Whether your afternoon ride goes way later than you anticipated or you want to tear up the trails after work, you need a light to help you see the path ahead of you.
There are several great options on the market today, making the shopping process a little cumbersome. Go here if you’re after some road bike headlights.
We’re here to help by offering some product recommendations, in addition to information you need to understand before purchasing a mountain bike light, like:
- Brightness. How many lumens do you really need?
- Mounts. Do you prefer a light on your handlebars or your helmet?
- Battery life. Are you willing to sacrifice weight for a better battery?
We’ll walk you through the shopping process, offering up the pros and cons of each product and feature.
Here are 5 of the best mountain biking lights.
1. NiteRider Pro 4200 Enduro
When you’re mountain biking at night, the top priority is avoiding any obstacles that can flip you over the handlebars. The NiteRider Pro 4200 Enduro emits the kind of brightness that a mountain biker desires once the sun starts to set on those night rides.
Powered by 4,200 lumens and an impressive three-cone reflection system, this light setup features seven different modes, including a racing flash mode.
As the sun continues to set, you’ll want to adjust the brightness of your lights, which can be done via a remote switch. That means you don’t have to get off your bike to adjust your lights.
Yes, this mountain bike light is expensive. But if you’re one of those riders who takes off after work and rides until around 7 p.m. at night, you need something that’s bright enough to make sure traffic sees you and that you can see what’s well in front of you.
Simply put, this NiteRider light is an investment in safety.
2. Light & Motion Seca 2500 Enduro
With the power to double the brightness of your standard car headlight, the Light & Motion Seca 2500 Enduro is a very capable mountain bike light that’s engineered for that perfect ride after dusk.
At 2,500 lumens, the brightness is more than sufficient, but we really like how the light path was engineered.
Brightness is one thing, but directing that light in a logical position is even more important. It enhances a rider’s depth perception, which is extremely important when you want to avoid some sort of obstacle in your path.
The upper LEDs help brighten your surroundings, while the lower LEDs are diffused slightly differently to light up a larger field of vision.
Another nice feature with this Light & Motion light set is that it comes with a GoPro mount, which is pretty versatile. That allows you to attach to your helmet or to your handlebars, whichever you prefer best.
3. Knog PWR Mountain 2000
Compact and simple, the Knog PWR Mountain 2000 is a budget-friendly mountain bike light that packs a punch.
In terms of lighting up your ride, this Knog light is more than capable, although not as bright as some of the competition. Still, at 2,000 lumens, you ride with confidence after the sun sets.
This little light comes with some other really handy features.
First, the multiple light modes. It comes with the ones you expect, like high, medium, and low. But Knog actually lets you customize new modes that work best for you and your riding experience. There are six pre-programmed modes, but endless possibilities with customizing.
We also really like how this light doubles as a battery pack in case you need to juice up your phone or GoPro camera. The Knog PWR Mountain features a battery that can last 20 hours on the lowest setting, so you can probably spare some of its power in case your iPhone dies on you.
4. Gloworm XSV 3400
If you’re looking for a mountain bike light packed with accessories for versatility, the Gloworm XSV 3400 is a great option.
As the name implies, XSV gives off an excessive amount of light at 3,400 lumens. That’s certainly enough to light up your path.
We noticed that the light is most focused on what’s directly in front of the bike, and doesn’t illuminate as far as similar lights in its class.
As mentioned, this light comes with some great accessories. Our favorite is the remote that mounts to the handlebar. With an up and down function, you can easily cycle through the seven different light modes.
The light comes standard with a GoPro mount, but for a little extra, you can buy a compatible handlebar mount.
The battery pack for this Gloworm light attaches to the frame of your bike. We like how it has an easy-to-read indicator to show you how much power remains.
5. Exposure Six Pack Mk11
By implementing new light technology, the Exposure Six Pack Mk11 is the company’s brightest light setup to date, and it comes with an incredible battery pack that can let you bike in the dark for hours.
There’s plenty to like about these lights, but we’re most impressed with the Optimized Mode Selector and Reflex++ technology that can give you ultimate control when it comes to lumen output.
The six LEDs give out 3,600 lumens, which is plenty bright for pitch-black rides, but the Reflex++ technology can automatically adjust that output to help you save on battery and give you a boost to 5,000 lumens.
