Lights are an essential part of any cyclists kit, whether you ride for business or pleasure. Set up safely, with white at the front, red at the rear and do a pre-ride battery check before you pedal off.
One development in technology is making things much easier on that front; lights that are rechargeable via a USB port.
They are more efficient, eco-friendly, and considerably less faff - you’ll never need to worry about the battery going flat halfway home leaving you searching high and low for an elusive odd-sized flat battery.
There are a huge range of options both in type and lumens; everything from compact lights for city use through to massive, floodlight-esque off road behemoths. Plus, with options at every price point along the way, there's no excuse not to light up.
Just pop them off your bike when you arrive at work or home, plug them into your computer, and they can sit there, merrily charging up their battery ready for home time deployment or a post-work night ride.
As a general rule, the more money you fork out, the brighter the light and the longer the battery life, though the latter tapers off again as you get into the really powerful ones.
If you’re not sure where to begin with bike lights, or why you should be using them - apart from the fact it’s the law! – then check out our beginners guide.
[part title="Knog Blinder 1 Front Light, RRP £21.99"]
Introducing the Knog Blinder 1. The reigning champions of cute bike lights that also perform, Knog have a selection of USB rechargeable lights with a huge range of colours and styles. Whether you like pink flowers or are more about red stripes or silver skulls, there’s a light to suit you and your bike.
A 2-hour battery life on the constant mode should be enough to get most commuters home, and up to 11 hours on the eco flash mode – so expect somewhere in between depending on personal preference and environment. You might want to run it a bit brighter.
These lights also attach with a stretchy rubber catch, so they are easy to take off the bike when you arrive at your destination. Don’t leave them on, as there’s a very high chance they’ll go walkies.
Suitable for: Urban riders/commuters, on generally well-lit roads. These are for being seen, not for lighting up dark roads.
Front and rear? Yes, Knog Blinder 1 Rear
[part title="Cateye Volt 300 Front USB Rechargeable Light, RRP £49.00"]
Well-known for making some of the most commonly used and highly rated bike lights on the market, Cateye bring this bright USB light offering to the market; the Volt 300.
3 hours ride time on constant and a whopping 60 hours on flashing mode should mean you don’t need to charge this up all that often if you are using it for commuting.
You can also get spare battery sets, so you can have one spare charged battery in your bag ready to swap over, which is great news if you are planning some really long evening road rides, or want to keep using the light as one battery charges.
This attaches with a plastic bracket that stays on your bike, and you just slide and click the light on and off this.
Suitable for: Seeing and being seen on dark, unlit roads. Great for road riders on evening rides, or commuters riding in early or late in less well lit areas.
Front and rear? Cateye Volt 50 USB rechargeable light
Other options at this price-point: Lezyne Macro Drive front and rear lights
[part title="Lezyne Powerdrive XL Front Light, RRP £84.99"]
Lezyne are known for making beautifully-machined, elegant tools, equipment and accessories. The Powerdrive XL, with it’s sleek aluminium shell, make this a good looking light – and more importantly, mean it can more than handle a little rough treatment.
Pay a bit more and get the light with a ‘fully loaded’ pack that includes various mounts and a spare battery, so you can have an extra one charged and on standby. You won’t need to worry about running out of juice halfway round a spooky pitch black trail!
This price-point makes it a good entry-level bright light, for example if you are thinking of trying night riding. You can also get helmet mounts, so if you upgrade your main light, you could use this on your helmet as a second light or keep it as your primary illumination.
As the brightness of the lights takes a jump around this price, the battery life decreases - the emphasis with these lights is as bright as possible rather than running for as long as possible. So for this light expect 1.30 on its highest setting, 7 hours on economy and 11.30 hours on the flashing setting - a good compromise, we think.
Suitable for: Lighting up the dark ahead, whether that’s an off-road mountain biking trail or a dark country lane. It’s also versatile enough to be used for commuting too – just be careful to put it on the lower brightness setting or you’ll end up dazzling other road users.
Front and rear: No, white light only.
[part title="Exposure Sirius Mk 1 Front Light, RRP £114.95"]
The Exposure Sirius Mk 1 is aimed at the serious commuter, who really wants to light up the road and make sure they're seen. The light, like the previous ones we've shown, has a pulsing mode to catch drivers attention.
From about the £80 price point up you are getting into lights that are designed to be used in dark, unlit conditions. It comes with a handlebar mount as standard, and there are also helmet compatible mounts available.
With 2 hours of light at the brightest setting, you should have time for a blast around your local trails after work. 6 hours on the lowest setting will see you home.
Suitable for: Night riding on dark trails, or unlit roads.
Rear light? No
Other options at this price point: The Hope Vision 1 LED Front Light
[part title="Exposure Reflex Mk2 Front Light, RRP £434.95"]
If you're looking to really illuminate the trail ahead, and want to see what this kind of money gets you, then check out the Exposure Reflex Mk 2. This is at the high end of bike lights, and is definitely aimed at off-road mountain bikers.
With a whopping 2,200 lumens of light output (for reference, the Knog Blinder lights pump out about 80 lumens) this will light up the way ahead clear and bright, just be careful not to look at it directly!
The battery life is between 2 and 36 hours - pretty impressive for a light without an external battery pack. The variation in battery life is linked to a particular feature of these lights - the Exposure Reflex Technology.
The light senses its surroundings, so it knows when you are climbing and when you are descending. On the up, it drops the output, saving battery power so it can increase its illumination when you need on the downhill sections. Clever, huh?
There's a raft of other features (weather proof casing, gold plated contacts, digital gauge so you know the battery levels) which go towards why this light is the price it is - it's a lot of money, but you get a lot for it if night riding is your thing.
RRP: £434.95 (many discounted online)
Suitable for: The off-road mountain biking enthusiast, who likes dark trails on moonless nights.
Rear light? No