Knog Blinder ARC 640 Front Light$120 1 of 6
The look and feel of the ARC 640 from Knog is definitely sturdy and well built. The 640 lumens are powerful enough for almost any type of road riding. Trails? Well, we certainly wouldn't recommend it during a midnight solo ride on a singletrack. But, you can use it as an extra helmet light, and mounting is pretty easy.
On the downside, we couldn't get the silicone mounting straps to stay securely on the handlebar. The slightest of bumps made the light tilt backward, no matter how tight we strapped it down.
Light & Motion Urban 800 Commuter Combo$220 2 of 6
Named the 800 for the 800 lumens emitted by the front light, this combo from Light & Motion packs a lot of punch for the price. Though marketed for commuters, we had no problems using it for training rides on the road or trail. Even on fast descents, the high setting will give you plenty of light in complete darkness.
Though the headlight is an excellent value on its own at $150, the 70-lumen taillight was among the best we tested as far as visibility is concerned. It's so bright that we feel confident in saying oncoming traffic will see you farther than half a mile away during day or night-time use. And the side light design that allows 180-degrees of visibility is both smart and functional. Our lone criticism of the combo is the strap that threads through the mounting bracket, which is thin and isn't extremely durable.
Bontrager Flare R Taillight$59.99 3 of 6
The Bontrager Flare R is one powerful taillight. While its 70 lumens go toe-to-toe with the VIS 180 Silvermoon from Light & Motion, the Flare R gets the edge because of its compact design and secure mount. The rubber straps are tough and durable, and we had no movement problems even when riding on the roughest roads.
Bontrager also claims traffic can see you up to 2 km away during the day, which gives you an idea of just how bright it really is. Factor in the $59 price tag, and you've got a great light at an outstanding value.
Lezyne Macro/Micro Pair$109.99 4 of 6
We've always been a fan of Lezyne because of the quality of its products. This set, which includes a sturdy aluminum casing and simple design that should last, reaffirms our positive opinion. The 400-lumen macro headlight was the better of the two—its slender design and easy push button functions didn't get in the way on the bike.
The micro taillight has a similar function and shape but didn't work as well on our seat post. You may not find this to be an issue if your seat post is round: Ours isn't, and the cylinder shape held by the plastic bracket and rubber strap was impossible to mount. While the shape works on the front, it looks sort of strange on the back. The 70 lumens do provide good visibility, but the light wasn't as good during the day as some of the others.
Cateye Volt 700$120 5 of 6
Of the headlights we tested, the Volt 700 takes home the prize as the best. The compact size doesn't dominate the top of your handlebar, and the range of light was a pleasant surprise. The reach of the light was substantial without sacrificing good middle-distance range, providing the kind of balance that a lot of other lights don't offer—particularly in this price range.
One of the coolest features of the Volt 700 is the detachable battery that allows you to keep the light on the bike so you don't have to fiddle with straps every time you want to charge it. The design is simple, charging is quick, and the outer housing seems sturdy and solid. What more can you ask for in a 700-lumen light?