Are you on the lookout for a set of bike tail lights for your riding – day and night?
As someone who has been through numerous bike lights buying process, I know there are many questions in your mind right now, such as:
- How bright or how many lumens do I need?
- How long will the battery last me?
- Can I mount it on my seatpost, seat stays or even helmet?
Well, it’s normal to have those questions. In fact, you should be asking these questions.
So, here’s the list of best tail lights available in the market today.
Among them, you’ll find one that suits you – a compact, smart, good looking, bright or value for money.
Best Value - Cygolite Hotshot 100
If you’re looking for a bike tail light that is super bright and doesn’t blow a huge hole in your pocket, then this you should consider the Cygolite Hotshot 100.
By now you might be wondering what makes this light the budget option then?
I reckon it’s probably due to its design. It’s neither stylish nor sleek, but it definitely works and does its job well.
You can mount it on both the seatposts and seat stays with the 2 different mounts provided. The mounting system gives you the flexibility to tilt the light to your preferred angle, but it’s definitely not pretty.
It comes 6 different modes, which you easily adjust using a 2 button operation. The battery run time ranges between 2:30 hours and up to a whopping 270 hours running at minimum brightness.
Exposure Lights TraceR
The Exposure Lights TraceR ReAKT has plenty of brightness and long battery life in a very compact body.
Packing a 75 lumens LED into such a compact and lightweight body itself is a major achievement for British based Exposure Lights.
It’s the successor of the TraceR with big difference being the ReAKT (Ambient Kinetic Technology). In layman terms, the ReAKT is a combination of an accelerometer and ambient light sensor that are built into its electronics.
As you ride along roads with changing light conditions, the brightness will adapt accordingly to ensure you’re continuously visible. And as you brake and slow down, the blinking lights will change to a steady light, just like a car brake light.
Mounting these requires absolutely no tools at all using the silicon rubber straps and plastic mount provided in the box. However, you’ll need to purchase a separate mounting for aero seatposts.
Cateye Rapid X3
One thing that makes the CatEye Rapid X3 stand out is its Lumens to Size ratio.
The small, yet stylishly designed Rapid X3 delivers 100 Lumens at its maximum brightness. This is more than enough for you to be seen both during the day and night.
It’s solidly built as you would expect from any Japanese brands and especially from Cateye who has been in the business for more than 50 years.
Another thing I like about this light is you can mount it on both the seatpost and seat stays. It comes with rubber straps of various sizes to cater for this.
My only gripe with this model is that the rechargable USB port is covered by only a thin piece of rubber and prone to getting wet if you’re caught in a heavy downpour. I’ve had one sent in for warranty replacement due to this.
Knog Blinder Road R70
If you are in the market for a tail light that is brilliantly bright coupled with a sleek design, then look no further than the Knog Blinder Road R70.
With a total output of 70 Lumens, the Knog Blinder R70 makes you highly visible and will definitely grab the attention of drivers behind you.
Read More: Knog Blinder Road R70 Review
The Blinder R70 also brought a lot to the table by giving you the option to choose between 5 different light modes and runtime. My preferred mode is the Eco Flash as they last much longer at 20 hours and has a flash beam that attracts attention.
The LED’s are carefully placed at an angle don’t blind the drivers, but grab their attention instead.
Besides, I also like the fact that it’s 100% waterproof, dustproof and securely sealed.
Cygolite Hotshot Pro 200
With a 200 lumen output, the Cygolite Hotshot Pro 200 ensures that approaching cars will see you long before they pass you.
Cygolite produced its first LED blinking tail light in 1991 and has been designing lights for bikes ever since. Its latest offering, the Hotshot Pro 200, is quite simply the brightest tail light on the market.
It offers six different flash modes that allow you to adjust the tempo of the flashes. It also senses ambient lighting, allowing it to automatically adjust for brightness in the daytime and nighttime.
Mounting is a breeze with the Hotshot Pro 200’s flexible mount, which can be attached to both standard and aero seat posts. This light is equipped with a rechargeable lithium ion battery that provides up to 210 hours of run time.
Exposure Blaze Mk3
Want a light that will give you max visibility with some pretty cool smart functions?
The Blaze Mk3 is the light for you.
This light offers many options that all work together to make you more visible.
In addition to being very bright, you don’t have to worry about blinding your fellow riders. It includes ReAKT technology that gives this light some pretty cool smart functionality.
Riding in a group?
It will automatically dim when you are in the middle or front of the pack then brighten when you are at the back of the pack. The Blaze Mk3 will also detect ambient light conditions and adjust brightness accordingly, ensuring that you will be as visible as possible while not blinding other riders or drivers.
It is equipped with a lithium-ion battery that provides up to 48 hours of run time.
Garmin Varia RTL510
If you’re an owner of one of the wide variety of Garmin cycling computers, then the Garmin Varia RTL 510 (Radar Tail Light) is a must have.
