The end of Daylight Savings time has put an abrupt halt to the after work trail sessions that many of us northern hemisphere readers had been trying to sneak in during the week. But no need to fret, the early onset of winter darkness just means more opportunity to get in some night rides.

Every mountain biker (and graveller or crosser) should revel in night riding. Old trails become new. Familiar descents become technical again. All the while the climbs somehow seem shorter. Plus, modern trail riding lights are awesome. Light, bright, and (often times) reasonably affordable. Here’s a sampling of what’s out there, divided into two categories – bright, and ridiculous. The key difference is lumen output, but also note that many of the smaller ones are self contained and don’t require you to hold a separate battery pack on the frame or in your hydration pack.

Mountain Bike Lights to See the Trail

While our commuter round-up last week had options for smaller lights for being seen or navigating usually-illuminated city streets, for trail riding we need more power. They don’t always have to be ‘artificial sun’ levels of brightness. Some of our favorites are small, compact, and put out 800-1000 lumens. Lights at this output works well on their own for general trail riding, and even better when doubling up bar and helmet mounted lights. These are all about seeing the path ahead so we can enjoy our favorite woods with a new perspective. They prioritize decently powered forward lighting, often with little concern for side or rear visibility. If you are riding on roads from home to the trailhead, our commuter roundup has some great options for adding rear lighting.

The minuscule Light & Motion Imjin 800

The Imjin 800 is a surprisingly affordable & compact light that was designed just for trail riding. With a tiny CREE LED head with its micro-peened reflector, the focused light output does a good job of illuminating the trail without hotspots and a smooth transition across the entire lit area. The Light & Motion Imjin uses an external battery pack which means it works great as a lightweight option to mount on a helmet, dropping the battery into a hydration pack, or strapped to the handlebar & frame. Its standard battery has 2 cells, but an optional 3 or 6 cell battery can increase run times by 50% or 300% respectively.

  • Output: 800 lumens
  • Runtime: 2hr @800lm – 8hr @200lm
  • Weight: 232g
  • Included mounts: helmet strap-style, handlebar adjustable rubber strap, GoPro adapter
  • BUY IT NOW ($199.99 on JensonUSA)

The light & tiny Lupine Neo 4

We reviewed the previous generation Neo 2 a couple of years ago together with Lupine’s smart tail light. Like the Imjin, the Neo uses a really small light unit paired to a compact battery pack. The newest generation Neo 4 puts out 900lm of light with an aluminum lamp head weighing just 50g. Lupine developed the Neo mostly as a helmet light, but now sells nicely machined optional quick release bar mounts and an adapter to work with any GoPro style mounts.

  • Output: 900 lumens
  • Runtime: 2hr20m @900lm – 4hr50m @530lm – 16hr @35lm
  • Weight: 170g
  • Included mounts: helmet strap-style
  • BUY IT NOW ($265 on Amazon)

The powerful & compact NiteRider Lumina 1100 Boost

This one’s neatly integrated, one-piece aluminum light increased its output this fall at Interbike. NiteRider’s all-in-one Lumina was already a pretty powerful setup, but the latest version bumps it up to 1100 lumens of light in boosted mode to see even further down the trail. There is also a new version with an integrated OLED display showing mode & battery life. But for the money, we’d stick with the standard light without the display, saving $50 and getting the same weight & runtime.

  • Output: 1100 lumens
  • Runtime: 1hr @1100lm – 1.5hr @900lm – 3hr @450lm – 26hr @45lm
  • Weight: 172g
  • Included mounts: quick release handlebar
  • BUY IT NOW ($99.99 on JensonUSA)

The slightly bigger & more powerful Lezyne Super Drive 1500 XXL

Like the Lumina, the new integrated bar-mount lights from Lezyne pack a lot of power into a tidy one-piece aluminum light combining lamp & battery. Again the Super Drive 1500 XXL isn’t the top-end light, leave that to the more expensive (and harder to find) Deca Drive 1500 that uses the same lamp, but adds in the ability to add an additional external battery pack. But that kinda defeats the purpose of the compact setup. We prefer the Super Drive which still overdrives with a whopping 1500 lumens from your bar, with optional helmet & GoPro mounts also available.

  • Output: 1500 lumens
  • Runtime: 1hr40m @1500lm – 2.5hr @1000lm – 3hr45m @600lm – 148hr @15lm
  • Weight: 345g
  • Included mounts: handlebar adjustable rubber strap
  • BUY IT NOW ($119.99 on JensonUSA)

The modular & multi-functional Knog PWR Trail 1000

Knog may have had a rough go at starting and then cancelling their original Kickstarter crowdfunding attempt to fasttrack the modular PWR concept last winter. But they finally made good on the idea and production, with the setup available now. For trail riding you will need to use at least the Trail head unit that puts out 1000 lumens of light, plus a medium 5000mAh battery pack and a PWR Helmet Mount or handlebar Side Mount to attach it. Not available yet, but a 1800lm lamp head and a separate 10,000mAh battery pack are also in the works. Of course the allure of Knog’s PWR is that it will also power a camp lantern, a bluetooth speaker, and recharge your USB powered electronics.

