The Best Commuter Bike Lights

After a combined 65 hours of research, consideration of 148 different products, and testing 49 lights over three years, we believe the Cygolite Dash 320 is the best way to see and be seen in traffic, without spending a fortune. Our test panelists unanimously agreed it was able to catch and hold their attention better than any other light in the Dash’s price range. Pair it with the Cygolite Hotshot Micro, a smaller, simplified version of last year’s favorite taillight. We could see its 2-watt LED from half a block away, day or night, and it costs less than anything comparable, giving you the right amount of light at the right price.

Last Updated: September 25, 2015
After testing 13 new models for 2015, our new favorite bike lights for commuters are the Cygolite Dash 320 headlight and the Cygolite Hotshot Micro taillight, which you can purchase separately or in a combo pack. If the Dash is unavailable, the Cygolite Streak 310 is our runner-up pick. The Streak offers the same battery life but doesn’t have the silicone mount or some of the battery-saving features of our top pick. If the Hotshot Micro is sold out, get the regular Hotshot, which has an annoying two-button interface but offers the same performance and a longer, 500-hour battery life.
Expand Most Recent Updates
August 24, 2015: After setting aside 25 discontinued models and testing 13 new ones for 2015, our new favorite bike lights for commuters are the Cygolite Dash 320 headlight and the Cygolite Hotshot Micro taillight. You can purchase them separately, or in a combo pack. We still like the Metro series, but the Dash has everything we like about the Metro, but it's smaller and has an easier-to-use silicone mount. It also has an additional row of lower-wattage LED lights that let you blink in the daytime while still saving battery power. Our testers said it had the most eye-catching blinking pattern out of all the lights we tested. You sacrifice a bit of battery life with the Dash when compared to the Metro, but the Dash makes up for it by charging faster, and overall it's the better light.
The Hotshot Micro also has a newly updated silicone mount, a single on-and-off button that won't get pushed in your bag, and looks brighter to the eye than similar lights. Despite its tiny size, it has a longer battery run time than any other USB taillight (aside from the original Hotshot). Look for our updated guide very soon.
July 16, 2015: In recent months our research has uncovered a whopping 70 new products and design changes in the world of bike lights. Prices have dropped, lights have gotten brighter, and companies that have never before manufactured lights are getting in the game.
Even with all of these new options, our preliminary findings confirm that Cygolite is still one of the best overall values we can find, and our long-term testing has confirmed this--so feel comfortable proceeding with a purchase. In the meantime, we've called in 20 new models to test hands-on for fall and will be updating our guide shortly with anything interesting we find.
September 4, 2014: There are many new and interesting bike light designs--especially for commuters!--that have come out or are on their way. We rounded them up in the What to Look Forward to section and will integrate them into the guide once we get a chance to test them ourselves.
August 25, 2014: The Cygolite combo pack is back in stock on Amazon.
August 22, 2014: Updated with an alternate taillight pick if you care a lot about being able to swap it out easily between multiple bikes: the Knog Blinder 4.
August 21, 2014: The Cygolite combo pack is sold out on Amazon and REI right now, but you can still order the Metro headlight and Hotshot taillight separately on Amazon. We'll update this post when the combo pack is back in stock online.
July 4, 2014: We tested 15 brand new 2014 headlights to see if any could top our pick, but the Cygolite Metro 360 is still the best for most. However, we’ve added a number of alternative picks. The Light & Motion Urban 550 is a sure bet if you’re looking for a big upgrade in quality (for a price, of course). For taillights, we tested USB-powered models for the first time, and the Cygolite Hotshot is the clear standout. The Superflash Turbo remains an unsurpassable battery-powered option. And we found an additional rear light that had so many potentially useful applications, we couldn’t pass it up. The biggest difference between now and October of 2013 is that lights got a lot brighter for a lot less money. If you wanted a brighter light for a dark commute but were reeling from sticker shock ($150+), there are now more affordable options, and we have a recommendation for one of those, too.
Cygolite Dash 320/Hotshot Micro USB Light Combo
We didn’t go into testing expecting to recommend a set, but it just so happens the Dash and Hotshot Micro can be bought together for a great price.

Along the way, we had a thousand dollars’ worth of gear confiscated by police while photographing beam patterns in the woods; placed piles of product in the freezer for days; and spent weeks installing and monitoring antitheft stop-motion cameras to capture the exact moment of light battery expiration.

Cygolite Dash 320 USB Light
For commuting in urban areas or in traffic, the 320-lumen Dash gives you more light for the money than almost anything else out there, and it remains visible in traffic day or night.

The Cygolite Dash 320 isn’t the brightest or the cheapest headlight, but it is among the most visible for its price and one of the most user-friendly lights we’ve ever reviewed. Its 320-lumens output offers enough light for you to see the road ahead, and it has eye-catching strobe modes for both day and night so you’ll be seen in traffic. In addition to the main bulb, it has a row of lower-power-draw LED lights that help save on battery life, reducing the number of times you have to charge during the week. A dead-simple silicone mount for tool-free installation and removal makes preventing theft easy and offers more convenience than the hard-plastic quick-release mounts on previous Cygolites.

Also Great
Cygolite Streak 310 USB Light
The Streak doesn’t have a silicone mount or some of the battery-saving features of the Dash, but it’s usually about $5 cheaper and gets the job done.

If the Dash is sold out or unavailable, the Cygolite Streak 310 offers the same great battery life and riding modes that commuters need, but for a few dollars less. However, the Streak forgoes a few of the upgrades on the Dash, the most important being the silicone mount, which we think is worth spending an additional $5 on. In the past, we’ve preferred the brighter Metro series, but the Streak gives you almost as much light for your money, comes in a smaller package, and costs about $15 less. You can also get it in a package with the Cygolite Hotshot, one of our recommended taillights, for about $60.

The Cygolite Dash 320 lit for night riding. Eve O'Neill

The Cygolite Dash 320 lit for night riding. Eve O’Neill

*At the time of publishing, the price was $30.

Cygolite Hotshot Micro USB Light
Lightweight and easy to use, the Hotshot Micro can blink for weeks on one charge and has the most attention-getting flash of all similar models we tested.

The Hotshot Micro improves on the original Hotshot model (our former pick) by compressing the light into a smaller and lighter package, simplifying the on/off button, and doing away with the old hard-plastic mount (that you need a screwdriver to install) in favor of an easier-to-use silicone strap (that mounts without the need for a tool). Testers sitting in the driver’s seat of a car chose it as the most visible light out of all the models we tested thanks to its attention-getting flashing pattern and bright LED.

The Hotshot Micro, the next incarnation of the Cygolite Hotshot taillight. Eve O'Neill

The Hotshot Micro, the next incarnation of the Cygolite Hotshot taillight. Eve O’Neill

Also Great

*At the time of publishing, the price was $30.

Cygolite Hotshot
If you bike in really cold weather and have concerns about small batteries freezing, the Hotshot is larger than the Hotshot Micro, potentially avoiding the issue.

If the Micro is sold out, get the regular Hotshot. It performs the same but has a longer, 500-hour battery life. The hard-plastic mount is more finicky than the Micro’s silicone mount, and the two-button interface is more annoying to use, but it’s still a very bright and affordable light.

People use their lights in all sorts of situations, but we think we’ve found the best options for commuters. So in addition to the picks listed above, we have headlight picks for people who need something brighter, either for rural roads where traffic may be traveling faster, an especially long ride, or any area not illuminated by streetlamps or other ambient light. We have a stylish upgrade (for more money) to match your stylish bike. For taillights, we have a AAA battery-powered pick (that can last years before needing a battery change) and also a wider-angle flasher that you can mount on a seatpost if you have a bag under your saddle that could block your light.

Table of contents

Why you should trust us

I’ve written the past three versions of this guide, which now represents more than 65 hours of research and 2.5 years of continuous testing. I’ve been a bike commuter in the San Francisco Bay Area since 2008. And in those eight years, I’ve been hit by a car twice—a very real-world way to learn how drivers do (or don’t) respond to cyclists on the road.

I also spoke to Jim Burakoff, manager of the Berkeley, California, BART station bike valet and a certified instructor with the League of American Bicyclists, which provides safety training for new cyclists ready to hit the road. At Alameda Bicycle, I spoke with sales associate Scott Karoly about what types of lights consumers gravitate toward. I also consulted Keith Wall, co-owner of Spokeland bicycle co-op, a resource that provides bike repair services and training free of charge to the community of Oakland, California. Picking through bins of discarded items at the shop, we learned a lot about what kinds of lights do and don’t last. Finally, Daniel H. Rose is a personal injury lawyer and cycling advocate who provided legal details regarding the liability issues of riding without lights.

Why you need real bike lights

Depending on where you live, it could be illegal to ride in the dark without bike lights. And should you get into an accident and don’t have lights on, it’s possible you could be held liable—even if wasn’t your fault.1  Burakoff, our League of American Bicyclists instructor, succinctly told us, “Compared to the consequences of not being seen, bike lights are incredibly cheap.”

Anything is better than nothing, but inexpensive lights—those cheap $15 blinkers sitting right next to the register in the bike shop—are not really good enough. They’re too weak to be easily seen in traffic.

From only seven car lengths away, a blinker looks a lot like a reflection. Eve O'Neill

From only seven car lengths away, a blinker looks a lot like a reflection. Eve O’Neill

In addition to visibility concerns, cheap blinkers often use watch batteries that can freeze in cold weather. It’s not hugely common, but it does happen. More commonly, the batteries die and just never get replaced since they’re harder to track down than common AAA or AA cells. Some of the housings are flimsy; I’ve had them crack if they drop on the pavement, crack in the bottom of my bag, crack in my hand. Invest in something that will do more to keep you safe.

How we picked and tested

To reach our decision, we started by reading all the comparisons of bike lights we could find, and there are years and years of documentation available. Every year, updates its lights shootout, Outdoor Gear Lab has a tool that lets you compare light beams side-by-side, and the Bike Light Database is constantly adding to its list of reviewed lights. These are the three most comprehensive and up-to-date resources we’ve found.

We contacted the major light manufacturers to ask for updates and details on new products, identified new trends, and kept an eye out while riding, often running to catch cyclists on the street and ask about their lights.

