Whether you are using your bike to commute, or you like to give yourself a challenge by riding the trails at night, you will need the best mountain bike lights for you.
Here is my guide on what to look for before you buy the best mountain bike lights for night riding.
Things to consider when buying the best mountain bike lights
You are going to need a light with a battery that will last for your longest night ride, plus a bit more for emergencies. You need to consider that the battery won’t last as long in cold conditions too. Therefore, if you are likely to be pushing your luck, get one with a battery life indicator. If you monitor this, you can manage the power by turning down the brightness when it is less needed. You will want to save the battery for the descent or to make any trail side repairs.
Power and Beam
The power of mountain bike lights is measured in lumen. The more lumen you have, the brighter the light and the more owls you can annoy.
You may be tempted to buy the brightest light you can. This is a good thing, however, there is more to the best mountain bike lights than just power.
In many cases, you may be able to get away with a commuting light when night riding. However, its ability to guide you through the darkness will only stretch so far. When the trail starts to get technical, you are going to find this out quite quickly.
The best mountain bike lights are adjustable in their brightness. This is so you can turn down the power on the climbs to save the battery, then turn it back up again for the descents. Therefore, battery life is very important, especially if you ride mixed cross-country trails.
You can actually have too much power too. When riding in fog or rain, the glare that bounces back will mean you can actually have less visibility. This goes for the rider behind you too. If their lights are super bright, your shadow will block your visibility of the trail.
Realistically though, you will adapt your riding to what you have, and this will depend on your budget and riding style. But, if you follow the information on this page, you will be able to find something that suits you.
Having a nice big bright beam is not very useful, if it is pointing the wrong way. If you are doing a lot of straight riding, or have the light mounted on your helmet, you may want a narrow spot beam. If your rides are technical and slow, a wider beam will be better for you. You can buy lights that can do both, but they are more expensive.
This is probably the first thing you should look in to really. Does it fit on your bike or helmet? If you are attaching it to your handlebars, you need to make sure it will fit securely without wobbling or pointing in the wrong direction. This may be a problem if your bars are curvy or have a thin profile.
If you are considering putting the light on your helmet, you need to make sure it is placed properly. If it isn’t, it could put strain on your neck or pull your helmet over your eyes.
The best mountain bike lights are compatible for mounting on your helmet or handlebars. Both options have their advantages and disadvantages.
Mounting your lights on the bars means it is easy for you to see and use the controls. However, the beam of light is fixed to where your bars are pointing. This casts jumps and drops etc in to shade. This means you can’t always see the obstacle properly.
Helmet mounted mountain bike lights are great, as the light shines at whatever you are looking at. But, features you encounter on the trail can seem flatter than they are, and depth perception is reduced somewhat. The other disadvantage is, is that low tree branches can knock your light.
The ideal solution is to have both handlebar and helmet mounted lights for night riding. Doing this gives you the advantage of having a backup light if one of them fails or the battery runs out.
Controls and protection
The controls of mountain bike lights are also something to consider. This is because some lights can be controlled remotely, and as I said earlier, some have the functionality of adjustable brightness.
You need to make sure that the mountain bike lights you choose are going to survive the weather conditions and potential crashes they are likely to encounter. Therefore, reliability is seriously important, so stick to brands that you know of. This is because they will be more established and will have had plenty of time to develop their products.
Integrated battery or separate
There are lots of manufacturers now that produce mountain bike lights that are an all-in-one unit, meaning the battery is integrated in to the light. This gives you a nice neat package, however, it means they are not always helmet compatible.
Riding at night
If you take these things in to consideration, you will have no problem finding the correct mountain bike lights for you. If you are riding at night, you really need to wear bright clothes too. Not just so cars can see you, but you will be easier to spot when you are upside down in a bush.
Best Mountain Bike Lights
Cateye Volt 800
The Cateye Volt 800 is ideal for on and off-road use. It has five different modes that change it from producing a static beam or various frequencies of flashing. This means it is good for seeing where you are going on the trails, but also attracts attention when you are riding on the road.
- Well built
- Multiple options for flashing etc
- Quite heavy
- Flashing modes reduce battery life
- 5 Modes: Flashing, Hyper Constant, High, Middle, Low
- Runtime: 80hr (200lm), 7hr (800lm), 2hr (800lm), 3.5hr (400lm), 8hr (200lm)
- Recharge time: 5-11 hours
- Helmet mount compatible (mount is available separately)
- Li-ion rechargeable battery
- Cartridge Battery compatible with Volt 700, Volt 400, Volt 300, Volt 50
- Built-in fast recharging circuit
The first thing you notice about this bike light, is its robustness. It feels very well put together and tough. The second thing you notice is its weight. However, it is ideal to see where you are going (which is the point really).
