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Due to the small size and high light output of LED bulbs, powerful headlights are commonplace. The incorporation of additional safety and energy-saving modes is also a feature of many of these modern products.
Many cyclists ride through poorly lit areas for recreation—when mountain biking or trail cycling, for example. A bike headlight should provide sufficient illumination to help you avoid potholes, a branch, or even the odd critter that may be on the trail.
With the vast array of products on the market, selecting the best bike headlight to buy can be overwhelming. Fear not! We have taken it upon ourselves to provide you with a detailed guide of the qualities to look for in the market’s best products. Not only that, but we’ve also reviewed six top products.
The list of bike headlights reviewed is as follows:
From these six great quality products, we found Soonfire FD38S to be the best, but the other bike headlights featured on our list are great too. Read on and discover why.
How to Choose a Bike Headlight
LED technology has made tremendous leaps forward in the past decade. This has enabled captivating products to be introduced into our stores. The best bike headlights no longer only illuminate the roads we’re cycling on but include other innovative features.
Along with energy-saving mode options, this could be USB outputs to charge external devices like your mobile phone or handlebar control for easy use.
Recently, waterproof and dustproof versions of LED bike headlights have become more ubiquitous. These products are better suited than their former counterparts for harsh terrain and places where weather is unpredictable.
Lumens and Lux: The Brightness of Light
There are two types of measurements to look for when analyzing the brightness of a light. The first is lumens, which is the total amount of light emitted by the light source.
The second measurement is the lux value. Measured in lumens per square meter, this is the light brightness at a specified distance from its source.
Depending on the type of beam, two LED lights with the same lumen number can have vastly different lux values. If a wide “floodlight” beam is used, a flashlight with a 1000 lumens can have a relatively lower lux value than a 700 lumen light with a focused “spotlight” beam configuration.
Because the visibility the light provides depends on both of these measurements, you must know both to conclude which light is best for your specific use.
Our Lumens, Lux, and Candela article is a great resource to learn more about Lumens and light output
An LED headlight has three possible beam options. If you have a specific use for your bike—city cycling compared to mountain biking, then one beam option may be better suited to you than the other:
- Flood (or fixed): Light is distributed in a shorter beamwidth resulting in an even floodlight illuminating a much larger area. This means you’ll be better able to see what’s on your right and left and directly in front. If you need substantial peripheral visibility, like when cycling in a forest, then this beam type is best.
- Spot (or focused): A spotlight beam occurs when light is concentrated in a narrow beam. This light allows you to see much farther. This configuration is best suited for city cycling or road cycling.
- Adjustable: With this functionality, you can seamlessly interchange between a floodlight and spotlight beam or the various points in-between. This allows, for example, a cyclist to use a spotlight for commuting in the city and then switch to a floodlight when traveling through a forest. This is often done using dual LEDs or a “zoom” function on the lens. These functions tend to come only in more expensive products.
There are two common ways to mount your bike headlight. The most popular of the two is a handlebar mount. But some products offer dual mounting options which allow you to use your helmet as a mount.
- Helmet Mount: This is definitely a better option for mountain biking. When cycling, your helmet—or head—is the highest point from the ground. If the light is positioned higher up, you’ll be able to see much farther. A helmet mount also provides much-needed flexibility to target what the light beam is shining on.
- Handlebar Mount: With this mounting option, a rubber or plastic strap wraps around the handlebar and is fastened with a knob. This type is popular amongst city cyclists because most of them don’t wear helmets. Trail riders can also employ this mounting option: it’s simple to use and, in most cases, provides sufficient visibility.
This doesn’t have to be an either/or situation. You can have both a helmet-mounted light and a handlebar-mounted light.
Click here to see the Best Bike Tail Lights reviewed!
Reviews of The Best Bike Headlights
Brightest Bike Headlight
This bike headlight features the Cree XM-L LED, the best-performing, single-die white LED on the market. It delivers an astonishing 1870 lumens with only 100 lumens per Watt efficacy. This allows you to see a distance of up to 500 feet.
In combination with the two included 3400 mAh, li-ion batteries, you get 32 hours of performance at maximum output. You can recharge the batteries over 500 times without them failing you.
Soonfire has ensured their light is easy to install and uninstall. Within a few seconds, you can fit the FD38S onto your bike without any tools.
The build quality of the product is impressive. Its durable aluminum casing provides shock-resistance for rougher rides while ensuring it remains lightweight. The light also has an IP67 resistance rating, making dust tight and submersible up to 1 meter.
Designed to maximize light output, the FD38S features two headlights that provide both spotlight and floodlight beams. Additional features include an integrated micro USB charging port, which allows you to charge your mobile device when you don’t have a power bank, and a universal mount fit that ensures you can mount this light on any handlebar.
- 1870 lumen maximum output.
- Thirty-two hours of battery life at maximum output.
- USB charging capability.
- Aluminum body: lightweight and durable.
- Reasonably priced.
- Can’t mount a helmet.
Best Bike Headlight with Digital Display
The BC30R features an informative digital OLED display that provides details on the light’s output level, its remaining runtime, and its battery percentage. This allows you to monitor your light’s performance closely and avoid situations where the light fails you.
