Whatever your sport of choice, safety should come first.
When it comes to cycling, one of the most important things you can have for early morning and late night rides is a light. With that in mind, today we’re covering the best road bicycle safety lights to light your way and make you visible to others.
First up, we recommend the NiteRider Pro 2200 Race Front Bike Light. It has a powerful, wide beam for optimal visual coverage, 7 different lighting modes to choose from, and reinforced housing for durability.
There are many excellent choices, though, so keep reading to find your perfect match!
Top 3 Best and Favorites
NiteRider Pro 2200 Race Front Bike Light
Garmin Varia RTL515
Light & Motion Urban 1000 Commuter Combo
Best Overall Headlight
1. NiteRider Pro 2200 Race Front Bike Light
The NiteRider Pro 2200 Front Bike Light is a hardy unit that performs its job extremely well. Your way will be well-lit with this little light!
What We Like
The NiteRider Pro 2200 is a surprisingly powerful little light! It features three CREE LEDs, which, when used together, can put out an astonishing 2200 lumens – more than enough for pretty much anywhere you want to go in darkness.
A wide beam with a bright white color does an excellent job of illuminating everything in front of you as if it were day. While it may not quite be wide enough for fast trail rides, it’s more than enough for road use.
You’ll have 7 mode choices: 4 solid and 3 flashing. There’s no indicator of which mode you’re on, but it’s easy to cycle through them using the main button on the housing.
Also found on the housing is an LED screen with an 8-step battery indicator.
Take note that the lighting unit and the battery unit are actually separate pieces, but somehow the system manages to remain pretty compact.
The 4-cell, 2500mAH, separate lithium-ion battery can last anywhere from 1.5 hours on its highest solid setting to 25 hours on the lowest flashing setting.
Speaking of the housing, the bulb is protected by a fiberglass case that is IP-64 rated, meeting the Formula 1 impact, dust, and water-resistance standards.
A tool-less mount makes it easy for cyclists of all technical abilities to stick it to their 31.8mm or 35mm handlebars sturdily and safely. The external battery comes with plastic grippers to mount it to the frame.
Why We Like It
It’s super easy to mount, brighter than you’d expect, and surprisingly compact for its power. Worth the price tag, in our opinion!
- Powerful illumination with wide beam pattern
- Rugged design with reinforced housing
- Simple yet detailed battery life indicator
- Light has seven different modes
- The external battery pack makes it feel slightly bulky for some
Top Value Headlight
2. Blackburn Design Dayblazer 400 Front Light
This light is the lowest of the range, but it does its job nicely at a decent price. If you’re looking for your first bicycle light, this is an excellent choice.
What We Like
The 400 lumen output is perfectly good enough for wherever you plan to ride. Whether taking a bumpy night-time trail ride or zooming through town, this light should illuminate your way quite well.
Apart from the full power 400 lumens mode (Blitz), you can also use Low (200 lumens) and both pulse or strobe on 200 lumens.
Take note that driving into traffic with the full 400 lumens blaring can momentarily blind drivers. It may be best to go for 200 lumens when riding in traffic!
It’s also really nice and compact. Weighing a touch over 2 ounces, you won’t even feel it on your handlebars.
There’s very little guesswork involved in using this light. An easily visible switch on the top in the center switches it on and cycles through settings.
It takes around 3 hours to charge the lithium-ion battery fully. Unfortunately, the battery life is a bit disappointing, with just an hour or so of run time before needing another charge.
You can also ride happily in the rain with this little light, as it’s IP67 rated for waterproofing.
Why We Like It
It’s affordable, compact, and does exactly what it’s meant to. We highly recommend this as a first-time bicycle safety light.
- Versatile and compact light
- Intuitive center-mounted switch
- IP67 waterproof rating
- 3 hours recharge time to full battery
- The run time is short in comparison to others
Best Overall Tail Light
3. Garmin Varia RTL515
The Garmin Varia RTL515 is pretty much perfect for making sure you’re visible to motorists driving up behind you.
But that’s not all – it also lets you know when vehicles are approaching so you’re forewarned.
What We Like
This radar/tail light combination is the perfect warning for both you and the drivers coming up behind you. Firstly, let’s have a look at the light part (considering we’re technically talking about lights here).
Four modes are present on the red light. Your main light is solid, always-on mode, which comes in at 20 lumens, enough to be seen but not to blind anyone behind you.
The new Peloton mode has a lower brightness to protect the eyes of cyclists behind you, and it’s specifically designed for those who ride in groups often. It puts out just 8 lumens.
