Mountain Bike Lights for Night Riding: Choosing the best ones
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 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.
Most 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.
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.
Let me know your night riding experiences are. And if you have any additional tips, leave them in the comments section below.