  • Output: 1000 lumens
  • Runtime: 2hr @1000lm – 3hr @550lm – 21hr @80lm
  • Weight: 230g
  • Included mounts: none, all parts are sold individually
  • BUY IT NOW ($45 lighthead + $70 battery + $15 mount on Amazon)

The affordable Serfas E-Lume 900

We haven’t really taken a detailed look at Serfas lights in a few of years, but they’ve been progressing as well. Their latest compact integrated series has gotten similar updates to others on our list, with the E-Lume 900 getting – you guessed it – 900 lumens of light output from the single LED. And at the lowest price of these six it should offer a lot of value in a compact bar mounted package.

  • Output: 900 lumens
  • Runtime: 1.5hr @900lm – 3hr @450lm – 9hr @150lm
  • Weight: 162g
  • Included mounts: handlebar strap
  • BUY IT NOW ($80 on JensonUSA)


Light & Motion Lupine NiteRider Lezyne Knog Serfas
LUMENS 800 900 1100 1500 1000 900
MIN RUNTIME 2h 2.33h 1h 1.67h 2h 1.5h
WEIGHT 232g 170g 172g 345g 230g 162g
BAR MOUNT yes opt yes yes yes yes
HELMET MOUNT yes yes opt no opt no
PRICE $200 $265 $100 $120 $130  $80


Mountain Bike Lights to Illuminate the Entire Forest

Need even more power? Do you want your riding buddies blinded and have their own lights be lost in the overwhelming brilliance of your helmet light? Up above 2,000 lumens (and we do mean way above 2k), we’re in rare air…only a few options push this much light. If you’re into nighttime enduro racing and need to see everything all the way down the trail, or just like being the brightest one in the room, check out these four premium options that obliterate shadows.

Affordable day glow from Gloworm’s XS 2500

glowworm xs 2500 lumen affordable high power mountain bike lights

Kicking things off is a lesser known brand from New Zealand called Gloworm. Their flagship light is the XS 2500, pumping out that many lumens from three LEDs. Each has its own reflector and lens to create a broad but focused light pattern that does a solid job of putting most of the light in front of you, but showing just enough of your surroundings to add peripheral awareness. We’ve used Gloworm’s lights in years past and been happy with the beam pattern & quality. And the light heads come with helmet mounts and low weights… a good combination. Plus, they’re affordable, making them a tough act to beat. Cons: The U.S. website’s little clunky, but their main homepage shows pricing for virtually any country.

  • Output: 2500 lumens
  • Run Time: 2h on max, other settings user programmable
  • 330g system weight
  • 6800 man Li-Ion battery
  • IP66 waterproof
  • Includes remote switch, helmet mount & QR bar mount, spare optics and hex tool
  • Retail is $289.

See it all with Light & Motion’s Seca 2500 Enduro

light and motion sea 2500 enduro 2500 lumen mountain bike lights

At 2500 lumens of light output the Light & Motion Seca 2500 is available in two different versions that share the same 4 LED array lamp head that puts out one of our consistency favorite beam patterns. The Enduro gives you a bigger battery to drop in your hydration pack at a 495g total weight and up to 2.5 hours of burn time on max. The Race version gets a smaller clip-on battery that fits better into a jersey pocket for just 355g total and 1.5hours on high. All that power doesn’t come cheap, but at least it includes handlebar, GoPro & helmet mounts.

  • Output: 2500 lumens
  • Runtime: 2.5hr @2500lm – 5hr @1250lm – 10hr @625lm
  • Weight: 495g
  • Included mounts: helmet, handlebar & GoPro adapter
  • BUY IT NOW ($469.99 on JensonUSA)

 See even more with the NiteRider Pro 3600 Enduro Remote

niterider pro 3600 enduro 3600 lumen mountain bike lights

Bump it up to 3600 lumens with NiteRider’s Pro 3600 and you get a wired, bar-mounted remote control to adjust output on the go. That’s going to help make it easier to extend the runtime since that much max power will drain even the biggest batteries. We recently tested the previous 2800 lumen version, and this dual lamp layout is a design that has been successful from NiteRider for over 20 years, since the days of halogen bulbs & ni-cad batteries. Flip through the settings and save the eye searing 3600 lumens for when you really need it on the technical, fast descents.

