Best bike lights 2024 daytime-running and high-powered lights reviewed

The best bike lights rated, including how much to pay, the features you need, and our pick of the best bike lights on the market

Image shows a rider using one of the best bike lights
(Image credit: Future)
Best Bike Lights 2023: Jump Menu

The best bike lights are essential if you're planning to ride after dark or before daybreak or even if you're out in poor conditions during the day.

Most cyclists will regularly ride after dark in autumn and winter, making bike lights an essential piece of kit, although daytime running bike lights are growing in popularity because they help you to be seen out on the road, even in bright sunlight.

We've split our guide into three categories: front lights, rear lights and light sets. 

Below that you’ll find all the details on our recent four-way grouptest, covering a selection of top-flight high-powered front lights. At the bottom of the page, we delve into all the techy details of what to look for in the best bike lights.

The Quick List

Front lights

Rear lights

Best bike lights 2023

You can trust Cycling Weekly. Our team of experts put in hard miles testing cycling tech and will always share honest, unbiased advice to help you choose. Find out more about how we test.

Best front bike lights

The best front bike light overall

Side and front view of the Magicshine ALLTY1000 front bike light

(Image credit: Future)

1. Magicshine ALLTY1000 front light

Best front bike light overall

Specifications

Lumens: 1,000
Band type: Allen key band clamp
Claimed battery life: 2.2hrs full
Charging: Micro USB

Reasons to buy

+
Powerful beam
+
Great battery life
+
Exceptional value

Reasons to avoid

-
Charges with Micro USB
-
Band clamp is fiddly (but versatile) 

This light is really the star performer on test - it’s the least expensive by quite a way, super bright and nicely designed.

Let’s stick with the beam and lumens to start. It is clearly brighter, casts its beam further, and has a similar beam width to the Trek Commuter Pro RT - and that’s despite both lights being claimed at 1,000 lumens and Trek’s light being over twice the price. By extension, the Magicshine Allty1000 is also brighter than both the PDW Lars Rover Power and the Knog Blinder 900.

There’s an interesting battle between which is brightest out of the Magicshine Allty1000 and the Exposure Strada Mk11 RS. The central part of the Magicshine’s beam does shine brighter, but the Exposure Strada casts much more light to the sides, lighting up a greater area in total - as it should, with a lumen count of 1,450. Then again, the Exposure Strada costs over four times as much as the Allty1000, so in terms of light per penny, the Magicshine has the edge.

The Magicshine Allty1000 also has the longest battery life when shining on full. On the downside, it does charge with Micro USB rather than USB-C. The battery indication is more basic than the previous two lights, with a simple green LED changing to red and starting to flash as you get to 30% and 10% charge, respectively, which isn’t so helpful for power management on longer rides.

The band clamp system for the mount is really neat in how it accommodates all handlebar diameters without the need for rubber shims - which seem to invariably get lost. But the need for an Allen key and its fiddly nature means that this isn’t so easy to swap between bikes. On the other hand, it uses the same quarter-turn mount as a Garmin, so can be popped onto one of those mounts which is neat.

With the super bright beam for a light which is nominally only 1,000 lumens, I was perfectly happy putting in hard efforts when riding on the darkest roads with this light. I was able to see far enough ahead and with enough detail to push up to Threshold / Zone 4 and even seated VO2 Max / Zone 5 efforts. The only question is whether the performance at this price is too good to be true - I’d hesitate to give it full marks until the Allty1000 has proved itself in a full season of riding through the cold, wind and rain.

The best front bike light for performance

Side and front view of the Exposure Strada MK12 RS AKTiv

(Image credit: Future)

2. Exposure Strada MK12 RS AKTiv

Best front bike light for performance

Specifications

Lumens: 1,450
Band type: Allen key split clamp
Claimed battery life: 2hrs full
Charging: DC

Reasons to buy

+
Wide and powerful beam
+
Detailed display
+
Clever tech

Reasons to avoid

-
DC charging is unusual these days
-
Very expensive  

As expected, with its 1,450 lumen claimed output, the Exposure Strada certainly puts out a great deal of light - though it’s not the unambiguous winner in this regard. Despite being less than a quarter of the price, Magicshine’s Allty1000 offers up a brighter central beam than even the Exposure Strada can muster. 

