10 of the Best Handlebar Mounted Bike Lights Ridden & Rated

Nov 6, 2019
by Nikki Rohan  



Lights, Action, Shred!

Night riding season is just around the corner. Lighting systems have historically been big-ticket items - a daunting financial investment for entry-level night riders. Today, however, several affordable options are on the market that over-deliver at entry-level prices. If you already have a bomber system, feel free to read through to see what’s new, but this review is essentially aimed at riders contemplating an initial purchase.

You'll need to know some basics on the science and technology behind riding at night. What are the units of lumens and lux? What’s better: a focused beam or a spread array? What about charging rates? How long are the burn times at different settings?

Putting a number on brightness: Everyone, makes a big deal about lumens. When people talk lumens, they’re talking about how many photons of light are emitted by a light source. lights that put out 2000 lumens are pretty bright - on paper - but a more useful measure would be "lux," which is a measure of how much light is actually hitting things in front of you.

Making shapes: Which brings us to beam pattern. Yes, 2000 lumens is pretty darn bright; but consider this: a typical car headlight only puts out about 1200 lumens [1]. On high beam. And 700 on low beam. With two headlights, that’s 2400 lumens and 1400 lumens, respectively. And yet you can safely rocket around on bumpy back roads at 100+ km/h.
Disclosure:
In order to create a level playing field, we reviewed handlebar mount lights only. A handlebar-mounted light creates shadows that contrast with obstacles on the trail Helmet-mounted light tend to "flatten out" the terrain because the source is in the same plane as your vision.

The contrast from that handlebar mount point allows one to better judge speed and size up obstacles, but we’d recommend complementing that handlebar light with a helmet-mounted light that’s a bit less powerful. You'll want the dominant light at the handlebar for contrast, and use the second light source to look around corners and mitigate the jiggling effect of the bike-mounted beam. And, there's the safety factor - two lights are always better than one.


After Dark is when the riding gets fun.


Science & Technobabble

Reflectors: Your system may be cranking out 2000 lumens, but pointing them in the right direction is the key to performance. The lamp's reflector and lense determine how that beam is being broadcast to the landscape in front of you. A narrow beam only shows you a small soda straw view of the world and will bounce around with the slightest movement of the handlebar. Not good when you’re adrift in a sea of roots and rocks with multiple line choices on a technical trail. On the other hand, a very wide beam means that your precious lumens have to be shared across a large area, resulting in a dimmer view with reduced contrast, that doesn't project as far.

Focus: Another aspect to consider in the beam pattern is the transition from light to dark. A sudden drop-off from light to dark can strain your eyes and hide crucial information regarding line choice. Why? It’s because that hard edge from light to dark makes it more difficult to pick up clues with your peripheral vision. A reflector and lens combination that offers a smoother light to dark drop off allows your eyes to see and analyze that data more accurately.

Bontrager ion Pro RT front bike light
Narrow "spot" beams broadcast farther ahead, but compromise peripheral vision.
Light and Motion Taz 2000
"Flood" type reflectors broadcast a wider, softer-edged beam that provides more information.

The Unicorn: Back to lux. Lumens aside, lux describes how many of those bright little photons fall on a surface and are being reflected back to your eyes. If a light emits 2000 lumens, but has a lousy reflector - measured in lux, your beam pattern will be less than ideal. A properly designed reflector and lens will let you see better because the light is being focused where it does the most good. In an ideal world this would provide a wide, flat, powerful beam, with an even fade to the sides for unhampered peripheral vision, that illuminates from just in front of your wheel to a distance ahead where you'd naturally be focused at speed.

Lamp technology: Okay, the last bit of tech has to do with light sources. LEDs (Light Emitting Diodes) with shaped reflectors are now the norm for night riding lights. LEDs create light by resisting electricity. This generates heat, and heat robs LEDs of performance, making your light output fade as they get hotter. This is typically hard to notice because at the same time that your light is dimming, your eyes are adjusting and compensating to the reduced light available. It’s something to bear in mind as a light with a good heat sink will give you a longer lasting and consistent light vs. a light with a poor heat sink that fades minutes into your ride.

Now that we’ve got that background out of the way we can focus on helping you get the best light for the buck and open up your dark winter evenings to a whole new world of shred.





NiteRider Lumina Dual 1800 Boost

NiteRider Lumina Dual 1800 Boost

• $149.99 USD
• Weight: 258 grams
• 1800 lumens (boost mode)
• Runtime at full power: 45 minutes
• Recharge time: 3 hours
niterider.com


The Lumina Dual 1800 boost is designed to disperse light in a wide, smooth beam. There are five light levels varying from 100 lumens in "walk" mode up to the 1800 lumens on tap in "boost" mode. It has a lock mode for the initial power-up to prevent accidentally draining your battery. There’s a bit of sidelight visibility for safety while pedaling to the trails or commuting. The handlebar clamp will fit standard and oversized 35mm handlebars, and there is a helmet mount available, sold separately.

The Lumina installation is pretty straightforward and easy. There is a quick release mechanism so that you can remove the light from the clamp for charging, and you won't have to install the clamp each time you head out. To install the clamp you basically unscrew the bolt, release the sliding mechanism, place it on the bar, push it back into place and re-tighten. I find if I placed the clamp over the narrower part of the bar and then slid it over towards the stem where I want to have it set, it was easier to tighten than trying to slip the screw back into place at the widest point. The clamp has a built in rubber gasket on the inside, which helps keep the light from sliding on the bar.

Once on the trail, this light was extremely bright in boost mode and offered excellent forward and sidelight. I could readily see features way up the trail as well as potential hazards on the sides when in high mode. I utilized the brighter "boost" mode when descending more technical trail and it was similar to boost style modes the other lights tested. I used low (350 lumens) and medium (700 lumens) mode on the climbs and flat sections, and a mix of high (1500 lumens) and boost (1800 lumens) for all the descents. Battery power was more than sufficient for the one-hour loop we tested on. Note that maximum run time on "boost" mode is only 45 minutes, so it's important to manage your time and plan to utilize the different modes to minimize your "boost" usage. Or say "f--k it" and risk stumbling out in the dark. The light was easy to use—just one simple power button that allows you to toggle through the five different light levels and flash modes. Bonus: the button will turn red when the battery is nearing empty.

I like the compact size of this light. Aside from the bulkier-than-I-prefer mount, it's competitively priced and more than capable of illuminating your night rides, with ample battery power even in the non-boost settings.


Niterider Lumina Dual 1800 Boost
Niterider Lumina Dual 1800 Boost

Pros

+ Bright, no hot spots
+ Good selection of riding modes
+ No small parts to lose

Cons

- Handlebar mount is bulky
- No mode or battery level indicator




cateye AMPP 1100

Cateye AMPP 1100

• $99.95 USD
• Weight: 200 grams
• 1100 lumens (boost mode)
• Runtime at full power: 1.5 hours
• Recharge time: 3 - 5 hours
cateye.com


Best Budget Light

Cateye has been in the night riding game for a while, and has a nice assortment of lights, including their Volt 6000 that puts out a mind numbing, 6000 lumens. But, that’s an $800 toy! With this article being aimed more at entry-level night riders, the light that caught our eye for best value and performance (on paper) was the AMPP 1100.

The AMPP 1100 has five different light modes, from high to flashing for daytime and commuting visibility to high-speed trail riding. It utilizes "Opticube" lens technology to throw a powerful, yet wide beam, designed to offer excellent peripheral illumination. It has a large capacity lithium-ion battery with a built-in fast charging circuit that allows a full tank in approximately three hours. The light operates with a single illuminated switch, which you press and hold to turn on, then toggle through the various settings. The switch has a three-level battery indicator that will turn from blue to yellow to red to warn you when your battery power is getting low. It also comes with a variety of mounting options: a flex tight strap for handlebars, helmet strap, and a fork-crown bracket for road bikes.

This light is super easy to install: one simply unscrews a plastic dial to release the threaded strap, places the loop around the handlebars, then replaces and tightens the dial until the light is securely in place (AKA the FlexTight™ Bracket). While one can accidentally drop the plastic dial, the parts are minimal and the bracket fits a variety of bar sizes without requiring any tools (note: it did not get tight enough to fit on a kids 31.8mm handlebar without adding an additional rubber sleeve). The light can easily be removed from the bracket with a quick release for easy charging and/or during transport if you don't want to accidentally lose your light on the highway.

The CatEye AMP1100 offered even forward light and had a somewhat wider beam compared to others in this review. Additionally, there is nice diffused taper on the edges of the beam, leading to a great balance of brightness and peripheral vision without any harsh spots or glare. We also appreciated the battery level indicator, that turned red to let us know it was time to pick up the pace and scurry on home.

The easy to use and versatile mounting system, wide beam pattern, useful battery indicator, and reasonable price tag make this light a great starter option for dipping your toes into the frigid waters of night riding.

Cateye AMPP1100
Cateye AMPP1100

Pros

+ Easy and slim mounting system
+ Good beam pattern
+ Useful battery indicator

Cons

- Shorter view distance compared to others




Cygolite Metro Pro 1100 USB

Cygolite Metro Pro 1100 USB

• $99.95 USD
• Weight: 150 grams
• 1100 lumens (high)
• Runtime at full power: 1 hours
• Recharge time: 2.5 hours
cygolite.com


Lowest Weight Light

The Metro Pro 1100 throws (you guessed it!) 1100 lumens on the trail via two LEDs. The optics are designed to project that light both far and wide to offer maximum useful visibility. It offers a mind melting (to me, anyway) nine light modes. I’m perfectly happy with high, medium, and low, and maybe a flasher for daytime visibility - but nine?!? It seems a bit excessive and it takes a while to cycle through the different options.

The Metro Pro is water-resistant and designed to take a beating. There is a light activation lockout to prevent accidental activation (it’d suck to drain your battery down on the drive to the trailhead). Mounting is handled via a beefy "Locktite" quick-release bracket so you should be able to easily transfer the light from bike to bike. On the downside, despite the simple clamp design, this light was not the easiest to install. Like some of the other clamps, you simply have to unscrew a threaded bolt and get it set to the proper length for the quick release mechanism, but it's a bit bulky and it takes a lot turning that knob to get a solid perch on the bars. We also had issues installing this mount on larger, 35mm diameter bars. The bracket wasn't quite big enough.

At 1100 lumens, this light was suitable for mountain biking. It's more of a spot beam, but still wide enough for full-speed descending. It projects quite far, so if you need to see objects from a distance, this is a good option compared to other more diffused beams. Being on the slimmer side in both the size and weight hurts the runtime a little bit compared to other lights, with Cygolite stating the maximum run time at full power is only one hour. Not a big deal, as our hour-long loop meant we always made it home fine with brightness to spare (although we definitely powered it down when climbing and on non technical trails to conserve battery power).

Given the price and the size, this would be a great option to throw in your pack as a backup for a "go to" in case you get caught out as the sun goes down Those who plan more involved night riding missions, will want a light offering a longer run time.

Cygolite Metro Pro 1100 USB
Cygolite Metro Pro 1100 USB

Pros

+ Large selection of light modes
+ Lightweight
+ Compact design

Cons

- Clamp doesn't easily fit wider, 35 mm bars
- Short battery life




Bontrager Ion Pro RT front bike light

Bontrager Ion Pro RT

• $124.99 USD
• Weight: 192 grams
• 1300 lumens (high)
• Runtime at full power: 1.5 hours
• Recharge time: 7 hours
trekbikes.com


Bontrager's Ion Pro is another USB rechargeable light that offers five modes of illumination for safety during the day and high-speed trail riding after dark. It’s a smaller unit, about half the size of a pack of cigarettes. It utilizes Cree LEDs to put out a maximum of 1300 lumens and is capable of maintaining that output for up to 90 minutes. Additionally, you can connect to a Garmin Edge via Bluetooth to control the light, utilizing what Bontrager calls "always on" to enable one-touch control from your Garmin unit. This particular light includes a clamp that will fit bars up to 35mm, and there’s a "Blendr" compatible helmet mount available, too.

