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If you cycle often, it’s recommended to have quality tail lights fitted on your bike. Not only is it a legal requirement, but it’s also a crucial safety measure that you can’t afford to ignore. There are a plethora of rear bike lights in the market today that are perfect for improving visibility during rain, low light or fog.
Each tail light delivers a varying degree of flash patterns, battery life, and brightness.
Our number one bike tail light of choice is the Bontrager – Flare R USB Tail Light, but to help you decide on a suitable product for you, we’ve rounded up the following list of best bike tail lights.
- Bontrager – Flare R USB Tail Light
- Garmin Varia RTL510, Bike/Cycling Radar Tail Light
- Cygolite Hotshot – 50 Lumen Bike Tail Light
- HD Rear Bike Camera and 30 Lumen Tail Light”/]
- Cygolite Hypershot – 250 Lumen Bike Tail Light
- Nkomax Smart Bike Tail Light Ultra Bright
Factors To Consider When Choosing A Bike Tail Light
There are a few factors you should look into when you’re out to purchase an efficient tail light for your bike:
It’s essential to have a tail light that’s bright enough to be spotted by motorists on both a dull day and at night. Here’s where you need to consider the lumen count. Lumens are a measurement of visible light from a light source.
The brightness of the tail light (and any light in general) depends on the lumens rating. Bicycle lights can have a lumen count of between 30 and 2,000.
It helps to have a tail light with a high lumen count (at least 600 and over). Even though it consumes power fast, this feature will help to keep you visible during dull days and at night on a busy road. The flash mode option helps conserve energy as well as differentiate your bike light from the street lighting.
Our Lumens, Lux, and Candela article is a great resource to learn more about Lumens and light output
Most rechargeable tail light batteries these days are built-in Lithium-Ion batteries and are rechargeable via USB. A typical bike light battery should take between five to nine hours to charge fully. They should also last from two to 80 hours. Of course, the battery run time will depend on which mode you use.
Some lights still use disposable batteries. Continuously purchasing new disposable batteries can be expensive, so to make them last as long as possible, take note of the expected burn time for each mode and use the lowest mode that you safely can.
Stick with the manufacturer’s recommended batteries. Failure to do so could mean inferior performance, damage to the light, and void any warranty.
Learn everything you need to know about Batteries with our Ultimate Guide to Batteries!
Burn time, or run time, indicates the total time the light will last before the next charge is required. If you cycle often, it’s important that you check on the light’s run time. Typically, how long your charge lasts depends on the lumen count. The higher the lumen count, the lower your light’s burn time.
If you ride fast on dark roads, consider upgrading your light’s lumen output to upwards of 600 lumens. It should also have a run time of up to 15 hours in flash mode, and six hours in night-flash mode.
Type of Bulb
Before LEDs, halogen bulbs were the most common type of bulbs used in bike lights. LED lights lose almost zero energy to heat compared to halogen bulbs.
To put this into perspective, 3 watts from a LED bulb is equivalent to 60 watts of light from a halogen bulb. The power used by a bike’s LED light is significantly less than this (about .016 watts). The LED bulbs producing this output are also a lot smaller than a traditional bulb.
LED lights also last relatively longer. The typical lifespan of an LED bulb is approximately 25 to 50 times longer than a halogen one.
While some lights are secured using Velcro, others are mounted using screws or a stretchable rubber strap. Ensure that your light and its mount fit into your seat post or handlebar. Settle for mounts that are easily adjustable and allow for a more secure hold.
Also, consider whether you’re mounting to carbon or aluminum. If over tightened, carbon frames could easily crack. In such a case, it’s advisable to use a Velcro or stretchable rubber strap.
Click here to see the Best Bike Headlights reviewed!
Best Bike Tail Lights for Distant Visibility
This product comes with four modes: constant daylight, constant night time, bright flashing, and dimmer flashing. You can switch between modes (and turn the light on and off) using the button on top of the light. The button’s strategic location makes it easy to switch while riding.
This product’s battery life is good, considering how bright the light is (65 lumens). Bontrager says you can enjoy 23 hours of usage when the light is set on dimmer flashing mode. On daylight mode—which saps more energy—it can stay on for a little over four hours.
Bontrager’s light has a 270-degree visibility range and is noticeable from distances of over 1.2 miles.
At five percent, the battery-save mode will automatically activate to let you know that the juice is almost up. The Bontrager Flare R is rechargeable via USB. The product comes packed with a rubberized mount that is easily securable to most seat posts. However, If your bike has a deep aero seat post, you may find it challenging to fit.
Despite its slightly high price, the Bontrager Flare R’s impressive features are worth every penny.
- Superb battery life.
- Multiple modes.
- Rechargeable via USB.
- Very secure mount.
Best Bike Tail Lights for Vehicle Detection
The Varia RTL510 from Garmin features a warning system that detects a vehicle as far as 450 feet away. They achieve this by syncing the Varia RTL510 to a dedicated radar display unit. Alternatively, you can easily pair it with a Garmin Edge computer.
You can automatically activate the light by switching the Edge computer on or off. You’ll find the innovative tracking feature particularly helpful if you regularly ride the silent country roads.
The provided mounts include an aero seat post mount as well as a round seat post mount. There are also two strong rubber bands to hold it firmly in place.
The Varia has a one-mile visibility range and a brightness of 60 lumens. It is rechargeable via USB and warns you when the power’s almost up through the Edge computer. Though the unit indicates 15 hours worth of runtime, this will depend on which mode you’re using. It lasts 6 hours for solid-on.