Our experts helped us focus on the most important features of a bike light:

            • Bright enough to see and be seen (but not too bright to blind drivers)
            • Steady illumination and blinking modes (and preferably another that does both simultaneously)
            • Easy to install and remove (to prevent theft)
            • Durable enough to withstand abuse and weather
            • At least a week’s worth of battery life (which is fewer hours than you’d think)
            • Easy-to-use buttons (but not so easy that it accidentally turns on in your bag)

A good light needs to be bright enough to illuminate the road, but not so bright it blinds traffic.
A good light needs to be bright enough to illuminate the road, but not so bright it blinds traffic. The brightness of a headlight is typically measured in lumens, and available models range anywhere from 100 to 1,000-plus. We know from testing that a 100-lumen light doesn’t pack enough heat—it gets washed out under street lamps. And Karoly, a veteran sales associate at Alameda Bike, tells us ultra-bright lights in the 800-plus range can be hazardous on normal roads: “Those are for mountain biking at night and are really only useful for the trail when it’s pitch black. I mean, if you had an 1,800-lumen light on the street you would get a ticket.” Lights in the 300-lumen range are ideal for a city commute.

Products tested for our 2016 update. Eve O'Neill

Products tested for our 2015 update. Eve O’Neill

Your headlight needs to have at least two settings—steady and strobe. Sometimes these are referred to as “see” and “be seen.” The steady beam is your “see” setting—it illuminates the road in front of you. The strobing pattern is “be seen”—it makes you visible to cars. Many lights now blink and illuminate simultaneously (the best of both worlds), a feature we looked for when choosing our light.

A good light has to install quickly and securely, stay put while biking, and be easy to remove when you arrive at your destination. Otherwise, it makes a tempting target for thieves. No tools, no battery packs, no cords.

It needs to be durable and weather-resistant for those unexpected rainy days, and also be able to handle some abuse from accidents and drops.

As for battery life, most lights advertise only a few hours of run time, which doesn’t seem like much. But Karoly reassured us, “If you commute, even five days a week, … just recharge it on your day off. I don’t have to charge mine except maybe once a week.” If you have it on for only 30 to 45 minutes once a day, this makes a lot of sense, and three to four hours of burn time is plenty to get you through the week.

Your light’s buttons must be easy enough to operate with gloves on but not so easy to push that they can turn on inside a bag, draining your battery without your knowledge. And all lights we looked at have an indicator that lets you know when it’s time to recharge.

We judged taillights by a lot of the same criteria as headlights—they have to be bright enough to see, have enough battery life to get you through the week, and be easy to take on and off the bike. They also should be red, so drivers can understand that they’re seeing a rear light and not a headlight. Extra waterproofing is good, too, because your rear wheel kicks a lot of spray on the back of your bike when it rains. And taillights must have a crazy blinking pattern, as their sole purpose is to alert people to your presence.

We skipped over lights that mount exclusively on helmets since they’re sort of a specialty item, and set aside lights that require you to use a proprietary charger instead of a basic, widely available standard mini or micro USB cable. We also didn’t consider dynamo lights, which are self-charging but hard to find in US bike shops.2

By now, we’ve run a lot of different tests on these lights. Like other publications, we have photographed beam spreads to observe not only how bright a light is but also where and how the light is directed.

Clockwise from top left: Knog Blinder 2, L&M Urban 200, Planet Bike Micro 2W, Serfas 350, NiteRider Lumina 350, Cygolite Metro 360. Eve O'Neill

Clockwise from top left: Knog Blinder 2, L&M Urban 200, Planet Bike Micro 2W, Serfas 350, NiteRider Lumina 350, Cygolite Metro 360. Eve O’Neill

To test our latest batch of lights, we simply shined each one on the ground, and didn’t find anything we hadn’t seen during testing in previous years: All the brands project different patterns, some square, some round, some smooth, some wavy—and when we look at them projected from our bike onto a city street, they all look the same.

We’ve installed every mount there is—the screw-lock mounts of Cygolite and Niterider, CatEye’s FlexTight bracket, Knog’s trademark bungee, the ratchet-style clamps of Planet Bike and Serfas, and every other iteration of silicone strap and hard-plastic mechanism—and ridden with them on terrible roads.

Different styles of Knog headlights being tested for mounting durability. Eve O'Neill

Different styles of Knog headlights being tested for mounting durability. Eve O’Neill

We’ve tested battery life, draining more than 25 lights to empty to cross-check run-time claims and find out how light output changed over time and how the lights turned off.

Lights burning on full power while we wait for the batteries to die. Eve O'Neill

Lights burning on full power while we wait for the batteries to die. Eve O’Neill

We even started freezing our taillights to see if cold temperatures would compromise the battery.

CR2032 batteries, the small disc batteries that are found in cheaper blinking lights, can freeze and stop working in cold weather. Here we’re testing rechargeable lights for similar issues. Eve O'Neill

CR2032 batteries, the small disc batteries found in cheaper blinking lights, can freeze and stop working in cold weather. Here we’re testing rechargeable lights for similar issues. Eve O’Neill

All of these things do matter. But we decided the most important thing we could do is look at each light from the vantage point of a car. So our panel of five testers sat in the driver’s seat and observed our top headlight contenders from two critical angles: as a bike is approaching the car from behind, in the bike lane, as the driver prepares to make a right turn; and on the car’s left as the driver is getting ready to pull out of a parking space or exit the vehicle.

A car driver in a parked car who can’t see you approaching from behind on the left could open his door and hit you or suddenly pull into your path of travel.

A car driver in a parked car who can’t see you approaching from behind on the left could open the door and hit you or suddenly pull into your path of travel.

Right-hand turns are potentially hazardous if a driver can’t see you approaching from the back right of the vehicle.

Right-hand turns are potentially hazardous if a driver can’t see you approaching from the back right of the vehicle.

We also had testers look at our taillights. They stood on the sidewalk a block away and observed in order to address a question that numbers can’t answer—when a driver looks at this light, will they see that it’s a bike? We’ve done this both in daylight and at night, and in a bracket-style elimination round we narrowed the field to our top choices.


Cygolite Dash 320 USB Light
For commuting in urban areas or in traffic, the 320-lumen Dash gives you more light for the money than almost anything else out there, and it remains visible in traffic day or night.

The Cygolite Dash ($50) is the best headlight for most bike commuters because it’s one of the most affordable and user-friendly lights from the brand that consistently offers the most light for your money. Thanks to its eye-grabbing blinking pattern, you’ll never have to worry if a car can see you coming, and you won’t have to spend $100 for that peace of mind. Its silicone strap mount makes it simple to put on for use and to take off for theft prevention—it’s easier than the hard-plastic mounts used for past Cygolite models. It has seven settings for both day and night riding, including SteadyPulse, which will blink and illuminate your path simultaneously for almost three hours. (The light remembers the last mode you used so you won’t have to cycle through all of them every time you turn it on—only when you switch modes.)

A battery charge indicator light, easy to operate on/off button, and a standard micro USB charging port round out its feature set.

The Dash’s most important feature is its nighttime flash, a sort of erratic flutter that is more attention-grabbing than the slow breathing pattern of the Light & Motion Urban or steady flash of the CatEye Volt. This means you’re much harder to ignore from the perspective of a driver.

There are seven different blink patterns on this light, and four of them are for nighttime use:

            1. Low
            2. Medium
            3. High
            4. SteadyPulse

Our testing panelists unanimously agreed that Cygolite’s SteadyPulse caught their eye in the rearview mirror of their car better than similar settings on other 300-lumen lights.
The SteadyPulse setting allows you to project a solid beam of light on the road for illumination while also flashing to grab the attention of the cars around you. It sounds simple, but less than a year ago it was hard to find more than a handful of lights that had this feature. But it’s important: You no longer have to choose seeing the road over being seen by a driver, or vice versa. Our testing panelists unanimously agreed that Cygolite’s SteadyPulse caught their eye in the rearview mirror of their car better than similar settings on other 300-lumen lights.

The Dash’s four LEDs give it additional flashing modes that don’t interfere with the main lamp, letting you see and be seen—and saving on battery life. Eve O'Neill

The Dash’s four LEDs give it additional flashing modes that don’t interfere with the main lamp, letting you see and be seen—and saving on battery life. Eve O’Neill

In addition to the four night modes, this light has three meant for day use:

            1. DayLightning
            2. Quad LED Steady
            3. Quad LED Flashing

DayLightning is a daytime flash, and it is so bright it’s almost violent. I inadvertently ran it at night when I first got the light. Pedestrians were covering their eyes from 30 feet away, and I had to cover the lens when I stopped behind cars to avoid blinding anyone. I could see the flash bouncing off street signs two entire (long) city blocks away. It’s too intense for night use, but it’s a great feature sure to get you noticed when the sun is out.

The Quad LED refers to the row of four LEDs on the top of the Dash, which are basically daytime running lights. They were incorporated as a way to save on battery power. If all you want is your light to blink, by switching the power from the main lens to these smaller lights, the Dash can run for up to 55 hours on one charge.

All of the settings on the Dash have a reasonable amount of battery life: Low will run for 9 hours, DayLightning will run for 10. On its highest setting, it has only 1 hour, 15 minutes, but if you’re in traffic we’re assuming you’ll be running SteadyPulse mode, which can run for 2 hours, 45 minutes on a single charge. That gives you about 26 miles worth of lighting at a leisurely pace. If you need a bright light to burn for a long time, get the Cygolite 720 instead and run it on low.

When used only for illumination in solid beam mode, the Cygolite’s optics aren’t as smooth as other lights.

The Light & Motion Urban 350 (center) and the Cygolite Dash 320 (right). Eve O'Neill

The Light & Motion Urban 350 (center) and the Cygolite Dash 320 (right). Eve O’Neill

The Light & Motion projects a smooth, round, even wash of light, while the Dash’s beam is a little uneven from edges to center. But after two years of regular use, I’m confident that if you’re riding in traffic, or anywhere that has a tiny bit of ambient light, it just doesn’t matter. The Cygolite has never compromised visibility or my ability to react to the road. Conversely, when I shine a light like the Urban 350 in front of me onto the pavement, its optical quality isn’t noticeably better. But bumps on the road, the texture of the pavement, the reflection of car bumpers, and windshields create a visual stew that obscure any perceivable smoothness in this lumen range.

When it comes to visibility, the breadth of a light’s beam is more important than how smooth it is, and the Dash’s beam is as wide as anything else we tested. This means you’re more visible from the side compared with some more inexpensive models, like the Planet Bike Blaze 2 Watt.