Much like the Cygolite and NiteRider, this light has a fixed thumb screw bracket system that fits a wide range of bar sizes (25.4-35.0mm). The bracket is slim and more compact and the bolt is shorter than the other similar styles, which seemed to make for an easier installation—I could even keep my gloves on. The light is removable from the bracket with the same basic quick release system you see on most the lights. Once tightened down, this light has a solid lock on the bar and I had zero issues, never having to re-tighten or realign the light's position.

This light is designed as more of a spotlight style, with a narrow, compact design. It offers a bit less spray (i.e. width) than some of the other lights, but the light is warmer in color and definitely bright enough, so navigating the contrasting elements of a technical descent at night was a piece of cake. Battery life for this light is on the longer end of high-mode run times. After a couple of test rides, this light always seemed to have more juice left in it than I had expected (given how I'd abused it). The recharge time for this light is suggested at seven hours, which is the longest time of the ten lights here. Maybe the extended run time makes up for that?

We didn't have an opportunity to sync the light with a Garmin unit for this testing cycle, but having battery status and wireless control through a Garmin or Bontrager Transmitr device would be ideal for someone who spends a lot of time riding in the dark. Overall, I was happy with the quality and brightness of this light and it's a great (and reasonably affordable) option for someone looking for compact and versatile light.

Bontrager ion Pro RT front bike light
Bontrager ion Pro RT

Pros

+ Compact narrow & lightweight design
+ No small parts to piss you off
Cons

- Long recharge time




Blackburn Countdown 1600 Front Light

Blackburn Countdown 1600

• $160 USD
• Weight: 240 grams
• 1600 lumens (blitz mode)
• Runtime on high: 1.3 hours
• Recharge time: 4 hours
blackburndesign.com


The Blackburn Countdown 1600 is a substantial light that weighs 240g and has some serious horsepower. Two lithium ion batteries inside the unit offer up to 60 minutes of eye-blinding "blitz" use, which is Blackburn’s name for their highest output. The Countdown 1600 is weather and dust sealed and is considered waterproof for up to 30 minutes to a depth of one meter (so, accidentally dropping it into the toilet is covered. Whew!). A handy display on the top of the unit shows remaining runtime regardless of which mode you’re in: blitz, high, medium, low, pulse, or strobe; hence the name, "Countdown."

Mounting the Countdown is a bit of an involved affair that requires spending about forever (just a few minutes longer than you want) unscrewing a small nut from a long, finely pitched screw. Mounting it to 35mm bars, you'll have to remove a rubber gasket and clamp the plastic mount directly on your bars. I'm a worry wart, so I fretted about scratching my nice carbon bars (no scratches during the test, at least). But...we somehow managed to break the bracket while trying to install the light, and had to request a replacement. Not the most confidence inspiring mount for this somewhat hefty light.

Performance-wise, the beam pattern is in the middle of the narrow vs. wide beam spectrum, and offers substantial illumination straight down the trail in high and especially the blitz mode. The trade off for that center-weighted reflector is a distinct edge to the beam, which makes for some distraction while ripping through dense undergrowth (branches tend to appear from 'nowhere') compared to lights with a wider, more even distribution of illumination. The top of the light unit has some fins for heat dissipation that seemed to do their thing, as I didn't notice any fading in brightness.

The standout feature of this light is the textual information display. While riding, I enjoyed seeing the estimated runtime remaining, as well as the current light mode. Instead of having to fumble around with my numb fingers and guess the mode of the light, the heads up display instantly told me which mode I was in, and I could stop second-guessing. The countdown timer also gave me that extra bit of zip when trying to beat the clock home (a whole new method for getting the motivation for some PRs).

Blackburn Countdown 1600 Front Light
Blackburn Countdown 1600

Pros

+ Informative heads up display
+ High light output

Cons

- Poor mounting bracket




Light and Motion Taz 2000

Light and Motion Taz 2000

• $224.99 USD
• Weight: 216 grams
• 2000 lumens (high mode)
• Runtime at full power: 1.5 hours
• Recharge time: 4 hours
lightandmotion.com


Brightest Light

The Taz 2000 is touted by Light and Motion as the world’s most powerful battery integrated light (as in the battery and light are integrated into a single unit). Its CREE LED display is powered by two battery cells with a heat sink to maintain the 2000 lumen "high" output without the quick fade that some lights experience when used at maximum power. The optics have been specifically engineered to create a wide, flat beam that makes it ideal for a handlebar point of illumination by offering a powerful spot beam with an evenly diffused flood beam for peripheral illumination. This makes the Taz 2000 attractive to both road and trail cyclists who need serious wattage, but have slightly different needs: for roadies on the way to/from work/home there’s the spot power, but for trail riders the wide, diffuse beam tapering from the spot light is gold for peripheral illumination. Further, there are amber sidelights that allow good side visibility when pedaling on the road, but you can go full ninja with the flick of a switch and douse them when in the woods. Charging duties are handled by a micro USB port. The light is both waterproof and weather sealed, and also features a battery status indication light that changes color as the battery level drops.

The Taz is super easy to install, you just wrap the strap around any size bar, cinch it down, and you're ready to go. After testing all these lights, I find I prefer a simple rubber buckle cinch style mount—I don't want any small, easily dropped parts, and I don't want to have to use a tool to mount my light. Call it lazy, but when you're headed out for an evening ride and you don't know how dark it might get so you throw a "just in case" light in your pack, and then realize that you really do need that light... well at that point, the ease of installation does matter.

Light and Motion has always made phenomenal lights. I have a Seca and an older Imjin in the garage that have been my go-to photo mission lights for the past couple years (both external battery lights). I was excited to test the Taz to see how it compared to their external battery options. I was not disappointed. On the trail, the Taz has an exceptional beam pattern. It blasted plenty of light up the trail on the high power mode, which was noticeable in the dark sections compared to other lights in this review. At the same time, the beam closer to the the bike had a smooth, diffused feel which made for good side light and offered excellent trail detail when riding at high speeds. The light has four settings, high (2000), medium (1000), low (500) and pulse (500). I used the medium setting for most my riding and the high, only on technical descents where navigating roots and rocks at speed was the goal. The light has a "race" mode setting that allows one to toggle between high and medium outputs without having to click through the entire range of options.

Overall, this light had one of the best beam patterns and brighter light outputs of the ten. The only drawback of this compact little masterpiece, is the price tag. While it was one of our favorites (along with the Outbound Focal), if you compare the two, for essentially the same price, the Focal offers nearly double the run time. Granted, the Focal is not an integrated unit like the Taz, you'd have to double your money to get a comparable run time from Light and Motion. ($400 for the Seca Enduro light, which also utilizes an external battery pack like the Focal.)

Light and Motion Taz 2000
Light and Motion Taz 2000

Pros

+ User friendly interface
+ Excellent output and beam pattern
+ Easy and quick mounting system

Cons

- Pricey as compared to some other options in this review.




Outbound Lights Hangover

Outbound Lighting Focal

• $200 USD
• Weight: 100 grams light-head only (total system, 416 grams)
• 1800 perceived lumens
• Runtime at full power: 2.8 hours
• Recharge time: 4.5 hours
outboundlighting.com


Best Overall Light

Holy shit there is a LOT of tech that goes into Outbound Lighting’s Focal! This isn’t just a business, it's a way of life for these guys! They have sweated out the details, and emerged from the Sauna of MTB component design victorious (and glistening in a sheen of glory).

The Focal doesn’t have the highest lumen output of the test, but it has a lot going for it. Particularly the lens shape, which is designed to optimize its beam spread to illuminate everything directly in front of you evenly and yet still offer ample peripheral lighting. It has zero hot spots and a nice, soft beam fall off that's both easy on the eyes while still offering phenomenal peripheral illumination. Outbound also utilizes an "indestructible" optical grade silicone lens (it’d take a bullet to shatter this sucker) for durability.

But, there's more going on than just the lens shape. The design of the light is both efficient and user friendly. First off, the light’s housing is made of light-weight, die-cast magnesium which works as an efficient heat sink. Secondly, there are cooling fins on top and below the light as well as an air intake to further ensure that the light unit remains as cool as possible for consistent light output. There’s also a glove-friendly single oversize selector button. And it utilizes a large, sturdy bar-mounting strap for easy installation and removal that can readily be swapped out for a Go Pro mount. Intelligent design doesn't stop on the outside. The driver and input wires in the Focal are mechanically joined so they can take an extreme amount abuse: ie rock gardens, jumps, and crashes.

Then there's the battery: this is the only light tested with a battery pack separated from the lighting unit. Man, what a difference it makes on run time. Yes, the overall package weight is greater, but that trade-off is substantially greater run times. The Focal uses genuine LG Chem Lithium Ion cells for their durable construction, their built in protection circuits, and sheer performance. Plus, it's covered with over molded silicone (waterproof!), and wrapped in a grippy, yet stretchable neoprene pouch for scratch free, easy mounting to the bike frame. As a bonus, Outbound has a battery that will fit that new One Up component steerer tube stash all the cool kids are using these days. It only has two cells vs the standard battery's four cells, so half the run time (but, half the weight).

It may seem as if this light is over-engineered, but in my mind, you can never really over-engineer mtb components; if there’s a way to break it, we mountain bikers will find it. Call us human embodiments of Murphy's Law. Despite knowing their clientele, Outbound Lighting believes enough in the durability of their gear that they offer a three-year warranty.

Ok if you made it this far you are likely wondering how does it ride? Well we rode this light hard, put it away wet and decided it was our favorite. The beam pattern is obviously designed with true single track riding in mind. The peripheral light output allowed for the best spatial awareness, especially when brapping into berms with the reckless abandon only night riding can bring. Another way this light stood out was there wasn't any wasted light above the riders' sightline, allowing all lumens to be utilized for full send.

The other nice touches that made this light our go-to item night after night were the quick-mounting system, intuitive large control button, and excellent runtime with the easy-to-mount external battery pack. The price isn't outrageous, and we aren't surprised Outbound is struggling to keep these lights in stock.

Outbound Lights Hangover
Outbound Lights Hangover

Pros

+ Excellent MTB specific beam pattern
+ Easy and quick mounting system
+ Long battery life
+ Intuitive user interface

Cons

- Not an integrated battery/light




Lezyne SuperDrive 1600 XXL

Lezyne Superdrive 1600 XXL

• $130 USD
• Weight: 227 grams
• 1600 lumens (overdrive mode)
• Runtime at full power: 1.45 hours
• Recharge time: 4.5 hours (2 amp USB)
ride.lezyne.com


Best Mounting System

Like many of the lights in this test, Lezyne’s Superdrive 1600 XXL bike light is about half the size of a pack of cigarettes. It features three high-output LEDs for up to 1600 lumens of output. It has five output modes from walking (15 lumens) up to full tilt boogie on the trails (Overdrive at 1600 lumens), plus two commuter modes (blink and pulse) for visibility going to and fro. Their "Tri-Focus Optics" optimize light output modes to create an ideal beam pattern for whichever mode you’re using. The machined-aluminum construction acts as a heat sink and also features cooling fins for even more heat dissipation. There are also cutouts for side visibility. The Super Drive 1600XXL is both Smart Connect (cell phone app for control) and Remote Switch compatible for additional ease of use. An auto day/night sensor automatically adjusts lumen output while in select modes. The light is micro-USB rechargeable and it can run for up to a massive, 148 hours on a full charge in walk mode. A versatile strap secures it to all common handlebar sizes and it’s available in light grey or black. There's also an optional, machined 31.8mm bar clamp available in their "loaded" kit.

The Superdrive is another "buckle-to-cinch" light. It's super easy to install and fits a multitude of handlebar sizes. It is also ridiculously intuitive and easy to use. Simply depress the obvious button for two seconds and it lights up to full power. Each click toggles to a different mode. Press and hold to turn it off. It will also sync with your smart phone via the "LED Ally" app for easy control, to sync with a rear light, and for firmware updates. A huge benefit of the app is you can easily select the lumen output via your phone vs. having to cycle through all seven modes to get the one you want.

When on the trail, I decided that the 250-lumen economy mode was okay for climbing and pedaling flat sections, but I think I would like something more in the 500 lumen range for most of my ride time; it can be pretty dark in the forest at night, and while I like to preserve battery, I also like to be able to see more than the wee bit of trail 250 lumens offers. Like, say, the guy with the chainsaw just off the trail. That nit pick aside, the standard "high" mode was ample for technical descending. I did use the overdrive 1600-lumen mode descending, which handily got the job done, and offered a nice little output boost that supported full send mode.

