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The best bike lights 2021: stay safe and visible on the roads

The best bike lights
(Image credit: Salvador Tali / Shutterstock)

Bike lights are way better than they used to be thanks to improved designs, better materials and, crucially, more illumination on offer from the many options that are out there. Deciding on the best front bike light is also a lot easier, as you’ll see from our collection of the best lights below, all of which offer plenty of features and functions.

Alongside letting you see where you’re going and, most importantly of all, be seen by others, a set of bike lights is also a legal requirement for riders in many countries. Those improvements to bike light designs now also mean that many models, such as our examples here, can not only deliver a steady light, but flash too.

Having a light with an intermittent beam makes you much more easily spotted, and that’s a definite bonus no matter which country or location you’re riding in. That’s just the tip of the best bike light feature set though, because a shiny new set of the best bike lights will also be brighter and more efficient than your old ones.

It’s easy to just make do with bike lights, but for a relatively modest outlay you can own a brand new set that look great, work more efficiently and make life that little bit easier if you’re fumbling around looking for the house keys after a ride. Even if you're riding one of the best electric bikes with its own built-in set, an auxiliary set can provide valuable extra illumination. Here’s our current pick of the crop.

The best bike lights: Lezyne Hecto Drive 400XL

Lezyne Hecto Drive 400XL (Image credit: Lezyne)

1. Lezyne Hecto Drive 400XL

Affordable but bright, the best bike light all-round

Reasons to buy
+Compact and light+Rechargeable+Offers USB charging
Reasons to avoid
-Not so robust

The Lezyne Hecto Drive 400XL is our top pick for the best bike light of 2021. One of its key selling points its battery life, which delivers up to 17.5 hours of use before it needs a recharge

Performance is solid too thanks to a maximum 400 lumens, although battery life will reduce if you’re using the higher power settings. The slimline design works for us too, as does the ability to fix it to your handlebars quickly and easily, due to a rubber strap setup that makes it suitable for all kinds of bike. That also means you can take it off the bike to use as a torch if needed. Adding value is the built-in USB charging stick, which comes in handy if you’re out for the day.

The best bike lights: Exposure Strada SL

Exposure Strada SL (Image credit: Exposure)

2. Exposure Strada SL

A bike light with plenty of forward-facing power

Reasons to buy
+Premium feel+Powerful beam+Perfect for road use
Reasons to avoid
-High price tag

If you're hitting the roads after dark, having a powerful beam to make you visible is money well spent. Although the 400-lumen Exposure Strada SL isn’t cheap, it should last for years, and features an excellent and nicely crafted design. Better still, due to its precision construction the design floods light right on to the road, and seems to be great at not dazzling other road users, which is always a bonus.

You can take your pick from seven settings, each of which will have a different effect on battery life. The most conservative option should deliver up to 36 hours of use. Fitting comes courtesy of a quick-release bracket, which is nicely thought out too.

The best bike lights: Beryl Laserlight Core

Beryl Laserlight Core (Image credit: Beryl)

3. Beryl Laserlight Core

A dependable front-facing bike light

Reasons to buy
+Beautifully bright+Rechargeable+Well made
Reasons to avoid
-Low life on full power

Formerly known as Blaze, the Laserlight Core model lives on under the Beryl brand and the good news is it’s still a superb bike light. Some tweaks to the design make it much improved over the original incarnation and while the maximum lumens of 400 tends to diminish quite quickly if you’re pushing it, used carefully the lower LED settings deliver up to 13 hours of use.

The magic of this model is its combination of the LED light blended with a green laser image of a bike that appears on the road ahead. This is a neat way to alert people of your whereabouts, although bear in mind the range of the light diminishes rapidly if you keep the power cranked up. Right down to a couple of hours, in fact, but that's fine for a commute.

The best bike lights: Lezyne Lite Drive 800XL

Lezyne Lite Drive 800XL (Image credit: Lezyne)

4. Lezyne Lite Drive 800XL

A bright bike light with plenty of modes

Reasons to buy
+Eight lighting modes+Impressive battery life+Rugged design
Reasons to avoid
-Unforgiving fitting bracket

Another entry from Lezyne, the Lite Drive 800XL is also a great bike light, and can reach 800 lumens, which is more suitable for most needs. You also get eight different illumination modes, plus the real bonus of up to 76 hours of use. Naturally that’ll slip considerably if you’re using the higher power settings, but with careful use this is a light that’s both durable and long lasting.

The rubber mount has been carefully designed in order to ensure you’re never willingly parted with your illumination. This makes it great for rougher terrain too, while the rest of the build and design boasts the usual Lezyne quality.

