It doesn’t matter whether you ride a mountain bike for fitness, you hop on for your daily commute, or you simply enjoy going off on an adventure on two wheels. At some point you are likely going to find yourself in a situation where you need to ride in the dark. Perhaps you have a schedule that is fairly busy, so riding at night is your only option. Maybe you just want to spend extra time on the trail and night happens to get in the way. No matter why you end up in a situation where you’re cycling after dark, it’s important to have the assistance of a fantastic mountain bike light.
Of course, having a mountain bike light is integral for being able to see well in the dark. But it is also crucial to have a light in order to ensure that other people on the road see you. Having a fantastic mountain bike light will allow you to drive after dark and do so in a safe manner. If you’re ready to invest in a new mountain bike light, we think the ten below will meet your needs.
|Name||Bicycle Light||Weight||Power Supply||Maximum Lumens|
|Cycle Torch Shark 500||Cycle Torch Shark 500||9.6 Ounces||1 Lithium Ion Battery||500 Lumens|
|Cygolite Metro Pro 1100||Cygolite Metro Pro 1100||7 Ounces||1 Lithium Ion Battery||1100 Lumens|
|NiteRider Lumina 1100||NiteRider Lumina 1100||6.07 Ounces||1 Lithium Ion Battery||1100 Lumens|
|Bright Eyes 1200 Headlight||Bright Eyes 1200 Headlight||1.2 Pounds||4 Lithium Ion Batteries||1200 Lumens|
|Light and Motion Urban 500||Light and Motion Urban 500||7.4 Ounces||1 Lithium Ion Battery||500 Lumens|
|Garmin Varia RTL510 Radarcs||Garmin Varia RTL510 Radarcs||8.3 Ounces||1 Lithium Polymer Battery||65 Lumens|
|Cygolite Metro 700 & Hotshot 100 Combo||Cygolite Metro 700 & Hotshot 100 Combo||8.8 Ounces||1 Lithium Ion Battery||700 Lumens|
|NiteRider 5084 Solas 100||NiteRider 5084 Solas 100||4.8 Ounces||1 Lithium Polymer Battery||100 Lumens|
|Light and Motion Trail 1000 Ranger||Light and Motion Trail 1000 Ranger||8 Ounces||1 Lithium Ion Battery||1000 Lumens|
|Cygolite Metro 500||Cygolite Metro 500||7.2 Ounces||1 Lithium Ion Battery||500 Lumens|
Table of Contents
- 1 Cycle Torch Shark 500
- 2 Cygolite Metro Pro 1100
- 3 NiteRider Lumina 1100
- 4 Bright Eyes 1200 Headlight
- 5 Light and Motion Urban 500
- 6 Garmin Varia RTL510 Radar
- 7 Cygolite Metro 700 & Hotshot 100 Combo
- 8 NiteRider 5084 Solas 100
- 9 Light and Motion Trail 1000 Ranger
- 10 Cygolite Metro 500
- 11 Deciding Which Mountain Bike Light is Right for You
- 12 Considering Light Performance
- 13 Thinking About Your Budget
- 14 The Budget Bike Light
- 15 The Inexpensive Bike Light
- 16 The Middle of the Road Light
- 17 The Expensive Bike Lights
- 18 Consider the Length of Your Rides
- 19 Be Aware of Mounting Options
- 20 Wrapping Up
Cycle Torch Shark 500
The first mountain bike light on our list is the Cycle Torch Shark 500. This is a bit of a simple light that includes a standard LED light with circular optics. All of that is inside of a typical plastic shell. The design isn’t anything to write home about but that’s probably not what you care about when it comes to a mountain bike light anyway. The reason this is called the shark is because there is a small shield on the front of the light that shade’s the beam from below and above. It looks quite a bit like a shark’s head might look.
Unlike some other lights that come with low-quality battery packs, the Shark doesn’t fit that criteria. Instead, you get a 2200 mAh 18650 battery to power your light. The battery charges through a micro USB port that is found on the back of the light. Testing done on the battery shows that it keeps up to its promises in terms of length but sometimes the amount of light drops after some time in use.
This light doesn’t come alone. It brings long a free taillight, as well. It’s not very bright, but it’s a nice extra for someone who needs a back light. The light is turned on by the press of a button and has three modes to use. All in all, this is an inexpensive light for your mountain bike that can do all the basics you need and more. It would make a nice option for a value light, although the taillight leaves something to be desired.