For extra side-on visibility, the light features an impressive 220-degree range. This means that four-wheel drivers can spot your tail light even before the radar notices them.
- Small and light – makes it easier to pedal without bumping into it.
- Connects to more than one Edge.
- Fully functional and efficient radar.
- Does not detect all vehicles.
- Radar drains battery fast.
Best Bike Tail Lights for Extended Use
Cygolite provides a variety of versatile, durable, and affordable cycling tail lights. Anyone will appreciate this one’s ease of use and effectiveness. The Hotshot 50 shares several similarities with the much-loved and original Hotshot 2W.
The light is only 35g and features a water-resistant and compact design. The 24/7 built-in technology provides an impressive selection of daytime and nighttime modes. These include Random Flash, Single Flash, Triple Flash, SteadyPulse, Zoom, and Steady.
A USB rechargeable Li-ion battery runs the light for up to 250 hours, depending on the mode you use. On Triple flash, for instance, the light can last between 36 and 96 hours.
Higher brightness settings will come with relatively lower battery life. Despite that, every mode on the Cygolite Hotshot offers decent run times. The exclusive two-button layout allows you to completely adjust each flash mode’s tempo to boost your visibility while on the road.
- Fair price.
- Excellent durability and water-resistant.
- Solid burn time.
- Easy to switch between modes.
- Non-universal mounting system.
Best Bike Tail Lights for Secure Cycling
HD Rear Bike Camera and 30 Lumen Tail Light”/]
This unique tail light gives you the ability to record everything that happens behind you in 720 HD video quality at an impressive 30 frames per second. The audio quality is just as good as the video. The camera’s field of vision is approximately 100 degrees.
The light has an enhanced memory function that allows it to remember settings between uses. On the side of the unit, Cycliq has fitted the Fly6 with a memory card slot and an easily accessible charging port.
When the battery falls a little below five percent, the Fly6 will produce three consecutive beeps. However, the light will continue operating for at least 90 minutes more before automatically switching itself off.
This 30-lumen light’s runtime extends to up to six hours. This is when the light’s camera is set at the lowest quality level while recording on to the provided 8GB Micro SD card.
Another impressive feature of the Fly6 is its waterproof coating. The exterior is covered with an HZO nano covering that protects the unit and all internal components from water and moisture.
- Auto date/time setting.
- Quality HD camera recording.
- Large battery.
- Effective water-coating feature.
- Poorly placed charging socket.
- Light won’t work without a Micro SD card.
Best Bike Tail Lights for Multiple System Modes
This impressive dual-LED bike light puts out super bright 250-lumen flashes in a long-range and extra-wide beam pattern. It comes with a seat stay mount that securely attaches the light to your seat post.
Its lightness (60 grams) makes it pretty easy to install, and of all the tail lights on this list, the Cygolite Hypershot leads with the highest number of modes. These include the DayLightning Flash, Triple flash, Bzzz Flash, SteadyPulse, Zoom, Random flash and Steady.
The SteadyPulse mode has a constant beam that assists motorists behind you to gauge their distance. The DayLightning flash mode produces random bright flashes that are noticeable from any angle. At night, the overlapping pulses will ensure that your visibility on the streets is not compromised.
You can control the speed and brightness of each flash mode using the light’s interactive two-button design.
Its USB-rechargeable lithium-ion battery lasts between two and 200 hours, depending on the mode. It fully recharges in about 3 hours.
Additionally, the Cygolite has an IP64 rating that makes it suitable for use in all types of weather.
- Obviously noticeable during the day and night.
- Charges fast.
- Well-designed mount.
- High risk of damage in wet conditions.
Best Bike Tail Lights for All-Weather Cycling
When the weather’s not all that great, you can rely on the Nkomax Smart Taillight to enhance your visibility. The ultra-bright light from the Nkomax’s COB LEDs is detectable from 450 feet away.
Don’t worry though—the smart tail light’s brightness won’t distract other road users through glare of any kind.
The taillights automatically turn on when you’re braking or cycling in conditions where visibility is poor. The Nkomax tail light is also fitted with an intelligent sensor that activates and deactivates based on the surroundings. This smart operation allows you to focus solely on pedaling and the safety ahead of you.
When fully charged, the Nkomax reserves a run time of 20 hours. It is rechargeable via any electronic device with a USB port (power bank, computer, etc.) The Nkomax light features sturdy aluminum construction and an IPX6 water-resistant rating.
The alloy build makes it strong and splashproof. This feature becomes especially useful when riding waterlogged trails. Included with this tail light are two types of straps with three strapping sizes. This makes it possible for the light to fit onto any bike frame or seat post.
- Dustproof and waterproof.
- Automatic/manual modes are available.
- Integrated sensors can activate/intensify/dim the light.
- Fairly bright.
- A limited number of mounting spots.
Click here to see all of our Bike Light Reviews!
Using only the best bike tail lights is crucial for your safety and that of the motorists behind you. If you cycle in areas with poor weather conditions or unsuitable street lighting, make this essential bike device a priority.
This article has outlined what to look for and listed some of the best bike tail lights to purchase in the market today.
The products on this list offer amazing features, including all-inclusive mounting systems, a superb light output, video recording capability, and reliable water-resistance properties.
Therefore, if you want the best bike tail lights, but you don’t want to scour the variety of options in the market, pick one from this list. At least one of them should be more than enough to cater to your personal cycling needs while allowing you to cycle with safety and confidence!