To switch it on, you just have to press the single button on the top. Once it is on, you keep pressing the button to cycle through the different modes. But, if you double click the button, it instantly goes to full brightness. I like this feature, as it means you are never in total darkness when going through its modes.
There are brighter lights on the market, but the Cateye Volt 800 is great for darker roads or trails. When you put it in to the flashing mode, you will notice that it pulses pretty quickly. This is good for road riding at night, as it really attracts attention. You do need to be aware that the flashing mode does drain the battery more quickly. However, you can buy additional batteries and easily swap them.
The Cateye Volt 800 comes with a handlebar mount and a helmet mount is also available. However, the weight of this light may mean you want to keep it on your bars.
It does take 5 to 11 hours to charge this bike light, but it can be charged via a USB connection (perfect for charging up at work).
Verdict: This light is great for the price. It will suit most people’s needs and has a high level of output, which can be adjusted to mange battery life.
|Cateye Volt 800|
Lezyne Macro Drive DUO 700L
The Lezyne Macro Drive is a bit different to usual bike lights. This is because it has both front and real lights built into one unit. Its streamlined look is deceptive, as it has 700 lumens.
- Front and back lights in one unit is a great idea
- Great build quality
- Great power for its size
- Rear light could be a bit more powerful
- Rear light only has one brightness setting
- Front max lumens: 700
- Rear max lumens: 30
- Weight: 93g (without strap mount)
- Recharge time: 4hrs
- Micro-USB rechargeable
- Includes CM helmet mount
A bike light like this needs to be lightweight, as it will primarily be mounted on helmets. The Lezyne Macro Drive Duo 700L is only 93g, therefore it is reasonably comfortable.
Having one unit with a front and rear light is great, but the rear light only has one brightness setting at 30 lumens. It does have a couple of flashing modes though. Therefore, if you are planning to use it riding around town, you may want to use an additional rear light. In fact, I would say definitely get an extra rear light. If you are turning your head a lot, looking for traffic and junctions, the rear light on your helmet may not be visible all the time to drivers behind you.
The front light is excellent though, as whatever you are looking at is illuminated. Which is very useful for nighttime trail riding.
A fantastic idea, but it slightly faulted by the rear light. However, this can be easily remedied with a cheap supplementary rear facing bike mounted light.
|Lezyne Macro Drive DUO 700L|
Hope R8 Vision LED
This light is designed to be the brightest it can be in this price range. It is Hope’s flagship bike light, therefore it is well built and high quality.
- Good battery level at highest setting
- Super bright
- Lots of settings to manage battery life
- Looks good
- Pricy, but you get what you pay for
- Large external battery
- 3000 lumens (2200 measured)
- 6 power levels
- Quick bayonet fitting handlebar mount
- 7800mAh ES Li-Ion battery pack with built in power gauge
- 2 hour burntime on full power
- Eight Cree XP-G2 LED’s
- Integrated thermal throttling prevents overheating
- Custom lens – four spot, two diffused and two elliptical beams
- Weight: Lamp 180g, total system 665g
The hope R8 is regarded as one of the best mountain bike lights you can buy. It is super bright, with 3000 lumens, when you turn it up to its maximum. It has two power settings and six light levels, so it is easy to manage you battery time. The amount of light this light produces, is incredible. Hope are well known for making quality bike components, and that reputation continues with the R8.
Yes the R8 is pricy, but when you see it, you can understand why. It is super bright, well made and ideal for commuting or trail riding in the dark. It is worth paying the extra for this light if you can.
Exposure Diablo MK10
This light is designed to fit on your helmet or on your handlebars. It is small and light, but deceivingly powerful, with 1500 lumens.
- Long battery life
- Take a while to learn how to get the best out if the single button operation.
- 1500 lumens maximum light output
- IPX6 water resistant certification
- Anodised aluminium body construction
- Intelligent thermal management
- Cable free design
- Optimum mode selector
- Smart Port+ technology
- Fuel gauge
- USB and mains rechargeable
- 3 hours full recharge time
- Up to 24 hours battery life
- Weighs 120g
The Exposure MK10 is a ver nice, light weight bike light that packs a punch. The battery can actually last for up to 24 hours, and you can even use it to power other devices. The fact that you can choose whether to mount it on your helmet of handlebars is a great bonus. It comes with the necessary mounts, to allow you to do this.
A light weight, versatile light that is very bright for its size. It is also very well priced.
|Exposure Diablo MK10|