- Provides three different brightness levels for riding in any environment
- Includes a free LED taillight for a full set
- Quick installation with no need for tools
- 100% money back guarantee
- Opaque shield causes some loss of light
- Mount not as secure as some other light mounts
Cygolite Metro Pro 1100
If you’re looking for a light and small light for your mountain bike, the Metro Pro 1100 is a fantastic option. It’s especially well-suited for anyone who commutes on their bike but occasionally needs a powerful light beam to get home or elsewhere. The beam from this light is massive and is going to light the way for you no matter how dark it is outside. It’s simple to see the entirety of the road even when on descents so there’s no need to slow down.
Using the light is easy with all operations being made using a raised button on top of the light. You can easily swap between high, medium, and low constant beams, pulse, flashing modes, power walking mode, and zoom. Pressing the button twice will take you to boost mode where you get the most bang for your buck in terms of light. However, you want to use this mode sparingly since it will seriously kill your battery if you keep it going. Switch into it only when it’s really needed and then swap back to a low or medium mode to save power.
This is an extremely good light with the power to get you where you’re going with plenty of illumination. It also has other great settings that make it stand apart from similar lights of the same size. You get a low battery indicator, water resistant design, side illumination ports, and nine different output modes for any situation you find yourself in. The reviews for this light are largely positive and the price is right for nearly anyone. This light comes highly recommended for your mountain bike, no matter what kind of cycling you’re doing.
- Higher modes are rather powerful
- Reasonable price for feature set
- Offers a total of nine different lighting modes
- Designed, engineered, and assembled in the USA
- Run time is low at high power
- Charging cover may be easy to lose
NiteRider Lumina 1100
Another mountain bike light that packs the lumens is the NiteRider Lumina 1100. As you can probably guess by the name, this light offers up to 1100 lumen. It does that in a compact package for the best of both worlds. Those who want a little more tech with their light are likely going to enjoy what this little light has to offer. While it contains only a single LED light, it offers a long beam that gives you a great look at detail or debris from far away.
There are a total of five modes with this bicycle light which means you have an option for any situation you find yourself in. Whether you are going fast and far or short and slow, you’ll find yourself happy with what the Lumina provides for you. While there is an OLED version of this light, the non-OLED does the job for those who don’t care for the additional top panel. It’s really a matter of taste which option is right for you.
This light is durable and tough while being practical in terms of size. If you go with the OLED, the panel is going to be useful for provided information about what mode you are in and what your battery life looks like. This light is water resistant and includes five light levels as well as four for daytime use. It’s not terribly expensive, especially considering the tech heavy features you can choose to incorporate, if you like. The light comes with the light, USB charging cable, a lithium ion battery, and a mount for your handlebars.
- Provides five light levels and four daytime flash modes
- Offers a stunning 1100 lumens of light
- Various mounting options available
- Water resistant for use in any environment
- Boost mode can be inefficient
- Mount may not be ideal for every cycler
Bright Eyes 1200 Headlight
The Bright Eyes 1200 is an interesting little device and is best used by those who enjoy hiking and cycling both. The reason for that is because the light isn’t made to solely be used on a mountain bike. It can also be used as a bright portable flashlight when walking trails in the dark. Swapping from the headlight into the flashlight takes next to no time and you can enjoy the 1200 lumens of power for any adventures you set off on.
That might seem like enough versatility, but this light can also be turned into an SOS torch or an emergency light if you’re in a vehicle that breaks down. This is partially things to the ability to change the lenses out from white to red. This is helpful if you’re having vehicle issues and need help or if you’re changing a tire on the side of the road. Everyone runs into trouble occasionally and this simply makes it easier to get out of a sticky spot.
While you might expect all these features to come at a huge price, that isn’t the case with the Bright Eyes 1200. In fact, this light is one of the least expensive on our list. Not everyone will love this light, as it can be a bit quirky since it’s not a singular bike light. However, for those who it works for, this light is sure to last with a lifetime guarantee. It’s a fantastic choice whether you are biking, hiking, camping, running or otherwise in need of traversing streets or trails after the sun goes down.
- 1200 lumens LED technology is higher than most lights
- Comes with a lifetime guarantee on light
- Interchangeable lenses may be useful in emergency
- SOS mode can get the attention of those around you
- Mounting can be tricky due to not being a specific bike light
- Fixed, wide light pattern may not impress everyone
Light and Motion Urban 500
Next up is the Light and Motion Urban 500. This light is best as a commuter light as it features both excellent side lighting and an above-average beam pattern. It comes with a secure mounting strap that is simple to attach to your handlebar, no matter what size your bike its. The price is right as well with a budget friendly option that any cyclist will be able to pick up with ease.
