Bicycle headlights have been around for a long time. And as time moved on, so did the technology and innovations.
In this modern world, bicycle headlights have gone through some significant changes. The size, the technicality behind it, the price, and more.
Bicycle headlights went from a handlebar-mounted headlight with a wire running down your bicycle's water bottle holder to dynamo powered headlight to a more compact and straightforward tiny rechargeable headlight.
I remember when I got my first bicycle headlight as a kid. It was a dynamo-powered headlight.
To power up the light, I had to keep on pedaling. And to a young kid, that was very challenging as I had to pedal more, and the dynamo made pedaling harder.
A bicycle headlight that is portable, rechargeable, and cheap? One for me, please!
Bicycle headlights offer excellent visibility that helps you steer clear of any potential potholes or other hazards on the road.
Many brands and manufacturers recommend keeping the headlight on during the day and night, in fog and rain. Doing so promotes safe cycling as the light can help you see more clearly and help others on the road steer clear of your way.
Most headlights, these days, come with solid battery life after one recharge. It is crucial because you do not want to be stranded on a dark road with no light.
I have been in such a situation once, and trust me on this, it is terrifying.
Every single avid rider out there should know the importance of bicycle headlights and get one for themselves.
Dreading the research of one perfect bicycle headlight for you and your best friend, your bicycle? Well, that is where I jump in.
The top 10 best bicycle headlights of 2021 so far from my research and experience are the following:
- Lezyne Lite Drive 1000XL
- Garmin Varia UT 800
- Light & Motion Vis Pro 1000 Blacktop
- NiteRider Lumina 650
- Magicshine Monteer 8000S
- Knog PWR Road
- Blackburn Dayblazer 800
- Guee SOL 700 Plus
- Bontrager Ion Pro RT
- Cateye Volt 800
Let me take you on a journey to share the details about the best bicycle headlights out there. And not just that, but the essential things you should know regarding bicycle headlights.
Are Bicycle Headlights a Must?
Many bicycle riders always have the same question: are bicycle headlights a must?
Well, the simple answer is yes. Most definitely.
I know a handful of people who would instead just cycle on the road with street lamps. It is not enough, and I keep telling them.
Bicycle headlights help you steer clear of any danger as you can see them beforehand. Not just that, but it helps others see you and avoid any unwanted catastrophe.
As mentioned above, although it is not necessary to keep headlights on during the day, most manufacturers suggest doing so anyway to promote bicycle safety.
Bicycle lights, not only headlights, are a legal requirement in the United Kingdom according to the Road Vehicles Lighting Regulations.
Talking about the United States of America, I found out some information.
- It is illegal to ride in the dark without bike reflectors.
- Bicycle riders are to use bright white headlights when riding in the dark in most states.
- Taillights must legally be red if a person is to use one, although it is not required by law in most states.
How Many Lumens Should A Good Bicycle Light Have?
Lumens measure the total amount of light visible to the human eye from a light source.
The higher the lumen is, the brighter the light appears.
Now with the definition out of the way, let us get to know about lumens in headlights.
A good headlight on the bicycle changes the way you perceive the world. It can change the way you ride.
Commuters traveling around the city with well-lit street lights can have a headlight with 100 or 200 lumen light. For commuter commuting in complete dark, a minimum of 300 lumens and a maximum of 500 lumen light is required. On the other hand, mountain bikers need at least a 1000 lumen headlight.
With that being said, you should remember not to go overboard. Do not just go to a nearby shop and pick one headlight.
Is Brightness All That Matters in A Bicycle?
The brightness or lumen of the bicycle’s headlight varies from other vehicles such as motorbikes and four-wheel cars. Each one has a particular type of headlight made for them specially.
With that being said, you cannot and should not just jump onto the nearest shop and get yourself one out of the blue.
The simple answer is no.
I have a friend who once got excited and got carried away. He went to a light shop and picked one right off the bat.