With all this in mind, when I ask people without lights why they don’t have any, they say it’s because they’re too expensive. Which is why it’s important that the Dash gives you a lot of light for your money.
With all this in mind, when I ask people without lights why they don’t have any, they don’t cite poor-quality optics or battery life as the reason. They say it’s because the lights are too expensive. Which is why it’s important that the Dash gives you a lot of light for your money. Available for less than $60 (we’ve seen the price dip below $50 in the past), it puts out enough lumens to let you see and be seen under most conditions.

The Dash is also easy to use. It’s Cygolite’s first light with a silicone mount, which is a welcome improvement in usability compared with the hard plastic quick-release mounts from years past. No other mount style is easier to put on or remove, and it can mount to a broad range of handlebar sizes with no tools required. Also, there are no parts to lose—a concern we have with the tightening ring on the CatEye FlexTight mount and the screw on the Niterider Lumina. Wear, however, is sometimes highlighted by Amazon reviewers as a potential issue. Knogs, which rely on a silicone strap, definitely wear out, as Keith Wall illustrated by showing me boxes of stretched Knogs that have been left behind at his repair co-op, Spokeland. But there are lots of silicone strap designs that retain their elasticity, like the ones on the Light & Motion Urban and the Serfas Thunderbolt, which still work like they just came out of the box after two years of regular use.

No other mount style is easier to put on or remove, and it can mount to a broad range of handlebar sizes.

If the strap does break, Cygolite offers a one-year warranty against defective parts and craftsmanship. I took advantage of this, and they sent me a new strap, no questions asked. Once I received the new band, it was easy to replace and I didn’t need tools. You pull out the old part by working it off of the small hook that secures it against the light body, then take the new part and push it back through the same small space until it fits into place. And if the warranty period is over, replacement mounts can be bought for $6 from Cygolite ($3 plus shipping) or $5 on Amazon.

The low-profile Dash is easy to mount, and because it’s light it won’t tilt forward when you’re riding over rough terrain. Eve O'Neill

The low-profile Dash is easy to mount, and because it’s light it won’t tilt forward when you’re riding over rough terrain. Eve O’Neill

The Dash is very light and maintains a low profile, preventing it from rotating over the handlebars, unlike the Knog Blinder Road, which is too top heavy for its strap. And the Dash can pan broadly from left to right, an improvement over the minimal give of the CatEye Volt’s hard-plastic mount.

The Dash is very new, so not a lot of reviews exist. But both of our former Cygolite picks, the Metro 400 and the Metro 360, have been highlighted by Mtbr, Bike Light Database, and Outdoor Gear Lab for their exceptional value. As of yet, we have no reason to believe the Dash will perform differently. If anything does go wrong, it should be covered by Cygolite’s one-year warranty.

The Dash can swivel almost a full 180 degrees left to right. Eve O'Neill

The Dash can swivel almost a full 180 degrees left to right. Eve O’Neill

Flaws but not dealbreakers

As we mentioned earlier, the optics aren’t as good as some other options at higher prices, and cycling through seven blink modes can get annoying very quickly. And unlike previous Cygolites, such as the Metro and Streak, which remain dimly lit for several hours before the battery goes completely dead, the Dash begins to blink brightly about five minutes before the battery is exhausted and then turns off completely. Even so, those issues weren’t significant enough to unseat our top choice, because they don’t hinder safety or performance. The USB port cover doesn’t close very securely. I found it lying open once or twice after not thoroughly securing it to the body. I suspect it won’t be an issue, but we’ll watch to see if over time this creates a flaw in the weatherproofing.

The mounting strap also broke during testing. This sounds like a dealbreaker, but we’re not really worried because we called customer service and they replaced the part, no questions asked. We also didn’t find any reports of broken mounts in the dozens of Amazon reviews, so it doesn’t appear to be a common problem. Also, the exact same mount is on the Hotshot Micro, and there have been no issues. For now, we believe it’s a single defective part rather than a design flaw.


Also Great
Cygolite Streak 310 USB Light
The Streak doesn’t have a silicone mount or some of the battery-saving features of the Dash, but it’s usually about $5 cheaper and gets the job done.

The Cygolite Streak 310 is Cygolite’s cheapest headlight, but it’s still plenty bright and has all the same flashing modes as its more expensive brethren. If you’re on a budget, if you prefer a quick-release mount instead of a silicone one, or if the Dash is unavailable or its price jumps to more than $50, the Streak gives you most of the same features and comparable brightness at a lower price. It retains the all-important SteadyPulse blink pattern, an ultra-bright daytime flasher, and enough battery life that you won’t have to constantly recharge. But we think the convenience of the silicone mount is worth paying for.

Great thing about the Streak (and Metro lights) is that when they’re low on power they don’t turn off.
Like all Cygolites, the Streak has a battery indicator light. Yet one great thing about the Streak (and Metro lights) is that when they’re low on power they don’t turn off, like lights from Knog, Niterider, and Lezyne. In our tests, even after the battery was almost drained and the beam completely dimmed, the Metro remained flickering for an additional 9 hours after it “ran out” of power. The only reason it stopped is because I turned it off and ended the test. The Streak similarly outlasted my ability to watch it. This means that if you forget to charge and run out of juice, you’re not going to be left in pitch blackness for your journey home. It doesn’t do much to illuminate anything, but if you’re somewhere dark, suddenly being left in pitch blackness can be unnerving, especially while your eyes adjust.

Brighter lights

Also Great
Cygolite Expilion 720 USB Light
For a long, dark commute we’d recommend the $80 Cygolite Expilion 720. You simply can’t get more light for the price.
The Cygolite Expilion 720 ($80) is very bright and packs more lumens for the price than any other commuter bike light in existence. It’s not our main pick because we think 300 lumens is plenty for most people, and if you’re one of them you should save the extra $30. But if you ride on dark roads and need more light, the Expilion 720 gives you more lumens per dollar (nearly 9 at the time we tested) than any other light of similar power output. Another advantage of a brighter light is that you can get more battery life if you run it on a low setting. The Expilion will output 370 lumens for 3 hours, compared to our top pick’s 1:15 run time at a similar brightness. The Expilion lasts for 1:15 hours at its highest setting.

The Expilion will output 370 lumens for 3 hours, compared to our top pick’s 1:15 run time at a similar brightness.
If you plan on going on much longer rides or always want to have a charged battery ready, the 720 also has a swappable 3.7V lithium-ion battery. It comes with one battery stick included, and you can purchase additional batteries for $40 each.

The Expilion gets great accolades from Gizmodo and the ever-comprehensive Bike Light Database, as well as a solid five-star Amazon user rating.

A stylish upgrade

Also Great
Light & Motion Urban 350 Bike Headlights, Obsidian Stout (Black/Black)
The aluminum housing feels great and the lens casts a more even glow than our top pick. Better yet, it’s almost half the price it was a year ago.

The Light & Motion Urban 350 ($60) doesn’t perform better than our pick, but it does look nicer.
The Light & Motion Urban 350 ($60) doesn’t perform better than our pick, but it does look nicer. Its two-part machined aluminum and plastic body has a smoothness and heft the all-plastic Cygolite does not, the optics are extremely clean and even, and the yellow side illumination lights are very visible. If you’re looking for a beautiful light to match to a beautiful bike, this is it. Not only has the price come down in the past year, making it more attainable, but it’s also offered in a wider variety of updated color schemes.

For the most part, the Light & Motion matches or improves upon the Cygolite Dash feature for feature, except when it comes to visibility. The flash pattern of the Urban series is subtle, more like the “breathing” battery indicator light on an old Mac laptop than a flashing bike light. Light & Motion says this is so it won’t be mistaken for an emergency vehicle, and the continuous pulse also provides a driver a consistent point of reference to judge how far away a cyclist is. Both of those are great ideas, but our testers found it less noticeable from a car’s rearview mirror compared with the traditional blinking pattern on the Cateye Volt, let alone Cygolite’s mesmerizing flutter.


Our pick

Cygolite Hotshot Micro USB Light
Lightweight and easy to use, the Hotshot Micro can blink for weeks on one charge and has the most attention-getting flash of all similar models we tested.

*At the time of publishing, the price was $30.

For a bright, rechargeable taillight with long battery life, we recommend the $30 Cygolite Hotshot Micro. It has the same attention-grabbing brightness as last year’s pick (the full-size Cygolite Hotshot) but is much smaller and has an easier-to-use silicone mount (like the Dash). A 2-watt LED combined with a parabolic reflector make it appear brighter to the naked eye than any similar light, and in blink mode it can run up to 100 hours between charges—you won’t have to recharge for months. It also has an updated single on/off button that we prefer over the confusing two-button design on the original Hotshot.

The Hotshot Micro is compact enough to mount wherever you need it, yet is as bright as the full-size Hotshot. Eve O'Neill

The Hotshot Micro is compact enough to mount wherever you need it,
yet is as bright as the full-size Hotshot. Eve O’Neill

Taillights can be more difficult to compare than headlights because some are rated in watts and some are rated in lumens. These are different ways to measure output, but comparing numbers side-by-side requires some electrical engineering know-how. So to reach the conclusion that 2 watts was enough to be visible, we photographed a variety of taillights during the day from 45 yards away. This is roughly how much distance a car traveling behind you at 35 mph needs in order to stop without hitting you. The conditions were intentionally extreme, because sometimes it’s important to be seen during the day as well as night, and we compared 0.5 watt, 2 watts, and lights ranging from 25 to 80 lumens.

A 0.5-watt taillight burning on steady from 45 yards away is almost impossible to see. The top image is the actual distance. The bottom image is zoomed. Eve O'Neill

A 0.5-watt taillight burning on steady from 45 yards away is almost impossible to see. The top image is the actual distance. The bottom image is zoomed. Eve O’Neill

The 60-lumen Serfas Shield from 45 yards away. Eve O'Neill

The 60-lumen Serfas Shield from 45 yards away. Eve O’Neill

We discovered that 2-watt models provide an adequate amount of illumination and aren’t as costly as brighter options that might be unnecessary for average city streets. Once we set aside the large number of 0.5- and 1-watt lights available, the four or five lights that remained in the 25- to 40-lumen range were all $45 or more compared with the $30 Hotshot Micro, making it an easy pick.

The Hotshot Micro has the same lens as the Dash, which helps spread the beam at a wider angle, making it more visible from the sides. And to make sure it was as eye-catching as we thought, we stacked it up against some former competition for our panel of testers to observe by eye. From one block away, they singled out the Micro as the most attention-grabbing light in a field of 2-watt and 25- to 40-lumen lights.

