Here's our pick of the best mountain bike lights. Bombing around in the dark may seem like a mad thing to do, but night riding is great.
For proper night riding, we’d recommend combining a handlebar-mounted light with a helmet lamp. In terms of power, we’d say the best mountain bike lights come with around 1,500 to 2,000 lumens (lumen is the measure of light output, the higher the better). Helmet lights don’t need to be as powerful; you can get away with 700-900 lumens, but this light needs to be a bit more focused or concentrated. A fixed handlebar light is your work horse light, it illuminates the trail so you can see where to go. The helmet light is a bit more dynamic for picking out the detail, adding depth, looking round corners and over obstacles likes and logs and drops, and even down at your gears or front wheel when there’s a technical section.
Night riding also adds a frisson of danger and excitement to proceedings, as the sense of speed intensifies and the you narrow your focus on the tunnel of lights in front of you. It literally lets you see your local trails in a whole new light.
Best mountain bike lights
- Lupine Wilma R 7 – WINNER BAR LIGHT
- Exposure Diablo MK12 – WINNER HELMET LIGHT
- Light And Moiton Seca Race
- Light And Motion Taz 2000
- Lezyne Macro Drive Duo 700
- Blackburn Central 650
- Exposure Six Pack MK10
- Knog PWR Mountain
‘View deal’ links
You will notice that beneath each mountain bike lights product summary are ‘View Deal’ links. If you click on one of these links then mbr may receive a small amount of money from the retailer should you go to purchase the product from them. Don’t worry, this does not affect the amount you pay.
Light and Motion Seca 2000 Race light
Serial test winner due to its simple design and excellent beam quality
Price: £249.99 | Weight: 222g | Lumens: 2000
Pros: Beautiful beam clarity
Pros: Good value compared to rival lights
Cons: Not a lot really
Seca Race has a dinky 3-cell lithium ion battery. This is housed in a rubberised case and mounts to a frame tube using a heavy-duty Velcro strap. The head unit attaches to the handlebar with a bigger rubber leash and features a handy breakaway bolt.
Light and Motion pumped a load of money in the custom engineered reflector and Cree LEDs les on this light and it shows – not only is the light a crisp blue colour, there are no rings, shadows or dark spots. We also could see just as far down the trail with this light as we could with lights that had double the lumen count.
Even though the Seca Race has a little bit less burn time than we’re used to, it’s still a superb light with the best beam pattern on test, the lowest weight and it’s also amazing value for money.
Lupine Wilma R7
Attention to detail, build quality and programmability really set the Wilma R7 apart
Price: £438.00 | Weight: 383g | Lumens: 3200
Pros: Simply the the best light for mountain biking
Pros: Built to last
Cons: Not cheap
On paper the 3,200 Lumen Wilma R7 isn’t the absolute most powerful out there, but it doesn’t look like it – it literally turns night into day. We could see the furthest with this light (and ride the fastest), but still see everything close in.
Superb attention to detail, a ton of really useable features, full customisable, a remote and any mount you like, combined with excellent quality makes the Wilma R7 easily the best light on test. And while it’s the most expensive light here, we think the price is justified if you really want the ultimate system.
Exposure Diablo light
Puts out nearly as much as bar light but it weighs 50% less
Price: £215.00 | Weight: 109g | Lumens: 1850, 1000, 500 | Run time: 1, 1.5, 3hrs
Pros: Design and engineering perfection
Pros: Intelligent tap-to-adjust power levels
Cons: A little on the expensive side
The light output is superb – it’s produces an incredibly bright white light that really picks up detail and it never got overpowered, not matter what bar light we used it with.
On full power, you get 1850 lumens but there seven different programmable modes using the high, medium and low settings, so you can really vary the output and run time. Turning off the Tap Mode is an option too, which we did a couple of times when riding through dense undergrowth because that can catch the light and tap it off.
Exposure makes a neat and lightweight vent mount for the Diablo that’s fully adjustable and low profile. Also included in the box is a bar mount box and a proper charger, not just a USB cable.
Light and Motion Taz 2000
Looks like a cheap and cheerful commuter, this light is pretty deceptive little box of tricks
Price: £249.99 | Weight: 226g | Lumens: 2,000
Pros: An excellently designed lens
Pros: Well made (despite its cheap appearance)
Cons: Not the longest run time
As with all Light and Motion lights we have tried, the Taz really comes into its own when we hit the trail. They have always – quite rightly – placed great importance on beam pattern, and the result is a beautifully smooth transition between a diffused, close-in pool of light to punchy long range LEDs that extend up the trail. It gives a seamless, confidence inspiring coverage that definitely promotes faster riding.
The only downside to this small but powerful package is run time. With only 1:30 at our disposal we find the amber then red battery warnings are coming on virtually every ride, with more than a little power management needed to get through even short, sharp night blasts.
You just have to decide which level you want to buy in at – if burn time and output numbers suit, it really is an excellent little unit.
Lezyne Macro Duo bike light set
Everything a helmet light should be
Price: £80.00 | Weight: 134g | Lumens: 700
Pros: Easy to install and remove from helmet
Pros: Very good trail illumination
Cons: Too many power levels to cycle through
The excellent helmet mount easily straps though vents and cinched tight on every helmet model we have experimented with, while a ball and socket joint means the light can be pointed exactly where desired, quickly and easily. The light itself is held in with a simple semi-circular clip so it can be easily removed without affecting the mount itself. The convenience is extended into charging – screw the rear cap off and plug in a micro usb. Simple and effective.