Despite the cost, this offering has water resistance for extra convenience. It weighs very little and comes with an optional helmet mount for those who prefer that. It also comes with a USB charger for easy battery charging. When it comes to mounting, no bicycle should have an issue thanks for the strap and hook setup option. After the light is set up and ready to go, it can swivel a full 360 degrees. There is a button on top that allows you to swap between low, medium, high, and flash settings.
Those who appreciate side lights will enjoy the Urban 500 since the lights help illuminate anything near the bars. There is also a battery indicator, so you can see at a glance if you need to recharge. It turns green for full battery, orange for half-empty, and red for low. If the battery is about to give up the ghost, it will stay red but begin to flash as well. It’s a nice little night with 500 lumens output, low weight, and no extra attachments to get in the way. It seems it would compete well with other lights in this budget level.
- Both helmet and bar mounts are available
- Side lights offer safety while commuting
- Beam pattern and light output are excellent
- Four light modes for different circumstances
- Yellow side lights cannot be turned off
- Battery charge may be lackluster for some riders
Garmin Varia RTL510 Radar
In what is likely a surprise for nobody, the next light on the list is by Garmin. This RTL510 is a little different from the other lights we’ve looked at. This one is a radar taillight rather than being a front-facing light. It’s seat post mounted and offers both audible and visible alerts when a vehicle is approaching from behind. In addition, the taillight can be seen nearly a mile away during daylight and will sync with Garmin cycling head units for extra features to enjoy.
Everyone who has spent time on the road on a bike knows that sometimes you miss noises at times. The wind might make it impossible to hear a car pulling up near you or something else might catch your attention for a minute. This light and radar are here to offer you security and safety even when you get distracted while cycling. The alerts come through your Garmin device or a head unit that can come with the radar.
When it begins to get work, the light is reasonable, but it is more suited to daylight cycling. As far as the battery goes, you can expect about six hours charge while in night flash or solid and 15 hours if you’re in day flash. The Varia is great for what it’s made for but it’s not perfect for off-road situations. Anyone who spends most of their cycling time on the road won’t find that a problem.
- Gives audible and visible alerts when vehicles are approaching
- Up to 15 hours battery in flashing mode or six hours in solid or night flash mode
- Light device with a small mount so you won’t bump against it
- Extremely bright light keeps you feeling safe
- Price is more expensive than some options
Some vehicles will not always be detected
Cygolite Metro 700 & Hotshot 100 Combo
The Cygolite Metro 700 provides up to 700 lumens to light up the darkness in front of you with no trouble. It has an exceptional lens that is smooth and long range. It’s also capable of lighting up the width of the road so you know what’s going on around you at all times. In addition to that, there is a daytime mode that helps you stand out and be seen by other vehicles in the road, no matter where you ride. This light has six different modes including flashing, pulsing, and steady options.
In addition to the main light, this comes with a free 100 lumen taillight to place on the back end of your ride. This ensures you have great lighting and are easily seen by others on the road with you. The main light itself is water resistant and quite lightweight so it won’t be a burden while you ride, even if you’re going for speed. Each light has a rechargeable battery with the combo set lasting up to 115 hours and the taillight lasting nearly 300 hours when alone.
This light comes with the headlight, along with a mini USB charging cable, and a handlebar mount that requires no tools to install. It is water resistant and has a special night mode that alerts motorists that you are nearby as you ride along. The light is easy to use and comes in at a reasonable price that most cyclists can easily budget for.
- Works with slide on or helmet mount for versatility
- Excellent price for the features on offer
- Easy to use even for beginners
- Easily rechargeable by micro USB
- Mount can be frustrating to install and use
- Smaller bike light may require purchase of mounting system
NiteRider 5084 Solas 100
Just like similar lights in the range, the bracket for the Solas 100 is a thick rubber strap that will fit any size of seat post. There is a bracket for the light that can be adjusted easily without the need for any tools. Surprisingly, the angled section includes a shake proof nut, which is not typical for a light of this price. Once you have everything hooked up, you don’t have to worry that anything will bounce off or come apart.
The light itself is a transparent red so the LEDs can be seen from 180 degrees. The plastic of the light is IP64 which means that it is safe from dust and any water splashing up and reaching it. You’ll find a charging port on the bottom. The power button is on top and is easy to miss so you may need to tap it a couple of times to hit it on occasion.
This light has a warranty for life on the mechanicals, which is something that you won’t see from the alternatives. There’s also a two-year warranty on the LEDs and one year on the battery. However, you won’t be seeing a memory mode, which some will probably be turned off by. However, the default setting is also the one most will use on a regular basis, so that helps the situation a bit. There is a battery indicator and it uses five flashes to show the level. It’s blue for full battery and flips to red at around 30% battery so you have time to get somewhere and get recharged.