From one block away, they singled out the Micro as the most attention-grabbing light in a field of 2-watt and 25- to 40-lumen lights.

The light will run for an impressive 100 hours on blink mode—nothing of comparable size lasts anywhere close to that long—and charges via micro USB. It’s bested only by the original Hotshot, which the manufacturer claims will run for 500-plus hours, and I haven’t charged it since I started using it last year. The next longest running light with a silicone mount that we found, the Knog Blinder 4, runs only half that time (50 hours).

The original Hotshot Micro is also larger and has a more finicky hard-plastic mount, while the Hotshot Micro uses the same mount as the Dash, which is covered under a one-year warranty against defects, and can be replaced anytime for less than $5. Furthermore, because the Micro is smaller and lighter, it’s less prone to drag the mount down over time. This means your taillight is less likely to end up angled at the ground.

The Hotshot Micro’s silicone strap is easy to get on and off, and holds the light securely in place. Eve O'Neill

The Hotshot Micro’s silicone strap is easy to get on and off, and holds the light securely in place. Eve O’Neill

The single on/off button on the Micro is also an upgrade over the Hotshot’s two-button design, which was a hassle to turn off. The Micro clicks on and off with ease.

The single top button on the Hotshot Micro. Eve O'Neill

The single top button on the Hotshot Micro. Eve O’Neill

While the Micro is new and doesn’t have many professional reviews, the first Hotshot was universally adored for reasons that made it into the new design, which shares many of the same qualities and has similar performance. Gizmodo dubbed the Hotshot “the grandmaster.” Wired is a big fan. And it holds the Best Deal award at Bike Light Database, which says, “No other light matches the build quality, battery life, output, and features of the Hotshot for this price.” As of yet, we have no reason to believe the newest Hotshot will perform much differently.

Flaws but not dealbreakers

In early Amazon reviews of the product, we noticed some commenters had problems with the battery not recharging, and the light not turning on in temperatures below 50 degrees. We tried to make it fail by sticking it in a zero-degree freezer, along with the larger Hotshot and Superflash for comparison. After spending a night in the freezer, all the taillights emerged in working order.

It’s too early to tell if the battery will struggle in cold conditions, but we’ll continue to monitor.


Also Great

*At the time of publishing, the price was $30.

Cygolite Hotshot
If you bike in really cold weather and have concerns about small batteries freezing, the Hotshot is larger than the Hotshot Micro, potentially avoiding the issue.

The original Cygolite Hotshot still delivers a bright 2-watt beam, an eye-catching blinking pattern, and a battery that will seemingly run forever—more than 500 hours, if the packaging is to be believed.

But for the most part, we like the Micro’s performance tweaks, including the small, light design, the silicone mount, and the easy-to-operate button.

A battery-powered taillight

Also Great
Planet Bike Superflash Turbo
With two simple modes and no batteries to charge, the Superflash is a fuss-free option with a random blinking pattern that is more noticeable than lights twice as powerful.
While battery–powered headlights have been pretty thoroughly phased out in favor of rechargeable options, one set of AAA batteries can still power a taillight for hundreds of hours, making this design a still-viable option. Better yet, use rechargeable AAAs in your light, and now you’ve got a light that’s not quite as convenient as a USB light (since it requires a separate battery charger) but gives you the major benefits—no recurring cost, no waste. Among these, the Planet Bike Superflash Turbo is the best. It’s a favorite among seasoned commuters. Wall likes it “because it never disappoints you. Its run time is legendary, and it’s very bright for a light that runs on two AAA batteries.” Karoly name-checked it as well. “It is the best-selling taillight we have, it’s really bright, and it has a random flash pattern so it’s never the same. I can’t imagine someone not seeing that,” he said. It also has a lifetime warranty, a good bonus for a $30 piece of gear.

The Planet Bike Superflash, a traditional AAA-powered design with a quick-release plastic mount, offers solid performance for a low price. Eve O'Neill

The Planet Bike Superflash, a traditional AAA-powered design with a quick-release plastic mount, offers solid performance for a low price. Eve O’Neill

Even though the Superflash is only a 1-watt light, its randomized flashing pattern makes it as noticeable as technically brighter lights. It’s hard to explain how arresting a random flash is until you’re looking at it. I caught myself spacing out and staring at it often while testing. Combined with a parabolic reflector, which projects light straight back into traffic, this 1-watt light looks a lot brighter than it is. Our testers rated it the third brightest light to the naked eye, after the Hotshots—even when compared with brighter options.

We also love the Superflash’s simplicity. It has just three settings: blink, steady, and off. If you wear your light on a backpack, every time you walk into a building you turn it off by reaching behind you and counting clicks (since you can’t see it). If the button is hard to find or the light has six modes, it’s almost impossible to turn off. Less fuss is always a good thing.

It’s also received high praise from publications, including Bike Radar, Bicycling, and Gear Junkie.

A brighter, wider beam upgrade

Also Great
Serfas Thunderbolt
This best-selling taillight has a red-hot 35-lumen glow and one of the widest viewable angles available. You could get a brighter and wider one, but it’ll cost a lot more.
If you have a seat bag hanging on the back of your bike, it might block your best available taillight-mounting position. Hooking your light on the bag’s light loop might result in a beam that’s pointed toward the ground, instead of straight back at traffic. You can solve this by mounting your light with a seat stay mount, which moves the light from directly below your saddle down lower on the bike. But if you don’t have one, the Serfas Thunderbolt can also solve this problem, and help you in other situations in which you need to mount a light in an awkward place.

A long, vertical strip of small LEDs, you can attach the Thunderbolt to your seatpost, or even your seat tube or seat stay or top tube for an additional wash of light in front or below you. Eve O'Neill

As the Thunderbolt is a long, vertical strip of small LEDs, you can attach it to your seatpost, or even your seat tube or seat stay or top tube, for an additional wash of light in front or below you. Eve O’Neill

Unlike our top picks, which have a parabolic reflector that points the beam in a particular direction, the Thunderbolt does not, and it is designed to flood light around you instead of straight back into the eyeballs of traffic. If you’re stuck in a situation in which you can’t get your taillight to mount and point straight back, the multidirectional beam of the Thunderbolt could make you more visible than a beam pointed at the ground.

The beam spread of the Serfas Thunderbolt (left) and Cygolite Hotshot (right). Eve O'Neill

The beam spread of the Serfas Thunderbolt (left) and Cygolite Hotshot (right). Eve O’Neill

The competition

We dismissed the following for one reason or another, but you can find a lot of good lights out there. For some we chose to highlight what makes them special, even if they couldn’t match the overall value of our top choice.


Super Flea ($40) & Scorch ($40) – Charge via a proprietary magnetic USB charger that you have to replace if you lose it.


Ion 700 ($120) – I’ve read a few reviews that call this light the “best value,” but I’m not sure why it’s a better deal than similar lights such as the Light & Motion Urban 650 ($100) or the 700-lumen Lezyne Super Drive XL ($120), both of which have great looks and high-quality components.The Ion does have a pretty and compact design with quality optics and a silicone mount, and you get about 6 lumens per dollar, which is slightly above average, but the brighter Expilion 720 gives you more lumens for your money—nearly 9 per dollar—at current prices.


CatEye Volt 300 ($55) – We tested the Volt against the Dash and the Light & Motion Urban and liked it. This model is missing the user-friendly details of the Dash (like the silicone mount and low profile), the locking piece that could get lost on the mount makes us nervous, and the price fluctuates a lot. If it’s available only at its retail price of $70, getting the Light & Motion Urban 350 instead is worthwhile, but if you like the style or if the price drops below $50, then we wouldn’t hesitate to buy.

NanoShot Plus ($75) – This is a hefty light. And in previous tests we thought it was too expensive (originally it retailed for $120), though it’s currently deeply discounted on Amazon. We think you’ll prefer the look and feel of the Light & Motion Urban at that price. The 350 is less expensive ($60), and the 500 is roughly equivalent and currently $80.

CatEye Rapid X ($30) and Rapid X2 ($46) – The included strap mount is hard to get around a seat post.

CatEye Rapid 5 – For $23, this light is a good buy for a solid AAA-powered light. It has a 100-hour run time in flash mode, and I’ve seen it on the road and it will get your attention. But it doesn’t have the parabolic reflector or random flash pattern of the Superflash, and I trust the housing on the Superflash more, which didn’t even break when slammed in a door—twice.


Metro 400 – Currently about $50 on Amazon, this is the latest version of our former top pick. It is a great light at a great price and is still highly recommended. But the Streak is a better value, the Dash is more user-friendly, and the Expilion is brighter.

Metro 550 – This model costs about $55 and is also a great light, but we prefer Cygolite’s other options for the same reasons cited about the 400.

Expilion 850 – The 720 is already brighter than most commuters need and is about $15 cheaper, but the 850 is an excellent option if you need more light. The 850 package includes a helmet mount and USB wall charger, which makes it a better value if you want those things, but who doesn’t have a drawer full of USB chargers at this point?

Hotshot SL – This is a version of the Hotshot that has two fewer blinking patterns and doesn’t come with an included seat stay mount. We prefer the Hotshot for these reasons, but the SL can often be found for a couple bucks cheaper than the Hotshot (it’s about $25 right now) and is still a great light.

Cygolite has phased out several lights of many series that we recommend, including the Expilion 680 and 800, the Metro 300, 360, 500, and the Streak 280. According to PR, this is just a result of the company’s tweaking the light output. They’re the same design as current models, but they have been replaced by the currently available Expilion 720, Metro 400 and 550, and Streak 310.


Knogs tend to be overpriced, offering relatively little light for your money (the various models offer 1 to 5 lumens per dollar, below average for the models we tested); this is true of the Blinder Arc 5.5, Blinder Arc 1.7, Blinder Road 2 and Blinder Road 3, Blinder 4V, and Road Rear, even when they’re on sale. They used to be the only lights that had an easy-to-use silicone mount, but that’s no longer the case.

The Knog Blinder 4 was one of our alternate picks for a while because it was the only taillight with a silicone mount. In addition to the easily swappable mount, it provided a high-quality, bright wash of light. But since Knog no longer has a monopoly on this type of mount, we think you can do better with the Hotshot Micro.


Super Drive XL – A 700-lumen light in a machined-aluminum case for $120. On a par with the Bontrager Ion 700 ($120) and Light & Motion Urban 650 ($100) if you’re in the market for a high-end light. But not an exceptional value.