Does anyone really need 4 different flash modes? Probably not. At most there should be 3 power levels and one flash, as changing power levels like this keeps your hand off the bar for far too long. A shame as the frustration slightly mars what is otherwise a terrific, great value little light.
Blackburn Central Front Smart light
We like this light a lot and every tester was surprised to hear the price
Price: £49.99 | Weight: 162g | Lumens: 650
Pros: Truly a bargain
Pros: Great at lighting the trail, which is the main thing
Cons: Helmet mount isn’t the best
The Blackburn Central 650 comes with what they describe as a ‘universal mount,’ which is supposed to manage both bar and helmet mount duties.
It very nearly does, with a long rubber band underneath the swivelling light bracket allowing a lot of flexibility and fitting easily to most of our test team’s helmets.
Light quality is excellent, with the moderately-specced 650 lumens placed in a soft centre spot with just enough peripheral to keep you informed of your surroundings without it being too distracting.
The power button on helmet lights is very important – it has to be prominent enough to be found with thick gloves on, and the click has to be positive enough to let you know you have connected and are jabbing in the right place.
The Blackburn is both, with every tester pleased with the ease of adjustment on the fly.
Exposure Six Pack MK10 light
Probably more light than you’ll ever need for trail riding
Price: £435.00 | Weight: 422g | Lumens: 4,750
Pros: The pinnacle of mountain bike lights
Pros: Unique and useful features that aren’t gimmicks
Cons: Not exactly cheap
On full output the Six Pack Mk10 does bangs out a whopping 4,750 lumens over two hour run time. Like all Exposure units you vary the output/burn time ratio by toggling between modes using Exposure’s OMS programming.
The top three modes get Exposure’s unique Reflex+ feature, which uses a built-in accelerometer and gyroscope to deliver the correct amount of light for the terrain you’re riding. In other words – dim for those slow uphill climbs, bright for the downhills. The Six Pack also features an OLED fuel gauge readout on the rear screen with actual time remaining rather than just a flashing red blob.
It’s rather bulky unit on the bar but the construction is first class, it’s fully customisable and the Reflex mode means it’ll just run and run.
Knog PWR Mountain light
We really like the modular design of the PWR Mountain
Price: £179.99 | Weight: 355g | Lumens: 2,000
Pros: Modular system means you can tweak it to your desires
Pros: Customised power settings via phone app
Cons: Bar clamp is a bit flexy
The PWR Mountain is a modular design, which means you split it apart and run the battery on the down tube, add a helmet extension kit or attach different size battery packs or head units. The lithium-ion battery also features twin USB ports, so you use it as fuel cell to charge your iPhone or plug it into a range of Knog accessories, such as the PWR Lantern.
On full beam, the PWR Mountain puts out 2,000 lumens, but you can change the stock settings using the ModeMaker app, and if you’re a serious night time shredder you’ll want to eliminate the flashing and strobe options.
You twist the lamp unit to turn it on/off and it’s surprisingly quick to cycle through the modes. The plastic bar clamp is easy to install, but it feels flexy, and some testers also struggled getting the light to release.
What to for in the best mountain bike lights
The simplest way to mount a light to the bar is using a rubber O-ring. It expands to accommodate different bar diameters but the light has to be mounted to the side of the stem, which might be tricky if you have a lot of other stuff there. Using a clamp-on mount adds weight but you can position the light in front of the stem and free up a bit of bar space.
There are two types of helmet mount – one held in place with Velcro straps that loop through the helmet vents, the other is an expandable wedge style that clamps into one of the vents. Both work but we like the simplicity of the wedge style mounts and they’re also slightly lower profile.
The measure of light power is expressed in lumens. Generally, the more lumens the more expensive the light, but adding LED bulbs increases the size and weight of the lamp unit.
Beam pattern is more important to performance on the trail than ultimate lumens, although the latter doesn’t hurt. Ideally you want a smooth transition between the areas of the beam because hot or dark spots can make it more difficult to see details, especially when riding technical trails.
All the batteries in this test are Li-Ion and that means they don’t require a specific charging regime, you can just top them up when necessary. A fuel gauge on the battery is handy for calculating remaining ride time, but it can be hard to see this when the battery is strapped to a frame tube. We also think a number or percentage figure is better than a row of different coloured LEDs.
If you have a bar mounted light with a modular battery, you can often splice another cable between the two if you need to mount the battery further back on the frame. The best lights have different length cables included in the box.
Over the last few years we’ve seen a lot of lights switch to USB charging, which means you can use any compatible USB cable and even charge your light in the car on the way to a ride. However, it does mean you have to find a plug yourself.
With every light that runs an add-on mounted battery we’d like to see different length Velcro straps included in the box. Frame tubes comes in lots of different sizes and E-bikes in particular have massive down tubes. To stop slipping, the strap should have a silicone back.
A bar-mounted remote allows you to toggle between the settings without having to remove a hand from the handlebar or reach up and fumble about. It can be wired like the Nightrider or wireless like the Lupine.