This sleek tail light is equipped with a radar that senses approaching cars from up to 153 meters away. That’s more than one-and-a-half football fields!
It will then alert you audibly and visibly through your Garmin device. It has the capability to identify the speed of the oncoming car and will provide color warnings. An amber light indicates a car is approaching. A red light means a car is approaching at high speeds.
The Garmin Varia’s brightness ranges from 20 to 65 lumens depending on the mode and offers a 220-degree range of visibility. Battery life is up to 15 hours.
Hate bulky lights that hang conspicuously off your bike?
The Varia’s sleek vertical design makes it a very low profile option for serious riders. This unit does require a compatible Garmin device.
Cycliq’s founder got the idea of his cycling cams after getting pegged by a slingshot-wielding driver while out on a ride. If you’ve ever had a similar experience then you might be interested in the Fly6.
Cycliq is on a mission to get idiots off the road with this cycling cam.
The Fly6 is a 100-lumen tail light integrated with an HD bike camera that mounts to your seat post. Its ultra-wide hi-def lens is designed to have enough clarity to capture all the action including license plate numbers.
The camera records video footage on an SD card, looping after running out of space to avoid gaps. It is ANT+ and Bluetooth compatible, allowing it to interface with most Garmin computers and SmartPhone apps as well as the company’s CycliqPlus app, which allows you to edit uploaded video.
The Fly6 also includes a built-in bike alarm, which sends an alert to your Smartphone the moment your bike is moved.
See.Sense is the among the market pioneers that manufacturers smart rear bike lights today. The See.Sense ACE is the successor to their very popular ICON and ICON+ models.
The ACE is 125 lumens bright, bright enough to make you very visible on the darkest of roads. On top of that, the ACE features a 200° side visibility, increasing your visibility especially around urban areas.
So, there’s no reason for a driver not to notice you.
And better still, the ACE is both connected and intelligent.
It has built in sensors (accelerometer and light sensor) and an electronic circuitry that allows the ACE to adapt its brightness and flashing patterns according to the surroundings.
As you brake to slow down at junctions and roundabouts, the ACE will adapt accordingly to ensure you’re clearly visible by the cars behind.
For those who’re geeky, the ACE pairs to your smartphone where you can manually control the brightness, low battery indicators, set reminder to charge, firmware updates and even inform your loved ones in case you’re involved in a crash, with your exact location.
Essential Guide to Rear Bike Lights
The tail light’s brightness is the most important aspect you should consider before everything else.
Generally, the higher the lumens rating, the brighter it is. On the other hand, it would also consume more battery power.
PRO TIP : Get a tail light with at least 50 lumens for you to be clearly visible, both day and night.
2. Battery Life
Today, most bike tail lights manufactured by reputable brands usually have a long battery life.
You can expect up to 20 hours of battery life if you run them on flashing mode.
If you’re on a tight budget, there are still bike tail lights that runs on replaceable alkaline batteries but they’re getting lesser these days.
PRO TIP : USB rechargeable Li-Ion are the preferred type of batteries.
3. Type of Bulbs
You’d agree with me that the era of using lights bulbs is coming to an end, and everyone is changing to the use of LEDs.
LEDs are much brighter while consuming less power, last almost forever and doesn’t get hot.
PRO TIP : Go with LED’s.
4. Mounting Options
You might want to consider a tail light that gives you various mounting options.
Some of the common mounting locations are the seat post, seat stays, helmet or on the bike rack, if you have one.
Things get a little complicated if you have an aero or flat shaped seatpost where you choice of tail lights will be reduced.
PRO TIP : Go with a rubber strap mounting as they are stretchable over a range of seat post sizes and shapes.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. How do I mount the rear light on my road bike?
Many people would mount the tail light on the seatpost. Some lights have a separate mounting for aero seatpost since its shape is slightly different.
Personally, I’d prefer a mounting system that uses silicone or rubber straps as these fits all types of seatposts and easily replaceable should they break.
Alternatively, there are also tail lights that can be mounted on the seat stays if the mounting system supports it.
However, be aware that mounting it this way is not ideal as the light is pointing towards the sky at a 45 degrees angle rather than to the driver behind you.
2. What is the ideal number of lumens for a rear light to ensure I'm visible on the road?
Ideally, the more the better. But that’s easier said than done.
From my experience, anything above 70 lumens is considered very bright.
Another thing to consider is the type of light modes available. You’d want it to have blinking patterns that attracts attention rather than a solid red light.
3. Should I use a rear light during the day?
In fact, according to ROSPA, 80% of cycling accidents occur during the day especially in urban areas where there are many distractions for the drivers.
The tail light is one of the best gifts for a cyclist family or friend. A bright tail light, set on blinking mode would attract their attention and make you visible.
If you’re still not convinced, here are another 5 reasons why you should use bike lights.