I remember him telling me this story. As he returned home from work on a cold December night, a car going the other direction pulled over to the side as it was a narrow road.
He had a 1700 lumen bright headlight mounted to his handlebar, which the driver approaching thought had to be another car or a motorcycle.
A quick fun fact here: the low-beam headlight of a car is about 700 lumens, and the high-beam headlight is about 1200 lumens.
How Do I Choose A Bicycle Light?
A bicycle headlight must be of the suitable lumen and bright enough to see or be seen. And, like I shared the story of my friend above, it should not be so bright as to spook or blind other people.
Again, as mentioned above, a 300 lumen to 500 lumen light is fine for city cycling. If mountain biking, get a headlight with at least 1000 lumens light.
1. FL-1 Certification
When buying a bicycle headlight, keep in mind the FL-1 certification. If you see a headlight with FL-1 accreditation, you can take the leap right away.
Some manufacturers claim whatever they like and want just to sell.
For instance, they may say that the headlight has around 700 lumens of light, but in actuality, it might just be 200.
So, keep in mind the certification.
2. Modes of Headlight
A good-quality headlight usually comes with different modes. Some would include low visibility, high visibility, flashing light, and steady.
Low visibility can be good for daytime lighting and high visibility for foggy, rain, or harsh situations like that. Similarly, flashing light is for being seen and noticed by others, and steady is for seeing.
3. Recharging the Headlight
Most headlights that come these days are rechargeable via a USB port and a cable. It makes our job of recharging incredibly easy.
Some while back, headlights used to come with exchangeable batteries. I found this, personally, annoying.
Getting a replaceable Triple-A (AAA) battery can be somewhat time-consuming, seem like a waste of money, and most definitely annoying.
Thank you, the modern age of technology!
4. Waterproof or Resistant
A crucial thing to keep in mind while getting a headlight is if you live someplace where it rains a lot (like in England).
Make sure that the headlight is marked with IP standards. IP standard rates the waterproofness of an object.
A certification of IP67 means that it is fully waterproof in 1 meter (3 feet) of water for up to 30 minutes. You might see this certification in smartphones these days. It is the same here.
Anyhow, in general, most bicycle headlights do come water-resistant, so no need to break a sweat there if it starts drizzling. But it is good to ask, anyway.
5. Other Things to Keep In Mind
Now, I will not go into much detail about these, but it is good to keep an eye out for them.
- Make sure the headlight is sturdy so that it does not break in two with minor impacts.
- Easily attachable and detachable so that it does not take much of your time.
- The mount is designed so that you do not have to duct-tape them together.
Top 10 Best Bicycle Headlights
Bicycle headlights, or simply just known as lights, have gone through a massive revamp in recent times. From bulky, wired, and inconvenient headlights to a much more versatile and robust headlight.
Our journey together throughout this article has led us to this moment. Come with me to check the top 10 best bicycle headlights currently out.
To make life a tad bit simpler for you, I have compiled a table consisting of the top 10 best bicycle headlights.
If you are in a bit of a rush, you can just cruise through the table and pick what you think would be best for you.
|S.N.||Name||Max Output / Lumens||Run Time at Max Power||Price|
|1.||Lezyne Lite Drive 1000XL||1000||1.5 hours||$79|
|2.||Garmin Varia UT 800||800||1.5 hours||$99|
|3.||Light & Motion Vis Pro 1000 Blacktop||1000||2.5 hours||$124|
|4.||NiteRider Lumina 650||650||1.5 hours||$60|
|5.||Magicshine Monteer 8000S||8000||1.5 hours||$400|
|6.||Knog PWR Road||600||1.5 hours||$90|
|7.||Blackburn Dayblazer 800||800||1.5 hours||$60|
|8.||Guee SOL 700 Plus||700||2.8 hours||$66|
|9.||Bontrager Ion Pro RT||1300||2.6 hours||$130|
|10.||Cateye Volt 800||800||2 hours||$124|
Let us not beat around the bush and get right into getting to know each one in a bit more detail.
