With daylight savings time upon us and the night coming earlier, it’s time to bust out the lights. If your set up is a little dim, or you just want fresh bulbs,our list of commuter bike lights will get you noticed by others and lead you on your way. We pulled together our favorite picks from Lezyne, Bontrager, Blackburn, Knog, Specialized, Lupine, Kryptonite, NiteRider, Light & Motion, Cateye, BINOREAL and Axiom and put them into two categories: Lights to help you be seen by motorists, and lights that help you see where you’re going.
The former are lower powered, smaller, generally less expensive and serve mainly to make you more visible to others on the road. The latter are bright enough to help you see where you’re going, too.
LIGHTS TO BE SEEN
The following lights are designed to attract the attention of motorists and pedestrians. They’re not intended for navigating as an independent light source.
The Minimalist – Lezyne Femto Drive
The Lezyne Femto Drive light system provides enough light to be spotted by motorists and pedestrians alike. 15 lumens up front and 7 lumens behind to be exact. Both the front and rear lights offer five output options including three flash, a pulse and a solid mode. Its machined aluminum body makes room for 180° of visibility and it’s anodized in several color options including silver, orange, red, purple, yellow, blue and black. Two replaceable CR2032 batteries remove charging from the equation but will need replacement after – at best – 60hrs. Bonus: A two-in-one mount makes it easy to strap on a bar or clip to a bag. Individually, the front and back lights cost $15 but when paired are $28.
- Output: 15 lumens Front – 7 lumens Rear
- Runtime: 60hr (Flash & Pulse modes) – 30hr (Solid)
- Weight: 31g (each)
- ON SALE NOW ($7.99 Front & $9.99 Rear at Amazon)
The Minimalist Rechargeables – Bontrager Ion 100 R & Flare R City
(Updated to better model 11/9/17) Bontrager was one of the first to make a big push for daytime visibility, and they have some really interesting tech at the high end. But the meat and potatoes of it are the lights, and they’re bundling their very bright Ion 100 R City (front) and Flare R City (rear) into a $69.99 package. The Ion straps onto your handlebar and shines up to 100 lumens forwards. The 35-lumen Flare 3 straps to your seatpost. Both are water-resistant and detach from their mounts to fit on helmets or backpacks (with optional accessories), and both have daytime and nighttime modes.
- USB rechargeable
- 16h (rear) and 20h (front) max runtimes
- Flare has variable, attention grabbing flash modes
The Quick & Easy – Blackburn Click USB Set
Blackburn’s Click USB light system is a simple setup using the entire light face as the button, just mash it in to cycle through the settings. There’s also a smaller light that acts as a battery indicator. The headlight puts out 60 lumens while the back pushes 20 and they both are rated to IP-65 waterproofing. Further, they both recharge via USB in three hours and have a three tier battery indicator.
- Runtimes: 2hr (High) – 3hr (Flash) Front : 1:30hr (High) – 3hr (Flash) Rear
- Weight 59g
- BUY NOW! ($35 at Performance)
The Mini Rechargeable – Knog Blinder Mini Niner & Dot
Knog offers a number of different lights but for those looking to bring attention to themselves, their Blinder Mini Niner (front) and Blinder Mini Dot (rear) may be the solution. Both lights are rechargeable and have built-in contacts to plug directly into USB ports, and both are $40 each. The Mini Niner uses – you guessed it – nine LEDs to push 20 lumens that can be seen from 800m away. It’s priced at $40 and comes in black and red/black color options. Their Mini Dot is also visible from 800m but does so with a single 11-lumen rear LED. The Mini Dot costs $40 and is available in four colors: black, brass, copper and silver. The flat design comes with one tradeoff, though – no side visibility.
- Runtime: 2:30hr (High) – 3:30hr (Low) – 3:30 (Flash) 11hr (Eco)
- Durability: 100% waterproof
- Weight: 18g
- Light Focus: 90º
- Bar Mount: 22-32mm & aero bars
- BUY THEM NOW ($29 Front & Rear on Amazon)
- Runtime: 2.15hr (High) – 3:30hr (Low) – 4:30hr (Flash) 11hr (Eco)
- Durability: 100% Waterproof
- Weight: 18g
- Light Focus: 20º
- BUY THEM NOW ($29 Front & Rear on Amazon)
The Clean Look – Specialized Stix Sport Combo
The Stix light system from Specialized features independent front and rear units and simplify ownership by plugging directly into USB ports to charge. And the design is clever, leaving the mount attached to your bike – just pop the light unit off and recharge it, then snap it back into place. Very quick, very easy. The front light puts out 95 lumens while the rear has 18. The $55 combo is compatible with 22.2 – 35mm bars and seatposts, but are not compatible with aero components out of the box (aero strap sold separately).