Lezyne has a reputation of crafting high quality products, and the Super Drive XXL meets that standard, and the performance of this light is on par with the other integrated lights in this review. From a design perspective, the tool-free clamp is simple and works well to keep the light in place. the controls are easy and intuitive to use, and the heat sink housing works the way it should, keeping light output fade to a minimum.

Lezyne Superdrive 1600 XXL
Lezyne Superdrive 1600 XXL

Pros

+ Smart Connection option for control of multiple lights
+ Affordable price tag
+ Easy and quick mounting system

Cons

- Could use a brighter economy mode




Giant Recon HL 1600

Giant Recon HL1600

• $126 USD
• Weight: 204 grams w/o mount
• 1600 lumens (High mode)
• Runtime at full power: 1.5 hours
• Recharge time via USB: 5 hrs
giant-bicycles.com


Giant entered the night riding scene a few years back with a variety of lights. The current cream of the crop is their recon HL1600 headlight. The body is made from lightweight aluminum for durability and heat dissipation and is rated to be completely waterproof (IPX6). There are five different light output modes, ranging from high to low and flashing (for commuting). In the box, are a number of handlebar mounts: a GoPro compatible mount, a strap that readily fits all bar sizes, and a sweet offset mount that allows mounting the light under the handlebar for an uncluttered bar.

What sets this light apart from most others at this price point are its two intelligent design features: first, a "SpeedBeam" mode that adjusts the light output based on the riding speed (Giant recommends pairing the Recon Light to a Giant RideSense speed/cadence sensor or another compatible third-party speed sensors, rather then a GPS computer for optimal use. If that isn’t enough, there’s also a "smart mode" sensor that measures ambient light to adjust light output day or night. Those two options allow one to optimize battery life/runtime in a fairly fool proof manner.

Without a sensor to pair with, the light defaults to 800 lumens in the dark, and an 800 lumen flash mode during the day in smart mode. The remaining charge is indicated by the color of the light around the single on/off/mode button atop the light. With an appropriate sensor, one can pedal to the trail head under city lights and the Recon will select the amount of light required for that, then automatically switch to higher intensities based on your speed and the ambient light. Alas, neither of us had an appropriate sensor, so the SpeedBeam mode was just a sweet theory to us.

On the trail, this light offers good bang for the buck. The focused optics illuminate what’s ahead, and there are sidelight panels that allow plentiful spill light (270 degrees) for peripheral information at speed. This was a noticeably wider beam distribution than some of the other more compact designs we tried, and it had none of the obvious hot spots that are usually seen with "spot" type light designs. On high, the amount of light was perfectly adequate for full speed descending on our test loop. Heat management seemed good, as there was minimal drop-off of light when rocketing around on the local trails with the light set on high. That said, the body of the light gets HOT. The light had battery power and run time numbers that were on par with the other lights in this test - better than some (noticeably the Cygolite and the Countdown). The machined clamp is sweet, but it makes it difficult to easily find and toggle through the various modes, as the light is mounted upside down; but if paired with a "SpeedBeam" compatible sensor, that would be a moot point.


Giant Recon HL 1600
Giant Recon HL1600

Pros

+ Affordable
+ Excellent light output and
+ Easy and quick mounting system

Cons

- A bit on the heavy/bulky side
- SpeedBeam usage requires a compatible sensor




Exposure MK14 RACE

Exposure Race MK14

• £250
• Weight: 186 grams
• 1450 lumens max output (Reflex+ mode kicks it to 2100 Lumens)
• Runtime at high: 2 hours
• Recharge time: 6 hours
exposurelights.com


Best Runtime for an Integrated Light

Made in the UK, Exposure’s Race MK14 is the most affordable of their Reflex+ range and features an intelligent runtime. Their top-shelf, Six Pack MK10 Sync retails for an eye watering £485!). The MK14 packs a serious array of smarts that utilize two thermistors to detect wind chill, a gyro to detect gradient, as well as an accelerometer to detect speed. Using this suite of sensors it will automatically dim when climbing, go to barely any output when one pauses on the trail, and light up the night with 2100 lumens when descending at speed. It does this without any input from the rider (other than turning it on) and all without pairing it to any kind of GPS unit or speed sensors. This allows for a lot more trail riding fun by maximizing battery life in a fairly idiot proof manner.

Light output is managed by two white XPL2 CREE LEDs. The body of the light is composed of anodized 6063 aluminum for durability and heat dispersion. It’s water resistant to IP6 standards. Modes (there are ten!), battery life, and Lumen output are readily visible on the LED display on the back of the light. It’s interesting to note that one cannot manually get 2100 lumens of output—the most it will manually toggle up to is 1450 lumens. But at speed, the various gizmos embedded in the light will boost that output up to 2100 lumens.

Anecdotally, it is quite important to read the directions from Exposure on how to use this light; it most definitely is NOT a plug and play unit. Our first night out testing, we neglected to do so, and ended up quite confused on the side of the trail. A software engineer pecking out morse code with a singular button was only able to coerce the light to reveal itself after several minutes of swearing. But from there it was, "Cheerio, jolly good chaps!"

Once the light was firing, the beam pattern was excellent and offered a good blend of peripheral view with solid illumination down the trail. The taper at the edges of the beam was nice and gradual and with zero hot spots or dark areas. The reflex mode was more subtle than we thought it would be, and there didn't seem to be that much of a difference between climbing and descending. That may be because the light "learns" your riding pattern over time (Exposure states around 20 minutes), and we were sharing this light between multiple riders during test rides to get a consensus on performance.

Overall, this is a very high quality light, with an above-average beam pattern, and excellent battery life. While the price is nearly double that of the two other "intelligent" lights we tested, the fact that it doesn't need to be paired with any type of sensor to offer that smart light output is quite nice, and that will save you the cost of having to purchase a Garmin or other type of sensor. Theoretically, it's actually cheaper in the long run. You just need to make sure you spend some time with the manual to get the most out of it - before it gets dark.

Exposure MK14 Race
Exposure MK14 Race

Pros

+ Intelligent brightness management system
+ Balanced beam pattern
+ High quality construction and mount system

Cons

- Un-intuitive user interface
- Not cheap









Second Opinion...

Some extra special testing was done by the local after school mountain biking program. We lent out the test lights to elementary school kids and their instructors to spend their last day of the program experiencing night riding. They all loved the night riding adventure - and each thought that their light was by far the best of the bunch.

10 handlebar lights review



272 Comments

  • 79 8
 LEDs are NOT producing light because they resist electricity.
- LEDs are producing light because current is flowing through them, that's their very property. They are generating photons from electrons in a very efficient way.
- LEDs, as all conductors, resists a bit electricity and so generate a bit heat,
Incandescent based technology generates much heat because of resistance on one part, but mostly because their emission spectrum also sit in the IR spectrum. That is pretty much heat.
The interest of LEDs here being that we can tailor their emission spectrum to be as away as possible from IR. Hence part of the better efficiency of the LED tech.

Introduction to lux and lumens differences is great to see here, but I'd suggest to say it simpler :
- Lumens measure the emission of light from a source, Lux measure the reception of light on an illuminated object.
- Hence 1 Lux = 1 Lumen / m²
  • 29 0
 And why introducing this Lumen/Lux difference here but not using it to compare all the products in this article?
  • 3 0
 @fneuf: You have some good points here.
What I would add is that alone the lumen values really won't tell you much for this application. These lamps are more like spotlights, where you also optimize for peak candelas. I'd love to see the manufacturers publish the ies/ldt files of these products so we could see the shape of the light as you can have a lot of lumens spread all over the place, which is obviously not beneficial for this application or you could have a very bright narrow light beam with fewer lumens still having a better end result for the use.
  • 5 0
 Also important to note that the claimed lumens of a light do not commonly match the actual output. I'd like to see the real measured output of the light.
  • 17 2
 @fneuf I have no idea what you just said
  • 5 0
 The physics are that LEDs are made from a material with an energy band structure that allows an electron to exchange some momentum in return for the emission of a photon at a pretty precise amount of energy. So since the electron is losing energy in the process, it's probably not wrong to say that it is resisting current. The fact that the photons are emitted with a precise amount of energy is why the emission spectrum of LEDs is so narrow and doesn't overlap IR (unless, of course, you create an LED which emits in IR), and also why white LEDs were such a unicorn for so long (white light being very broad spectrum - it's like exactly the opposite of what LEDs usually generate).
  • 5 0
 @High-Life: If you can be more particular I'd be glad to help you.
  • 6 0
 @pinhead907: LED light emission ability mainly lies on a matter of quantum physics of semiconductors. The electron emits a photon to stabilize itself when he arrives in the valence band, he's giving a photon to loose the energy he gained.

I'm uncomfortable to summarize those phenomenons as resistance.

Don't get me wrong, I'm all for scientific vulgarisation, but using a term as well-known in the public mind as resistance seems not fit.
  • 21 0
 Who let the engineers in here?
  • 3 0
 You are correct sir, as to LEDs being cool to the touch. It's the electrical resistance in the system that generates heat. This heat does rob the power output of the lights; hence the use of heat sinks and other heat dispersion designs in every single one of the lights we tested.
  • 3 0
 And there are no white LEDs, they are uv/blue with a "phosphorous" layer the yellow tint you see reflected when you at the lens. And bought myself a couple of cree LEDs for 3 bucks each and built my lights from scrap and junk, battery from old laptop batteries.
  • 6 3
 @Joegrant: freaking nerdz
  • 1 0
 I always hated the term LED because it doesn't describe what's actually emitting the light as apposed to other lights like halogen lights.
  • 15 1
 @meagerdude: Forget engineers, PB forgot to test what *actual riders* want to know before buying a light: namely, what is maximum run time, not on battery-swilling "high" setting, but at the "goldilocks" medium setting. I've owned dozens of lights over the years, and regardless of size, brand, power, or cost they all had one thing in common: the "High" setting could not be trusted to last through a normal 90-120min ride, and "Low" is always too dim for pace of normal trail riding, so the "Medium" setting is what got used for the vast majority of most rides. Your pictures illustrating beam patterns and range are great, but your team needs to go back through one more charge cycle and report the full run time of each light on medium: doing that would provide everything a rider needs to know to make a purchasing decision.
  • 2 0
 I waited until I was in Canada and bought a light from Walmart for $35 (about £20 at the time). Worth a gamble I thought... It said it produces 3500 lumen and I'm not convinced it's that much, but it's easily equivalent if not better than the light chucked out in these photos. It has high and low beam or strobe flashing, uses a tiny exterior battery (6cm long by 3cm deep/wide) run by cable, I realise this is the major difference here, but the battery pack is so small it really doesn't get in the way at all. It recharges in about 3hrs and lasts about 1.5-2hrs on high beam. The light itself is constructed of aluminium with fins to dissipate heat and is very light and solid. My mates all want one next time I go back, now that they all realise they don't have to spend upwards of £100 to get this kind of performance.

On a side note, did anyone else notice that the Cygolite Metro Pro 1100 USB has less lumens than some but seems to reach further into the woods and illuminate the next layer of trees that the other lights don't seem to quite reach. It seems to be a yellower light so perhaps this has something to do with it, as light colour apparently affects illumination of certain subjects in some conditions.
  • 4 1
 This being the internet and all how about a f*cking link to the products?!?
  • 2 1
 @Rasterman: I looked and can't find it anymore I guess they aren't selling them now so my mates will be disappointed!
  • 6 0
 @Veloscente: That's a great point. Most people very quickly realize that burning battery by using "High" on whichever light they are using is a recipe for stumbling home in the dark. Ergo, most people utilize Low for climbs, Medium for JRA, and High only on technical, fast descents. The vast majority of most rides is JRA. And while that Medium burn time data is readily available at each company's site...

Niterider Lumina 1800 doesn't have a Medium setting: 45min on Boost 1800 lumens, 1:30 at 1500 lumens, and 3:00 on 700 lumens.

Cateye AMMP 1100 is 2:00 at 800 lumens.

Cygolite's Metro Pro 1100 will run 3:00 on medium BUT the site doesn't list the lumens--I'll take a stab at 500-600 given the diminutive size of their unit.