1. Lezyne Lite Drive 1000XL
The Lezyne Lite Drive 1000XL is a well-designed bicycle headlight for riding at night or day. The design and the build make it great for everyday commuters and, on occasion, adventurers.
The headlight comes with a simple universal mount, perfect for any handlebar of any bicycle. You can clip out this headlight and use it on your friend’s borrowed bike.
Moving on to more details, the Lezyne Lite Drive 1000XL has a max lumen of 1000. The lumens of the headlight can be adjusted to 1000, 500, or 250.
Now, with great lumens come great battery sacrifice. The battery life of this headlight, when blasted at full power (1000 lumens), is not that impressive. It only gives you 90 minutes when blasted at total capacity. But if you drop it down to 500 and 250, you get over 3 hours and 5.5 hours, respectively.
Speaking of the price point of the Lezyne Light Drive 1000XL, you cannot go wrong with it. A headlight that goes up to 1000 lumens under 80 dollars? It is not the cheapest of the bunch, but it definitely is the best on my list.
2. Garmin Varia UT 800
Riding your bicycle home on a very dark road can be dangerous, not just for yourself but for others as well. That is precisely what Garmin tries to solve with their top-of-the-line headlights.
The Varia UT 800 can be mounted onto the handlebars using a GoPro-style mount or Garmin quarter turn. It can be a bummer for some as they would be expecting a universal mount.
The Garmin Varia UT 800 works with an Edge head unit to tailor the light to your bike’s speed. It means that the Varia UT 800 sends the perfect amount of light down the road as you pedal away on your bicycle.
It offers 270-degrees of nighttime visibility, and you can see up to 1.6 kilometers away during the day.
For an advanced headlight like the Varia UT 800, the battery life is pretty much the same as others. In full power, this headlight can run for 1.5 hours.
All this comes for a price of 99 dollars. And for that price point, I have some mixed feelings, but my friends seem to love it.
3. Light & Motion Vis Pro 1000 Blacktop
It takes a true warrior to commute in challenging scenarios such as heavy rain, sleet, snow, and more. And for a warrior like you, the Light & Motion Vis Pro 1000 Blacktop is the perfect answer.
Light & Motion claims that their Vis Pro 1000 Blacktop is not just water-resistant but fully waterproof. They claim you can be carefree to drop the headlight in a meter-deep puddle or ride through heavy rain.
The Vis Pro 1000 Blacktop has a maximum lumen output of 1000 lumens which will last 2.5 hours. If you have noticed, the battery life is slightly better than the other two we have covered so far.
Comparatively, this headlight charges a bit faster too. While most lights take 3 hours or plus to go from null to fully charged, the Light & Motion Vis Pro 1000 Blacktop takes only 2.5 hours.
The Vis Pro 1000, priced at 124 dollars, is pricier than some similar 1000 lumen models. But the reliability and durability of the headlight are staggering.
You can easily use this headlight for several years, no matter what you put it through.
4. NiteRider Lumina 650
The NiteRider Lumina 650 is a product of a well-known and trusted brand. And the brand, NiteRider, has produced a top headlight best used for commuting.
The Lumina 650 comes with a plastic mount. You can put the mount onto most handlebars easily. So nothing fancy here.
The headlight comes with three settings: brightest at 650 lumens, low at 150 lumens, and walking at 50 lumens. It is the perfect headlight for commuting around the city or neighborhood as it gives plenty of visibility.
An additional setting (or mode) of this headlight is the flash mode. It blasts 650 lumens of light for maximum visibility.
Now, the battery life of the Lumina 650 is not all that amazing, but I find it satisfying. You can get up to 1.5 hours on the brightest setting, 7 hours on low, up to 20 hours on walking, and 6.5 hours on flash mode.
You may think 50 lumens is a small number. While it is, yes, it is perfect to see what is in front of you while walking.
