Useful article.

    I can highly recommend the very bright led Exposure flash/flare set (about £80 for front/rear lights) with rechargeable batteries which are used mainly for my commute as my 10mile route between home/work takes me through about 1.5miles of unlit country lanes.

    I originally bought the lezyne micro drive usb led rechargeable set which had an impressive light but on my first trip the back light decided to eject itself from its mount and onto the road after going over what was a regular sized pothole.

    Luckily I heard it hit the ground and was able to find it but needless to say that experience didn’t give me any confidence that I’d be able to rely on it during my commute so returned them and replace with the exposure set which are excellent.

    Nick – the exposure set (or any with silicon bands for mounts) might be suitable as they’re pretty flexible.

  4. KarlPoe 20/09/2012 at 1:51 pm #

    The battery life of those Raleigh lights is phenomenal! It’s my second season of using it (20+ miles daily commute) and I didn’t have to change the batteries yet.

  5. Liz 20/09/2012 at 5:04 pm #

    I really liked the Knog lights, they were easy to put on and off, and I didn’t worry about them coming off if I hit a pothole, unlike the CatEyes. However, now I’ve put a pannier rack on my bike the seatpost mounted rear light isn’t very visible. I’ve gone for a permanent pannier-mounted light, but I’d really like a backup light that I can fix to some other part of my bike/myself to make me extra visible. Any tips?

    • Andreas 20/09/2012 at 5:59 pm #

      Either the Knog Wearable Boomer or the Fibre Flare?

  6. Huw 20/09/2012 at 5:24 pm #

    I have just bought a pair of Femto Lezyne lights. Only had them two weeks or so, but very happy with them so far. They’re easy to take on and off and are small and light so can comfortably fit in a pocket. You have to hold down the lens for 2 secs before they switch on, so they shouldn’t accidentally come on in a bag. Nice and bright too (I commute on reasonably well-lit streets, so I don’t need anything to show the way in front of me though).

    would definitely recommend them.

  7. Mark Pownall 20/09/2012 at 6:09 pm #

    For riding on country roads recently I bought a £20 powerful LED torch (100 lumens, I think) from Maplin, and made a not particularly pretty, but effective mount from gaffer tape and velcro, which worked really well.

    http://www.maplin.co.uk/flare-led-torch-with-cree-technology-507167

    • cL0h 23/04/2014 at 2:49 pm #

      I use a regular light too. Specifically I us a fenix l1d and instead of gaffer tape I use a twofish lock block.

  8. Adrian 21/09/2012 at 1:11 am #

    My current set up consists of a moon x-power 500 as a main with Knog blinder circle on back and front, all three are working great and the blinder on the front just about fits the 35mm handlebars.
    I’ve used the moon shield which snapped off and the gem3 above which i thought wasn’t quite bright enough for my journey.
    Also had a magicshine MJ-836 that was wonderfull til it rained, the battery is (not very) water resistant and couldn’t handle a heavy downpour. There are a few companies that sell them with a waterproof battery but thought i would give the 500 a try first due to a bunch of good reviews.
    If fibre flares started to come with rechargeable batteries i would definitly go for them after seeing one last week.

  9. Joff 21/09/2012 at 7:57 am #

    A well timed blog post as I’m currently researching commuter lights for my wife’s bike.

    Of course everyone’s situation is different, but for me personally the ability to recharge a light via USB is the key feature. I’ve bought cheap (and some not so cheap) AA/AAA powered lights in the past and yes I know I could use rechargeable cells but it’s far more convenient for me to just plug the light into a USB socket and let it trickle charge throughout the day.

    Next down the list of must-haves is a front light that as well as being noticeable to other road users, also illuminates at least some of the path as I’m riding through a pitch black country park, avoiding joggers, dog-walkers and the occasional nocturnal swan.
    Similarly the rear light should be bright enough that drivers really cannot miss me. If they’re complaining that it’s too bright then they’ve noticed me and it ticks the box (of course they never find the brake lights of a car in front too bright, oh no…).

    So with those criteria in mind, I ended up at my current set up – a Lezyne Super Drive up front and the Moon Shield at the back. I don’t (yet) have an additional set on the helmet but may invest in those this season.