Blackburn's Countdown 1600 offers 4:00 at 600 lumens.

Lezyne's Superdrive 1600 XXL also doesn't have a "Medium" setting; choose 2:30 at 1000 lumens or 3:45 at 600 lumens

Bontrager's Ion Pro Rat is rated for 3:00 at 800 lumens

Outbound Focal rings in at 3.1 hours for Med/High and 4.2 hours on Medium, but no lumen outputs are given on their site.

Exposure's MK14 gives approximately 6:00 at 700 lumens; however I believe that's in "reflex" mode so the light will dim when climbing and fade to 5 lumens when you stop.
  • 3 0
 @Joegrant: I'm not convinced @fneuf is an engineer as he failed to say so in his first sentence in his first post.
  • 4 0
 @fneuf: Lux is a very tricky metric to compare lights with because of the number of variables which are introduced. Since a typical lux meter is only measuring a small point of light input, there would have to be multiple test points or a grid system to measure how light is dispersed for trail riding. Even if there were a repeatable standard for lux points and you accounted for things like outside temperature, humidity, ambient light, etc., you would still only get a quantitative answer to a qualitative question (Is this a good beam shape for riding bikes at night?). 10 different riders would likely give 10 different opinions – slightly evidenced by the “Second Opinion” section of the article Smile
In this case photos with the same camera settings, as done here, provide a decent real world view of the light.
Though it might not tell the whole story of the on-trail quality of the light, lumens is the only metric to accurately compare the output of these different lights.

@brappuccino : As for claimed outputs, the only real way to measure lumens is to test a light in an integrating sphere against a lab-calibrated lamp. If you’re interested in learning more, here’s one of our older integrating sphere videos which explains how we use it to measure output, output over time and color temperature, as well as how it differs from a lux meter: youtu.be/11XrP51WzfE
  • 1 3
 @Lezyne: My lux/lumen remark was a bit more retorical. Presenting the distinction between the two is great, but not using it anywhere else afterwards in the topic is confusing. I'm unsure of the sought point.

True for the qualitative/quantitative bias, but some beam measurement/caracterization would help objectify all that with info helping understand the second opinions words of the reviewer and helping everyone make up is own belief.

I believe there are some pretty decent DIY/hobbyists integrating spheres a like, compatible with the budget of Pinkbike (of other medias) to make those tests level and very relevant for readers. One example here budgetlightforum.com/node/60100. Maybe nobody needs or even wants to know all the details and science behind all that, but real complete honest reviewing of those products would need to polish that aspect a bit.

For the current review to be perfect around that point, I'd suggest to measure all the lights in the same equipment, with the same method and conditions. If "showing off" with an "our true outpoint measured value" statement makes incomfortable the writer, one way to avoid that would be to give each light a relative note. You'd still have useful brightness information, scaled, and no need to explain the why & how of said measurements vs. manufacturer claims. Just plain fair comparison. Would also have helped setup the photoshoot scene by knowing which light was the brightest and use it as the batch reference for camera settings (like exposure).

Cool sphere vid! You just need a better mic for next time, cause here youtube is pretendin' you use "women's as a unit of measurement" Big Grin
  • 1 0
 @meagerdude: are you using here manufacturer's claims or Pinkbike's measurements? If first one is true, then I can't insist enought on how much a scientific journalistic measurements of each outptut levels of each light would be of interest!

"Perfectest" way would even be to present an light output/time graph. Because the regulation drivers and techics in use in those lights may (and will) not perform the same. As you noted in one of your comment, heat dissipation for the system is an issue, as is the ability for the LED driver to exploit all the energy left in the cells througout the whole runtime.
  • 3 0
 @acali: Big Grin good one.
Though I can't be sure of what the "engineer" term conveys in everybody's mind. But I sure do like when science is vulgarised, easily exposed to everyone. Therefore my first comment, with hopefully interesting precisions for everyone. So that this everyone can look cleverer in their next small talk sessions, at the strip club, after the bike ride next saturday Smile

More seriously, also I've been highly involved in different reviews in different catergories of products elsewheres. I do know how much it can be of an hassle to be the more fair, the more scientific pinpoint, give every product a fair chance. Trying its best to respect your trusting readers and the manufacturers is a very challenging, but so much interesting task. So hope giving my 2c ideas won't hurt anyone.
  • 3 0
 I appreciate the science, but honestly Pinkbike's simple "Here's a photo of the trail with the light on" is much more valuable for this particular product.

But damn, you can tell Lezyne knows their shit because they were able to write about their process in a very simple way.
  • 47 0
 It’s worth pointing that exposure, whilst very expensive, offer amazing customer service.
I had a 7 year old light that went wonky. Phoned them and returned it for inspection. They returned it to me repaired and upgraded some parts all for the price of postage.
  • 44 0
 They should run the government.
  • 3 1
 I might have to test that...my Exposure light was awesome for six months and then appeared to have a software tantrum and decided to snuff it shortly afterwards. I threw it disgustedly into a box as we were moving...and I haven't been night riding since. Personally, I would like my next light to have excellent optics, great battery life and simple three position switch. It appears that some of these have the first two categories nailed but the third remains elusive.
  • 1 0
 My exposure Race is charging on my desk as I type. the display is not working anymore so Ill have to send it in to get looked at. But it's dark now and I need it.
@silentbutdeadly: I had some issues with mine in the beginning and exposure costumer service told me to run the battery down below 25% and then charge it on the socket (not via USB) for at least 24h. That somehow sorted it out.
  • 2 0
 Pretty much the same story with my old hope led2. Sent away cause they changed the battery and the connector was different to the new one. Sent away and they changed the wire all for the price of postage.
  • 4 1
 @tobiusmaximum: the government should be abolished
  • 1 0
 +1 for Exposure customer service. My 2 year old TraceR started to show signs of charge port corrosion after a harsh winter's riding. Truthfully it was likely my own fault, however I returned it, they dismantled and repaired the light then sent it back to me.

Still rocking the Joystick Mk11 which hasn't missed a beat. I have colleagues who have 6 year old Joysticks who are almost hoping they'll break to give them an excuse to buy a new one.
  • 4 1
 @tobiusmaximum: Pretty much anyone could run the government at this point
  • 25 2
 I went with Lezyne 1300xxl on handlebars and 1000xl on my helmet for my night riding. They were cheap, lightweight, great output with a good beam, and last long enough for my rides.

I run them in the extended mode (800 and 500 lumens respectively), and it's plenty bright for my 2 to 3 hour ride. Total cost was about $150 including the GoPro adapter for the helmet mount.

I may be a dentist, but I ain't paying stupid money if I don't have to. I got dental school debt as bills to pay. Shiiiiiiiiiiiiiieeeeeeett
  • 16 0
 I've been impressed with Outbound and my Focal light, it is the real deal. The precise optics and shaped beam pattern are next level and their approach to design is unique in the cycling market. I have preordered their new Hangover integrated light that should be shipping any day, I've never been an integrated light fan but it looks like Outbound is bringing their unique and detailed engineering approach to that category too and I was willing to take a chance that it can work as a helmet light for me. If it beats out my current Gloworm for trail riding helmet duty I will again be quite impressed, otherwise it will be an excellent bar mount light for night rides around town.
  • 4 0
 Same here stoked for my hangover light. Can’t say enough positive things about outbound lighting.
  • 4 0
 I just ordered the trail edition when the time switched. Glad to hear positive reviews.
  • 3 0
 @kabaroo: You'll love it man, best night ride light I'v ever, even compared to the Nite Rider and L&M lights I have.
  • 10 0
 Surprised that Gemini lighting doesn't make it into more shootouts. I use only one light. A bar mounted Gemini Titan 4000. Actually tested to 4200 lumens. Comes with a wireless remote which is real nice if you commute and don't want to blind people.
  • 4 0
 It really is a great company. Can’t wait for my Hangover to go with the trail on my bars.
  • 6 0
 Outbound is the bomb. The Trail Edition is awesome. Never did a bunch of night riding until this year after using a friends older light & motion trail light a few times. Decided that good lights are not cheap and you get what you pay for! The Trail Edition is $200, but I could not be more satisfied after 2 months of use. I pre-ordered their Hangover Edition for my son.
  • 4 0
 i can't wait for the hangover light. i need a new helmet light
  • 3 0
 Got the Outbound Focal Trail edition on Kickstarter last year and just waiting for their new Hangover to ship. Can't wait to try them together.
  • 2 0
 @reverend27: Sounds expensive? They were trying to stay at/under the $200 mark, I feel.
  • 1 0
 @ZenkiS14: I have a L&M Taz1200 and a Urban 500. In your experience you like Outbound lights better? Appreciate your thoughts.
  • 2 0
 @Beez177: Yea man, the beam pattern and focused light output makes a huge difference. It's so different than any light with a normal TIR lens and beam pattern
  • 1 0
 I don't know, I'd be hard pressed to even begin to think about replacing my Gloworm helmet light. I'd even consider another for a handlebar mounted light.
  • 1 0
 Do they come in warm white not just eye searing blue white?
  • 1 0
 @jonnyboy: Its fairly warm, definitely not a blue-white
  • 15 0
 Great initiative to see such review here!

I have to say I'm always puzzled by bike specific lights. Of course specific beam profile can be great, at least on road it will help not blind everyone, but it is not that mandatory out in the woods. And personally I do prefer that my lights are versatiles, not practical only for bike related activities. I'm using a 2x setup (Zebralight SC600Fd Mark III Plus / Zebralight SC600w HI Neutral), with a floody unit on my handlebars and a throwy unit on my helmet (mounted with a pop-off mount for security) and I can also use those everywhere else for everything else than biking. 2 small spare 18650 batteries in your backpack/hipbag/pant pocket and your good to go for close to 2H @max.

Then, main drawback of the lights listed here : enclosed batteries. Lights supporting exchangeable batteries, like the close to universal 18650 are more interesting for the consumer. If your batteries dies on you, for a few $ you can replace it easy-peasy.

Finally there is the price of such specific bike products. When you factor all those points in, we are close to the dentist alert.

And why is the last table not ordered? Not by brand, not by price, not by runtime, not by lumens, etc? It is making it hard to interpret. A dynamic table would have been top notch.
Some more detailed about LED dies in use (not just brands, but model & configuration), some words about tints (greeny, rosy, etc), color rendering (CRI, TM-30) or CCT would have been great too to help judge the engineering level put into those products.
Finally, beamshots are very great to understand results, but always tricky to get. Pay attention to camera exposure. Some photos are clearly over-exposed, thus biasing the interprations possible for the readers.
  • 1 0
 Is torch users are the minority for some reason.

The benefit of a warmer temperature is often overlooked. I love my high CRI Zebralight for the helmet. It’s easier on the eyes and helps pick out trail features.

The multiple usage is overlooked. I use my flashlights for many things - not just riding.

Like you said 18650s are cheap and plentiful and light weight no less. If I’m not sure of a lights charge I’ll toss another 18650 in a pack and have peace of mind.

They are typically cheaper than most bike specific lights as well.
  • 2 0
 How do you mount the zebra light to your handlebar? Thanks for info.
  • 2 0
 @jwrendenver:
Twofish Lockblocks Flashlight Holder
  • 1 0
 @jwrendenver: I have a little velcro+rubber block thing from a company called Twofish. With a lightweight light like the Zebra light, it actually seems more stable than burly bolt-on clamps.
  • 1 0
 @jwrendenver: As others here already said, with the help of Twofish Lockblocks Flashlight Holders. Minor thing, even with my very light Zebralight the light can wobble a bit because of trail surface, bumps and jumps. But as I use it for my "flood" beamed light, it's not really an inconvenience. Hope that helps.
  • 8 0
 All images were shot at the exact same exposure. I did zero post production processing other than color balance (all have the same identical color balance applied to all images: 4250 temp, +30 tint) in order to keep a level playing field, as in what you see is what I shot with zero change in settings or post production other than color temperature correction.

That exposure was set on the first light we shot, the cateye AMMP1100. We opted to go "up" the ladder and use over exposure to show power vs under exposure, as that would allow a more accurate viewing of peripheral light, as the center point of most of the lights are more than bright enough for riding at speed.