Getting into the price, the NiteRider Lumina 650 comes for under 60 dollars. I would say this would be an excellent headlight for you if you commute a lot in a not-so-dark city.
5. Magicshine Monteer 8000S
The Magicshine Monteer 8000S is the pick for hardcore do-it-all avid bicycle riders who shreds the trail and ride home at night.
The Monteer 8000S is bound to brighten up your dark, adventurous mountain biking group experience. Pun intended!
The headlight comes with a standard attachable mount to add it to your bicycle’s handlebar.
As the name suggests, the Monteer 8000S blasts a whopping 8000 lumens maximum output. It is great for dark trails where the terrain can be rough.
The headlight can also be set at 900 lumens if you want to ride a smoother, much better road.
Expectingly, a maximum output of 8000 lumens is bound to squeeze some juice out.
The Monteer 8000S, like most other headlights, can squeeze about 1.5 hours with full brightness. If the brightness were to be put down to 900, you get a jaw-dropping 15 hours of battery backup.
The battery of this headlight is excellent for people who want to absolutely shred the trail for about an hour and go for a long ride with a group of friends later.
Now, an 8000 lumen light surely could not come cheap. And so, the Magicshine Monteer 8000S is priced at 400 dollars. It is the priciest headlight I have on my list, but hey, if you want to be the best, you got to buy the best.
You should keep in mind that it does not blast the light directly into someone’s eyes. You do not want to blind them.
If you are riding in a group, lead the way with your Magicshine Monteer 8000S illuminating the way.
6. Knog PWR Road
The Knog PWR Road comes with innovative lights. They pair the light to a battery pack that would allow you to customize the pieces depending on the situation you get into.
The headlight comes with a quick-release bar mount making it convenient for most bicycle riders.
Speaking of light, the Knog PWR Road has a maximum output lumen capacity of 600. While it may not seem as good as some others on my list, it is more than enough.
You can also switch between modes by twisting the head. You can also switch in between modes via their ModeMaker app.
In terms of battery, like most bicycle headlights, they are not that great. The battery lasts for 1.5 hours on maximum output. But if you are to lower the lumen, the battery is sure to live longer.
An exciting feature the Knog PWR road has is the battery can double up as a power bank. This feature can come very handy if you are in a rush and have no time to charge your phone. But do keep in mind that you cannot use the headlight and charge your phone simultaneously.
The Knog PWR Road is priced at 90 dollars. Some top features do justify the price point of the headlight, such as swappable battery and head, battery doubling up as a power bank, and the ability to adjust light modes through their app.
It is worth noting that the Knog PWR Road’s light is not that bright. So, if you are looking to buy one, make sure it is for roads with street lights.
7. Blackburn Dayblazer 800
If you ask me about my pick from the list, it definitely has to be the Blackburn Dayblazer 800. Bright, versatile, highly durable, and with multiple mounting options, I cannot go more right for myself.
The Blackburn Dayblazer 800 used a combination of GoPro-style tabs and a rubber band strap. It eases your headache of getting it mounted onto your bicycle.
No matter what shape, size, or kind of handlebar, you can be sure that the Dayblazer 800 is bound to fit in.
Although the Dayblazer 800, as the name suggests, only has a maximum output of 800 lumens, it is more than enough. Its ‘Blitz’ mode is capable of lighting up even the darkest of alleys.
Additionally, the TIR lens of the headlight has a good ‘see me’ feel with flash and pulse modes for daylight.
Now, the battery life of the Dayblazer 800 is as expected, 1.5 hours at maximum output. But you can charge the light via a USB cable in four hours.
A prominent feature of the headlight, and why I like it best, is the waterproofness of the headlight. As you know by now, I am a big-time bicycle rider for commuting. I got myself a Blackburn Dayblazer 800, and I could not be happier.
For a week or so, it rained cats and dogs where I live. So, having the Dayblazer 800 clamped onto my handlebar was one of the best decisions I made that year.