- Headlight runtime: 1.35 – 13.5hr
- Tail light runtime: 2.5 – 23hr
- Six modes each including flashing, mixed-flash, and high & low options
The Even Cleaner Look – Fabric Lumacell
Similar to the Specialized Stix, the Fabric Lumacell simply plugs directly into your computer or wall charger to power up its battery. No cable needed. Then, just plug it into the base, which stays attached to your handlebar or seatpost. The lights are IPX5 waterproof rated, with a proper seal on the mount to keep moisture from contacting the charging port, too.
- 30 lumen front
- 20 lumen rear
- 2/4/8 hour run time on steady modes, 8 hours on flash
- 180º visibility
- $24.99 each
HOW THEY COMPARE:
LIGHTS TO HELP YOU SEE
The following products are designed to provide enough light to navigate by while still making you way more visible to drivers. Although many have reduced side-visibility compared to the “Be Seen” lights above, you’ll get much brighter lights and some advanced features.
The German Exotic – Lupine SL A7
The SL A7 is Lupine’s first attempt at a road-focused headlight, and it’s one to consider. It floods the road with 900 lumens and provides up to 250m of visibility for the rider. You’d think that would blind oncoming traffic, but their dual-aspheric lens focuses the beam to have a flat top. This way riders can direct more light on the road, and still maintain visibility to motorists. It also has an ambient light sensor that adjusts the 12 LEDs to a day-time setting. The included battery is a 6.6 Ah SmartCore unit that’s interchangeable with other Lupine packs and maintains steady output throughout its charge level.
- Output: 900 lumens
- Runtime: 3hr – 16hr day-time setting
- Build: Aluminum
- Weight: 340g
- Mount: 31.8mm bar mount (light) – velcro strap (battery)
- Retail is $435 / €385 / £355
The Newcomer – Kryptonite Alley F-650 & Avenue R-50 COB
Kryptonite has a bundled set for those navigating dark streets, taking their bike security heritage and applying it to rider safety. Their F-650 headlight pumps out up to 650 lumens of clean, white light for up to 26 hours of runtime. Its built-in battery indicator changes from green (100%) to yellow (50-25%) to red (>25%). Similarly, the Avenue R-50 maxes out at 50 lumens and will last up to 11 hours. It too has a battery indicator that changes from green to red at >25%. They both meet FL-1 standards to guarantee output and durability, both have side visibility markers, and both are USB rechargeable.
- Output: 650 (High) – 325 (Medium) – 100 (Low)
- Runtime: 2hr (High) – 4hr (Medium) – 12hr (Low)
- BUY IT NOW ($64.95 on Amazon)
- Output: 50 (High) – 25 (Medium) – 10 (Low)
- Runtime: 2:15hr (High) – 2:15 (Medium) – 5hr (Low)
- BUY IT NOW ($30.95 on Amazon)
The Amazing Bargain – NiteRider Swift 450 & Sabre 80
Niterider is also pushing daytime visibility in a big way, and they’re making a compelling argument for their lights by providing a lot more lumens for just a few more bucks than others’ “be seen” lights. Small, light and on the go, NiteRider’s Swift 450 offers a rechargeable headlight with a 450 lumen output that’s enough for many commuters and its Intellicharge technology allows it to recharge quickly in a pinch. Plus, its illuminated power button gives battery level outputs. All that for $35.
The Sabre 80 retails for $30 and has a rechargeable Li-Po battery. It puts out 80 lumens and offers six modes with runtimes ranging from 1:30 – 10:30hrs. Both have sidelights to provide 180º visibility and draw attention through intersections. And both use built-in rubber straps to secure to the handlebar or seatpost, with plastic tabs offering quick removal from the mount.