Then there’s a super bright mode, day flash mode, which gives off 65 lumens. Night flash mode puts out 29 lumens. If you aren’t sure what that means, you should be visible from about a mile away in the daylight.
You should get up to 16 hours of battery life in a flashing mode, or up to 6 hours in a solid mode. More than enough for some long rides!
Now for the radar information. You mount this light/radar combo on the back of your seat post, and it alerts you when vehicles, motorbikes, and others things are approaching or passing you.
You can pair it up to any Garmin device. When paired with a Garmin Edge bike computer, you get the fullest experience of the device. Audio and visual cues give you the most well-rounded knowledge of your surroundings.
It also works with Wahoo ELEMNT devices, Hammerhead Karoo, and Stages L50/M50 units. If you don’t have any of the above, you’ll need to pair it up with your smartphone and use it with Garmin’s Varia app.
In certain third-party apps, the radar can be integrated with GPS so you can get proximity alerts on your maps.
Why We Like It
It’s compact, easily seen from behind, and has the added safety feature of a built-in radar. Great for knowing what’s going on around you, and for being more easily seen in low light conditions.
The Varia RTL515 is the third generation radar. Nothing has changed, but there have been some add-ons – a new smartphone app, an added “Peloton mode”, and some tweaks to the battery life.
- Alerts you to approaching vehicles
- Four lighting modes
- Simple one-button operation
- Brighter nighttime settings and “Peloton” mode
- This device is somewhat pricey
Top Value Tail Light
4. Lezyne Ktv Pro Drive Tail Bike Light
This robust tail light’s ability may surprise you, given its extremely affordable price. If you’re looking for a warning light to others approaching, you can’t go wrong with this easy-to-use, effective tail light.
What We Like
For an affordable tail light, this little guy packs a decent punch. It’s pretty small and light, weighing under 2 ounces and fitting easily on any seat post.
Five built-in lighting modes cover your every need, day or night. Two steady modes include Blast, which puts out a solid 20 lumens, and Economy, which drops that to a dim but visible 3 lumens.
Flashing modes include Daytime Flash, the most powerful mode at 75 lumens; Flash, which spits out short 25 lumen bursts, and Flash 2, which comes in at 10 lumens.
You can expect up to 4 hours of use on full Blast, and 19 ½ hours on Flash 2. The other settings give you various run times in between. Three hours of recharge time should see the battery up to full.
In a kinda cute, kinda handy way, this light fits right into your computer’s USB port. Simply pop off the bottom piece of plastic, and a USB plug appears. Pretty nifty, but it is a bit of a chunky thing to have sticking out of your laptop.
You also don’t need to worry about riding in the rain with this light, as it’s IPX7 waterproof. Robust and affordable – well worth the buy!
Why We Like It
It’s small but mighty! Small in price too, but perfectly adequate for most of your lighting needs, especially if you’re going to be spending most of your miles on the road.
Not much has changed since the original design of this light. The latest version has an increased illumination field from 180 degrees to 270, about 40% longer battery life, and a revamped seat post interface.
- Features an Economy constant mode
- Remembers the last mode you used
- Handy built-in USB charger
- IPX7 waterproof rating
- Last 25% of battery drains unusually fast
Best Front and Rear Combo Set
5. Light & Motion Urban 1000 Commuter Combo
We highly recommend this set if you want the best chance of being seen from every angle on the road. It’s extremely powerful and versatile enough for use in multiple bicycling situations.
What We Like
This thing is powerful! A serious front lamp with a handy rear light makes the perfect combo, and here’s what we really love about it.
On the highest setting, the front light throws out a serious 1000 lumens of illumination. Medium will give you a still-impressive 500 lumens, and low outputs 250 lumens.
Then there’s SafePulse mode. This handy setting puts out flashes of light between 250 and 500 lumens, with a bright 100-lumen burst every 8 or so seconds. On this setting, you can get a solid 12 hours of use before needing to recharge.
Running the light on high mode will give you 90 minutes of run time. Medium will run for about 180 minutes (3 hours), and low mode should see you through 6 hours of riding. Charge it for about 3 hours to get it back to full power.
Other thumbs-up features include amber sidelights, a quick-release mount, 1-meter impact resistance, water-resistant, and it’s super easy to charge.
The tail light comes in at a much more chilled power, about 150 lumens. It lasts between 6 and 12 hours, depending on the power setting you choose.
Why We Like It
You get a ton of power in a small and easy-to-use package. Long-lasting, extremely bright, and 360-degree visibility. Nothing more you can ask for!
