Investing in a set of decent bike lights is a must if you want to cycle after dark – it’s not just for your safety, it’s the law in the UK. There are plenty of bike lights to choose from but knowing which ones will last, have great features and ultimately do what you need it to do, can be time consuming and confusing. However, our helpful bike experts from our Edinburgh Canonmills, Bruntsfield and Newcastle stores as well as our head office have recommended the best bike lights around!
Cateye Volt 800
“The CatEye Volt800 is one of my favourite lights, and my personal primary light. You can get 800 lumen lights for less money, but none that are as well put together and thought-out as this one. In my opinion, it’s the best value-for-money front light you can get at this brightness. It’s more than bright enough for riding through even the roughest of terrain on the darkest of nights. Plus, it has a smart beam profile that gives a very wide field of illumination. This is very confidence inspiring when you are riding in total darkness! The battery life is also double that of many competitors. But there are three things that really make it stand out for me:
– It has a totally solid build. Unlike other more fragile designs out there, you can tell just by holding it in your hands that it’s built to last. Mine has taken years of abuse without any signs of giving in. And I mean proper abuse.
– It has a removable battery. This is a great feature, that allows you to buy and carry secondary batteries for long adventures, or simply to replace the original battery when it eventually wears out. It means I can also swap batteries between it and my CatEye Volt 400 light (as well as other models in the CatEye range)
– It has interchangeable mounts. It comes with a bar mount, but you can also choose to run it with, say, a helmet mount, or a fork mount.
The main thing though, is the quality of the light. It’s well-made, and made to last. If you are looking for a front & rear helmet light of similar quality, consider the Cateye Volt400 Duplex.”
Recommended by Euan Macdonald, Edinburgh Canonmills
Moon Vortex & Vortex Pro
“If you are looking for a seriously bright front light, the Moon Vortex & the Vortex Pro both offer an incredible array of features for the price. The 600 lumen Vortex comfortably offers enough light output to ride through the darkest of streets or trails, while the Vortex Pro ups this to 900 lumens for a wider and deeper field of view. Of particular importance amongst the array of features both lights offer are:
– Bar mount and helmet mount included in the price, so you can choose where to fit it.
– Removable battery, so you can carry a spare to double your run time, or simple replace the battery when you eventually wear it out.
– A removable wired on-off/mode selector remote.
There are few lights that offer this number of useful features at the respective price points of the Vortex and Vortex Pro. Add to this decent build quality, and a huge selection of flashing and constant modes, and these lights have about everything you could ever need or want.”
Recommended by Euan Macdonald, Edinburgh Canonmills
Exposure Sirrus MK7 & Trace MK2 Reakt
“825 lumens of pure brilliance! That’s exactly what you get with the Exposure Sirius MK7 and TraceR ReAKT light set. It’s an unfortunate truth but as riders we can’t control how drivers behave and react on the road. However, one of the things we can control is how visible we are and with this light set from Exposure, you’ll be very hard to miss. The front light (Sirius MK7) throws out 750 lumens of road illuminating light. That’s more than enough to ride at speed on the darkest of unlit roads. It comes with 6 different burn times and if you’re worried about dazzling other road users, the output can be lowered at the press of a button. With the inclusion of a day flash mode you know you’re going to be seen, safe and ready for whatever the British roads and weather have to throw at you.
As good as the front light is, I think the back one (TraceR ReAKT) is even better! It has the same 6 burn times to adapt to different situations that you and your bike find yourself in but its the inclusion of an accelerometer and an ambient light sensor that really set this light apart from the competition. The inclusion of these features mean that when you brake the light flares up indicating to other road users you’re slowing down and if like me, your daily ride takes you from bike paths to city roads, the ambient light sensor will increase the output when you cycle in high light areas. This means you will always stand out.
All this tech and more is crammed into two machined aluminium shells and weighs in at less than 130g for the pair. If you want what’s best for yourself and your bike, I would strongly recommend a set of Exposure lights.“
Recommended by Kris Robson, Edinburgh Canonmills
Exposure Joystick MK13 Carbon [No Longer In-Stock]
“Having used CatEye and Lezyne lights for years, the Exposure Joystick represents a significant level-up in terms of a) price and b) quality. This light will probably outlast my bike, being as it is a sturdy, sturdy thing (yet just 93g) which could probably double as an effective weapon should your commute involve hand-to-hand combat. Thankfully, mine does not, but the Joystick is a 1,000 lumen behemoth that can be handlebar or helmet mounted and should be more than a match for dark lanes. Switching between modes is a breeze and it comes packaged with a proper charger that makes you go from 0-100% charge rapid style. Handily, run times are printed directly onto the machined housing and the Fuel Gauge shows you just how much power you have left so there’s no guesswork or risk of being stranded light-less with just a D-lock to defend yourself with.”
Recommended by Albie Clark, Edinburgh Canonmills
Lezyne Strip Drive Rear LED [No Longer In-Stock]
“After owning a Knog Blinder for (nearly) 5 years, the inevitable has happened. Gone. Vanished. Nowhere to be found. It served me well both on the bike and the pushchair (dark night dog walks with children in tow) with its slim design and ease of installation.