Manufacturers are always stating the impressive battery life that their product has. Even if a light has upwards of 30 hours of battery life, the average cyclist isn’t constantly monitoring how many hours they’ve used their light since they last charged it. Because of this, the OLED display is a welcomed feature of this product.
This light also comes with two CREE XM-L single-die white LEDs configured in a dual distance beam system that delivers a maximum output of 1800 lumens. This is very bright for a bike light. Most headlights max out at 1200 lumens. That’s why it’s simply amazing to have this much output on a relatively compact device.
An intuitive, remote pressure switch gives you direct control of the light. Here you can adjust the brightness and switch between different lighting modes.
An integrated 5200 mAh battery provides the BC30R with up to 36 hours of illumination. It’s rechargeable through the micro-USB charging port.
- Very bright – maximum output of 1800 lumens.
- Remote pressure switch.
- Thirty-six hours of battery life.
- OLED display.
- Very expensive.
- Can’t charge other devices with it.
- Can’t mount a helmet.
Best Lightweight Bike Headlight
Weighing only 1.6 ounces, this bike headlight is the lightest on our list. To avoid theft, most bike headlights are easily detachable and can be carried by the owner when not in use. Because of this, lightweight and compact designs of such products are greatly appreciated by those of us who carry their lights in their backpacks during the day.
When constantly in use, lights can tend to get hot. This isn’t a unique phenomenon, most electrical devices do this: think about how your smartphone warms up after prolonged use. To avoid this, Lezyne has included heat-dissipating technology in its aluminum casing to ensure your light never gets too hot.
Aluminum is also beneficial because of its high strength to weight ratio, so the product is lightweight and robust at the same time.
Because of the number of different lighting modes offered by this product, Lezyne thought it fit to include a memory feature that retains the last setting used before it was switched off. This saves you time and does away with the hassle of figuring out what your last used lighting mode was.
- Extremely lightweight: 1.6 ounces.
- Memory mode included.
- Heat-dissipating aluminum casing.
- Durable construction.
- Only 500 lumens maximum output.
- Poor battery life when compared to other products on the list.
Best Bike Headlight for The City Commute
The Beryl Laserlight is a detachable bike headlight that can double as a flashlight. It features Beryl’s patented laser projection technology. This combines white light with a laser image to ensure you’re seen in blindspots, road junctions, and other places where cars would struggle to see you.
All this technology is packaged in a robust carbon-grey polymer casing, ensuring the headlight is lightweight and durable.
Because it’s designed for city commutes, the light doesn’t have to be incredibly bright. Most urban cities are well lit. With this reasoning, it’s logical for the Laserlight only to deliver a maximum output of 400 lumens. This is sufficiently bright and avoids excessive glare that can annoy pedestrians or other road drivers.
With a lower output, the battery can last much longer—up to 41 hours on a single charge. This means most cyclists can use it for a week or two without having to recharge it.
- Laser protection technology to ensure cars see you, even when in their blindspot.
- Forty-one hours of battery life.
- Lightweight and durable.
- Can be used as a flashlight.
- Quite expensive for a city bike light.
Best Bike Headlight for Daytime Use
A daytime light may seem unreasonable, but this is far from the truth. In countries that don’t have cycling as a common form of transport, driver’s aren’t as cycle-rider-aware as those in countries that do. Most of these drivers aren’t cyclists so don’t consider the possibility of a cyclist being there before turning right or left.
Many accidents occur during the day because cyclists don’t have the presence of mind to evoke a driver’s awareness. Using a daytime light improves your chances of being seen by drivers making your commute safer.
The Metro Pro bike headlight has the standard features you would expect from a product on this list, but it also makes a fantastic daytime light, with an 1100-lumen maximum output. The headlight’s daylight flash feature creates lightning-like flashes to ensure that motorists see you, even on the brightest of days.
- Daylight flash feature.
- 1,100-lumen output.
- Has nine lighting modes
- Relatively expensive.
- Poor battery life.
Best Bike Headlight Kit
This bike headlight kit includes both front and rear lights. Lumina has made the casing from DuPont fiberglass reinforced nylon, providing cyclists with a robust and durable headlight.
Aluminum vents are featured on the sides of the light to function as heatsinks. This ensures the lithium-ion battery and the integrated circuitry can function optimally—emitting 900 lumens—at any temperature.
Regular battery replacement is a thing of the past with this light. It features USB charging capability, so you can conveniently charge your light with a computer, AC adapter, or any other device with a USB port. For your peace of mind, a battery indicator informs you when the battery level falls below 20 percent.
- Battery level indicator.
- Heatsinks included.
- Come with a rear light.
- 900-lumen output.
- Daylight visible flash.
- Battery life could be better.
Click here to see all of our Bike Light Reviews!
Ensuring that you can see your path ahead and that other vehicle drivers can also see you is imperative to your safety. Take the time to invest in the best bike headlight for you. A light that’s reliable and provides every function you need it to.
This guide has hopefully shown you what makes a bike headlight top-quality. The Soonfire FD38S is our favorite, but that doesn’t mean the other products aren’t worth your consideration.