  • Output: 3600 lumens
  • Runtime: 1.5hr @3600lm – 3.5hr @1800lm – 6hr @1000lm – 16.5hr @450lm
  • Weight: 839g
  • Included mounts: 31.8-only handlebar
  • BUY IT NOW ($412.49 on JensonUSA)

Ride on the surface of the sun with the Lupine Betty R14

lupine betty r14 5000 lumen mountain bike lights

Yeah, this creature from Lupine is packing 5000 lumens of unbelievable power output from an array of 7 high powered LEDs that you strap to your head. Lupine wasn’t kidding when they said they were making their ‘Worlds Most Powerful Helmet Lamp’ even brighter. While we are happy with the 900 lumen Neo, this thing puts any other light to shame. At this level the price is out of reach of most normal humans, but with that comes a high-tech smart core battery, a Bluetooth remote control (or you can use your smartphone), and fully customizable light output levels. It comes with just a helmet mount though, so if you want a bar or GoPro mount that will still cost you extra. If the price makes you a little queasy, there is a cheaper version with a lighter R7 battery for 1/2 the runtime.

  • Output: 5000 lumens
  • Runtime: 2hr @5000lm – 4hr20m @2650lm – 48hr @270lm – 310hr @30lm
  • Weight: 610g
  • Included mounts: helmet strap
  • BUY IT NOW ($1049 on Amazon)

Burn down the trees with the Cateye Volt 6000

cateye volt 6000 lumen is the worlds brightest mountain bike light

Just when you thought they couldn’t get any more powerful… Cateye is no stranger to high intensity lights. They were the first to bring HID to the trails with their insane-for-the-time Stadium headlight back in the late 90’s if we remember correctly, which used Xenon bulbs to cast a cool blue-white light over the entire trail system. Fast forward two decades and they again lead the output race with the Volt 6000, a 6000-lumen headlight that’s small enough to fit on your helmet. And it’s $250 less than the Lupine and 60g lighter.

  • Output: 6000 lumens
  • 14.4 volt 6800 man Li-Ion battery
  • Runtime: 1hr @6000lm – 2hr @4000lm – 4hr @2000lm – 12hr @500lm
  • Weight: 550g
  • Included mounts: handlebar and helmet
  • BUY IT NOW ($800 on Amazon)


Gloworm Light & Motion NiteRider Lupine Cateye
LUMENS 2500 2500 3600 5000 6000
MIN RUNTIME 2h 2.5h 1.5h 2h 1.5h
WEIGHT 330g 495g 839g 610g 550g
BAR MOUNT yes yes yes optional yes
HELMET MOUNT yes yes optional yes yes
PRICE $289 $470 $413 $1,049 $800


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    • Wondering this myself. I’ve been really happy with my cygolite gear, as well as their customer service when stuff wasn’t working so well.

  1. No amazon light like the SolarStorm or the like. these prices are insane. $100 for a 1000 lumen light is not a bargain. I would love to see a BR test of the lights from eBay or something. so people can see badly they are getting hosed over by these companies.

  2. “Hosed”??
    Your 1000 lumen $ 29 ebay lights are closer to 300 lumens & the battery capacities are over-rated by 10X.

    The question you have to ask yourself is are you willing to risk a light failure with a Chinese bargain light & find yourself in the dark in a rock garden?

    $ 100 doesn’t seem too expensive does it?

    • Agreed….from having a number of friends try cheap Amazon lights they’re truly not worth the cost. Unrefined reflectors mean you look at the nighttime world through a slender lance of light while poor batteries and electrical controls left a number of friends unexpectedly in the dark while gravel and mountain riding.

    • there are lots of people that have had success with them and honestly buy2 if you are worried about failure. and after just doing a night time race with people who had the 800-1200 lumen name brand lights, the cheap china lights are about twice as bright. so unless everyone is way over stating their lights output you assessment is just not true. as for battery life, my lights made it the full 2 hours of racing with juice to go so i could not ask for more.

      I just want to see a test between the china lights and a name brand. if they are as bad as you claim it should be a slam dunk for the name brand right?

        • I would be interested in this as well. I did the Amazon light 2 years ago and found it excellent for road bike use in pitch black. I ended up ordering a Lights and Motion Urban 500 with the USA cycling discount and got rid of the battery pack which I hated finding a place for on my bars. I’m finding the beam on the urban isn’t very good for night singletrack and have a hard time dropping the coin for a Taz light from L&M would be interested in seeing the actual light output of these things though. I know there is some inflation but if you can still get a decently bright light for 30 bucks thats a good deal.