And you're right, it is tricky: other variables we had to juggle was where the bike was pointing (even though it was in a stand, there was some movement) and where the light was pointing (up or down a smidge). We had a level but since the bike itself wasn't level, nor was the trail, that was useless, so we had to go with best orientation we could "eyeball" when mounting the lights. Less than scientific, I know, but the images still allow for reasonable accurate comparison. Had I felt otherwise, I'd have re-shot them all at a different location.
  • 1 0
 I have mounted zebralights (18650 headlamp style) on my helmet and handlebars using the silicon headlamp holder thing and two hair elastics. It's surprisingly stable and the whole system (light, battery, silicon thing, and hair bands) weighs 99 grams. Can't beat that, but dedicated mtb lights have better optics.
  • 1 0
 @meagerdude: Thanks for the clarifications. By experience I believe it is more simple for the user to understand lighting behavior by setting the camera with the brightest performer. Make sure this one shot is just perfectly exposed and you're pretty much good to go for the whole bunch. The drawback of accepting over exposure is that you will loose details and rendering info in the pictures. Making less clear what the beam shape really is, how the colours are rendered, how your eyes would see it, and so on.

Targetting is clearly not easy. Using a level is great, though you then factor in the purposed "deviation bias" designed by the manufacturer for its light body/reflector/ bike mount trio. You could also have thrown in a "compass/protractor" for the handlebar angle. From the picture, I'd say there are 2 mains orientation in your test. 1 like Blackburn and Light and Motion, the other being like Exposure and Giant shots.

Another great feature is to make available an A/B comparison gallery. The kind where the user chooses A and B, and have a vertical slider to seamlessly compare the images seen.

On another note I have to say that I like very much the scene you shot at!
  • 10 0
 OUTBOUND!! Great lights and owned and assembled right here in the USA. The owner used to work in automotive lighting and has spared no thought to the design. If you ride road, you should check out the road-specific design as well. It's crazy. Can't wait for their helmet light to come out!
  • 13 5
 In case someone says their $40 Amazon light is fine, here why cheap lights suck:
1. battery pack not weather-resistant (can corrode)
2. insufficient strain relief for wires (can get loose/exposed at connection points)
3. counterfeit LED (not genuine Cree, doesn't live up to brightness claims)
4. no-name brand battery cells (anyone's guess here... could be recycled ones)

First two can lead to unexpected fire due to a short circuit. If you decide to accept these risks, better bring two, in case one fails on the ride, so you're not stranded in the dark. Better be careful storing and charging it in your house.
  • 3 0
 You forgot that my most of them don't even know what "lense" mean.
  • 10 3
 I stand by my absolutely anecdotal assertion that 40$ ebay lights are great. But some might indeed be shit.
  • 5 2
 Well first of all who is talking about a $40 US light? You can get them even cheaper than that ($30 CAD). I then test them a couple charge cycles while in a safe place to make sure they are working then weather seal the battery packs myself. They are great value.

That said, I do us a Cygolight Expilion as my helmet light and it has been rock solid for 3 years now.
  • 2 0
 Ive had 3 $20 amazon lights. all looked the same, probably came from the same factory. All 3 worked ok for a while and then all 3 had battery 100% failure. For the majority of their live, I would get 15-30min max out of the battery. Light functioned fine, just needed a battery upgrade.
  • 2 2
 I have had four $20 Amazon lights for my family for the past three years. We use them on our bikes and as flashlights when camping. They recharge via usb and I have never had an issue with one. I use mine for actual trail riding too. And they are all weatherproof.

I’m sure not every Amazon lights is good but mine is fine.
  • 2 0
 @kabaroo: Same here. I bought 2 and they both had a 5-10 minute battery life. Friends, otoh, have had good success for years. Crap shoot apparently.
  • 3 0
 If my headlamp started on fire during my ride, I wouldn't have to worry about battery life any longer.
  • 5 0
 @mvwmvw: at that point it would just be a romantic candle lit ride.
  • 1 0
 @IamZOSO: I've heard of those short battery life claims before. Crap shoot indeed. In those cases, the cells in the packs are likely "fakes". As in, they have like 450 mah (per cell), instead of what it says on their labels.

Name brand ones are 1800-3500 mah each (double that in a 2S2P 4-cell pack), depending on the exact chemistry.

Recycled batteries are usually name brand ones, but might only have 70% of their original capacity due to internal resistance build-up from being previously used. They can come up super cheap, since they're salvaged from things thrown away for recycling.

Good quality 4-cell battery pack, made from authentic brand new parts, is generally $50-70 by itself. I'd be worried about quality being cut on anything cheaper. There are more expensive ones over $100...
  • 5 0
 The best bicycle headlight I have ever had was back in the early 80's. I used a small motorcycle halogen headlight. I had a lead acid gel cell battery mounted to my seat post which would keep it working for about four hours. Yes, it weighed maybe 2 Kg.

Fast forward to the present. I bought four "WOSAWE" dual LED integrated battery headlights. Price was around $70 US. One had a charging circuit failure almost out of the box. The other three were still working after a month. Yes, I bought four because I expected one or two to fail.

These are "cheap Chinese junk" lights. They claim to be IP67, but I am not going to throw them in the bath to verify. I use them as a pair mounted on the bars. I also don't believe the claimed light output, but the pair are really bright.

They have taken extended service on our touring tandem without an issue and we have done a three week tour of Scotland with them, so plenty of rain riding. I move them to the MTB in the winter. They get bathed in mud and crap. They are still working as of today.

As for the fire hazard, does anyone remember the problems Samsung had with phones that would do a CCF (crash and catch fire)? Or HP laptops? Or Sony laptops? Or Apple products? Or Boeing on the 787?

The batteries in all of those may or may not have been "Hecho en China", but that is not why they were a fire hazard. And there have been a few Tesla "Made in the USA" battery packs do a CCF when charging.

If you are worried about battery packs catching fire, put them in a ceramic pot when you charge them. In my past life as a firefighter a neighboring department had a UAV battery pack cause a fire when charging, and it was not a cheap clone.

Li-ion batteries can be a problem. They get hot when you charge them. Using a USB charger with a limited amp capacity can mitigate the danger. A ceramic pot with the lid off to let heat out can give an extra margin of safety. But we all ride bicycles off road at night, so we take some risks.
  • 1 0
 More like $20 CAD, but you're not wrong on the other points. Still, I bought 2 lights, 3 years ago thinking it was still cheaper than getting 1 good one. They are bright as hell, and 3 years in still last about 1h on max.
  • 1 0
 @Dangerous-Dan: Can't be Dangerous Dan if we aren't taking some risks! ????
  • 1 0
 @Dangerous-Dan: fully thumbs up on your post, just an emoji fail on my part...
  • 12 4
 Since when having a separate battery pack a Neg ?! Allows for better run time, keep the weight off the handlebar, easy to replace your battery pack when it's shot. On the contrary I don't see any positives about having a battery integrated light. None sens really, do you even night ride ?!
  • 7 1
 In the UK a night ride usually means its winter so wet and muddy. By the time I get home I'm cold, wet and hungry so it's nice to be able to remove my light in seconds and leave the bracket on the bike before hosing the bike down and heading inside to warm up. Also trailside repairs etc are easier when you can turn your light into a torch.
  • 5 0
 I’m a huge fan of integrated lights. I’ve got three kids, so rides happen when i find a free minute or no one is looking.
An integrated light just clips on and off we go, or can sit in a pocket, unnoticed until needed. Say an unplanned flat on a dusk ride.
Best option for a 24 hour racer, solo adventurer or rider looking ultimate lumens per dollar? No, but I’m doing none of those!
Not ever product is the best for every person, that’s why we have choices.

Ps: my next bar light may have a separate battery pack but they are a pain in the ... as a helmet light, especially if you ride without a pack.
  • 3 0
 I've ditched my separate battery lights for integrated lights. Far more convenient.. If my ride starts during daylight, the lights are stashed in my fanny pack..it gets dark I simply attach them and keep going. Also with separate battery lights I had several times had the wire from my helmet mounted light catch branches while I was riding, not a pleasant surprise having the light suddenly turn off or almost getting yanked off the bike..
  • 2 0
 Any decent integrated light uses an easily replaceable standard battery. Its one less thing to worry about finding and mounting before your ride. Not to mention the dance of taking your backpack off when the light is on your helmet and the battery is in your pack. If you're on a 24hr night race in winter in Antarctica, sure get a bigger external pack.
  • 8 0
 So stoked to see Outbound Lighting getting the attention it deserves. This is a totally new look on MTB Night Ride lights, and there is some very real and new technology put into this light. I have been riding them for over and year, and it simply is the best I have ever used. I have been night riding for a long time, and even compared to industry titans like L&M and NiteRider, these lights truly are something new, not just another "mega bright led".

Pumped for this article!
  • 1 0
 Agreed, also trust the man About lights that does a conversion to an old Nissan for better lights ????
  • 2 0
 Add gnarly finger emoji*
  • 7 0
 I'm going to have to respectfully, but strongly, disagree with your statement in your disclosure about preferring a strong bar mounted light over a head light.

In my experience, I want my helmet light to provide a strong, tight spot that illuminates far in the distance, where I need to be looking when riding at speed. The bar mount does indeed provide contrast and depth, especially in the medium to fore-ground. But the crucial part, that took me a few years to realize, is that if the bar mount is too strong, your eyes adjust to that amount of light, lessening the effectiveness of the spot in the distance.

My current setup is a 2000+ lumens spot on the helmet, and an 1100 or so lumens flood on the bar. The spot is aimed where my eyes are focused, and the flood pretty much supports my peripheral vision. I have been running this setup for about 6 years now after experimenting with all sorts of other variations, and this is what allows me to ride at night pretty much as fast as in the summer (provided conditions are similar).
  • 4 1
 i completely agree, though i think it may be more personal preference. i always tell people, 2 lights one for bar one for helmet, if you can only have 1 go with bar mount
  • 4 0
 @laxguy: Do you not turn on your rides? I was on a ride recently where it got dark and I had lights, but forgot the helmet strap. With just one on the bars, I couldn't see through corners at all.
  • 3 0
 @laxguy: I wildly and strongly and vehemently disagree with the “one light, go with bar” advice. I had to ride out with just a good quality bar light a few times and it suuuuuuuucks. Bright helmet light, I can go almost full tilt. Riding with just a bar light is terrifying anytime there’s a tight corner or steep roll/drop.
  • 2 0
 @JustinVP: wow thats aggressive, sorry my opinion offended you so much lol
  • 7 2
 I love all these comments about how Amazon lights are "just as good" and "the besssst" and that the lights in this test are too expensive. It's like saying "Why by a Yeti/Trek/Ibis/Santa Cruz when you can get a bike at Walmart for $500 that's just as good!" You know, you're right, $200 is waaaaay too much money to be able to FREAKING SEE when riding your $4,000+ bike through the woods at night. SMH
  • 7 3
 i know there's always someone saying something like this. but i got a twin LED with a separate battery pack off amazon for like £25, 3 brightness modes, It threw more light than my car LED headlamps, long battery life and you can carry a spare battery pack. it fit's easily with like a thick rubber tie strap and it was less bulky than all of these lights. oh and it also came with a small rear light too! can't ever see myself spending over $100 for a bloody light just because it's ''designed for MTB'', neg props commence!
  • 3 0
 There is always someone saying something like this because it’s true. Plenty of cheaper lights on the market that do the job. I would like to see a comparison of at least one or two cheap Amazon lights with these. Just to see the difference.
  • 1 0
 @PtDiddy: I rode the cheap Amazon lights for years thinking they were great, but I would either have to buy a new battery pack or light nearly every year. So I bought a Niterider handlebar and Blackburn helmet light. For one, the light itself is much better and doesn't blowout the contours, 2 the batteries last and the run time is vastly longer. Oh, and the mounts don't move the light then hitting rough stuff.
  • 4 0
 Makes me wonder if these reviews only cover lights they have been sent or lights they are paid to promote. The reason I mention this is because I use a Leyzne light which costs 60 bucks and is a better performer than the 99 buck budget light. If the test had been a full test, the result would be different in this category.
  • 5 0
 We aren't paid to promote anything, @bombdabass. We requested specific lights for this test based on a combination of price point, output, and brand with an eye towards people considering night riding for the first time. Some brands we approached didn't respond or didn't respond in time for us to get a sample to test.
  • 3 0
 There was a Lezyne in the test, got a good write up too.
  • 4 0
 Great review, brightened my day. Appreciate the staff taking the time to review this set of lights and write it up. I feel most of these lights really hit the budget zone that many people are looking at and they are a brightness level that is efficient, but not ridiculous. Most people don't need a 5000 lumen light for $400. Almost everyone I ride with at night has a light in the range of these reviewed here. Having between 1000 and 2000 lumens for your ride is generally perfect. However I highly recommend a handlebar light AND a helmet light. Having that light where you're looking is very helpful. Even if it's a lower-lumen light to keep the weight down on your noggin' and least you can have 500-800 lumens when you're looking through the next corner.
  • 4 0
 I've been using the Bontrager ion Pro RT on my bars for about a year and it's a great light. My one gripe is that on the highest setting the combo of brightness and pattern makes a hotspot in the middle that acutally makes it harder to see to the sides. I plan to get a Outbound light and move the ion Pro to my helmet.
  • 4 0
 My current setup is the Gemini TITAN 4000 OLED on the bars and the Gemini TITAN Duo 2200 on my helmet. Extremely pleased with the setup! www.action-led-lights.com/collections/gemini-sets-1