Time for a new purchase and this is it: The Lezyne Strip Drive. 150 Lumens of insane illumination for just over £30. Reasonably short charge time and multiple flashing functions for every occasion. I’m normally as brightly lit as a city centre Christmas tree so this will do very nicely indeed.”
Recommended by Graeme Tatters, Newcastle
Lezyne KTV Pro Drive 75 Rear Light
“The KTV Drive pro is a little belter of a rear light boasting 5 modes, up to 7 hours of battery life in day flash mode while blasting out 75 lumens. A more modest but still conspicuous 25 Lumens mode still stretches out to 6 hours on a full charge and will no doubt be the more popular choice for anything but daytime riding. The composite construction is a nod to Lezyne’s renowned build quality with a snug weatherproof seal disguising the USB charge stick, with a chunky ladder style rubber band to unsure the light doesn’t squirm around the seatpost. Other nice features include a mode memory to recall your last choice of mode, battery life indictor, extended lens giving 180deg lens visibility and an reworked mount to fit the most aero of seatposts. Not bad for under £25.”
Recommended by Simon Telford, Newcastle
Lezyne KTV Drive front LED light
“Belting out up to 200 lumens for up to four in daytime flash mode, the Lezyne KTV Drive front light holds it’s own against offerings with twice it’s price tag. Granted daytime flash is the most economical mode but with 5 modes to chose from (and good for up to 12 hours of ride time at 15 lumens) this is a firm staff favourite. The inbuilt mode memory will revert to the same mode last selected before powering down. The build quality is in keeping with Lezyne’s stellar reputation, a tough composite shell with the reliable rubber ladder strap to hold the light securely in place. Charging is via the integrated USB charge stick with 3 hrs sufficient for a full tank. The KYV drive even remembers the mode you last used it in – nice touch. A quality piece of kit and at 50g it’s not adding any unnecessary ballast.”
Recommended by Simon Telford, Newcastle
Lezyne Lite Drive 800XL Loaded Front Light with Remote
“As expected from Lezyne the build quality of this light is fantastic. An alloy housing and two extra bright LEDs pump out an extremely healthy 800 lumens on the maximum Overdrive setting. The 800XL features 8 settings ranging from a 15 lumen femto mode for maximum runtime (of around 76 hours) to the eye burning 800 lumen setting for fast descents on un-lit roads or tracks (giving around 1 hour 20 minutes of continuous use). The settings also include a 800 lumen flashing daylight running mode which should run for around 8 ¾ hours which really makes you stand out in traffic even in low late afternoon sunlight. The light is fitted using Lezynes tried and tested rubber mounting strap for easy on and off. This model includes the handy remote switch that will mount either beside your shifters or remote dropper lever to effortlessly change the riding modes without moving your hands from their natural riding position. The 800XL with the switch commands a £13.00 premium over the standard 800 XL which must be worth it for the added convenience.”
Recommended by Keith Lippett, Newcastle
Exposure Joystick MK13 and Exposure Tracer
“The nights are fair drawing in and I have felt compelled to blow the dust off my trusted lights. My old Lezyne Super Drive XL owes me nothing and has the battle scars to prove it. This time out I selected the Exposure Joystick Mk13 front & and Exposure Tracer rear.
Out of the the box you immediately feel the quality of the product. British made and really well made at that. The Joystick burns twice as bright as my old 500 lumen Lezyne and provides more than enough punch for my street lightless commute. 1.5hr advertised burn time (untested) at full power equals my old set. Twice the power, same burn time, sharp recharge time (3hrs); the tech has moved on. The rear light, Tracer, is compact, light and super bright.
Both lights mount easily and flexibly. The Joystick comes with a hand bar and helmet mount (which can also be used for the rear light). All round, so far, very impressive. The future is bright!
Pros – Really well built, Super bright and Good burn time.
Cons – The bracket is untested on the worst of our potholed roads. My daughter doesn’t like pedalling behind me as the rear light is pretty bright!”
Recommended by Alan Nestor, head office
Exposure Diablo MK10 SYNC Front Light
“The Exposure Diabl0 MK10 is super bright with a max output of 1750 lumens, which makes it a BEAST on the trail. It’s perfect for helmet mounting and with its Tap function, it allows you to change the modes with ease. But it gets even better – the Smart technology gives the Diablo SYNC the ease to achieve efficient and effortless mode changes from a wireless remote! This leaves you free to focus on riding and not hit any trees – but I can’t guarantee that! The run time on the light is really impressive with a max of 24 hours depending on the mode you are using. Its New Fast Charging circuit reduces charge times by up to 30%, now taking just 3 hours to fully charge from flat, so for me this is the perfect light to keep me riding through the long winter nights.”
Recommended by Simon Cortis, Edinburgh Bruntsfield
So there you have it! Our round-up of the best bike lights for road and off-road cycling. Let us know what you’ve found to be the best bike lights in the comments below.