    I’m so happy with my set up I’m considering the same for the wife’s bike, or at least something very similar. I don’t think I’ve found a rear light better than the Moon Shield (open to suggestions) and whilst I had one of the brittle clips go on my unit, Raleigh were quick to send a replacement.

    For a front light, I’m considering a Lezyne Mini Drive XL (2012 model) which has an increased output over the 2011 model. The idea being that with a shared mount we can swap lights around should I not be riding one day and should the winter commute prove too much for my wife, I can use the Mini Drive on my head.

    Incidentally, I’d also like to fit a light to my rear pannier somehow and looking for suggestions. Topeak offer a mount, but I’m not sure what lights would be compatible? http://www.topeak.com/products/Racks/TailLightMount

  10. Malcis 21/09/2012 at 10:43 am #

    Just a reminder to be considerate to pedestrians if you share space with them at any point on your ride – calling a light ‘blinder’ can be all too accurate for passers-by. Dip your front light on shared footpaths if you can.

  11. George 21/09/2012 at 10:53 am #

    Moon Mask 5.0 USB – the very best.

  12. Gaz 21/09/2012 at 11:10 am #

    I’ve recently upgraded to the Dinotte 1200L+ and Dinotte 400R for my main lights.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Rijf8tZWoY

    They don’t come much better than that, well, the designshine is probably the only lights which will be better for road use.

  13. Barry Norsworthy 21/09/2012 at 11:14 am #

    The best lights you can get are niteflux. http://www.niteflux.com.au.
    Extremely bright rear lights, even in bright sunshine.

  14. Joff 21/09/2012 at 11:21 am #

    There’s no such thing as “the best” light full stop, you need to give a reason why. The best light for light output might not be the most portable or suitable for commuting – factors such as cost to buy, cost to run, potential for wet weather, being removable, easy to stow away, burn time, etc are all critical when it comes to choosing commuter lights.

    I could say the “best” light is one of the gazillion-watt lamps from a DIY store, strapped to my handlebars :)

    • Barry Norsworthy 26/09/2012 at 10:26 am #

      Quite right Joff, my post was a bit short, but I have tried quite a few lights including knogs etc and found niteflux much, much better. They are on the expensive side, but far superior ( in my opinion) in all other departments you mentioned.
      Assumed you would have checked the website and seen theYouTube trials.

  15. barton 21/09/2012 at 2:05 pm #

    The search for the perfect bike light is a lot like the search for the perfect red lipstick or pair of shoes – illusive and never achieved.

    I am currently using the MiNewt 150 on my handlebars (purchased from Wiggle during last year’s fall sales). It is a HEAVY, heavy thing. Since my bike is parked in a public place while at work, I cannot leave anything on my handlebars (left a knog once – it blended in with the bike frame – remembered 10 minutes later, went back down and it was already gone – before 7am). So making sure that the MiNewt is securely attached (with three rubber shims, btw) and ratcheted as tight as it can is a morning chore to say the least. This week they are re-paving three cross streets on my commute: I had to readjust the light each time I took a bump.

    As much as I complain about the weight of the MiNewt (has an optional helmet mount – who wants that much weight on their head?), it has a fabulous output. Most of my morning riding is completed on bike trails with no lights. I am able to position the MiNewt so that it doesn’t blind others, makes me visible, AND allows me to perfectly see what is coming in the 20-30 ft in front of me.

    Rear lighting: Well, I’m still not satisfied here. I use a pannier and have one light (Planet Bike) on the back of the rack, and then a Blackburn Flea on my seatpost, AND a knog on the back of my helmet. If you are coming at me from the right (pannier on left side) or from straight behind me, you can definitely see me. Coming from the left? Much dicier.

  16. kie7077 21/09/2012 at 6:01 pm #

    I wouldn’t recommend the Knog Boomer if you don’t want the flashing setting as it will change to this setting everytime you got over a bump.

    I also have a pair of mini-knogs as emergency spares, can’t remember the name but they have a problem of getting accidentally turned on in the bag which is a pain as I have to buy 4 new batteries even though I’ve only used them on one occasion.

    I don’t think I’ll be buying any more knogs until they sort the design issues out.