The best bike lights: Knog Plus

Knog Plus (Image credit: Knog)

5. Knog Plus

Dependable auxiliary bike lighting

Reasons to buy
+Cheap and cheerful+Surprisingly durable+Extremely portable
Reasons to avoid
-Limited performance

Sometimes, it’s just handier to have a portable bike light setup. That’s where the Knog Plus comes into play. Maybe you’re borrowing a bike, or on vacation and don’t want to lug your normal lights with you. No matter, as this auxiliary option provides quick and easy illumination for a relatively small outlay. 

Sure, this isn’t the brightest light out there, just 40 lumens, but it can be recharged via USB and is also really portable. In fact, we’ve found that it’s great as a supplementary lighting source that can be fixed to clothing for those super busy parts of town.

Kryptonite Street F-450

(Image credit: Kryptonite)

6. Kryptonite Street F-450

A heavyweight bike light that’s built to last

Reasons to buy
+Rugged design+Affordable option+USB charging
Reasons to avoid
-Not the brightest

If you need a front-facing bike light that’s designed to last, the Street F-450 is a Kryptonite best buy. The compromise is the 450 maximum lumens specification, but six different modes still make it a great little option for occasional use. If you’re more of a casual cyclist with short hops in mind it’s ideal, with an Economic Flash option providing up to 24 hours of light for your needs.

There’s convenience too, with a USB slot for quick and easy charging making this model handy for re-juicing during working hours if you’ve used it for a commute. The design is reassuringly sturdy, too.

Cateye Volt 6000

(Image credit: Cateye)

7. Cateye Volt 6000

A bike light that's the ultimate in white light illumination

Reasons to buy
+Dazzling white light+Remote control+Quality build
Reasons to avoid
-Involved setup

If you’re really not prepared to skimp on a front bike light the Cateye Volt makes up for its expensive price tag by offering up to 6,000 lumens. That’s very bright, which means it comes at a cost, but this Cateye model also oozes class, boasts a brilliant design supplemented by a separate remote control. It’s hugely durable too, with life of around 12 hours.

Meanwhile, the rechargeable control/battery unit needs to be replenished after about two months. Power does come from that external battery though, so despite its performance and mode options, this one is aimed more at endurance types than those facing a simple daily commute.

The best bike lights: Moon Meteor

Moon Meteor (Image credit: Moon)

8. Moon Meteor

A no-frills but effective front bike light

Reasons to buy
+Performs well+Water-resistant+Various settings
Reasons to avoid
-Feels quite cheap

If you don't trust yourself with an expensive bike light, the best alternative is something like the Moon Meteor. With 400 maximum lumens it’s certainly bright enough for everyday cycling needs. Better still, it’s cheap enough to not feel too distraught about if you leave it behind during a mid-journey rest stop, or break it somewhere down the line.

Considering its budget appeal, its 30-hour battery life is very respectable. It’s fully rechargeable and you’ll also get warning of low power levels thanks to an indicator on the casing. Granted, it looks a little cheap, but as an affordable solution it’s up there with the best of them.

The best bike lights: Supernova E3 Pure 3 Dynamo Light

Supernova E3 Pure 3 Dynamo Light (Image credit: Supernova)

9. Supernova E3 Pure 3 Dynamo Light

A bright, clear pedal-powered front bike light

Reasons to buy
+No recharging needed+Decent quality light+Simple to set up
Reasons to avoid
-Not as bright as some

One of the obvious limitations of conventional bike lights is that they always need to be recharged. The solution is to move over to a dynamo-powered model, such as this one. The Supernova E3 Pure 3 Dynamo Light is a great little number that delivers 205 lumens at a steady 25kmh. Naturally, it’ll only work as long as you keep pedaling, but you only really need the benefit of light when you’re on the go so it’s all good.

The Cree LED light bulb offers a crisp and clear shine while the design and build quality is excellent. A decent quality mounting bracket rounds out the overall package nicely.

The best bike lights: Garmin Varia UT800

Garmin Varia UT800 (Image credit: Garmin)

10. Garmin Varia UT800

Bright bike lighting with a tech edge

Reasons to buy
+Beefy lumens rating+Works with Garmin kit+Good battery life
Reasons to avoid
-High price tag

This rechargeable Garmin bike light features 800 maximum lumens and boasts a battery life of up to 20 hours. However, the best thing about it is if you’re already a user of Garmin tech because it works hand-in-hand with that. Therefore, the light can be fine-tuned so you get the best from its specification.

Meanwhile, if you’ve got it mated to your Garmin bike computer, the illumination can be tweaked to work in harmony with your ride, adjusting to the conditions and intensity of your journey. It’s a cool bit of tech that provides plenty of brightness along with having a great design and build that’s typical of the Garmin brand.

Rob Clymo

Rob Clymo is a Freelance writer for digital and print, specialising in tech, gadgets, automotive and innovation but also covering filmmaking and travel.