- Compact and relatively lightweight
- Bright amber side lighting indicators
- Safe Pulse beam designed to enhance cyclist’s visibility
- Accurate battery status
- The clip on the rear tail light isn’t very sturdy
Best Value Front and Rear Set
6. Lezyne Led Femto Drive Led Bike Light Pair
This stylish little front and rear light set is affordable and looks good on the bike. They’re easy to mount and nothing fancy, but they light your way quite effectively.
What We Like
Compact and super easy to use, these lights are both affordable and effective for lighting your way in low light conditions. Upfront, you should note that they’re not strong enough to throw out a beam in front of you, so you should probably not use them for high-speed riding.
They weigh just over an ounce each, using 2 CR2032 batteries. The rear light offers up to 60 hours of use in flashing mode and 30 hours with solid light. The front light should provide less, between 15 and 22 hours of run time.
Speaking of modes, there are 4 different flashing modes and a single solid light mode for you to choose from, on both the front and rear lights. The front light has an output of 15 lumens, and the backlight is 7 lumens.
Made of aluminum with a high-quality optical lens, they’re weather-resistant and surprisingly durable for their size.
There’s no on/off button on these lights. You just press the lens to activate the light. They mount super easily to the handlebars with a silicone strap.
Why We Like It
This light set looks stylish, doesn’t take up much space on your bike, and is surprisingly durable. Worth the price if you’re commuting or doing recreational riding.
- Lightweight unit with integrated lens switch
- Excellent run time in both solid and flash modes
- Weather-resistant aluminum bodies
- Available in a variety of colors
- Those with a silicone allergy may have trouble working with the straps
Top Self-Adjusting Headlight
7. Garmin Varia UT800 Smart Headlight
This smart bike light is all you need for both day and night rides. It automatically adjusts the brightness as you go, saving you time, effort, and having to take your hands off the handlebar while riding.
What We Like
Firstly, the automatic brightness adjustment is super helpful. There’s no need for you to fiddle with settings – it’s easy, convenient, and much safer.
It uses the outdoor conditions, but also your speed to change to settings that would be more appropriate for your ride.
You can choose between a bar/stem mount, or a helmet mount, or you can buy the other one separately so you can have various mounting options.
The light settings include High mode, which shines at 800 lumens and runs for 1 ⅕ hours; Medium, which is 400 lumens and can go for 3 hours; Low, 200 lumens with 6 hours of run time; Day Flash, 700 or so lumens and can run for an astounding 25 hours; and Night Flash, 100 to 300 lumens for 6 hours.
Why We Like It
Not having to take your hands off the handlebars as you’re riding keeps you safer and more stable on the bike. You no longer have to think about increasing or decreasing brightness as you go, so it’s very convenient.
The UT800 has been given a wider beam than the previous version, covering more ground in front of you. It’s also a good bit more compact.
- Two mounting options for the perfect set-up
- Automatically increases and decreases brightness
- Delivers a fairly wide beam
- Lightweight, modern aluminum body
- Can’t pair with non-ANT+ devices
Best 180-Degree Visibility
8. Cateye Rapid X2
If you’re concerned about being seen from behind, the Cateye Rapid X2 is uniquely shaped, bright, and offers 180-degree visibility, ensuring that you’ll be seen by anyone approaching from the back.
What We Like
The uniquely-shaped design of this tail light allows you to be seen loud and proud from the sides as well as the back. Note that the lights don’t shine out of the sides, but the material is reflective enough for the light to be seen from a variety of angles.
It’s not huge, but it doesn’t have to be in order to make you visible. Chip-on-board LEDs illuminate almost the entire surface of the light, and the 50-lumen power is enough for most situations.
6 different modes give you a lighting option for any situation on the road. Depending on which mode you choose, the light can last between 5 and 30 hours. Charging for 2 hours with the micro-USB will bring it back up to full charge.
A handy feature is the built-in accelerometer, which changes the brightness of the light when it detects that you’re braking. In essence, a built-in brake light. This is still a bit of a work in progress, but it works alright if you aren’t doing speedy cycling.
The rubber mounting is probably the worst thing about this light. It’s not very durable, but you can buy replacements or make another plan when it does break.
Why We Like It
It’s easy to see from all angles, has plenty of modes and more than enough brightness, and the built-in accelerometer is a nice touch!
The X2 is a step up from the original Cateye. Not only has the output more than tripled, but the battery life has also improved.
- Wide range of flash patterns
- Contoured design boasts great visibility from sides
- Uses chip-on-board (COB) LEDs
- Accelerometer-triggered brightness
- Less durable rubber mounting
Top for Road Bikes
9. NiteRider Sentry Aero 260
This light’s unique shape enhances visibility on the road. It’s aerodynamic too (hence the “aero” in its name), so it won’t add much drag at all.