My favorite part is how low profile both lights are. The 4000 is secure and centered on my bars and the low profile helmet mount combined with the low profile 2200 means no more getting snagged on trees or my helmet shifting around.
  • 3 0
 I've been using the nightprovision.com (formerly StupidbrightLED.com) brand SB2600 and SB3000 for 3 years and they last about 3-4 hours with the low beam on when climbing and the high beam on for the descents. I recently bought a new battery pack ($35) as one of them wasn't holding a charge and it was out of warranty period. Initially, I had problems with my other battery and it was returned and replaced without question and I haven't had a problem since. They seem to stand true to their warranty if you have problems, but have proof of purchase. They run $72 and $55.

The OEM handlebar mounts are cheap and will NOT do the job of holding the light in one position so I fabricated an aluminum gopro mounting system to the light. Purchased on Amazon. (sandmarc gopro mount and the tackform solution gopro adapter) It's been solid. The OEM handlebar mount would probably be fine on the street. It also comes with a helmet mount. I cant handle the extra weight on my helmet so I've never explored that avenue.

The battery is sealed and waterproof. I've riden in the rain and had no issues. It straps to my top-tube on my bike and has never failed or fallen off. The little tab keepers for the strap are cheap and will probably break off but I just tuck the strap between the battery and the top tube anyway.

With that said. I work nights and ride solo at night a LOT. These lights are great, bright and a heck of a lot cheaper than most. I have no affiliation with this brand but I believe with a little fab to their handlebar mount you can have a great light for charging the singletrack at night. I carry a lightweight 2AA battery streamlight for backup in case of that emergency lighting/battery problem that may come up.

Hope that helps ya get on the trails at night without breaking the bank.
  • 4 1
 Thank you for the 'Disclosure'. Been riding at night for decades and I keep trying to tell people to run the brighter lights on the bars. If you can't see shadows behind gravel, roots, rocks, drops then your helmet light is too bright.
  • 2 0
 To bad there was no lux test involved. Like they pointed out that lumens don't say anything about how good a light actually work. I can see many pictures of lights but the real thing is that it doesn't tell me much. I need the lux or I need to try it myself. Some manufacturers I trust even without lux but still disappointed that they won't say how much they actually get...
  • 4 0
 Lux in and of itself is useless as well. You can measure the light output on 1 specific area, but a laser pen would be the best performing light... There is no magical number. Lumens are used to measure the total light output. Combine this with the beam pattern and you have a fair idea of the light's performance. Or you could make a map with lux measurements at different points. That would be great, but also very time consuming. The lux measurement provided by manufacturers is usually at the centre of the beam. This says nothing about the amount of light that hits the tree 3 feet further.
  • 2 0
 @Mac1987: what you said. That and the cost of a good, accurate lux or light meter as recommended to us by three different engineers was outside of the budget for us to purchase for this test--yes, there are cheap meters available online, but just like this test, you get what you pay for.
  • 1 1
 @Mac1987: Well if you measure it that way the lumens are also worthless, like most cheap light's maybe even have the advertised lumens but only at the centre and you can't even use them as a spotlight.

I thought I don't need to talk about how I would measure it.
  • 1 0
 @Serpentras: there is no lumen 'in the centre'. The definition of lumen is the total amount of light that is radiated, corrected for the sensitivity of the human eye. Lux can be described as radiated light per surface unit. 1 lux = 1 lumen per square meter.
Therefore, I stand by my statement: useful light can be derived from the total amount of light (=lumen) and it's distribution (focused or dispersed incl. directions).
Cheap lights
A. Often don't output the number of lumens they say
B. Measure lumen at the emitter instead of out the front (after the reflector and lense)
C. Have a horrible distribution of light
  • 3 0
 @Mac1987: Exactly - @Serpentras see our comment above. Even if there was a perfect, repeatable "map" of lux measurements, the numbers themselves also wouldn't say much about what a "good' beam pattern is on the trail in the real world.

We'd say @meagerdude did a good job of providing a real-world data point for the lights tested in the form of photos.
  • 2 0
 Why the industry haven't came up with a STANDAR STEM LIGHT MOUNT, could set it up Top or Under the STEM ala TREK mounting kit, but no restringed as it , actually only it needs a hole to be threaded... thanks PB comments area
  • 1 0
 Drives me nuts that they can create these retina searing masterpieces and just mount them on the bars to 1 side like a mall cop.

What is so hard about mounting a light dead center over the stem?
  • 2 0
 Ones that use a GoPro mount can be paired up with a Garmin/GoPro out front mount, which seems like a good solution/position (especially if you use a Garmin).
  • 2 0
 @dingus: I just don't understand why ANY of them are mounted to the bar. The stem cap is right there. Make a GoPro style slidelock mount that IS a step cap. In the fall, you take your "BRUH!" logo'ed stem cap off and bolt in the GoPro slidelock and it's just there every day for the season. If you need your light..."CLICK".
  • 2 0
 @bizutch: Lupine Lights has a mount to do this. They also have a headset spacer that would mount below your stem to also out the light in the middle right below your stem, and can be used on any of their lighst.
  • 2 0
 @Local717: Whats up with Lupine? Seems like they never make it in these round-ups. Their high end lights are bright AF. Would love to see some of their lower end stuff reviewed.
  • 2 0
 @SacAssassin: It seems like the lower output lights are never requested, only the highest output/most expensive. Lupine does in fact have affordable light systems that are still very effective and versatile.
Check Lupinenorthamerica.com
  • 2 0
 @Local717: So....by affordable, you are referencing the cheapest light on their site which is $275 ?
TWO HUNDRED SEVENTY FIVE?
  • 1 0
 There is only one question for me. Why haven't the industry come up with a standard mount system for things in general? I mean, you have a gopro, lights, garmin, smartphone sometimes. Stem caps are golden for this too.
  • 1 0
 @bizutch: Well, you can always run 2 lights to have the symetry you are in for.
  • 1 0
 @bizutch: Yes, in fact I am referring to the lower cost lights, like you've stated.
  • 1 0
 @Local717: Then you have a terrible argument.

Let's do some emojis now to lighten the mood Whip Pirate Madder
  • 1 0
 @bizutch: Seemed like a legitimate response to your question. $275 for what you get is not bad at all for Lupine quality.

Wanna lighten the mood, check this out,
youtu.be/uYpYY3gCi0Y
  • 2 0
 I run two Blackburn Dayblazer 1100s, one on the helmet and one on the bars. They're on tons of sites so you can find a discount somewhere (backcountry or jenson 20% off). The 1100 lumen mode will light up your backyard but is only an hour long, whereas the 800 and 600 settings last at least twice as long and are still pretty bright. Charges via USB, can mount on a go-pro mount and batteries are replaceable. For the money it's an awesome setup and shouldn't be overlooked for the average trail ride (1-2 hrs).
  • 6 0
 Gemini? These things are amazing.
  • 1 0
 I have an Olympia 2100 and recently bought a Xera 950. Really like the lights but am having issues with the batteries. Replaced the Olympia under warranty (battery wouldn't hold a charge after a half-dozen rides) and now with the new Xera I have both batteries barely lasting 90 minutes with 2/3 of the ride on low while climbing. Worries me that both my lights might fail on a night ride, which I usually do solo.

I sent them another email, maybe get one of their new battery units or credit to their 2020 sets. I like the lights, but batteries have been suspect.
  • 2 0
 Good article/review. Was glad to see more detail on Lumens vs Lux and the importance of lens shape and heat disbursement. It's easy to get sucked into the lumen battle. One thing missing is a review of how quickly the brightness of each light dies off while using it. Sure it lasts for 2 hours, but how much brightness is lost after each 15 minutes of use? I'm pretty sure almost all lights are programmed to max out initially to the "Lumen Rating" and then quickly drop the brightness to get the longevity rating. No science to back this up, it's just something I've noticed with my own use of lights over the years. I'd like to see some numbers behind this.

Personally, I've always used a solid self contained flashlight type helmet light (Exposure Diablo) as my only light, and that's worked out pretty well, until last year where I've added a Lumina 1200 bar light as support. This has been kind of a game changer as I now have peripheral vision of the trail as well. That was short lived as the mount broke while my wife was using the light and she didn't notice it and the light went bye bye. Now I'm back to the helmet light only and it kind of sucks. I really notice the flashlight affect and struggle a bit. It's also great having a backup light in case you f'd up your charging cycle or one of your bud's forgets his/her light.

Next stop is the Outbound Lighting Hangover on the helmet with the Diablo as my bar light. I really like OL's focus on creating the ultimate light vs just throwing lumens and battery life numbers at you. I'd love to run their bar light reviewed in this article, but I think I'll be good with my setup. We'll see how that goes when it ships. Fingers crossed that it won't be too long.
  • 1 0
 We did note the light output fall off due to heat inefficiency in the "lamp technology" paragraph. It's worth noting, too, as per someone's else's comment that the actual LEDs don't get hot, rather the entire system powering the LEDs gets hot. Hence the need for a good heat sink. This distinction was unwittingly edited out whilst whittling down the somewhat wordy, technical introduction.
  • 3 1
 No thanks. I'm sold on my 35mm bar compatible Serfas light. www.serfas.com/shop/products/lights/tsl-1000m-true-1000-mtb-headlight Plus, it doubles as a spare headlamp. Which is where you really need the light after all.
  • 2 0
 I use a Baja Designs Squadron Pro - 4x4 light. It's pretty epic. 4900 lumens. Night becomes day. Much more robust, with higher end optics and internals than the top of the line bicycle lights for a fraction of the cost. I have it mounted right into my star nut, so perfectly centered. Dual optics for both width and distance lighting in one unit. Not the lightest option, and some DIY required but the performance for price is hard to beat.
  • 1 0
 Cool, I'll check that out... what do you run for a battery?
  • 1 0
 @nert: Batteries are quite expensive to buy, so again I saved a lot of money with DIY.. but anything with the correct voltage (around 14v) will work.

I built a 4S3P battery (12 Panasonic 18650 cells). You'll want to buy cells from a reputable dealer to not get knock offs. I used illumn.com. 8 cells would likely be enough for just a light but I use it to power grip/lever heaters at the same time. I wrapped the battery with thick insulation, added a display for the internal temperature, as well as a self-heating device. Not sure how necessary the heater is, but I ride as cold as -20c, so thought it might be a cool idea to prevent major voltage drop. Insulation and temp readout is nice to have tho. I don't have any BMS but I have a 4S voltage monitor that reads total voltage, and scrolls through the individual parallel bank voltages with a low voltage alarm as well, to make sure everything is good. I have a balance tap in the battery so my iMax b6 charger can balance the pack too.

All in, probably around $150 for the battery with the quality "smart" charger. You can't even buy a battery like this, but for comparable power capability in a pre-built battery it would likely run you $300-400.

I installed a PWM module to adjust the brightness of the light manually.... as full brightness is way overkill for climbing.