The Blackburn Dayblazer 800 is priced at 60 dollars and is well worth it, in my opinion. A small, rugged, and powerful device to illuminate your way.
8. Guee SOL 700 Plus
The Guee SOL 700 Plus is one of the smartest headlights on our list. It features a Smart Ambient Sensor mode that automatically switches power levels to match your surrounding darkness.
If you are someone who constantly forgets to lower their high beam headlight, first of all, start doing so, and second, this headlight is the one for you.
The mount that comes with Guee SOL 700 Plus is a GoPro style. The headlight can mount onto GoPro mounts, opening a wide range of possibilities in terms of mounting the headlight.
The Guee SOL 700 Plus comes with a maximum output of 700 lumens and a run time of 2 hours and 50 minutes on maximum output. This headlight is easily one of the best headlights on our list, with a good battery backup.
Make no mistake, although 700 lumens might seem less, it is not. You can tune down on the lumen to squeeze in some more battery life.
The Guee SOL 700 Plus can be bought for 66 dollars, making it the best value headlight on our list.
9. Bontrager Ion Pro RT
The Bontrager Ion Pro RT is a versatile and powerful small headlight that performs exceedingly well.
Also, the quick-release mount featured in Bontrager Ion Pro RT is very straightforward and plain simple. Clamp it, and you are good to go.
The Ion Pro RT packs a big punch. The powerful brightness and consistent beam pattern are hard to beat.
It also produces a warm, yellow light with a maximum output of 1300 lumens. If you feel 1300 is a bit too much, you can go as low as 400 lumens.
As the Ion Pro RT is a 1300 lumens headlight, the Bontrager Ion Pro RT’s battery life is bound to be affected. That is what you would typically think.
But the Ion Pro RT’s battery could last for 2.6 hours on maximum output. And if you want to save on battery, you can always tone down the brightness.
The Bontrager Ion Pro RT has an inbuilt Bluetooth connectivity feature where you can sync and manage brightness levels with a Garmin.
Priced at 130 dollars, it is one of the priciest ones on my list. Hence, the reason for number nine.
10. Cateye Volt 800
The Cateye Volt 800 is a robust and well-built high-intensity headlight well suited for unlit street roads. It is certainly on the heavier side with 134 grams, but it definitely is durable.
Be that as it may, cruising through unlit streets or country lanes or everyday commuting has never been this safe and convenient.
The Volt 800 features a quick-release plastic bracket mount similar to our number 9, Bontrager Ion Pro RT. Simple to clamp and release.
Now talking about the main feature of the Cateye Volt 800, it comes with five different modes to choose from: three constant beam lights and two flashing options.
The maximum output of the Volt 800 is, as the name suggests, 800 lumens.
The battery is claimed to run up to a staggering 80 hours on Volt’s flashing modes. On the contrary, blasting the light at the maximum output will max the battery out in 2 hours.
Again, price is not this headlight’s best suit. For 124 dollars or lower, I believe you can get much better deals. But if you love the design and the robustness of it, you can not go wrong.
Safety and More!
Safety is a significant concern for most bike riders. It is for me too. For that, I have listed down some previous articles I covered related to safety.
Now there are articles not just related to safety, but some that you should definitely check out.
Well, go on then! Jump right into it and have a safe ride!
- 10 Cycling Hand Signals for Your Group Ride
- 11 Safety Tips for Biking with Kids
- 7 Ways to be Safe While Cycling at City Road
- 8 Best Kid’s Bike Lights [2021 Update]
- Everything You Need to Know About Bike Mirrors
- Types of Bicycle Helmets and Their Safety Quality
- What Traffic Laws apply to Cyclists?
And so, there you have it. The top 10 best bicycle headlights out there in the market currently.
Now that you know a lot about bicycle headlights and the best out there, go on and pick yourself one. And also share your knowledge with your friends.
Remember, safety always comes first!