As mentioned earlier, this is largely down to the Exposure light spreading itself more thinly, lighting up the sides of the road to a greater extent. This side lumination isn’t going to be an important consideration for all riders, but I find a greater light spread can make for a less disorientating feeling when riding in the dark.

Exposure’s system for controlling the lights with the single, brushed metal button is very neat and well-thought out - but it does take a little while to get used to. Magicshine’s system is more basic, but it is at least intuitive straight out of the box. 

It’s a similar thing for the bar clamp - Exposure’s split-clamp system is exquisitely designed, with two CNC machined pieces of metal slotting together to make the hinge and clamp. But it is rather more fiddly and harder to use than the simple - but effective - silicone strap of the Knog Blinder. The display on the rear of the Exposure Strada is a particularly neat feature of this light, displaying as it does the remaining charge of the light down to the minute.

Still, away from all the peripherals, fundamentally the Exposure Strada remains a really, really good light. Like the Magicshine, I was happy barrelling along through the dark at full tilt, with the road ahead of me reassuringly brightly lit. 

This model comes with Exposure’s AKTiv tech, which automatically dims the light when faced with oncoming traffic. It’s really quite seamless, with the light smoothly reducing its brightness and equally smoothly returning to full strength - it’s not like switching between the main beam of your headlights and the dipped beam at all.

With the light so bright, it is quite nice and reassuring having it dip when faced with oncoming traffic - you can be quite sure that you won’t be dazzling anyone. Then again, if you aren’t running a MTB light with a whopping 3,000 lumens and if you do have your light correctly set up illuminating the road ahead of you, arguably this tech isn’t so necessary. Still, it functions well, is an extra nice-to-have, and solidifies this light as a tech-packed de-luxe model.

One of the most enduring features of Exposure lights, away from the excellent performance of the beams, is their longevity. Like Assos cycling kit, you are paying for a build quality which really lasts and should be considered alongside the (proportionality higher) upfront cost. However, against competition such as Magicshine’s Allty1000, it’s hard to recommend that everyone should spend that much more for Expsoure’s quality. But if you have the money to invest, you won’t be disappointed. 

The best front light for commuting

Side and front view of the Knog Blinder 900 front bike light

(Image credit: Future)

3. Knog Blinder 900 front bike light

Best front bike light for commuters

Specifications

Lumens: 900
Band type: Tool-less strap
Claimed battery life: 2hrs full
Charging: USB-C

Reasons to buy

+
Great for swapping between bikes
+
USB-C charging
+
Robust design

Reasons to avoid

-
Beam isn't as bright as the claimed 900 lumens might suggest
-
A little expensive for how bright it is

Despite having the weakest beam of all the lights on test, I really liked the Knog Blinder 900 and think there is good application for it. You just have to be clear about the sort of riding you’ll be using this light for. It’s simply not bright enough for bombing along at Tempo / Zone 3 through the still of the night - but it is plenty bright for riding at an Endurance / Zone 2 pace on even the darkest roads. 

For a commuter light, rather than one for post-work training rides or long-distance winter epics, this is perfectly sufficient. When wearing casual clothes, I’m not really going to be pushing any harder than Zone 2. Plus, if your commute is mainly street lit, there’s simply no need for a brighter light than this as it doesn’t make a significant difference to what you can see. 

With those parameters set out, the features really start to shine. First is the robust silicone band of the mounting bracket - this light is super easy to swap between bikes, taking a mere handful of seconds. There is still a quick release between the mount and the light, like all the other models on test - helpful when locking up in town.

Battery life is a handy two hours on full and the charging port is USB-C, so good future proofing there. There is a downside in that the battery indicator is as basic as the Magicshine Allty1000, wit