The nights have drawn in, the mornings are shrouded in darkness – winter is upon us, which means if you plan to carry on riding, whether that's socially, training or commuting, you’re going to need some bike lights.
It’s a legal requirement to use a white front light and red rear light on public roads between sunset and sunrise, which is likely to include at least some or all of your commute, if you ride to work by bike.
But luckily the bike light market is flush with options for road cyclists, with options to suit all needs and all budgets. In fact, the quality of lights has improved significantly in recent years, with USB charging common, and more lumens for your money than ever.
On that point, we’d recommend about 500-600 lumens as the starting point for night riding away from well-lit urban areas, and with that in mind we’ve picked out ten of the best front bike lights which cost less than £100, and are, on the whole, versatile enough for commuting and occasional use on unlit roads. All lights will have a range of modes which means you can up the output when plunged into darkness, or use a lower-powered (and more battery-friendly) mode when in well-lit areas.
If you’re commute plunges you into darkness or you enjoy the occasional moonlit training ride, and you want to keep the budget in check, these are the lights for you.
Lezyne Lite Drive 700XL - £56.99
Lezyne's Lite Drive 700XL is actually one of their multi-purpose LED bike lights, which means you get plenty of bang for your buck given the £56.99 RRP.
As the name indicates, the maximum output of the Lite Drive 700XL is 700 lumens, but there are eight modes in all, including the high-visibility Daytime Flash.
Other features include an enhanced MOR (Maximum Optical Reflection) lens with built-in side visiblity, USB charging and five colour options - black, silver, blue, red or purple.
The Lite Drive 700XL weighs just 114g, while Lezyne also boast of an impressive battery life - the 150-lumen Economy mode should see you right for nine hours before it needs charging, for example.
Website: Upgrade Bikes
Moon Meteor Vortex Pro - £69.99
The Moon Meteor Vortex Pro packs an incredible punch - 900 lumens from a single Cree XML LED, which makes it ideal for riding in all terrain.
An 84-degree beam angle illuminates everything before you, and it can operated via a wired remote control for easier on-the-fly access should you desire.
A day flash mode and urban auto mode also feature, for when 900 lumens in a bit OTT, while mode memory and a light sensor help keeps thing simple.
In short, it packs loads in, puts loads out and all for a very reasonable shade under £70.
Exposure Sirius MK6 DayBright - £99.95
We’ve dubbed previous iterations of the Exposure Sirius light the ‘perfect commuter light’, and the fourth generation light found a place in the RCUK100 for that reason.
We're now, however, onto the sixth iteration on the light, and it remains as good as ever, throwing DayBright tech into the mix too.
Also new is an upgraded CNC aluminium bodywork, making an already tough little unit even more durable for commuting or road riding.
Elsewhere, seven modes - changed using Exposure's Optimised Mode Selector, side illumination, a traffic-light fuel gauge to display your battery life and USB re-charging complete the light.
Bontrager Ion 800 R - £89.99
How good is Bontrager's Ion 800 R front light? Well the brand themselves say it should be considered to be a USB-rechargeable torch.
And, truth be told, it's hard to argue with that - an 800-lumen maximum output, with focused optics and more than 270-degree visibility makes the comparison apt.
There are a number of options in the Ion range, but for £89.99, that's a decent return on the value-for-money scale.
There are five modes in all, including day flash and night flash - both of which will last your 20 hours before charging.
Knog PWR Road Front Light - £84.99
Knog's PWR Road Front Light screams integration, and if you have any of Knog's other PWR products then this should be top of your list.
That's because the light, as well as being a high-powered modular front light - complete with 600-lumen maximum output, and six modes with a claimed battery life of between 2.3 and 195 hours run times - is also a versatile little unit.
Take the lighthead off, and it can be used with other PWR bike and camping lights, while the PWR Bank at the rear will charge devices and is also the battery for other products in the PWR range. Clever, right?
An eliptical beam ensures broad road coverage, while it is operated by a simple twist (no buttons) of the lighthead - programming is done via the ModeMaker app.
Cateye Volt 800 - £89.99
The Cateye Volt 800 sits in the middle of the Cateye range, and comes in just under £90.
If you can stretch your budget further, the Cateye Volt 1200 (£149.99) has the RCUK seal of approval, while the Volt 200 (£39.99) and Volt 400 (£59.99) are slightly cheaper than the 800, if you don't need the full 800 lumens.
So, with all that choice, why the 800? Well 800 lumens will be more than enough for the darkest of night rides, for starters, and the robust casing means it feels more than resilient enough for your winter commutes.
Run-time, at maximum output, is good at two hours but there are five modes in all – high, medium, low, hyper constant and flash - and the latter claims an 80-hour run-time and 200 lumen output. Plenty of power and good battery run times make the Cateye a strong contender.
Light & Motion Urban 650 - £79.99
You don’t call your company Light & Motion if you’re not going to specialise in lighting solutions, and with more than 25 years in the business, the California-based crew know their stuff.
What started as underwater lighting solutions grew to include bike lights and the Urban 650 comes from their latest range, sitting between the Urban 800 (£99.99) and Urban 350 (£44.99).
As we’ve already covered, 650 lumens should be enough to cover both commuting and steady night riding, which is why we’ve gone down the middle.
One of the smart features is the light's ‘auto lock out’, which means you can lock the light when it’s not in use to prevent accidental use/waste of battery.
Gemini 2017 Xera Flashlight 950L - £94.99
Gemini’s Xera Flashlight is a pocket rocket, putting out a maximum 950 lumens from a compact 10cm light.
Tool-free mounting and five lighting modes – three steady, two flashing – mean the Xera will do a great job atop your handlebars (or even helmet, if you buy the add-on attachments).
Of course, like all lights here, burn time is significantly reduced is you use the full 950-lumen beam – you're looking at a claimed hour-and-a-half if you need the maximum output - but that goes up seven-and-a-half hours on the 200 lumen mode (with the 600 lumen/2h 30m option sitting in the middle).
However, unlike many of the lights here, the Xera isn't USB rechargeable, so you don't have the option of plugging it into your computer at work to top it up for the ride home.
Guee Sol 700 Plus Ambient Front Light - £49.49
The Guee Sol 700 Plus Ambient Front Light is pitched as a handy solution to touring/adventure riding, thanks to its wide beam and a tool-free bracket that can also mount GoPro cameras and similar.
Three outputs (700, 500 and 250) feature, with an auto light sensor built in for automated brightness control, while auto/manual modes include standard, high, low, flash and strobe.
The CNC-machined housing also features cooling tech to optimise the release of heat from the little unit. And its all yours for less than £50.
NiteRider Lumina 900 Boost - £85.00
NiteRider's Lumina 900 Boost is billed as the do-all front light, perfect for the road, trail or commute thanks to its rock-solid ride-tested mount and impressive output.
A double-press of the power button will activate Boost Mode, and unleash a 900-lumen maximum output, while there are a further seven modes (five light levels plus two daylight flash).
IntelliCharge tech reduces charge time, meanwhile - charging the battery twice as fast when connected to a higher amp AC adapter. Handy.