Last winter the mbr team went online to find out if night riding for next to nowt was as easy as eBay would have you believe. One year on, are those £50 lights still burning brightly?

Roo Fowler, photographer

What I got

Two 5,000 lumen LED bike lights from eBay, coming in at £45.10 for the pair, posted from China.

How they performed

The beam pattern was great, battery life was pretty good and the brightness was genuinely brilliant. There was no UK charger though, so I bought a US adapter plug.

One year on

The flimsy chargers for both lights died after just a few charges, but I have a Hope light that uses a similar battery and the charger works perfectly for the bargain batteries. Otherwise, still going strong and bright heading into this winter.

Roo

Jamie Darlow, staff writer

What I got

A bar-mounted CREE XM-L LED 5,000 lumens bike light and a helmet-mounted CREE T6 LED, £50.95 from Amazon including postage.

How they performed

The battery pack fastening ripped off the bar-mounted light, while the helmet light needed some tinkering with Blu-tack and scissors to fit. Good power though, and a decent spread of light, with 90 minutes’ run time on full burn.

One year on

I’ve lost the bar-mounted light, for which I can hardly blame the light. The T6 battery won’t hold its charge now, plus I was finding it too heavy for comfort after I tried a lightweight alternative.

Jamie

Paul Burwell, technical editor

What I got

A SingFire SF-90 Headlamp and an XM-L T6 bike light, delivered in a beaten up box: a total of 4,000 lumens for the grand sum of £43.91.

How they performed

Delivery was slow (one month) and the fittings were poor. O-rings were getting baggy, the Velcro was flimsy and they didn’t come with a UK charger. But as a night riding starter set they’re great.

One year on

They’re still working fine — the beams seem just as bright and the battery still holds its charge. Twelve months on, they’re just as good as when they emerged from the battered box they came in.

PB

The results

So are cheap lights a great money-saver or a waste of time? The purchase demands a certain amount of patience and some ingenuity to get them fixed to your bike or helmet and charged up. The lights themselves can be very impressive, though in the past we’ve found that performance can vary wildly even among the ‘same’ lights, so you can be lucky or unlucky. What’s not in doubt is that the accessories (batteries, mounts etc) are poor, but if that’s a compromise you’re prepared to accept then they are definitely worth a try.

  • Adam Beevers

    Bike light technology develops quite quickly. Why would I want to spend £200-300 pounds on a top of the range last forever light, when I can spend £30-50 each year or two years and have an improvement on brightness each time.