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The best bike lights 2020

The best bike lights
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

There's a lot to consider when choosing the best bike light, so we've rounded up five of the very best for every type of rider.

There are two main types of bike lights: those for seeing by on unlit roads, and those that allow you to be seen more easily by other road users. If you want to see by your bike light, you'll need something powerful enough to reveal the road ahead, and with a wide field of view. If being seen if your priority then you won't need as much raw power, but light weight and quick-release mountings will be an advantage.

Battery life also comes into the equation. Even if the road is lit brightly enough for you to see where you're going, you'll be hard for motorists to see if your lights run flat, and working front and rear lights are a legal requirement in many countries.

If you like the idea of cycling more regularly but find yourself reaching your destination sweaty and tired, take a look at our guide to the best electric bikes. We've put the world's best e-bikes through their paces to find the ones that will serve you well on any journey, helping you enjoy cycling again and making sure you stay fresh.

On a budget? We've also gathered together the best cheap electric bikes, plus the best cheap electric scooters so you can zip around town and have fun on the road without breaking the bank.

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See.Sense ICON2

(Image credit: See.Sense)

1. See.Sense ICON2 front and rear light set

Small and lighweight, with impressive features

Lumens: 400 front, 300 rear

Affordable front and rear set
Tough, adjustable mounting
App configuration and alerts
Water-resistant

The See.Sense ICON2 front and rear bike lights are ideal for slower, twisted urban locations where side-on visibility, theft alerts, auto on-off and quick removal from the bike are key. 

Each light offers two modes: one focused beam that lets fellow road-users see you from up to 3km away, and a broader beam for 270-degree visibility. 

Charging is done via a micro USB cable, which is placed within well-waterproofed port at the back. This will allow it to survive anything up to and including brief submersion in water. The charge level is shown by four green lights and you can quickly judge the charge level.

One of its smart modes is the theft alert. If you walk more than about 20metres away from your bike and someone was to touch your bike, you get an alert on your phone. It does not happen if you are close enough as the light thinks you are still with the bike. Other features include insights via the 'my stats' option. The data analysis app can share things with you such as distance, average speed, calories, burned, fuel saved, CO2 saved, and more.

This is a fantastic light set for anyone who lives in a city and needs to filter through traffic safely, and for our money, it’s the best in its class.

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Blackburn Dayblazer 800

(Image credit: Blackburn)

2. Blackburn DayBlazer 800

A powerful, adaptable compact light that's good value for money

Lumens: 800

Practical setting options
IP67 rated
Stylish and strong design
Short run times in higher settings

The Blackburn DayBlazer 800 is one of the best compact front lights we have come across. It’s outstanding value and is a good choice for being seen in built-up areas – whether after dark or during the day.

It’s well made, stylish and strong, with an aluminum alloy chassis to resist hard falls. It also has a waterproof rating of IP67, so exposure to heavy rain is no problem. We even had fun blasting it at close range using a garden hose with no ill effects. In the unlikely event that anything does go wrong, Blackburn's lifetime warranty should have you covered.

This light has five setting modes, which are sensibly staggered for general riding. These are: blitz (800 lumens), medium (500 lumens) and low (300 lumens); plus pulsing and strobing at 200 lumens apiece. Some argue that even the low and strobe settings are maybe a little bright for city riding, and a more frugal 100-lumen flashing might be less likely to dazzle other road users (and easier on the battery, too).

This is a like that'll suit those riders who tackle various environments on their commutes, and anyone who wants extra visibility on leisure rides that aren't too technical.

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Lezyne Lite Drive 1000XL

(Image credit: Lezyne)

3. Lezyne Lite Drive 1000XL

Well made and super bright, with user-friendly features

Lumens: 1,000

A lot of light for the money
Top-quality build
Waterproof
Mode grouping could be better

The Lite Drive 1000XL front light provides up to 1000 lumens of light, which is more than enough to see clearly on unlit towpaths and provides plenty of flashing modes to catch the attention of other road users on well-lit roads.

The 1000XL is a compact, high-powered front light that offers many output options. Is has a fair beam pattern and is very well made, is it one of the best pounds for lumen lights on the market.

It has eight settings in total, which gives you plenty of versatility for balancing battery life. We wouldn't really cull any of the settings but would change the way you access them to make the light more user-friendly.

The button has an LED indicator, so the user knows how much life is remaining. A full recharge will take between four and five hours depending on where the power is coming from.

It is waterproof and deals well with any rain it encounters. The micro-USB charge port sits at the rear of the light and has a rubber cover with a tight seal.

It is a great option for a rider who wants a powerful light for training after dark without having to spend too much.

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Gemini Titan 4000

(Image credit: Gemini)

4. Gemini Titan 4000

Serious illumination, with a serious price tag

Lumens: 4,000

Extremely bright
Wide angle of vision
Easily adjustable modes
Expensive

If you're cycling on unlit roads at night, you need a bike light that not only illuminates a long way ahead, but also offers a wide field of vision. The Gemini Titan 4000 features an array of six LED lights to do exactly that, and is incredibly bright, lighting up the road ahead like daylight.

The Titan 4000 is mounted in the center of your handlebars using rubber O-rings, and controlled using a small remote that attaches to the bars in the same way, within easier reaching distance. A small OLED display on the rear of the unit shows how much power is remaining. Gemini reckons you'll get a maximum of two hours out of a fully charged battery if you use the brightest setting, but in real life you'll probably be able to keep going much longer if you make smart use of the different modes, which can be tweaked on the fly.

The only downside is the price. A light this powerful doesn't come cheap, and the Titan 4000 is several times the price of the Lezyne Light Drive 100XL above. Still, if you're riding anywhere prone to potholes or just want the reassurance of a wider field of view, the Titan could be worth every penny.

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Cateye Sync Core

(Image credit: Cateye)

5. Cateye Sync Core

A solid all-round light for commuters, with a great companion app

Lumens: 500

Battery data clearly presented
'Kinetic' and 'Find me' functions
Mode switching can be frustrating

If you're looking for a decent all-round commuting light the Cateye Sync Core is a solid choice. Although not as bright as either the Gemini Titan or Lezyne Light Drive above, with 500 lumens and excellent side visibility, it's a good choice for both seeing and being seen.

The compact size of the light combined with the powerful output is impressive, allowing you to spot objects and obstacles 30 meters away.

The battery has a quick charge function, and will last between three and four hours in typical use. There are just five modes available, which isn't a bad thing as all the necessities are included, but switching between them on the fly can be a bit tricky.

This front light can be used alone or as part of the Cateye SYNC lighting system which, as the name suggests, can synchronize a set of Cateye lights (up to seven) for 360-degree visibility. Cateye's smartphone app lets you control all the lights from one place, and shows remaining battery life for each one – a very handy feature that makes life a lot easier.