  3. I own numerous brand-name lights including a NiteRider Lumina 800, Cygolite Dash 450, Cateye Volt 300, Knog Boomer and Blinder. I also bought a cheap made-in-China light with the separate battery pack. I tend to use the brand-name ones because I prefer the smaller form. However, doing an indoor test, the cheap Chinese light is the brightest. As for the narrow beam on those, I remedied that by buying an additional diffusing lense for $4 and now the beam is broad. As for battery life, I can’t say for certain because I use my lights at the tail end of some evening rides so I might have them on for about an hour — not really pushing the limits of the battery life, and then I recharge them fully once I’m home. But none have died on me during a ride.

  4. I’ve had no problem with products bought on eBay or Amazon, but I can understand the suspicion coming from a forum who routinely break tools, bikes and everything else they get their hands on.

  5. I’m with Bob. I started night riding with a $90 Magicshine. Then when I went to buy a second one and stumbled across the same thing on Amazon for $20. That was followed by the $14.00 SolarStorm that now sits on my helmet. My night rides are never longer than an 1.5 hrs and don’t take me far from civilization, so I’m not worried about failure. I carry my Black Diamond headlamp in my pack if I get blacked out. My $14 SolarStorm on full blast is plenty bright for me as a helmet mounted spot and my Magicshine clone does a solid job on the bar as a shorter range flood. And when the inevitable happens and they crap out, I’ll drop a whole ‘nother $14 and get a whole new set. If I burn through one set a season, it’ll take me 7 years until I’ve invested enough to match the cost of that Niterider.

    Normally I try to do my best to support local businesses and products made in the USA. But for the 1hr a week during the winter time that I need them, I can’t stomach spending anywhere near those prices for the “real” lights. I could upgrade to 12X for those prices and benefit from it year round.

    • A quick Google search answers your question: Amazon Associates is one of the first online affiliate marketing programs and was launched in 1996. … When website owners and bloggers who are Associates create links and customers click through those links and buy products from Amazon, they earn referral fees.

      • I was being a bit snarky because it’s kind of a bummer that a site focused on the cycling industry would actively do something to not support local bike shops. That’s really interesting though, and I didn’t know that.

  6. The Lumens battle is quite ridiculous at this point. I spent over a decade as a scofflaw mtb’r in Marin county. @ about 500+ lumens rangers could pick you off from miles away. The reality is a small 2-300 lumen bar light and slightly higher lumen flood from your helmet (some of my friends liked visa versa) you have ample coverage to ride super technical trail at high speed. And you don’t burn your friend’s retnas when you happy to turn to say something to them. I have a 1400 lumen seca and I never really used it because it was, even on its dimmest setting, too bright to risk getting busted. Point being spending $1000 o0 5000 lumens is quite overboard. If you are looking for lights by nice ones that won’t fail, buy 2, 1 for you bar 1 for helmet, and buy them smaller so they are lighter and not 400x overkill. my 2 cents anyway.

    • Maybe someday night vision gear will get cheap and good enough, especially in field of view and depth perception, to trail ride at night without illumination.

  7. A vote here for Gloworm lights. I’ve been using them about 4 years now. XS featured above is truly an outstanding light. I have friends who use it as a helmet because the weight is very light. I use the X2 1500 lumen light for a helmet light combined with XS on the bar. It’s better than riding in the day light 🙂 A new light, called the Alpha is available in a week or so. 1200 lumens and $139 retail.

  8. MTBR has the most comprehensive comparisons that I have found, including beam pattern test shots and proper measurements with an integrating sphere, and charts of lumens per $ and lumens per gram. They used to include testing of some of the cheap Chinese lights, but don’t seem to anymore.
    Last I looked in detail was some years ago, the advertised lumen ratings of the cheap lights were vastly overstated, with “1200 lumen” lights being tested at 800. However, in the measured lumens per $ they still came out well ahead of most of the brand-name lights. Many of the ‘brand name’ lights were also overstating their actual output, but a quick glance at the 2017 charts seems to suggest they have cleaned up their act.

    FWIW, Even though the outputs of the cheap lights are over-stated, when $50 buys you both a 1000 lumen helmet light (actual output about 700) and a 1600 lumen bar light (actual output about 1000) then that’s more than enough for anything but warp speed straight, open trails. In my experience, in actual use I only run the lights on high for maybe 30% of the ride time, so battery life is enough for a 2 hour night ride.

  9. Niterider has all their lights 25% off right now and they should be available at one of your local bike shops. Thanks for the Amazon/Jenson advert, not really.

  10. “…a lightweight option to mount on a helmet, dropping the battery into a hydration pack, or strapped to the handlebar & frame…”. In the event of a crash, its not a good idea to tether your noggin to the handlebar or frame! The Imjin 800 manual shows the battery mounted either on the helmet itself or to your jersey or hydration pack.

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