How to Choose the Best Bike Light for You

How Long Can the Light Hold a Charge?

Along with brightness, one should consider a light's power source. Some are powered by standard batteries, while some by USB rechargeable batteries. The ones we looked at ranged from a single charge life of a low 1.5 hours (with supreme brightness) to an amazing 320 hours for a flashing Cateye HL-EL 135 (a low-cost commuter light).

Of the lights we reviewed, here are our favorites, ranging from the high end, to the most affordable lights:

NiteRider MiNewt 600 Cordless

Warning: do not stare directly at this light in its high beam setting! At 600 lumens, this is the brightest light we tested; however, it pays for that brightness with only a 1.5 hour charge at that level. If your bike commute is less than 1.5 hours, though, it is easily USB rechargeable while at work; or, with its "low" setting of 275 lumens, you can squeeze out 4.5 hours. At $150, you get a ton of illumination for the dollar! (niterider.com)

Nova Star

Like the NiteRider, this light is crazily bright, when on its full high beam—540 lumens—and gets 4 hours of battery life at that level (10 hours at 180 lumens). With a unique mounting strap, this light can also go on your helmet nicely. This is the newest bike light just now coming onto the market; so it has not been fully vetted by the public, in general; but, our test was quite positive, and those we know who have been using the Nova are very happy with it. At $135, it boasts of its value of "dollar per lumen." (ibikesafe.com)

Cateye Nano Shot

It was tough to choose between this excellent mid-range light, or Cateye's entry level HL-El 135. We chose the Nano, though, due to its combination of being quite lightweight, USB rechargeable, a very powerful beam of 250 lumens—all at a cost of $100. With Cateye's unique "opticube lens technology," also, the light seems even brighter. Quickie on the HL-EL 135: basic, easy commuter light—super long battery life (80-320 hours) ...just 20 bucks! (cateye.com)

Planet Bike Blaze

My son has been both a pedicab operator and bike messenger, and was quick to point me to Planet Bike's products. I can see why. As a company, Planet Bike is a strong supporter of bicycle advocacy, and their products are simple, straight-forward, and cost-effective. We tested the Blaze 1W which, at $46, up to 76 lumens, a battery life of 7-20 hours, and a super simple attachment/detachment mechanism makes it a nice, dependable, modest choice for the everyday commuter. (planetbike.com)

So, from $20 to $150 (and more), there are some terrific lights out there, to help you see and be seen in the early mornings and evenings.


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About the Author

Barry Siff

Barry Siff lives, trains, and works between Boulder and Tucson, along with his wife, Jodee, and dog, Jackpot. He is a member of the Timex Multisport and PowerBar Elite Teams, and serves on the USA Triathlon National Board of Directors.

Barry Siff lives, trains, and works between Boulder and Tucson, along with his wife, Jodee, and dog, Jackpot. He is a member of the Timex Multisport and PowerBar Elite Teams, and serves on the USA Triathlon National Board of Directors.

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