Lezyne Macro Drive ($70) – This one has everything the Light & Motion Urban series has, refined to a lesser degree. A silicone mount that’s good—but not quite as good. A beam spread that’s even—just not quite as even.

Micro Rear Light ($50) – It doesn’t have the battery life of our main pick and costs $15 more. It’s brighter, on a par with the Serfas Shield, but it lacks the heat the Serfas lights seem to emit.

Light & Motion

Vis 360 ($140) – We passed on any models designed specifically for a helmet mount—and that includes this one.

Vis 180 ($100) – The 180 is long, and the bulky housing didn’t fit in the space under my saddle. It’s not necessary to spend $100 on a taillight.

Vis 180 Micro ($45) – This one didn’t fit on my seatpost either. It looks like it should from the package, but it couldn’t sit properly flush against the post.


In the past, the Lumina series has been too pricy to compete, but cost has dropped a lot in the past year (a 350-lumen light once cost $90, but is now $55), so we’ll keep an eye on them for our next round of testing. But in the meantime, they still haven’t caught up with usability features that commuters gravitate toward, like silicone mounting options and lower-profile designs.

Lumina Micro 220 ($55) – The Cygolite has 100 more lumens of output.

Mako 200 ($40) – We think you’ll be happier (and more visible) with more than 200 lumens.

MiNewt Mini Series – Separate battery packs.

Solas ($40) – This taillight is strong competition for the Hotshot. They are both 2-watt lights and have a very similar beam pattern. But it’s heavy, and if you want a silicone mount you have to buy it separately.

Stinger – This model runs about $25, scatters light everywhere, and would make a better safety light than a dedicated taillight.

Cherry Bomb ($20) – You get 35 lumens, but the Cherry Bomb has the same weight problem as the Solas, potentially pulling the mount down over time.

Planet Bike

Superflash Micro ($25) – While compact, it ditches everything that makes the Turbo great. It’s half as bright. It takes rare N batteries ¯\_(ツ)_/¯, doesn’t have a parabolic lens or a random flash pattern, and the on/off switch is a problem. It presses so easily that it turned on in my bag; my light was dead before I got to use it.

Superflash Micro USB ($25) – This USB version of the above light has similar problems.

Superflash Turbo Mini ($30) – You’ll have to find AAAA batteries, another strange size, and it has the same hang-ups as the Micro.

Superflash USB ($35) – It couldn’t compete with its battery-powered twin. This light is only 0.5 watt, yet costs more than the Hotshot.

Blaze 2W Micro ($35) – Headlights of the battery-powered variety are no longer able to compete with USB models for brightness and battery life.

Portland Design Works

Lars Rover 450 ($85) – Loaded with mounting options, including hard plastic, silicone, and helmet mount. But it’s a bit bulky, and 450 lumens can’t do much more than 300.

Lars Rover 650 ($100) – There are cheaper and brighter options.

Aether Demon ($30) – A quality light from a company that everyone in the bike community loves, but it’s only 0.5 watt.

Danger Zone ($25) – This AAA-battery-powered taillight could be competition for the Superflash now that the price has dropped. We’ll consider it again for our next update, but until then we have more confidence in the durability and tested performance of the Superflash.


Shield 60 ($60) – One of my all-time favorite lights. Serfas taillights don’t just look bright, they look like they’re throwing off heat. But it lasts only two hours on high and costs $60. It’s unnecessary for most.

Shield 80 ($75) – Even hotter, but overkill.

UTL-200 ($30) – Only 10 hours of blink time, and we found it a bit clunky.

Serfas has integrated a swappable lens and redesigned housing in the TSL series. Changing your light beam from wide to narrow lets you customize how far ahead you want to see—a narrowly focused beam can peer down a path much farther, whereas a wider flood beam is better for close distance illumination. This is a clever tool for mountain bikers, who have a great need for anticipating roots and rocks on the trail. But commuters don’t usually need to customize their beam width.

Other manufacturers

#1 Highest Selling Light On Amazon (yes, that was the real name at the time we got it, and it cost $18) – When we opened the box, the plastic packaging smelled like gasoline. It’s a battery-operated light, and a month after receiving it I still can’t get it to work. Though we didn’t test it, we’re convinced a product with a warranty from a brand that can offer you customer support is a better use of your money.

Moon – Another brand marketed by the company that manufactures Serfas lights, so the Moon Shield is the Serfas Shield, et cetera.

Owleye – Unreliable mounts, according to one of our experts.

Princeton Tec Push – Enough minor complaints in Amazon reviews and ratings to keep this one from standing out.

Magicshine Eagle – $150 for 600 lumens. You can do better with the Cygolite Expilion. The OLED display, currently the only one of its kind, offers three statistics: light setting, flash setting, and battery run time. But battery life is the only one that’s useful. You can see your light setting by looking at it, and our picks all have battery meters.

Tioga Dual Eyes – It appears to be nearly identical to the Serfas UTL-200.

Topeak Mega Red – They give the brightness rating of this light in candlepower, an antique unit of light measurement, which makes it hard to compare to other lights. It had a lot of the same specs as our pick, but it had none of the reputation, so it sat out.

What to look forward to

In traditional lighting, Blackburn’s Central Lights (around $100 for a set) just became available; Specialized has released Stix lights (though at 105 lumens we think they might be better safety lights); and upon contacting Serfas about its True 350/500 lights, I was informed they were about to release a redesign, so we decided to wait on testing until they were available. We’ll look at all of these for the next update.

Lights that project things in front or behind your bike for safety aren’t entirely new, but is a feature that is suddenly more widespread.  Niterider has created the Sentinel, which projects lanes behind you. We got a tip from a commenter regarding the Blaze Laserlight, which projects a blinking bike lane projection. The similar CycleAware Laser Shark was recommended to us by a saleswoman a few weeks back, and it didn’t exist a year ago. There’s also this model and this one, and even a design testing the integration of symbols. But there haven’t been many professional reviews of lights using this feature, and it’s hard to tell if this is useful at all. After testing the Xfire, the Guardian concludes that projected lanes are more of a novelty than an effective safety measure. Reporter Trevor Ward writes that although he could see the lines clearly from his vantage point as a cyclist, “[his] neighbour, who volunteered to follow [him] in her car for the purposes of the trial, reported that she ‘didn’t really notice’ the lines, so felt no incentive to give [him] a wider berth than normal.” With that in mind, we’ve left them out of consideration for now, but we will reconsider them if the technology matures.

Another growing trend is lights that bolt to your frame permanently, like the Blackburn Grid Bolt On and several offerings from Fortified Bicycle. They’re intended to prevent theft. They could be a boon for the cyclist who is always leaving lights behind, but for most people they solve an issue that can be addressed at no additional cost simply by taking your light with you.

The Cateye Reflex has been around for a while, and more lights that are motion sensitive are starting to appear. These are lights that turn on when you start riding and turn off when you stop, so you don’t have to remember to turn them on and you get long battery run times. But as a whole the brighter designs need some additional R&D, and are still expensive. Blackburn has released the Central Front Smart Light, which adjusts automatically to the ambient brightness around you. It’s a neat trick, but with a price tag of $120 for 500 lumens, it’s probably not worth the cost for most commuters. We’ll watch to see if these gain momentum or come down in price.

CatEye introduced the Orbit 2, which clips to your spokes and creates a circle of light while you’re riding, accomplishing an effect similar to RevoLights (lights that attach to your tire rims and illuminate your whole wheel) for a fraction of the cost. It’s a safety light, and can’t stand in for a traditional set of commuter lights, but it’s an interesting idea for adding visibility to your ride.


1. I spoke to Daniel H. Rose, a personal injury lawyer who has specialized in bicycle law and advocacy for more than 25 years. In an email I received from him regarding cyclist liability, he stated: “Yes, a cyclist can certainly be found at fault (or liable for another’s injuries or property damage) for not having a light. This happens frequently, and many fewer cyclists would not have been injured or killed if they had lights.” Jump back.

2. Dynamos are reliable and bright. Keith Wall had some great insight into why they weren’t a practical option for this guide: “Dynamo lights can absolutely be a practical option for the average commuter; just look at the Netherlands. In Amsterdam, where bicycle commuting is paramount, there is a lot of dynamo hub usage. The practicality, at least in the American market, boils down to availability from your local bike shop. In Amsterdam, bikes are sold with dynamo hubs standard and pre-installed whereas in America a hub generator is usually an aftermarket purchase. Since installation of a dynamo requires at minimum the replacement of your front wheel there’s a rather large barrier to switching over.” Jump back.

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  1. Jim Burakoff, League of American Cyclists certified instructor, Bay Area BART bike station manager, Interview
  2. Keith Wall, Spokeland Co-Owner, Interview
  3. Scott Karoly, Alameda Bicycles Sales Associate, Interview
  4. Thom Parsons, Operations Manager for Boston Bikes and columnist for Bicycle Times, Interview
  5. Daniel H. Rose, Bicycle advocacy and personal injury lawyer, Interview
  6. Cycling Plus, The Best Bike Lights For Road Cycling, Bike Radar, January 19, 2015
  7. Chris McNamara, Randy Spurrier, and Max Neale, The Best Bike Light Review, Outdoor Gear Lab, August 25, 2015
  8. Francis Cebedo, 2014 Mtbr Bike Lights Shootout, Mtbr, September 20, 2015
  9. Road Cycling UK, Best Bike Lights 2015, Road Cycling UK, June 2015
  10. Bicycling Staff, Shine On, Bicycling, January 14, 2015
  11. Top 150 Bike lights 2015, Ride On, April 20, 2015
  12. Aaron Zvi, Lumens vs. Watts for LED Bulbs, SF Gate
  13. Lumens and the Lighting Facts Label,, July 28, 2014

Originally published: September 25, 2015

We actively moderate the comments section to make it relevant and helpful for our readers, and to stay up to date with our latest picks. You can read our moderation policy FAQ here.

  • Jason Williams

    nice piece

  • mike

    A note about the CR2032 batteries: if you are near an Ikea they carry little cards of 8 for about $3. Before I found this out, I thought that it was basically cheaper to buy new micro-lights rather than replace batteries.

    I bike commute in NYC, so lighting a dark trail is not as important for me as visibility, and so the little silicon band lights are my preference.

    • Allan Watkins

      I buy like 100 of these energizer cr2032’s at once off amazon for 35-40 bucks, problem solved for a couple or few years.