A great battery-saving option is the Optimized Mode Selector. You choose the runtime between two and 36 hours, and the light will do the rest, offering up the brightest and most efficient mode for your ride.
The Exposure Six Mk11 isn’t a cheap setup, but it’s certainly one of the smartest on our list.
Mountain Bike Lights Buyer’s Guide
Before buying a new mountain bike light, take a minute to understand the different technical aspects of these lights.
Use this guide to make the best-informed decision.
Light Brightness and Coverage
When it comes to lights, brightness is obviously important, but coverage can be the difference between you meeting face-to-face with a tree that you didn’t see coming up.
Brightness and Lumens
First, let’s discuss lumens. Most mountain bike lights are at least 2,000 lumens, which is comparable to a car headlight. In other words, it’s plenty bright.
Some lights, like the NiteRider Pro 4200 Enduro (4,200 lumens) doubles that brightness capacity, which would really allow you to ride in complete darkness.
There are always trade-offs with brightness. The brighter you, the more LEDs it likely requires. And the more LEDs you have, the heavier the setup.
Also, brighter lights can go through batteries pretty quickly.
Brightness is only as good as it can beam out in front of you, giving you a clear view of the path ahead.
Luckily, engineers have developed some incredible LED setups that reflect concentrated beams on your path.
The Light & Motion Seca 2500 features four LEDs, two of which are used for general brightness around your bike, and then two that are reflected to give you a clear path.
When testing these out, make sure to see where the light focuses. You obviously need to see your immediate surroundings, but you want a light with a long beam.
Light modes are important for a few reasons :
- Brightness. We don’t always need to be running at max power, especially if you start a ride as the sun is just beginning to set. A low or medium beam does just fine in those conditions.
- Emergencies. Many lights, including the Knog PWR Mountain 2000, includes a pulsing or strobe feature that can draw the attention of anyone nearby in case you’re injured and need help.
- Battery life. If you don’t need to run on high, cycling down to a lower mode can help keep your battery lasting long after your ride is done.
The Knog light understands the importance of different modes by offering a completely customizable light mode.
Battery Run Time
A mountain bike light isn’t much good without a long-lasting battery. Thankfully, battery technology has come a long way.
On high modes, most lights can get you nearly two hours of run-time, which is pretty good if you want to hit the trails at night for a 60- to 90-minute ride.
The lights that will last a little longer typically come with external battery packs that can attach to your bike frame, like the Gloworm XSV 3400.
Remember, the brighter you run, the quicker the battery is going to drain. So, take advantage of your light modes to run as efficiently as possible so you don’t run out of juice.
Many mountain bike lights today come with various mount options, which allow the rider to find the perfect setup that works best for them.
Here are the main types of mounts:
- Handlebar. Most lights come with a mount that goes on the handlebars, which makes the most sense. The lights are in the middle of your torso, so you can illuminate an area that’s balanced between the ground and what’s directly in front of you.
- Helmet. Helmet light mounts are pretty popular because the light goes where you’re looking. A couple downsides of helmet mounts is that the extra weight on your head can become uncomfortable. Also, if you move around a lot, the light will also move, which can be distracting.
- GoPro Style. Made popular by the camera company, the GoPro Style mount, as found on the Gloworm XSV 3400, is the most versatile, allowing you to clamp it to the handlebars or your helmet.
Mountain biking at night isn’t the easiest. Add in some water, it’s even more difficult.
So, hopefully you never find yourself in a situation where your light ends up in a pond or is downpoured on, but it’s probably going to happen at some point.
Look for a light with a good waterproof rating, which is measured using the IP rating system.
The NiteRider Pro 4200 Enduro Headlight, for instance, is IP64. The 6 stands for the highest level of dust protection. The 4 indicates it can handle heavy splashes of water (like heavy rains) for a minimum period of time.
Once that second number climbs 8, it means the device can be immersed in water.
Luckily, many mountain bike lights on the market today are extremely lightweight.
If weight is a concern for you, remember that the higher-capacity batteries are going to make the system heavier.
It’s all about tradeoffs when it comes to biking gear. If you only think you’ll go out for 30 to 60-minute rides, a smaller light, like the Knog PWR Mountain 2000, is a perfect option with a great battery that only weighs in at 365g.