- Easy to understand low battery indicator
- Strap mounting is simple and straightforward
- Offers two day modes and two night modes
- Includes group ride mode for visibility without distraction
- Battery life shorter than some options
- Not the optimal light when its wet outside
Light and Motion Trail 1000 Ranger
If you are looking for a powerful light that is compact and full-featured, you may want to consider the Trail 1000 Ranger by Light and Motion. It’s solid-bodied but weighs very light and has a maximum lumen setting of 1000. Beyond that, operating the light is easy with a double tap offering you access to four different beam settings. On high, you can expect over an hour or battery time, but if you move lower, you can easily get a few hours of riding out of the battery.
The mount is made of plastic with a rubber strap and introduces numerous holes, so it will fit any helmet or bar size. It is a bit tighter than some lights but should hold onto your light well. On top of that, it comes with a GoPro mount so those of you who enjoy taking some video while you ride will be ready to go when purchasing this light.
The light features waterproofing and promises to be waterproof at up to a meter in all conditions, although how long it remains waterproof is unknown. All in all, this light is great for visibility both during the night and in the day. It also features quick charging of only two and a half hours to full. Many recommend it as a back up bar light for those who mountain bike after dark. It’s a compact and light design but it has a secure cover over the charge port to avoid water and seems quite durable.
- Waterproof design and submersible up to one meter
- Side lighting for safety while cycling on-road
- 1000 lumen output high enough for almost anyone
- Six different light modes available
- Mount may move when on rough terrain
- USB port cover is finicky and easily lost
Cygolite Metro 500
If you’re looking for a bargain, the Metro 500 is a light that you should have on your short list. Considering the price, it has extremely bright lights and you’re unlikely to find better at the same price point. The lights are a nice size and feature a steady-flash pattern that is useful for night riding on city streets. For the daytime, a flash mode is available for constant visibility from the cars and trucks nearby you. The metro features up to 500 lumens, which is more than enough for moderate off-roading cycling.
There are a total of six light modes with this one from high to medium, low, steady pulse, day lighting, and walking. It’s water resistant and has a durable design that might be surprising for the budget price. The construction is fairly solid and starting to use the light is easy, even for someone who is new to installing one. It’s also USB rechargeable for convenience. However, the mount can be frustrating in terms of sliding and coming loose so that’s something you will need to watch out for.
All in all, you aren’t going to find a better light for the price. It may not have all the features of the more expensive models, but it does what it needs to do. If you are watching your budget, this is a reasonable light to pop on your mountain bike for commuting, off-roading, or whatever else you plan to get up to.
- Features six different lighting modes for any situation
- Custom cycling optics for maximized beam throw and angle
- Water resistant design for any environment
- Side illumination for visibility to those around you
- Mount system can be frustrating to deal with
Deciding Which Mountain Bike Light is Right for You
The light you need on your bike is going to depend on what sort of riding you usually get up to. Someone who spends most of their time on trails is going to have different needs than someone who is mostly commuting. In the latter case, you want visibility to be safe around other pedestrians and motorists. The best option is a wide beam angle light with smaller batteries. The good news is that these are inexpensive and quite light. You also likely only need a small number of lumens to be visible at a reasonable distance.
For the trail riders out there, rather than being seen, you want to be able to see yourself. This necessitates a higher lumen count coupled with a narrower beam angle. Both of these things are designed to help illuminate the area nearby, so you are aware of roots, rocks, and other obstacles in the way. So, the first thing for you to do is to determine whether the lights you need are to be seen or to see yourself.
Considering Light Performance
If you’re a commuter, you’ll want lights that can be seen in the light and during the day. Low lumen count lights are just fine for the average road rider. Those who choose a light with a higher lumen count may want to consider tilting the light down so that you aren’t blinding oncoming traffic or being a distraction. However, if you are off-roading most of the time, you want the higher lumen count combined with a narrow beam angle. Lumens can range from about 30 and go up towards 20k00. In some cases, your light will have various settings. This can be a great option for someone who travels in both poorly lit and well-lit areas on occasion.
Thinking About Your Budget
With so many lights for mountain bikes on the market, you’ll find that there are dozens of models, builds, and brands to consider. Pricing is going to vary based on which type of light you need. Some lights are going to be quite expensive while others may be quite inexpensive and budget friendly.
You can expect a mountain bike light to cost anywhere from around $50 to over $300. The cheapest lights you find out there are largely made so you are seen. Those who ride in areas that are not well-lit will find themselves needing to budget a bit higher to get the lights they need. You can expect that as the light output raises, the same thing happens to the price.