  • poiuytman

    I’ve had my Lezyne Super Drive (precursor to the XL mentioned in the article) for nearly two years and I love it. It tops out at 450 lumens, amazingly bright, but I usually use it on one of the two lower settings. My favorite feature is that it’s USB rechargeable, but you can buy extra 18650 batteries for about $15-$20 on Amazon and carry a spare on extended rides, or when you forget to recharge. The Cygolites use proprietary batteries that cost $30-$40 a piece depending on the model.

  • Josh Berezin

    i appreciate the footnoted shoutout to dynamos — they’re great! One of the big advantages for me is that I run them during the daytime, too, so my bike and I are that much easier to notice. I suppose I could do that with battery lights, but I find that I’m too stingy with the battery power.

    If you’re buying a bike, and you have the option of getting a dynamo light at that point, it’s a good decision. I can understand not wanting to swap out the front wheel on an existing bike, of course.

  • BCEd

    Lumens as a specification metric for headlamps are almost meaningless. A 60W incandescent bulb produces 800 lumens but would any use a bare bulb as a headlight? Whereas a puny laser pointer can burn your retina if you stared into it.

    Instead, Center Beam Candlepower & Beam Angle (Full or Half-Angle Half Max) are much more instructive but are rarely if ever given by bicycle light manufacturers.

    • Eve O’Neill

      If you have any recommendations on how to accurately measure such a thing, I would be pumped to know about it — hit me up on Twitter or my email. At one point during testing, I actually did have my hands on a light meter that measured in candlepower in the hopes of verifying manufacturer brightness claims. But even after repeated tests I couldn’t get consistent results. I shared my findings with some other insightful nerds but we got stuck because no one could relate to “candlepower” — it was just kind of a meaningless measurement. When I looked into how to convert candlepower to lumens, problems again, as there is just no easy way to do it. Without some serious equipment and the assistance of an electrical engineer, I wasn’t comfortable with the level of accuracy I was achieving to make any kind of reported claims.

      • Nathan Hinkle

        To accurately measure light brightness you need an integrating sphere, and they’re very expensive scientific instruments. This is something I’ve struggled with in making brightness comparisons for my light reviews too. Some people have made their own in various ways (candlepowerforums has a lot of info on this) but it still requires a lot of work and some electrical engineering experience. Despite help from some of my EE friends I haven’t had the time to put one together – getting a good sphere is the hard part.

        I’ve found that beamshots give a better representation of light output than a number for “lumens” since it tells you more about where the light goes than just how much light there is. I like your photos showing the lights up against a wall; that’s a novel way to illustrate beam shape! In case you haven’t seen it, I also made a beamshot comparison tool for my lights review, and I’ll be updating it with new lights in December!

        If you’re interested in how the pros measure light output, look up some info on the FL1 standard. It’s an ANSI standard developed by the flashlight industry for measuring light performance, brightness, battery life, etc. Light and Motion is the only bike light company currently testing their lights with the FL1 standard, but I’ve been talking to other manufacturers about it and some are interested in using it for benchmarking future products.

      • BCEd

        Nathan below gave a very good response. (I was going to say “it’s somewhat difficult and/or expensive, which is why so few do it)

  • jlargentaye

    I’d like to add a note for the [Reelight SL120 lights]( They’re “visibility” lights, not “illuminating” lights so don’t really fit the category of the article. They mount on the hub of your wheels and a magnet is affixed to the spokes to power them. As soon as you start rolling, they’ll start blinking, and have a capacitor to continue blinking for a couple minutes after you stop. That means they won’t go off at a stop sign of traffic lights!

    I discovered them in Europe (they’re Dutch), and they’ve only recently appeared on Amazon in the US. I love them because I *don’t have to think about them*, they just work!

    • cico

      Reelight are awesome, but I believe they’re Danish 😉

    • olee22

      In many countries blinking lights are forbidden. One reason is that the viewer cannot estimate the distance of the moving light, if it’s blinking.



  • eaadams

    How bout a reco on a cheap student bike to put this on?

  • Harvey

    My Blackburn Flea experience: I don’t mind the proprietary charger. It works and it’s small. The problem is that the lights must be disassembled from their mounts to recharge. The headlight must be removed from the bike and have the mounting strap removed as well. The rear light must be unclipped which wouldn’t be bad except the clip is *really* strong which makes it hard to re-clip to fabric straps (like the back of a helmet). The rear clip also rusts. The rear light battery died down to 20-30 minutes of life very quickly. The headlight is still going strong after a few years. However, I’ve had to buy replacement straps for the headlight because it broke from all of the stress from removing and replacing it for each charge. The front light is *very* bright. It illuminates stop signs for up to four long blocks and can even be used as a poor man’s headlight in a pinch.

  • Harvey

    Helmet-mounted lights should have been considered. No commuter (or cyclist) should be riding without a helmet. The other advantages? (1) Helmet lights look where you do (which saved me from getting hit at least twice by looking a driver in the eye). It also lets you check shadowy places to the side of a path that make you nervous. (2) No need to remove your lights from your bike for stops and charging. Your helmet always comes with you and you can easily plug in the lights to a charger without removing them from your helmet.

    • Brian

      Totally agree. It should be illegal for anyone to ride without a helmet. Then again, I suppose not wearing a helmet is a Darwinian good thing for our species.

      • poiuytman

        Google “bicycle helmet laws australia” and see what good mandatory helmet laws do. By some estimates the number of cyclists have been reduced by 30-40% due to such laws, hurting the overall health of the population. Helmets are often seen as an easy stopgap for bicycle safety, when the focus should be on preventing car-bike collisions through proper city infrastructure and teaching public awareness.

  • Brian

    How hard is it to change the battery in the Superflash Turbo? I bought a Serfas tail light that I’m seriously considering returning because it requires a coin to open the battery compartment. The last thing I want to do when out on a long, cold ride with gloves (in the rain, up hill both ways–you get the idea) is have to find a coin to change the battery.

    • Eve O’Neill

      Riiiight, the worst. It’s the same scenario with the Turbo… you’re gonna need a coin and non-frozen hands to pry that housing off.

      • Andrew Heining

        I always use a key to change the batteries on my Superflash. Easy as can be.

  • Gregory Jacob

    Just out of curiosity, did any of your research lead you to consider a flashlight with a handlebar mount? This is a relatively cheap setup, with cree LED flashlights selling for $10 or so. Also, the batteries are replaceable on the fly (and rechargeable if you desire).

    • Eve O’Neill

      I skipped those because I’ve never heard of a flashlight with a blinking option. I have a pretty well lit urban commute, which means I hardly ever use a steady beam but I use the flasher pretty much constantly.

      • Dan Berkman

        Blinking flashlights exist, I have owned more than one to use as a bike headlight. However, it should be noted that the beam pattern and potentially blinding light from a flashlight can blind oncoming traffic. I had a flashlight mounted to my fork until someone showed me how annoying it is on a two way bike or multi-use path.

  • Nathan Hinkle

    Hi! I wrote the lights reviews on Bicycles Stack Exchange that you referred to. Great reviews here – it’s always nice to see folks adding to the discussion of what makes a good bike light.

    I find it curious that you almost exclusively looked at USB-rechargeable headlights, but didn’t seriously consider any USB-rechargeable taillights. I personally find that charging both lights is far less hassle than having to constantly be purchasing new AAA batteries, and the rechargeable lights really are much brighter – often 2-10 times brighter! I’d definitely recommend at least giving them another try if you take another look at lights later.

    Also: “An erratic, annoying, crazy blinking pattern is what you’re on the hunt for.” This isn’t always true. Take a look at Safety data: Which is safer, head/tail lights which blink or emit a steady beam? posted on the parent site for the blog I write on. Studies show that while a flashing pattern grabs attention better, a steady beam is much easier to focus your eyes on and judge distance by. It’s therefore recommended to have at least one flashing and one blinking light on the back so that drivers see you (flashing) and then can tell how close they’re getting as they pass (solid). This is where rechargeable lights are also an advantage: steady burn mode uses battery much faster, so a rechargeable is nice. It might be nice to link back to the companies’ websites for the chosen lights so people can search for local bike shops with the products too!

    Great work on this review. Cheers!

    • Eve O’Neill

      Thanks so much for saying hi! Your piece is absolutely killer.

      As I was using the USB rechargeable tail lights, the major red flag was that they caused me to cheat –– If I hadn’t charged it or couldn’t find it (or just straight up forgot it, which was often) I just wouldn’t take it. Having it always mounted and ready to go seemed like an awesome, life-streamlining benefit to me, especially since the tail lights really do have a such a long run time with those AAA.

      Thanks again for dropping a line… looking forward to the 2014 guide!

      • Nathan Hinkle

        Also I just realized… I think you used the mount on the Serfas light wrong which is why it flipped over! The Serfas mount was actually my favorite out of all the headlights I reviewed, so I was surprised to read that it slipped on you. If you snap down the lever there, it makes a really tight grip on the handlebars, and you can adjust the thickness by twisting the light 90 degrees, pulling the rubber part out, and moving it to a different position. For most bikes the default position works fine though.

        • Eve O’Neill

          Nathan, thanks for this heads up. I had a really hard time with this mount, including the release feature, as did my crew. But I really dig Serfas and am hoping for a better showing in the next round of testing!

  • bence2038

    Hi, you explained the topic very well. The contents has provided meaningful information

  • Bhav


    Just received their first production unit after backing the kickstarter project. Amazing unit, think Apple quality, fully waterproof and a laser that projects an image of a bike onto the ground ahead of you that warns others you are coming!

    Genius for my commutes in London!

    Check out my review here:

    (Not for weight weenies!)

    • tony kaye

      Is this only available for pre-order? Looks pretty neat.

      • Bhav

        Yep afraid so. Small company who joined kickstarter late 2012 when I backed the project. Fell in love with the laser projection idea. What a great safety feature.
        Only just got my light which was from their first run and went out to all the kickstarter backers.

        • tony kaye

          Very interesting. How long until they’re available regularly?

          • Bhav

            Not sure tbh. The site says next batch will be dispatched March if you pre-order now.

  • Ben

    I have the Cygolite metro 360, and it’s my favorite headlight for commuting, the light modes just make sense. I love the flash for dusk/dawn visibility. If I was buying now, I’d get the 500 lumen version.

    However, the mount bothers me a lot. It’s not the part about mounting it on the bars, that works great, the part that bugs me is that despite tightening down the top screw, the mount pivots horizontally all the time, so it doesn’t stay centered on the road when I’m throwing my bike around.