Let me know if you'd like to know anything else!
  • 1 0
 @Kyle201: cheers for the detailed response! So were the 18650's unprotected cells? Did the pack contain a protection board? Thanks again
  • 1 0
 @nert: Yes they were. It's not a great idea to build a pack out of cells with individual protection. I didn't use any protection board. I just monitor the voltage manually using my 4S voltage reader, which scrolls between the full pack voltage and each of the parallel banks. It also has a programmable low voltage alarm. Then I use a balance charger when charging. I also have a self-healing poly fuse on the power cable(s), to protect against a short. This is the ideal way to manage a battery IMO as with auto protection circuits, I find them to be unreliable at times, and you have no way to know if it's actually working properly.

Building a battery isn't too difficult, but definitely you need to do your research first as fires can result if you f*ck up. I also don't have a spot welder, so I used six 2-cell holders with solder tails that I connected to each other with short wires. There's a number of holders on the market with screw on terminals and such, if one wants to avoid spot welding the nickle tabs as is done in standard packs. I leave my batteries stored in a glass bowl just in case too.
  • 1 0
 I'd agree, this is a cool idea! I'm not inclined to try to build a battery so any suggestions where/what would one look for to buy one at a reasonable size/weight/run time for a bike application?
  • 1 0
 @Kyle201: thanks for reply. Great to hear how you addressed connecting the cells too,(without spot welding). Definitely inspired me to do some more research and to build a DIY setup. Cheers!
  • 1 0
 @kliss: Buy from a reputable NA dealer, not direct from China, if you want good quality cells. Check out batteryspace.com, they seem to have high quality batteries. If you want to figure out run-time on your battery, first figure out what voltage you need, then figure out the maximum wattage or amp draw of your light. Then it's a simple division calculation. Say I have a light that runs at 40 watts max power, if I have battery that contains 80 watt-hours, then it will run theoretically on full power for 2 hours. However you have to account for the fact that it's not good to fully drain a battery, so more realistically you will get a little over 1.5 hrs, and if it's very cold outside more like 1 hour. Usually you only need the light on max for the descent so this may be enough. You can also look at the amp draw of the battery and divide that by the amp-hour (aH) capacity of the battery. You will also have to install your own connectors on both battery and light side if you are going this custom route. I like the Deutsche DTM.

Most MTB light makers sell their batteries separate too, so you could just buy one of those and change the connectors. Might be some mark-up though.
  • 1 0
 @nert: Awesome! DIY is rewarding, but difficult to design comparable ergonomics to these full package light and battery setups. I used a lot of... gorilla tape in my enclosures.. haha, but there are many options. For cell holders I used the 1047 from mouser. Also look at the N.E.S.E. no solder modules, they seem interesting. Happy to discuss further here, or if you want to PM me feel free! Good luck with the build if you decide to go that route.
  • 2 0
 My problem with handlebar-mounted lights is that they are too low so you can’t see behind obstacles. Even the smallest drops or rocks mean that one jumps into the unknown abyss. One has to have faith. So a headlamp is a must.
  • 2 0
 AWESOME. Finally a legit review of the Outbound light that I keep seeing in my paid adverstising on Facebook and Instagram. And wondering to myself, Seems like these guys are doing somethng different and addressing a problem that I didn't know I had until it got pointed out to me. Now the center hotspot of my 2 niterider lights bothers me... Congrats guys!
  • 1 0
 Got my outbound trail edition 2 months ago, absolutely love it. If you're on the fence and night ride a fair amount just buy one, trust me you'll be happy you did.
  • 7 1
 No Lupine tested?
  • 7 0
 stay tuned for dentist edition
  • 4 1
 Lupine will be feature in the dentist edition of this test. The most pricey light I have ever seen, for it's price it should have a blowjob function really.
  • 2 0
 They always score poorly or middle of the pack anyway. Too bad, I was quite impressed with Lupine a few years ago...
  • 2 0
 Maybe because of it being a bar mount test. Germany StVZO laws are a pain in that respect. They would have to send a helmet mount light with bar adapter kit.
  • 2 1
 Because we are a throw away society now, unfortunately people are willing to buy cheap over and over eventually paying more then just buy good equipment from the start. I know they are stupid expensive but like everything in the world of gear "you get what you pay for" People on this site are blasting down on the trails on box store bikes.
  • 3 0
 www.lupinenorthamerica.com/Piko_4_1900lm_LED_Headlamp_System.asp
These Lupine's are not very expensive and very effective with a ton of versatility.
  • 4 0
 @lkubica: I own a Lupine Piko for over 10 years and it works like day one, good quality is never cheap!
  • 1 0
 @keeferm: can't speek for majority but i personally spend tons of time riding in dark and i know it's not cheap to have reliable light. At the moment it's L&M secca enduro on the handlebars.
I do like dentist jokes i gotta admit that.
  • 2 0
 @tips-up: My wife recieved a Betty 6 as a gift from...wait for it..her dentist brother over a decade ago and its still rock solid. It makes my Ion 800 look like a cheap flashlight. Granted was probably 11x the price. Isn’t it usually the price and weight that are negatives in reviews?
  • 1 0
 @Tiez: I own a Magishine for 5 years and it also works great for propably 1/5 of the price, which means that it already outperformed Lupine.
It is 21st century, LED lights are extremely simple to make.
  • 4 0
 @SacAssassin: Price, weight, and last review (in a German MTB mag) I can recollect the light (don't remember the model) scored poorly for the beam dissipation department... Regardless, I just dropped some coin on the Gemini Titan 4000. Looking forward to putting it to use this dark-season.
  • 4 1
 Exposure SixPack is the equivalent of a portable sun. Runs for 3 hours at full gas and blinds your friends. What's not to like.
  • 3 0
 The price? :-)
  • 1 1
 @JosHan: £485.
  • 2 0
 No supernova tested? These were the first real bike rideable lamps ever! I used them in early 2000er for several 24h races.
Right now I use an airstream (and a dynamo supported e3).
  • 1 0
 I have this model www.armytek.com/flashlights/models/wizard/armytek-wizard-pro-magnet-usb ant it's amazing. Cheap, reliable, powerful, the beam is wide and has very soft edges. The dedicated handlebar mount is decent, however their helmet mount does not suit bicycle helmets (consider building a custom one for helmet mounting).
  • 1 0
 I’ve always used the more powerful light on my helmet, or a helmet only light, and the handlebar light asa backup. I always wanted the stronger light to point to where I was looking seeing as the trails are seldom straight for a long distance. I run an 1800 on the helmet and 1100 on the bars.
  • 4 0
 Where are the contenders from Fenix light? Fenix BC 21R 2.0 or Fenix BC30R are at least as good as the lights tested.
  • 5 0
 Gloworm lights beat all these hands down... just saying.
  • 1 0
 This. They are a great little company and very responsive to the mountain bike community.
  • 2 0
 I don't know about that, but they are very solid lights for the money. I run an X2 on my helmet and it works great paired with my Outbound Focal on the bars. I'm going to see if the new Outbound Hangover can beat out the Gloworm for helmet duty but it will be tough.
  • 1 0
 I use helmet and bar-mounted X2s with different optics and couldn't be happier. I added a photo filter to warm up the temperature (I think 4500 K) because I didn't like the harshness of the cool temp. The last time I checked, the US distributor had an option to swap out the bulb to do just that.
  • 1 0
 @mookmeister: Yep, I sent my X2 back and had the LEDs swapped to better match the Outbound, it was a simple process. I could easily see running two X2s ike your setup if I didn't really like the Outbound.
  • 2 1
 Thanks for the article guys. But, these light sets are a better deal than anything listed or tested. I have 3 sets. External, waterproof battery. Comes with handlebar, GoPro and helmet mounts.

www.brighteyesproducts.com/collections/frontpage/products/1800-lumen-stamina-bike-light-set - I do not work for then, nor am I compensated in any way. Great customer service and products. I have 1 of these.

This set is an outright steal: www.brighteyesproducts.com/collections/frontpage/products/1200-lumen-square-bike-headlight-set - 1600 Lumens, smaller battery, no GoPro mount. I own 2 sets of these.

My .02
  • 1 0
 Does anyone ride with just a handlebar mount? It's freaking terrible.

The DIY bike light threads on the forums are full of amazing nerds who pretty much rule the world. The dark world, that is. It's pretty amazing, really.

They're the ones who used to always win the solo singlespeed 24 hour races in Walmart socks and wool shorts, btw.
  • 3 0
 *checks battery life of lights*
*Checks average group ride time*

Yeah, nope, I'm out. I'm not futzing with batteries mid ride in the dark in cougar country.
  • 2 0
 I have the Giant light and love it, and that smart mode is really useful for commuting in the dark, because it is normally steady, but if it senses light (i.e. a car headlight), it flashes to become more noticeable
  • 1 0
 Good review. These lights are definatley affordable.
I would not trust one light. If your one light fails getting out of the forest won't be easy.
Only one of these lights has replaceable batteries. The rest of these lights you throw away like a disposable lighter when the batteries grow old?
Shitty for the environment and when your battery is dead ride over.
I use a Feonix bar mounted light. It uses the same batteries as all of these units have . A 18650 lith ion battery.
With my light the end unscrews and I just pop in a new battery. Each battery gives me about an hour run time at full power.
  • 1 0
 FENIX BC21R V2.0 BIKE LIGHT is $75 with 1000 lum and you can change the 18650 batteries. Wonder if they will come out with one that takes the new 21700 battery.

www.fenixlighting.com/product/fenix-bc21r-v2-bike-light
  • 2 0
 Daylight savings time sucks. I gotta leave work earlier and earlier to get my ride in. Thanks PB for the article. My MagLight with three “D” batteries is a bit much on the down.
  • 1 0
 Light and Motion is a GREAT company! My old Taz went bad just a few months out of warranty. I thought I would be SOL but they hooked me up! They gave me a store credit that allow me to upgrade to a Seca 1500 for about $25. They could have said "tough luck" but instead they stood behind their product and now have a lifetime customer.
  • 4 0
 No Gemini Lights for a second straight year. Too bad. Lights are top quality.
  • 1 0
 Apart from looking like CCTV's theres no mention of
batterys, even on there respective websites,
( the ones I looked at )
what of battery end life or even battery failiure, can they be
easily swithed out ? or are they intergrated into the
circuit boards as with most laptop and mobile phones.

My 2nd hand purchased Hope vision 1 and 2 light sets
are now on there 3rd batterys due to usage end life,
and thanks to Hopes build and being able to unplug batterys,
this helps big time here in the long run, aswell as taking a 2nd
battery for those longer rides, plus they don't look
like CCTV cameras and can be head, helmet and bar mounted,
admittedly you have a cable to contend with but there are workable
sollutions.

