The best road bike lights are essential if you want to be seen. Riding your road bike after sundown comes with its own unique set of challenges. Potholes and road debris are the enemies, and at night, both are invisible. The natural disappearing point of the road ahead also becomes a lot nearer after dark. You need to react quickly to all these hazards, so suitable lighting is essential.
Also, road bike riders share a space with some pretty hard objects. Lorries, modern cars with large central pillars and agricultural vehicles can often suffer from significant blind spots. As well as riding defensively, we can increase our visibility with high-quality bike light sets.
We have reviewed and chosen our favourite four bike light sets to help you with your selection process. Stick around because, after the top four, we have included a handy buyers guide.
Best Road Bike Lights Set – Top Four
The following bike light sets are made up of a front and rear combination. Each can handle daylight, urban commuting and sections of road without street lighting. None of the suggested lights is designed for off-road, which requires a more powerful beam.
Cateye Sync Core road bike lights set
Cateye is one of the more well-known brands of bike lights. Generally of robust build quality and impressive visibility, the Cateye brand has earned its place among the top manufacturers. However, we particularly like the Sync Core because it comes with a neat tech feature.
The sync core set can be linked via a smartphone app, and then the operation of all synced lights comes at the push of one button. If you have ever struggled to get your back-light on while riding through traffic, you will understand the benefits of this feature. Catey sync allows up to seven lights to be linked through the app. The ability to switch on all lights by simply turning on the font light is genius and worth considering for this feature alone.
Other handy features include “find me”, which, when pressed, will cause all liked lights to flash. Most useful when rooting around in a saddlebag or hunting around your garage. We also like the battery level meter for longer rides. Finally, a deceleration sensor knows when you are breaking and will increase the brightness of your rear and front lights by 50 lumens. Very trick!
At 500 lumens, the front light can handle road sections with no street lights, with visibility at approximately 25 metres. While this is not ideal for prolonged, high-speed riding, it does mean that commuting, rides under streetlights and daylight riding are all possible. The Cateye has excellent visibility to the side as well, which is an often overlooked feature. The rear is plenty visible enough and fixes to your seat post with an elasticated strap.
Claimed battery life: Between 2.5 and 18 hours mode dependant.
Lumens: 500 front and 50 rear
Waterproof rating: IPX4
Cateye Ampp 800/Viz 300 road bike lights set
If you are looking for a step up in build quality and brightness from the Sync Core, why not consider the Ampp 800/Viz 300 combo?
Rather than a plastic rubberised body, the ampp 800 (front) offers an alloy casing that is far more durable. An 800-lumen rating means better quality beam spread and illumination on those non-streetlight sections. In addition, Cateye has Opticube™ technology which makes more efficient use of the light available. This feature is most welcome on dark stretches where the disappearing point is much further down the road.
Eight hundred lumens is exceptionally bright, so we suggest using one of the dimmer modes from the five available when riding in traffic. Side visibility is excellent as Cateye has added side lenses to this model, which increase visibility by a considerable amount.
The Viz 300 is more than enough backlight for any road rider. Some of the settings are particularly full-on, perfect for very bright sunny days when you still want to be seen by cars approaching from behind. All the team agree that we would be happy with one of these signalling our whereabouts. A group riding mode ensures you won’t blind fellow club riders as you drop them on the hills.
A very capable package for commuting, long club rides and mixed lighting.
Battery life: 5 to 10 hours (rear)
Lumens: 800 front / 300 rear
Waterproof rating: IPX4
Kryptonite Alley F650/R50 Premium road bike lights set
As you would expect from a product named Kryptonite, the build quality of the F650/R50 lights screams tough. A mixture of durable plastic and machined aluminium give these lights a sturdy and high-quality feel which is entirely justified.
Sitting prettily between the two Cateye products, the front light (F650) delivers a superb range of lighting options, including a high setting approaching the quality of the 800 lumens Cateye. Side lenses are also present, making sure you are seen from all angles.
Three settings calibrated at 650/325 and 100 provide ample spread. These constant settings are complimented with three flashing settings. One of the neat things about the F650 is a two-second press to activate feature. No more reaching for lights in the pannier, only to find they have accidentally been switched on and are now flat.
The rear (R50)offers a 10 to 50 lumens span. There are almost too many settings to choose from, so functionality is fine. Although not as highly specced as the 300 lumens Cateye, you would struggle to miss this light when approaching from the rear. In addition, the R5 has a handy battery saver mode which automatically comes on when battery life is running low, very handy for long rides. Finally, the button is easily used when hands are gloved.
An excellent value for money combo.
Battery life: Front from 2 to 15 hours / rear up to 11 hours
Lumens: 650 front / 50 rear
Waterproof rating: IPX4
Specialized Flash Pack 300 road bike lights set
If looking for a straightforward commuters bike light set, the Flash Pack 300 from Specialized ticks the box. While we wouldn’t head off down an unlit country road for any length of time, the 300 will get you through short dark sections; however, it comes into its own as a versatile urban light set.
There are enough settings to satisfy any road riding challenge, with excellent side lighting and a truly impressive IPX7 rating for the wettest of days. Don’t expect outstanding performance on unlit sections, but if you ride in the city, the Flash Pack is compact, durable and has good battery life.
Outstanding value for low demand night riding.
Battery life: 1.5 hours to 12 hours (front) / 2 hours to 20 hours rear
Lumens: Upto 300 front / Upto 10 lumens rear
Waterproof rating: IPX7
Best Road bike Lights – Buyers guide
If you are buying road bike light sets and need some guidance on what to look out for, then read on.
How do lumens work?
The greater the lumens rating, the brighter the light and farther the spread. Use the following guide as a rule of thumb:
50 to 150 lumens Well lit urban areas
200 to 350 lumens Partially lit streets
500 Lumens The minimum for unlit streets and dimly lit lanes. Slow riding.
800 Lumens Unlit country lanes and unlit streets at high speed.
Waterproof rating guide
Look for a minimum of IPX4 and preferably higher for regular rides in severe weather conditions.
Bike lights for night riding
You need lights that provide adequate lateral visibility when riding at night as motorists are often approaching from your side. Furthermore, it is the law to have lights fitted at night in most countries, and foolish to ride at night without lights even if your local laws allow it.
Daytime running lights UK law.
It is not currently law to ride with daytime running lights in the UK and most other countries. Germany is the exception, and we think they have the right idea. With a deliveroo rider and Uber rider on our team, we can speak with experience as to how invisible cyclists seem to be, even in daylight. Any extra help to avoid being roadkill is advised.
Getting the best out of your road bike lights – Top tips
- Always charge your lights before a big ride
- Keep a set of budget silicone LED lights in your pack as a backup. They are light and affordable and could save your life.
- Never ride with your front light on full power in built-up areas. A blinded car driver is an accident waiting to happen.
- If it is safe to do so, stop to illuminate your rear light. We have had some near misses trying to turn on backlights in wet and dreary weather.
- Add extra lights to your helmet or pack to increase visibility.
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