What We Like
First and foremost, the streamlined shape of this light won’t create much drag at all. It fits easily on both normal and aero seat posts.
It’s ideal for those who are training for speed, offering enough light for you to be easily seen without holding you back.
Secondly, the 260-lumen output is perfectly adequate for most rides. It’s easily seen during the day and the night, from directly behind and from the side.
6 modes offer all you need. Steady High will give you 4 ½ hours; Steady Low, around 30 hours. Four flash or pulse modes offer between 6 and 7 ½ hours of run time. A quick 2 ½-hour charge time means you can get back on the bike with the light asap.
There’s also a handy Group Ride Mode, which keeps you visible to motorists but doesn’t distract other riders in your group.
A sturdy plastic mounting helps to keep it stable on your seat post. This does wear out over time, though, and it’s likely to be the part of the light that wears out first.
Why We Like It
If you’re into a bit of speed on the road, the shape of this light makes it super aerodynamic. Keeping you safe and visible while you can focus on your speed.
- Triangular profile provides excellent side visibility
- Charges quickly
- Fits fit standard and aero seat posts
- Features a Group Ride Mode
- Mounting isn’t extremely durable
Buyers Guide – Road Bicycle Safety Lights
If you’re looking at buying a road bicycle safety light, here are a few factors you’ll need to consider to make sure you’re buying one that really works for you.
You’ll need to decide if you want a single-beam light or you want a two-way visibility light that allows you to be seen by other motorists. This is probably the first step in choosing a light! Everything else will build on that.
The brightness of a light is measured in lumens, and it’s usually stated somewhere in big numbers and letters on the box of the light. You can’t miss it!
The light needs to be bright enough for you to see where you’re going, which is usually around 100 to 200 lumens if you’re planning on cycling on already-lit streets in low-light conditions.
If you want to go cycling in the dead of night in unlit places, you’ll need at least 400 lumens of brightness to light your way.
Some lights come with broad beams, others with more narrow beams. Your best bet is to find a light with a broad but bright beam, which can illuminate a large area effectively.
Not only will this provide you with the best scope of vision, but it also gives others the best chance of seeing you coming.
Pulse or Flash Modes
Solid light modes can work in some settings, but pulsing or flashing settings are actually what you want to look for.
Flashing and pulsing lights are more easily seen from afar. As a bonus, they also run your battery down a little slower than solid modes.
Not all lights will be able to be mounted on your bike! Make sure the light that you choose is compatible with your handlebar (or wherever else you plan to mount it).
Don’t make the mistake of neglecting this part and getting home with your shiny new bike light, only to find out it doesn’t fit!
Lightweight is always better when it comes to a thing that’s going to be mounted either on your handlebars or on your person.
However, smaller lights tend to come with a smaller lumen count, so be careful. You’ll need to find the perfect balance between size, weight, and brightness.
Most bicycle lights come with a built-in rechargeable battery, or can be used with rechargeable batteries.
Double-check the battery life on your chosen light. If you like to ride for hours, make sure your light can handle it.
Got questions about the best road bicycle safety lights? Here’s some more information so you can choose the most effective safety light for your needs.
What Types of Bicycle Lights Are There?
Bicycle safety lights come in two different types. First, you get a light that’s designed to illuminate the path ahead of you, so you can ride safely without worrying about obstacles in the dark.
Secondly, you get lights that illuminate your path but are also designed for you to be seen. These usually have a secondary light that aims forward, visible to other cyclists, pedestrians, and motorists so they know you’re coming.
Understanding this and knowing which one you need will help you to determine which light will be the best for you.
How Many Lumens Do I Need Cycling at Night?
If you’re riding on dimly-lit city streets at night, a 200 lumen light should be enough to light your way and help others spot you easily. However, if it’s particularly badly lit or not lit at all, 400 lumens is a better and safer choice.
If you’re planning on hitting the trails or doing other off-road night adventures, you’ll need a more robust, more powerful light. Although you won’t have vehicles to contend with, you’ll need your path to be very well-lit to avoid obstacles.
What Light Should Cyclists Use to Be Visible to Other Motorists?
If you want others to see you as easily as you see them, you need a light that has a red taillight as well as a bright front beam (200 to 300 feet in reach). This means motorists approaching from both in front of you and behind will be able to spot you from afar.
If you want a touch more protection, you can add a flashing LED light to your helmet, place reflective strips on your pedals, or wear reflective gear.