    Niterider nailed it with their mount by having little ridges in the clip piece and base. However, the Nightrider clamp kind of sucks, it’s just hard to operate sometimes, my girlfriend always asks me to clamp the thing on her bars, while the Cygolite is easy (but doesn’t adapt to smaller bars as easily).

    On the Cygolite for small bars (I swap my light between bikes A LOT), I just wrap a piece of intertube around the spot where I regularly mount my light and a bit of electrical tape to keep it on. I leave it there, so when I want to strap on my light, it’s always good to go. I’m never going to be able to keep track of some little rubber spacer they provide with the light.

    • Ben

      I also tossed a touch of black reflective tape on the sides of my cygolite metro for a bit more night visibility. Doens’t stand out till the light hits it.

    • Ben

      Another update: I wrecked and knocked the top button on my cygolite metro, so it was very difficult to turn on and off since the silicone part was missing, I could still hit the switch with a pen, but it was a pain. Cygolite provided great customer service and sent me, at no charge, two replacement buttons. I was able to install it myself with some finagling and continue to enjoy this light.

  • Ben

    I’m looking for recommendations on the best white LED flasher I can zip tie to my messenger bag (on the chrome buckle). I had a Avenir white led light, but it started to just eat batteries for breakfast. It’s really hard to find clip on white LEDs, as a lot of stuff is silicone or bar mount only now.

    I find it’s super handy to have a light zip tied to the front and rear of my messenger bag so that I always at least have some visibility lights, despite my lack of preparation sometimes.

    • Ben

      My favorite light to zip tie to the light loop on my messenger bag is definitely the planetbike superflash since it’s a really bright light and it is easy to zip tie to the bag by looping the zip tie on the curvy part of the back of the clip. This works well and the light is always secure.

      The cygolite hotshot and Nightrider cherrybomb are really hard to secure with zip ties so that they don’t fall off. I don’t ever trust just the clip when I’ve got a light that costs more than 30 bucks.

  • G Close

    I have the red DiNotte tail light, and it’s just blinding. Compared to other tail lights, well, there is no comparison. Very well made. Expensive, but it’s cheap insurance, I would venture.

  • KoKotheTalkingApe

    I have used the Planet Bike Micro 2W and its predecessor, the Blaze 1W, for years. Both use the same mount. I have never, ever had that mount loosen up the way you experienced, and I ride on city roads every day. From the picture, it looks like it is adjusted way too loose, i.e., you didn’t spin the cam on the threaded shaft to draw it in. The cam should be difficult to draw over the edge of the cradle. Once it is in, you pull up the lever and it draws super tight. At about 2/3 the price of the Cygolite, the Micro is a worthy option, I feel.

  • Jeremy Levine

    You guys gotta try out the Fortified lights as well. Have a feeling they’ll end up being your recommendation –

  • bikermanlax

    Helmet mounts are useful for a couple of different reasons. First, you can carry your helmet in more easily and don’t have to worry about dismounting the light. Second, in traffic, you can turn your head to shine on or near a car (as long as you’re not so near to blind the drive), such as one making a turn into your lane of traffic. I’ve found a moving light gets a drivers attention. I think the L&M has a helmet mount (or at least it did a couple of years ago when I bought one).

    The improvement in these lights in the last five years or so has been dramatic! On older models, the only purpose was to be seen, as the area illuminated in front of you was dim and not extensive. These new light actually allow you to see ahead in the dark.

  • Avinoam

    Thanks for this very well-written and thought-out review.
    I just wanted to shout-out my appreciation of my Light and Motion Urban 200.

    It has all the light output I need, easy on-off mounting, looks great, and is about the same price as the Cygolite. I find that brighter than this really seems to annoy urban motorists.

    • Eve O’Neill

      Light and Motion just cut the price in half on their Urbans. Testing for our update and looking forward to seeing how it does!

  • Allan Watkins

    I’d vote for Dinotte lights, 1200 lumen front / 300 lumen rear.

    With 10+ hour run time on low settings and the “low” settings are still around 400 lumens, it’s pretty awesome.

    • tony kaye

      $400 is quite a bit of money to spend on bike lights. I understand they can save you from being hit at night, but that’s a hefty chunk of cash to lay down on bike lights. Unrealistic for most people I would suspect.

      • drksilenc

        I would deff agree with that and most people dont spend that on a bike even…

  • Allan Watkins

    The fly6 is something to consider for commuters, it records on a continuous loop for ~5 hrs and gets decent reviews from dc rainmaker

  • Ben Elstein

    Why do light manufacturers and reviewers assume that a single handlebar-mounted headlight is optimal for illumination and/or safety? Would two lights, each of the two positioned near the hoods, not be more effective at illuminating a dark path? Asking because I’ve never seen this question answered in a serious cycling forum.

  • agetrov

    just got sparse lights. very nice indeed, rechargeable, hard to steal. expensive.

  • Nello Lucchesi

    I’m looking for recommendations for my daughter who’s eight and rides her bike to school. I want to make sure that cars see her; her paths are reasonably well-lit so I’m not concerned about her seeing the path.

    I feel like this article and most of the comments are directed at older, more responsible riders.

    For and eight year-old, it needs to “just work” without remembering to turn them on, check battery levels, etc.

    Ideally, the lights would have:

    (1) Motion sensor so she does’t have to remember to turn them on and off.

    (2) Stays lit for several minutes when stopping at intersections, etc.

    (2) Bike-mounted charger to keep the batteries going.

    (3) Mountable where a poncho isn’t going to cover it.

    The Reelight ( mentioned in the comments sounded good until I read the reviews on Amazon and found several people complaining about a short life of the capacitor and lights.

    I’d appreciate any suggestions.

    Thank you.

    – nello

  • John123John

    Does anyone have any cheaper recommendations? I know Health & Safety > Money and all but $80 for 2 lights seems expensive. I am worried after reading this review and using a friend’s cheapo bell headlight (completely useless) about ending up with a substandard head/tail light. How about $50?

    Winter is coming…

  • Ryan Stenson
    • tony kaye

      They really do, but I don’t think we’d get to them before spring.

      • Luke Bornheimer

        The Orfos do look awesome and remind me of Revolights, which reminds me to ask you Tony, did The Sweethome test the Revolights? If so, what was the verdict?

        • tony kaye

          No we didn’t test those. I don’t think they were available at the time. We might – but $200 is a bit steep for most people. Is $200 worth saving your life on a bike? Certainly. But people aren’t always so accepting of things like that. If we test it and like it, could def be a step-up option though.

          • Luke Bornheimer

            Agreed, $200 is steep for most people. For me, an extra $120 is well worth it if (1) it significantly increases drivers’ visibility of me (and so, my safety) and (2) Revolights aren’t a significant burden on my bike’s weight or my frustration (i.e. they’re hard to install or maintain).

            If/when you all test the Revolights, it would be great to have breakout sections on installation, weight, maintenance and increased visibility/safety.

            In the meantime, any chance you and/or Eve can chime in on my comment from last week ( ) ?


    • Luke Bornheimer

      Those look awesome; Remind me of Revolights. Which reminds me to ask, did The Sweethome test Revolights? If so, what was the verdict?

  • Megalodon3

    I have had great experiences with the Cygolight people. The Cygolight is so awseome that I use it for everything – working on the car, camping, working in the crawlspace, etc. I dropped it in the garage onto the concrete floor and the housing cracked (I dropped it many time before it finally cracked!). I emailed Cygolight, told them that I cracked it doing non-bike stuff and asked if I could by a new housing for it. They said if I sent them $40 (may have been a little more or less) along with the light they would send me their newer, brighter bike light! So I did that and now have the Expilion which is great. I have also lost the USB cover a few times as my son likes to pull it off for some reason. Cygolite always sends me a free one when it happens. So great company and really nice, bright light.

    • tony kaye

      Awesome to hear!

      • Luke Bornheimer

        Hey Tony, somewhat related to the Cygolight thread above: The Cygolite Hotshot and PDW Aether Demon are both on Amazon for ~$28. Considering the same price, which light would you (and the reviewer) recommend , and why, for someone who primarily uses their taillight for a 20-minute evening commute through the streets (and bike lanes) of San Francisco?

        • bullschuck

          I haven’t used the Cygolite, but that breathe light pattern on the PDW taillights is amazing. It’s a really, really slow blink, warming up to full bright and then dying away slowly. It draws the eye without blinding.

          • Luke Bornheimer

            Thanks for chiming in! Hopefully @thetonykaye:disqus or @eve_o_neill:disqus will comment on the two lights and their recommendation if they are the same price :)

          • tony kaye

            We’re likely going to be updating this for spring (soon) so I’ll forward this along to Eve.

          • Luke Bornheimer

            Good to know. Thanks for the heads-up, Tony! In the meantime, any chance you (or Eve) can give a quick recommendation between the two lights, if their prices are the same?

          • tony kaye

            Via Eve (and likely being added to the guide)-

            It’s a good product that will enhance your safety at night. But for us, what it comes down to is that it’s still more expensive and less powerful than other stuff that’s out there. It is a $32 dollar .5W light. Our top pick, the Cygolite Hotshot, is a $28 2W light. Battery life on the Demon lasts 3.5 hours on high. The Hotshot says it will run 4.5, however I’ve gotten it to run for over 10 hours straight on the highest setting in testing.

          • Guest

            Amazing—thanks so much, @thetonykaye:disqus and @eve_o_neill:disqus! Placing my order now.

          • Eve O’Neill

            PDW fans, I’m testing the Radbot for our battery powered option this year too! Will let you know how it goes.

          • Luke Bornheimer

            Awesome—thanks so much, @thetonykaye:disqus and @eve_o_neill:disqus! Placing my order now.

  • emsnyc

    The article states that the Serfas Thunderbolt USB Taillight cannot be mounted to your bike. However, it certainly can. I use this light on different bikes. In most cases I mount it to the seat stay under the break pad (give it space). On my bike that has a rack, on the back of the rack. It’s made to be versatile and the silicone stretchy straps can accomodate different size tubes.

  • Andrew

    All of this are very good lights! Light & Motion especially.

    I would like to suggest the CycleTorch Shark 500 bike light, its USB rechargeable, 500 lumens, and a comes with a flat beam shape, so you wont blind the traffic.

  • Luke Bornheimer

    The Cygolite Hotshot and PDW Aether Demon can both be had for ~$28 on Amazon. Considering the same price, which light would you recommend, and why, for someone who primarily uses their taillight for a 20-minute evening commute through the streets (and bike lanes) of San Francisco?