    Hope-One and A Smart Lunar R1 are my current lights, I think the Smart Lunar R1 is a bargain at £12 as it’s very bright.

  17. Tom 21/09/2012 at 6:29 pm #

    Fibre flares are great, really visible to other road users and very long battery life, used them every day last winter and quite a lot since and only changed the battery once.

  18. AT 21/09/2012 at 10:44 pm #

    Anyone else have experience with Reelight lights?
    I figured they’d be a good alternative to USB lights, especially for touring, and they’ve worked great so far.
    However they weren’t the easiest things to fit, and I’m not sure the set I have are visible enough in traffic as they’re mounted at wheel height.
    You rarely see them in the shops here (first spotted them in Velorution…), but they seem to have released ones that are mounted higher on the frame now.

  19. Owen 23/09/2012 at 9:05 am #

    Totally agree on the Boomer – clearly some huge manufacturing flaw as I and a friend have had the same issue. I can recommend the Knog Gekko, though, pretty decent light and good battery life. And don’t put them in your bag – if you’re going to remove them, all Knogs can be looped around a cable or d-lock when you’re locking your bike.

    Rechargeable AAAs are the way forward, Andreas! Just pop them in when you get home and they’re done by morning.

  20. KristianGregory 23/09/2012 at 8:30 pm #

    Not much discussion about battery size and weight, some of those rechargables look a bit bulky. Can you get some details about this added into the post?

    Another problem with rechargables is that they won’t get you through an all-night ride like the Dunwich Dynamo if ever you fancied such a thing

  21. Richard Elliott 24/09/2012 at 8:15 am #

    My best combination of front and rear lights are the Hope Vision 4 and Fibre Flare. However, since buying the Hope, there have been a glut of “1000 lumen” lights coming over from the far east that seem to do a similar job. The Hope is very expensive.
    I wrote a blog about these two lights over at http://www.thegamingcyclist.blogspot.co.uk/2011/12/hope-vision-4-and-fibre-flare-combo.html

  22. barton 24/09/2012 at 1:12 pm #

    Have to add (after this morning’s full dark commute to work) that you NEED TO MAKE SURE your lights can actually be seen!

    I caught up with a man who had his lights on his helmet (both front and rear) and none on his bike. His rear light was completely blocked by his super tall Ortlieb backpack. I only saw the light as he turned his head left/right. When I passed him, I told him the backpack was blocking his rear light (honestly, very politely, as in, “did you know that….?”). He told me to Eff off. Good Monday morning to you too, sir.

  23. Gareth 25/09/2012 at 10:25 am #

    I can also recommend the American based- Dinotte front LED’s – I had one (a 200L) for about 7 years bought from Condor, and it also fitted my Brompton fold (being short and stubby).
    However the wired connection to the light failed recently.
    Gaz- do you know if Dinotte still have any UK dealers?

    • MOB 02/11/2013 at 4:48 pm #

      No UK dealers but there after sales service is excellent: I once had a problem with a battery, e-mailed them, returned it to the states, and they sent a new 4 cell battery. I have the Dinotte 200L dual: 800 +;1200l + and 140 rear. All are superb and Dinotte customised the 800+ with narrow road lenses for extra punch (and less flood) on the road.

  24. Jamie 28/09/2012 at 7:57 am #

    I use an exposure flare at the rear and a couple of cree5 front lights from eBay. All use chargeable AA or AAA cells which I just charge at home or work depending where the charger is.

    With the cree5 lights I often get cars moving over in traffic as if I’m a police car. Have had all my lights over a year and working fine. Currently trying to decide what to get to mount to the helmet, another flare or something else.

    • Jamie 28/09/2012 at 8:00 am #

      Sorry the flare uses a small chargeable cell.

  25. Claire 01/11/2012 at 1:15 pm #

    I was just wondering how folks were going with those Knog front boomers? – Have read with the interest all the reviews and replies on londoncyclist and was all set to purchase when I came across many, many, awful reviews on Evans Cycles website.

    Taking into account that people are more inclined to leave negative rather than positive feedback on such things, can they all be wrong? Would be interested to hear people’s thoughts?

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