If it’s important to you that you have the best light possible, you expect to shell out $200 or even more. While this might seem expensive, these lights do come with a higher level of features than the inexpensive models. In most cases, you can use these lights in any location. The batteries are often larger, so you can ride longer before needing to recharge. In addition, you’ll find that the components are of a higher level than inexpensive models, so they will often last for years.
The Budget Bike Light
For under about $50, most of the lights you see are there to allow you to be seen. You can expect small lumen amounts that reach no higher than 100. This is not enough light for you to see well anywhere that is truly dark. If this is the light you want to choose, look for broad beam angles so visibility is available from any angle. You should also put a premium on any lights that have multiple settings. A pulse or flash mode is especially useful. These lights are going to be light and have a reasonable brightness. Some of these lights may have a rubber strap to mount and may or may not have any water resistance available.
The Inexpensive Bike Light
Moving up to the $50 to $150 bracket, you’ll start to see lights that are a bit brighter. These will be better for riding on unlit roads or on dark trails than the budget lights. Some of these lights might have as many as 600 lumens as a total and you’ll see more flexibility in terms of beam angles, run times, and light settings. You’ll also have options for bracket and screw mounts available at this price point. Nearly any light over $50 will come with a rechargeable battery and most lights will carry some level of waterproofing.
The Middle of the Road Light
Above $150 and below $250, you’ll start to see a much broader amount of lights for all sorts of riding options. At this price, you can expect the lumen amounts to go to 1000 and above. There will also be more beam angles, light settings, and extra options. You can also expect these lights to last longer on a single battery charge than the bike lights up to this point. At this point, the lights and batteries are both going to be getting quite large, so you can expect most mounting options to involve screw and brackets. There will also be some lights specifically for off-road that contain a special battery pack to keep the power output at the top setting.
The Expensive Bike Lights
Finally are the bike lights that are even more than $250. Again, you’ll see the lumens, run times, beam angles, and mounts will increase in variety. In addition, you will find that these lights are made out of durable materials and are made to last. Once you reach this price point, some lights will even be combination devices that include video recording devices and other gadgets like accelerometers. These are the cream of the crop lights that most people will never need, but that can be a whole lot of fun if you have the budget for them.
Consider the Length of Your Rides
Having a mountain bicycle light is important since it gives you the ability to see better if you end up riding during the night. However, most lights are also battery operated which means you want to be sure the length of the battery life is long enough for you to get through an average ride. The first thing to think about is how long you stay out on an average ride. Is it an hour? A couple? Many more?
In addition, the battery life is going to be affected by which light mode you choose to use. In most cases, the lights will have several options. That means you can choose a steady mode and swap to a flashing mode a minute later, if needed. When using a steady beam, it takes more energy than it does to have a flashing light. The problem is that the flashing light is only useful during the day to ensure others see you.
We recommend that if you have the budget, it’s a great idea to purchase an additional battery pack. This will give you much more time to enjoy your rides without having to stress over whether you’ll have light for the ride home. Because of that, it’s best to choose a battery you can purchase nearby when you need to buy a replacement battery quickly.
Be Aware of Mounting Options
While the majority of mountain bike lights are able to be mounted on frames, handlebars, and seat posts, this isn’t always the case. If you have a bike with a circular bar, mounting lights is as easy as using a screw, some Velcro, or a stretchable rubber strap. If you have a unique bike with aero bars and seat posts, the process may be much more complicated.
Make sure you are aware of what sort of handlebars your bike has before you begin your shopping for bike lights. This will ensure you find lights that will fit your bike well. You’ll also want to think about the frame of your bike and what it is made from. Aluminum is durable but not as stiff as carbon. That means a carbon frame which is tightened too much could crack. That might mean it’s best to choose a rubber strap or Velcro mounting option. You may also want to search for mounting straps that are able to be used on various bikes with multiple handlebar and post sizes.
When it all comes together, there are a few things you have to keep in mind when buying a mountain bike light. First, you want to have a budget in mind. You want to know whether it’s more important for you to see or be seen, which will reflect on lumen and beam angle. Knowing how long you will run the lights can determine what batteries you want to select. Then look at the options you have for mounting to be sure the light is compatible with your particular bike.
Once you have a better idea of what you need, you can peruse the lights above and see which fit your needs. Each of them has great features and is sure to last for many of your cycling adventures. Take a good look at each of them, see which one you like the looks of, and go from there. Good luck on finding the right bike light for your off-road riding with your friends!
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