Don’t let a dim dynamo hinder your winter visibility: from your handlebars to your seatpost, the best bike lights will enhance your winter visibility with a healthy dose of lumens.
Keen to glow on the go? The list below features our pick of the top front and rear lights to help you see and be seen when you’re cycling at night. We’ve also included a selection of our favourite wearable lights – because when it comes to safety in the saddle, brighter is always better.
Not sure which illuminator shines right for your needs and budget? We’ve also included some top tips to help shed some light on the selection process.
Lumen on up
Not all options blaze the same. Rears are there to be perceived by others, ranging from 20 lumens to a vivid 250. Fronts usually flash brighter to show you the way, although anything north of 1000 risks distracting motorists.
Certain lamps are focused to keep you distinctive at a distance, while others cast a broad beam for urban visibility. The best offer a combo of both to help you see and be seen, even from the side.
Relight by wire
Most modern bike lights use batteries boosted by USB. Tackling a lengthy route? Some models can glow for more than 40 hours on their most efficient setting, although power output can dim as battery diminishes.
Red light quells danger
Research suggests a blinking rear beacon can improve perception. Many have daylight and night-time flash modes, with patterns that span from steady pulsing to disco blitz. The smartest can auto-adjust to conditions.
The handlebar headlight: Outbound Detour
Brilliant rays might reveal the road ahead, but a blinding glare isn’t fair on night-time traffic. Inspired by your hatchback’s headlights, this lamp uses a cut-off pattern to illuminate the asphalt without dazzling drivers. Like dipped beams for your bike, its twin torches send 1200 lumens where you can see them, while a bolt-on bracket keeps the whole setup rock-steady.
The tubular torch: Exposure Sirius Mk10
Singing in the saddle is one way to warn pedestrians you’re approaching, but your warbling won’t work from afar. Shaped like a mini microphone, this aluminium tube pumps out 900 lumens across a 240-degree arc. Its DayBright pulse pattern is designed to keep you conspicuous at distances of more than 1km, even if winter sun’s left everyone squinting in surprise.
The rounded radiator: Bookman Curve
Your bike relies on round bits, so a convex accessory makes sense. Curved to match your bars, this streamlined attachment’s silicone band can fit grips measuring 22-42mm. Its arched facade spills up to 220 lumens, while its battery maxes out at 70 hours. Weather-resistant and equipped with just one button, there’s also a matching red version for your similarly cylindrical seatpost.
The rear reactor: See.Sense Icon3
Waving your arms is one way to react to events on the road. For hands-free signalling, try this crowdfunded smart panel: its flashing intensity increases when you brake or stop at junctions. Light sensors optimise output to suit your surroundings, while two types of LED mean you’re seen near and far. The app also unlocks crash and theft alerts – your cue for more gesticulating.
The luminous looker: Garmin Varia RCT715
Pushing hard ahead of the peloton, surprise tailgating is the last thing you need. No team car to watch your back? Stick this little looker beneath your saddle. Its radar can detect approaching cars and alert your compatible watch, phone or bike computer, while rear and side beacons show drivers where you are. If they still hassle your back wheel, a built-in camera records incidents in 1080p, for you to review in the app after you seal the stage win.
The bolt-on beacon: Thousand Traveler
Contrary to Sting’s instructions, you do have to put on the red light after dark. This light fantastic will appease the police. Its magnetic mount is angled to suit your seatpost, while the shiner itself locks in with a twist. Further rotation makes mode-switching a cinch, letting you pick between peak brightness (80 lumens) and max battery life (22 hours).
The helmet high-beam: Brightside Topside
In dim conditions, rally cars are fitted with extra spotlights on their bonnet. This top-mounted torch does the same for your bonce. Mounted to your helmet, it shines bright in both directions. Cree LEDs produce up to 100 lumens of white light ahead, or 30 when the rear’s glowing red. It sits light at 68g, while fish-eye lenses emit a wide beam that doesn’t dazzle.
The power-up puck: Cateye Wearable X
Cat’s eyes can mark lanes after dark, but it takes more than a feline reflector to be safely seen in the saddle. Be more discernible with Cateye’s dinky disc. Light at 16.5g and bright at 35 lumens, its clip can attach to bags, belts and belongings for additional visibility. It also comes with a rubber strap bike mount, in case you’re pedalling in the buff.
The flexible flasher: Knog Plus
Knog’s known for versatile bike lights, and this little oblong is a lesson in adaptable lighting. Its simple rings attach easily to your bars, forks or seat stem. Want brightness on your body? Detach the magnetic mount and it can clip onto a helmet, jersey or backpack strap instead. Available for front and rear, its 40-hour battery and IP66 waterproofing can withstand the toughest commutes.