- Outputs: 450 (High) – 225 (Med) – 100 (Low)
- Runtime: 1.5hr (High) – 3hr (Med) – 9 hr (Low)
- Charge: 2hr (1amp) – 3:30hr (500mA)
- Weight: 82g
- Weather resistance: IP64
- BUY IT NOW ($34.99 @ NiteRider)
- Output: 80 lumens – unspecified modes
- Runtime: 1:30hr (High) – 3hr (Med) – 4hr (Low)
- Charge: 1:30hr
- Weight: 28g
- Weather resistance: IP64
- BUY IT NOW ($29.99 @ Amazon)
The Attention Getter – Cateye Volt 400 & Kinetic X2
Cateye has been making lights for decades and was among the first to add a blinking feature. Now, they’ve taken that attention grabbing setting and upped the ante with the HyperConstant mode, which blasts a 400 lumen pulse past a 50 lumen constant beam, helping motorists take notice in otherwise well-lit city streets.. Or, opt for the constant 400 lumen output when you’re on darker streets and country roads. Out back, the Kinetic X2 uses motion sensors to turn on automatically, letting you focus on the ride. Its 50-lumen output and auto-burst modes that change the flash pattern when it detects sudden slowing, make sure anyone behind you knows you’re there. Both are USB rechargeable.
Volt 400 specs:
- 400 lumens
- rubber strap bar mount
- low battery indicator
- 2.5hr @ 400lmn / 13.5hr @ 100lmn / 110hr @ flashing
- BUY IT NOW ($40 at Amazon)
Kinetic X2 specs:
- 50 lumens
- Up to 30 hours run time w/ auto shut off
- three modes
- BUY IT NOW ($60 at Amazon)
The Helmet Mounted All-in-One Option – Light & Motion Vis Pro
For those looking for an all-in-one package, Light & Motion has the new Vis Pro. It’s an updated version of their helmet mount Vis 360 all-in-one lighting system but has 5x more output. The Vis Pro shines with 600 lumens, enough to easily navigate home on dark suburban evenings or even a night ride in the woods. Similar to its predecessor, the Vis Pro is rechargeable through a micro USB port and meets FL-1 standards (waterproofing, impact resistance, and run-time).
- Outputs: 600 (High) – 300 (Medium) – 150 (Low)
- Runtime: 2hr (High) – 4hr (Medium) – 8 hr (Low)
- Charging: 6hr
- Weight 140g
- Price $150
- BUY IT NOW ($150 on Amazon)
The Adaptive Light – BINOREAL Radius F1
The BINOREAL Radius F1 sets itself apart from many headlights by using motion sensing technology, adjusting its output to match your speed. It brightens when accelerating and dims when slowing; It even flashes when turning and coming to a stop. An optional Bluetooth remote is available to manually adjust the light without leaving the grips, and a magnetic charging port refuels its lithium-ion battery. The Radius F1 comes in two editions including – 650 lumens for $100, and 450 lumens for $80. The remote is sold separately for $20.
Radius F1 650:
- Output: 650 (High) – 350 (Medium) – 200 (Low)
- Charging: 4hr (5v/2A)
- Weather resistance: IPX7
- Drop resistance: 3.3ft
- Weight: 113g
- Runtime: 2hrs (High)
- Mounting bracket: 25.4 – 31.8mm
- Battery: 3300mAh
Radius F1 450: Matches all of the specs except…
- Output: 450 (High) – 300 (Medium) – 200 (Low)
- Charging: 3hr (5v/2A)
- Battery: 2600mAh
The Affordably Bright One – Axiom Lazer 700 & Pluse 30 Bundle
The Lazer 700 and Pulse 30 from Axiom are Micro-USB rechargeable and offer 700 lumens upfront and up to 30 in the rear. The 700 gets a Cree XM-L ultra bright LED that runs up to 33+ hours on strobe mode. It’s clamp fits bars ranging from 25.4 – 31.8mm with a rubber shim and it installs tool free. The Pulse 30 rear also has a tool free seatpost mount, and both recharge in 5 hours. The headlight only shines forward, but the tail light offers side visibility. Normal retail is $110 for the set.
- Lazer 700 Runtime: 2h (High) – 4:30 (Medium) – 9:30hr (Low)
- Pulse 30 Runtime: 1:45 (High) – 5:45hr (Fast Flash) – 12hr (Slow Flash)
- ON SALE NOW ($70 at Performance)
HOW THEY COMPARE:
|LUPINE||Kryptonite||Niterider||Cateye||Light & Motion||Binoreal||Axiom|
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