    • Mikayla Sydney Lee

      I found a bike light that’s also $28 that’s pretty up to par with all the big brands. My family friend got it for me and it’s has a lot of features for what it cost. It has like 8 different lighting modes, is visibility from far away, runs on either AAA batteries or rechargeable ones, and automatically turns on when it’s dark. For me, when I bike in SF, I want a taillight that mounts on well. With all the steep hills, the last thing you want is to fumble with your tailight because it’s too loose. That’s also why I like Cocoweb’s.

      • Luke Bornheimer

        Thanks for chiming in, Mikayla! The automatic on feature and sturdy mount of the Cocoweb sounds promising; The lack of USB rechargability would likely be criticized by The Sweethome crew. How does The automatic on feature work? Does it light up if my bike is in the dark at home? Separately, what would you say the other tradeoffs or cons are for the Cocoweb?

        • Mikayla Sydney Lee

          Yeah, the light would automatically turn on when you ride in the dark. It also has auto wakeup so it goes to sleep in 1 minute if you’re not using it and it immediately wakes up when it detects motion, which I thought was pretty cool. Yeah, I would say the tradeoff is probably the lack of USB rechargability. But it works on rechargeable AAA batteries and the runtime is really long. Also, for most of the big brand name bike light reviews I’ve read, most of them either have the problem of being too bright or doesn’t mount well. I am satisfy with what I have because it’s been working well for me in terms of brightness and sturdy mount. Another con would be that it’s not water proof. It’s water resistant but it can’t be used during heavy rain…though I probably wouldn’t be biking if it was raining that heavily haha.

    • bikelightdatabase

      Probably too late now, but I would take the Hotshot over the Aether Demon for sure. The Aether Demon has an output of just 5 lumens, while the Hotshot puts out 30 and has better battery life.

  • bullschuck

    Did you folks ever check out the bike light “shootout” that does every year?

    They independently test the lumens on each light and then give you stats on lumens per dollar, lumens claimed vs measured, lumens per gram, and then they also include sample beam pattern photos so you can get an idea of what they look like at night. They also look at the mounting systems, construction, that kind of thing.

  • pphaneuf

    I was using a Knog Blinder 4 on my Brompton folding bike, but after forgetting to take it off a few times while folding (which strained the mount), the silicone started to tear. I’m on my second one now, as it happened fairly quickly with the first one, I assumed it might have been a defect, but I’m having the same problem with the second one, despite being especially careful (I did drop the seat post without removing it a few times, but only a few times).

    I have the Brompton battery powered rear light, but I find it a bit too low, so I wanted some light higher up. I’ll be looking for another light that has a sturdier permanent mount, and leave it on…

    • Eve O’Neill

      People absolutely love the Knogs for those mounts, but I’ve witnessed the same thing: boxes of them that either failed early on or with stretched mounts. I still think it has value, but for our rewrite I’m leaning towards a different rec. Thanks for the test note.

  • thejokell

    Any thought given to the Fly6 or upcoming Fly12 that combine cameras with the lights? I’m a user of the Fly6 and love it.

    • tony kaye

      Possibly when we update!

    • Eve O’Neill

      As it’s still on Kickstarter I’d be worried about recommending it because of availability issues and probably cost, but what a crazy (in a good way) idea.

      • thejokell

        The Fly6 has been out for a while (I currently use one). The Fly12 hasn’t started shipping yet but I think including the 6 in the mix is a good idea since it does so much more than provide a light.

  • PeterWimsey

    I have a cygolite, and I like it, but I’ve decided I much prefer my PB Superflash.

    I ride a lot at night, and with the cygolite, you have to pay attention to recharging; otherwise, you won’t have a taillight at all. And of course won’t have a way to recharge it.

    With the PB Superflash, one set of batteries lasts all year. Put new batteries in at the beginning of the season and never worry about them again.

    But if you are worried that your batteries might be low – just bring two extra batteries with you – you won’t notice the weight, and you’ll be good for another entire season if you do replace them.

    And you’ll never forget your superflash because you left it plugged into your computer to recharge.

    • tony kaye

      I don’t understand. You’ll never forget it because you can only charge it via computer USB? Or?

    • Eve O’Neill

      That’s the same reason I love and use the Superflash, and I say so in the article.

  • Will Killyou

    This article avoids and also leaves out some information. I use Lezyne superdrive XL lights. As of the date of this article the output was at an HONEST 700 lumens. The units are simple, rugged,stylish and WORK! I have two on my handlebar and one on my helmet. I keep a spare battery in my saddle pouch.
    The most important feature to these lights is not the USB recharge ability, the water resistance, the output, or the 1.5 hour burn time on full blast. It is the fact that they use standard 18650 Lithium ion batteries! You do not have to buy spares only from Lezyne, they can be charged in many chargers and thus you always have batteries. sometimes i bring three of these lights for 1400 lumens front on handlebars and another 700 on the helmet. Turn the power down a bit and you have many hours of burn time with very high output. low power for commuting is still better then most of these lights mentioned and again you have standard batteries. There are batteries available that will allow more burn time then rated and as battery technology improves so will the burn time on the same light i purchased. I have mounts for these lights on all of my bikes and on my helmet, very happy! Why this article does not see the non-propietary battery as a great feature is beyond me.

    • Eve O’Neill

      I’m a big fan of Lezyne. They make awesome stuff. Our staff talked a lot about how to address the idea of swappable batteries and decided that for most people, purchasing and keeping track of a spare battery probably wasn’t worth it. If you have a super long ride ahead of you that’s a different story, but again, not for most people, and we’re concentrating on commuting instead of nighttime mountain biking, so in this case no need to shell out for 1400 lumens.

      • Will Killyou

        Ok Eve, but let me ask you; what is the downside of using readily available 18650 and other batteries? Honestly, I feel so strongly about this that if lights that utilize a standard battery were not offered, I will make them myself. Now I never “shelled out” at all combining two 700 LM Lezyne superdrive XL’s equals 1400 Lumens and they could be bought for under $200.00 and under 150.00 during sales. Now you have 1400 lumens that take standard batteries. That means CHEAPER batteries and improved batteries as the power of these LI cells increase as development improves. There is NO better option for almost anyone. Use one light for commuting (keep spare) and use both for off-road.

  • TX2013

    What are the recommended lights that don’t require a proprietary battery?

    • Sheldon James

      You could combine a Fenix flashlight (known for their high quality but reasonably priced LED lights, $40-$60) with their ALB-10 bike mount ($15-$20). These use standardized lithium batteries. You could probably find some that use AA/AAA style NiMH batteries, but LiIon is the way to go for rechargeables.

    • Eve O’Neill

      The Cygolite Metro, Cygolite Expilion, Light & Motion Urban, Cygolite Hotshot, Knog Blinder and Serfas Thunderbolt all have integrated, USB rechargeable batteries that you just plug into a USB port to recharge. So you can’t swap the batteries they come with out for anything else, is that what you mean?

      The Planet Bike Superflash Turbo uses two AAA batteries.

    • bikelightdatabase

      18650 batteries (which is what most but not all of the lights with proprietary batteries actually have inside them) have the highest energy density of any commercially available battery in this approximate size. AA(A)’s have far less energy density, so you’ll never get as bright of a light for as long. One option is to just deal with the performance/weight hit and use an AA light. The other option is to get a light which uses 18650 cells directly. Fenix sells a few bike lights like this. They’re more complicated because you need to get the special batteries and special charger, but may be worth it if you’re interested in that kind of thing.

  • Sheldon James

    At a risk of complicating the discussion, it would be helpful to segment lights into headlights and safety lights. The former is necessary for riding in truly dark places; the latter is all you need in an urban area where street lighting is present.

    • tony kaye


  • Jack Ramsey

    Interesting review. Kind of disliked that I had to read through what seemed like a master’s thesis just to get to the end to find that the review could have been over in 4 paragraphs. Anyway, I’ve found these:

    What do you guys think? Any experience ?

  • olee22

    The Cygolite 360 USB is 125 USD Euro on, only available at third party sellers. Can you recommend something that is available at,, or Thanks!

  • David

    I did not see any discussion regarding front bike lights interfering with a bike’s computer. I purchased a Planet Bike front light and it really screwed up my computer. E.g. with the light on, my computer showed I was going 6 mph while I was standing still. I removed the Planet Bike light and replaced it with a small Blackburn LED light that did not interfere with my computer, but it had a weak light and after 6 mos. of use would not keep a charge beyond 2 hours.

    So, any recommendations for a bright front light that will not interfere with my computer? Thanks.

    • bikelightdatabase

      I have found that the issue has more to do with the computer than the light. Wireless bike computers can get interference from a lot of things – one I had would read 0 mph if my cellphone was anywhere near it, and it gave inconsistent results if any bike light was nearby, regardless of which light it is. Because the problem is highly dependent on both the light and the computer, there’s no easy way to say what lights will or won’t affect your computer – the only way to find out is to try for yourself, so maybe head to your local bike shop and try a bunch of lights in person?

  • Jonny Cannuccia

    any new suggests for europeans as olee22 already asked? Cygolite, Niterider and other brands are basically unavailable in Germany and other Europe country..:(

  • SF Biker

    I don’t understand why the author(s) is so enamored with the silicone strap when the strap broke on their brand new light. I have a 4 year old Cygolite that is still going strong with nearly daily use with the slide-in plastic mount and I can easily put it on and off with a single hand. The battery lifetime is degrading and while I could buy a replacement battery, I wanted to upgrade to a brighter light before rainy season approaches.

    While Cygolite warranty support may be good, you’re still riding home in the dark if the band snaps while you’re riding and you’ll have no light for a few days while you await a replacement strap to arrive in the mail.

    I was interested in this light, but not with a silicone strap mount.

  • Michael V

    I understand it’s not terribly relevant to the review, but I’d really love to hear the police story!

  • Slowpoke

    Love the Cygolite Dash 320 — lights up the road at night like car headlights. I also use it during the day and can tell it grabs drivers’ attention. Highly recommend!

    • tony kaye

      Great feedback thank you!

  • Steve

    That is the best written, most comprehensive bike lighting review I have ever read. Thanks for putting in the time and effort to share it.

    • tony kaye

      Thank you so much and you’re very welcome!

  • Chris

    Thanks for the review. I decided on the Cygolite Dash 320 headlight / Cygolite Hotshot Micro taillight combo.

    • tony kaye

      You shan’t be disappointed!

  • Weirdo

    According to Cygolite’s site, they’ve updated their models since this review was posted.