Its not just about having the sun on your bars, how you use it
plays just as important. I'll keep my money for a more thought out
package, as noted with the exception of the exposure in this listing.
  • 2 0
 Light and Motion Urban series for me. Although I only use it for actual urban riding. Where I live it's illegal to ride on the local mountain after dark.
  • 2 0
 Really? Why is it illegal?
  • 8 3
 @BenPea: someone needs to lighten up.
  • 1 0
 @BenPea: I was told the same in the Vosges but I also don't know why.
  • 1 0
 @zede: what???
  • 1 0
 @BenPea: I never figured if it was bs or specific to certain place, and it might be that it's just forbidden to use the parkings and to camp in the woods, and people misunderstood, but I was told it's forbidden to ride at night around "champ du feu".
At the time I assumed it was not to disturb wildlife but I never looked into it and I moved here a bit after so I don't know.
  • 1 0
 @zede: could be a ski area thing
  • 2 0
 @BenPea: Not sure for @seraph specifically..but I know around here there are just some parks/trail systems that are not open after dark. Sometimes it's not the "mountain bike riding" that's the problem per se', its the fact you can't park in certain spots and be in the woods after dark. Some places have gates that close at a certain time, etc.
  • 1 0
 @BenPea: um, because it is? I don't know how better to describe it. The mountain closes at night.
  • 2 0
 I have had a Light and Motion TAZ1200 for over 6 years and then thing has been faultless and man, does it light up the trail or road. It is well worth the money!!
  • 3 0
 All future product reviews should have insight from the after school mountain biking program! No joke, I think that's great!
  • 4 0
 What an enlightening review
  • 2 0
 I found it a little light on details.
  • 4 0
 What an enlightening feature!!
  • 3 1
 While I’m in love with my Ion Pro RT lights, you might want to pull them from your review, they’re under silent recall and no longer available for the time being.
  • 2 0
 My OCD can't handle the offset mount to the right or left of center. That being said, I have had good experiences with Lights and Motion Taz and Urban line.
  • 2 0
 +1 on the light and motion TAZ. It's gotta be one of the best internal battery trail lights out there. Perfect for grab and go.
  • 1 0
 These lights resemble the Magic Shine brand of lights, which I love. Very similar shape, same colorway, same battery cord connector, even the same orange and black case. Any connection?
  • 2 0
 my friend's balls got torn off literally while riding in the night..stray branch his handlebars got stuck...docs had to sew them balls back together. i aint riding at night.
  • 4 1
 Blackburn's 1100 is a great light for the money as well.
  • 3 0
 Lights, Y U so spendsive?
  • 6 3
 Go for brandless eBay lights. 40 quid will get you serious power and no worse battery life than these.
  • 10 0
 @BenPea: What's the difference between a chick pea and a lentil? I've never had a lentil on my face.
  • 2 0
 @glasvagas: thanks mate, needed that
  • 3 0
 Ive got a light from aliexpress for 25 euro. Super bright with quick good battery, im happy for this price and im sure that think is better then those lights here for 100 bucks. Ok, the wires on battery not sealed but i can seal it myself.
  • 1 3
 I own cheap lights myself but recently the batteries are scaring the crap out of me. I charged battery for a shitty toy car and it got so hot it melted a bit of a charger and I guess we all have seen laptop battery failure videos... Just asked my dad to make me a battery pack from cells with safety chip.
  • 2 0
 @WAKIdesigns: If I'm riding with a light, I'm up all night to get lucky, not to set my shit on fire.
  • 1 0
 Halfords have some decent Bikehut ones that are well priced for their output and features.
  • 1 1
 @BenPea: La merde en flamme!
  • 1 0
 @iscaryot98: Oh surprise Pinkbike does not review Aliexpress stuff :-) ?
  • 1 0
 @WAKIdesigns: When not built/handled/used properly, Li-Ion can definitely be a very scary thing. And so requires quite high level precision to be industrialized safely. They are kind of unstable by definition.

You can use cheap light, but never use cheap batteries! (from Europe, eu.nkon.nl is a great and safe source).
  • 1 0
 @fneuf: Water between the plus and the minus is enough to create a short circuit: www.youtube.com/watch?v=cTJh_bzI0QQ
  • 1 0
 @fneuf: the issue is it doesn't matter what you buy. Aliexpress or Lupine, batteries on these things are highly possibly crap. So change them immediately. And prices of spare batteries are ridiculous. Most take 500% more than shop floor price of high quality cells and cable. Just like at Freaking Di2 battery - 100$ what the fk in the whole fkng world!
  • 1 0
 What do you mean by changing them immediatly? Changing them for an alternate chemistry tech?
- If yes, you'll trade in much runtime for security, and probably void your warranty.
- If not, then you are partly true. If you accept to use LiIon tech, the safest way is to buy/use such batteries only provided from reliable sources (and even if it's a bias, I'll probably put more trust in Lupine's packs than Magishine). Trusting your source is your only way to minimise potential hazards. Hence the boutique I refered to in my previous post. Sanyo, LG, Panasonic, Sony or even Samsung are the most common regarded brand when buying li-ion (and associated chemistral technologies such as LiNiMn, LiFe, etc) batteries. Depending also from the appliances you could select protected cells.

Most of the lighting brands packs are made from the "18650" cell standard, in use for decades. Found in your laptops, in your e-bike, your e-scooters, previously even your Tesla, pretty much everywhere. Others mostly use LiPo custom-shaped packs, as dangerous as LiIon as experienced by the RC community.
  • 1 0
 @fneuf: I bought 4 cells with security chips, whatever they are called. Dad, RC plane nerd has soldered them for me to magic shine cable
  • 1 0
 @BenPea: Everybody says that until they try a higher end light
  • 1 0
 @WAKIdesigns: yeah, mostly called protected cells. Anyway, it is safer. But keep in mind the protection circuitry also have its own fail rate...
  • 1 0
 @fneuf: I know. I also got a proper charger now.
  • 1 0
 @adamwild: I have a clever strategy to avoid that.
  • 1 0
 @WAKIdesigns:
Your lumens total doesn't seem very high I see
  • 1 0
 @glen-allaire: more than good for my local trails, I have two lights, one 4 led wide angle on bars and one spot with 3 stromg cree on the helmet. But I ride with lights rarely these days, use them mostly for looking for liberty caps...
  • 2 3
 I use a 750 on my handlebars and a 220 on my head and have never thought I needed more light. These lights over 1000 lumens are unnecessary. To put it in perspective, a cars normal headlight is usually approximately 700 lumens and brights are 1200. To anyone saying these are too expensive just grab a couple of the 650-750 mini Niteriders. You can find them for like $40-$50 each.
  • 1 0
 Nice point. I have very bright lights but never run them at full beans, especially in one of the forests here where the eucalyptus trunks are white and the reflection ruins my 'night vision'.
  • 2 0
 Depends what trails you are riding. I run an Exposure Maxx D (2500 lumens) with a Joystick on my helmet. Never thought ... "gee, this is too bright". Might even get a brighter head light.
  • 1 0
 I love the Fenix BC30R it is $129 and you can get a 20% off coupon. www.fenixlighting.com/product/bc30r-fenix-bike-light
  • 1 0
 I could care less about lumens and brightness. Does the clamp stay in place and not drop the beam when I hit shit. Sketchy ass lights moving can kill you
  • 1 0
 Where do people night ride? My experience living in 3 different parts of California has been nearly every trail system closes at sunset.
  • 2 0
 When I get off work at 4pm and go ride this time of year, it’s dark and I need a light. Also we have no restrictions on riding after sunset on any of our local trails. Maybe it’s a California law trying to protect you from lunar exposure?
  • 1 0
 @nkrohan: Yeah, I'm curious if it's just a California thing. It get's dark around 5 here, so I generally have to ride on my lunch breaks if I want to get any riding in during the week. Luckily the trails are close enough that I do have that option, but night riding looks super fun.
  • 2 0
 I believe in North Vancouver Fromme closes at 9pm in the winter but no signage if you ride up through the trails so I am blissfully ignorant.
  • 1 0
 @fabwizard: Yeah, the gate currently closes at 6:00. Pretty sure I was up there later than that last night Wink
  • 1 0
 @Bikesnale: Were the the father and son I ran into at top of Bobsled about 930 ish?
  • 1 0
 @fabwizard: No, I was up at dusk, past the 5th and out on Braemar by 6:30 or 7:00. Only saw one other light on the climb and looked like they stopped on the 3rd.
  • 2 0
 @Bikesnale: likely going out tonight again.
  • 1 0
 In Scotland you can venture pretty much all over anytime, and with open access rights to the public, theres plenty to explore at night. The forrestry commision operated woodlands allow MTBers to ride at night, restrictions tend to be during felling and even then diversions are put in place. Moorland hilly regions are becoming more pathed for better access, so another available night ride option.
  • 1 0
 @ flag dlxah
"Where do people night ride? My experience living in 3 different parts of California has been nearly every trail system closes at sunset."
  • 2 0
 Most lights lumen output is just theoretical not actually measured .. just sayin
  • 3 0
 TAZ for the win is how I read this.
  • 1 0
 i've entered this post thinking i was gonna see a review of a solar storm light but no such thing ! solar storm ftw ! www.aliexpress.com/item/32270370040.html
  • 1 0
 These prices are outrageous. 99.95 for the budget light? MTB keeps becoming more and more unaffordable for the middle class.
  • 1 0
 Light and Motion Urban 500 is $50 and it's a great light. I have used them for years, zero problems, great company to deal with. Assembled in the USA too.
  • 1 0
 Omg, engineers willy waving saying I know more about Lux then you do. Boring! Exposure lights, the maxx D in particular are awesome!
  • 2 0
 The exposure race is a road bike lamp. Its beam is dipped.
  • 1 0
 Sorry that’s the strada.
  • 1 0
 I miss my Specialized light from the 90s. It was like a submarine on my handlebars. Weighed about the same too.
  • 3 0
 No Aldi?
  • 1 0
 Nitenumen X8
Sub £50
1800Lm
Self-contained
4h (claimed) run time on high power.
  • 1 0
 NR Lumina 850 on my helmet is all I need. Cheap ($70), bright, great battery life.
  • 1 0
 Where is the list of lights tested?

Or were just one light per category paid to be tested????????
  • 1 0
 I don't understand the question? The list is the table at the bottom. We requested these 10 lights from these companies because they all fall into a similar category -- front mount, integrated battery (except outbound) and price range.
  • 1 0
 @nkrohan: I think I misunderstood. When I saw best I had assumed tested versus other lights. Actually, this is just a test of very few lights that were selected to fit into the criteria.

None of these should claimed to be the best as they were not actually compared to any of the many many others available.
  • 2 0
 @fabwizard: Correct. Consider it the "Best" of the small selection of similar lights tested.
  • 2 0
 @nkrohan: OK Next time (when you do helmet light test) test Magic Shine. Available from their USA website.

They are very reasonably priced and I have years and years of use out of their products(and awesome warranty once).

On that note I am willing to be a tester(I can probably volly my night riding crew as well).
  • 2 0
 how about best helmet light
  • 1 0
 Anyone know what happend to TrailLED? Best helmet lights ever made
  • 1 0
 Why test the exposure race as opposed to a brighter lamp like the toro or max d?
  • 1 0
 Why do Exposure even bother making lights that have less power than the maximum that they can possibly make.
  • 1 0
 This article is aimed at introducing people to night riding without breaking the bank; the Race MK14 is Exposure's most bang for the buck integrated light vs their top shelf offerings that ring up at over $500USD.
  • 2 0
 I need all these lights just to read let alone ride.
  • 1 0
 Has anyone used a led bar from offroad vehicles and a battery from a power tool?
  • 2 0
 Light & Motion is awesome and their lights are the best hands down!
  • 1 0
 Kind of odd not to include a gloworm selection with their metal bodies, swap lenses, and wireless remote handlebar control.
  • 1 0
 Last Fall Daniel Sapp did a review that included Lupine and Gloworm, so we tried to pick some alternatives. www.pinkbike.com/news/ridden-and-rated-seven-best-mountain-bike-lights.html
  • 2 0
 gotta love Nikki's comparison reviews. some of PB's best content
  • 1 0
 anyone tried diy mini lightbar to a battery pack?
  • 2 5
 Anyone who rides at night know that the "best overall light" is not one with an external battery pack. Those things are always in the way, make noise, and in general just a pain in the ass. I have one and i have to wrap the cord around the bike about three times just to manage the cord going to the light and if you don't get it just right, it will pull on the light and the next thing you know your beam is in the trees and you're flying blind.

How come product reviews are never written by me? I'm pure gold lol
  • 2 0
 The Outbound Focal has a short cord; I have a personal L & M Secca for the handlebar and the cord is ludicrously long. Plus the battery tends to move no matter how much it's cinched down, and scuffs the paint on the bike. But the Focal pack allowed for incredibly quick mounting to the frame, and was completely noise and scuff free. And the short cord allowed for minimal mummy wrapping at the trail head.
  • 1 0
 @meagerdude: I thought the Secca was mine. We can roshambo to see who wins Wink
  • 1 0
 @nkrohan: since I can't really ride trails anymore it's all yours. I'll just drink a cold one while I wait for you at the trail head.
  • 2 5
 Cheap lights for all the broke assess and cheapies on here.
  • 2 0
 What do you run? Besides your mouth...
  • 1 2
 I run your mom like the cheap light she is. @Beez177:
  • 1 0
 @GatoGordo: a swing and a miss, stay in school jr..
  • 2 0
 @GatoGordo: correct spelling of the trail is "Yer-Mom"

And I have ridden her many times.

www.trailforks.com/trails/yer-mom
  • 1 0
 Awesome homie! Spelling has been noted @fabwizard:
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