Light systems for mountain biking serve a variety of purposes, but the best mountain bike lights can get pretty expensive. However, there are a number of fair-priced options that make up this list of the best budget mountain bike lights.
Lights are a useful bit of kit for mountain biking for a number of reasons. Of course, there is night riding, for when the winter days are too short or if you want to get out in the cool temperatures of a late summer evening.
Lights are also useful for bikepackers who may find themselves pedaling into the night or starting a route early in the morning. Lights can also be useful for riders who are pedaling on the road through traffic on the way back from the trails in dim light.
Most of the lights on this list are around the $100 price mark and offer fairly powerful brightness levels. Whether you are new to riding in the dark or an experienced night shredder, here is our selection of the best budget mountain bike lights.
If you're specifically after a light to fit to your lid, then check out our guide to the best MTB helmet lights.
Best budget mountain bike lights
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The Lumina 1200 offers 1200 lumens of light if you're running it at full blast. However, if you are using the full-power boost mode, the battery will only last for around an hour so you have to be careful. There are multiple modes, so it'll last three hours at 550 lumens, for example.
In our full review of the NiteRider Lumina 1200 Boost, we noticed that the light appears much brighter than what you would expect from a 1200 lumen unit. So even if the battery is a bit small, the light packs a big punch to help you see where you are going.
The Cateye AMPP 1100 / AMPP 800 combo light set combines a handlebar-mounted light with a helmet-mounted one. That gives you 1900 lumens total to light up the nighttime forest.
The handlebar light does the heavy lifting, generating a bright beam that will shine wherever you turn your handlebars. The helmet light fills in the details and adds some peripheral vision with its 800 lumens.
Both of these AMPP lights could be on this list on their own, but we think the combo price of $165 is geared perfectly for riders looking for a decent set of lights to hit the trails in the dark.
The Ion Comp R is an entry-level light from Bontrager. At 700 lumens, it isn't the brightest but will still work for mountain biking. It probably won't be good for the darkest of night adventures, but for introductory night riding it will do just fine.
Since it's made by Bontrager, it will be found easily in any store that sells Trek bikes, or it's easily bought online as well.
At full power, it will last 1.5 hours, or if you set it to 500 lumens then it'll last three hours. There's also a 300 lumen daytime flashing mode, which lasts 19 hours, and Bontrager claims it can be seen from 2km away. This light would also be ideal for commuting or riding on paved or gravel paths in the dark.
The Lezyne Lite Drive may look small but it packs a mighty punch deserving of the XL moniker. The unit is capable of producing 1000 lumens and will produce that at full blast for 1.5 hours. However, if you just want a little bit of road visibility for daytime riding, the 15 lumen mode will last for more than 80 hours.
There's also the option to pair it with a remote switch. If you choose the fully-loaded kit (currently sold out) you can get the light in addition to a remote, as well as a mounting strap and charging cable.
Considering the price of just $80, we are happy with the amount of power output that this light brings. Plus you can choose between a variety of colors, which is unique in the light market.
As you can tell, this light from Specialized can be mounted to the underside of the handlebars rather than on top, and that's not all that differs. The flux 850 uses a double beam pattern that the brand says creates a wider and brighter field of vision.
With a brightness/battery life of 850 lumens for 1.5 hours, this light is not the most powerful on the list. However, it is readily accessible at any shop that sells Specialized bikes. The double beam novelty probably justifies the $80 price tag, which is of course more affordable than the 1200 lumen version.
And don't be too scared of the unique mounting system as it will easily bolt on to 22.2, 25.4, or 31.8mm bars. It can also be mounted on top of or level with the handlebars if you prefer.
The Specialized Flashback is a great companion to any front light you may have. A rear light isn't essential for trail riding, but it is useful if you find yourself on a road with vehicle traffic mid-route or on your way back from the trails.
This rear light will flash at 20 lumens for four hours or 5 lumens for 20 hours. There is also a steady mode that lasts at 10 lumens for two hours. At $20 it's pretty affordable as well.
This rear light will last for nine hours while flashing at 250 lumens. If you drop the power down to 125 lumens, it will flash away for 14 hours.
Lezyne's rear light is super bright, lightweight, and easy to mount. Considering all of that, it's a good deal at $50. Strap it onto the rear of your bike using the clip and strap system and you have a brilliant light to keep you visible to traffic or to your buddies in the dark forest.
How to choose the best budget mountain bike lights
How bright should lights be?
No mountain bike light will be too bright, especially when you're riding deep in the dark woods. Speed also has a significant effect on how bright a light needs to be as you will need a greater lumen output to spot obstacles that you are quickly approaching. However, with more lumens comes the demand for more dollars. Some lights on this list are more than 1000 lumens, while others are less powerful. Brighter is generally better, but you also have to consider your light's battery life.
How much does battery life matter?
If you run your light at the maximum brightness level, you are going to run out of battery faster. You don't want to get stuck in the dark, so you should know what your light is capable of. Most lights on this list will have a battery life of 1.5 hours if you are running the light at full blast. However, battery life can be drastically increased if you use a less-bright mode, which all of these lights have.
Should I have a rear light?
Rear lights are not super necessary for mountain biking on singletrack, though they can keep you from getting separated from your riding partners. Where rear lights are essential are riding on the road with traffic, so you are more visible to drivers. If you are riding back from the trails at night, rear lights are helpful. They are also key if you find yourself commuting often or riding on paved or gravel paths and roads in dim light conditions. A basic rear light can be bought for very reasonable prices too and, as they don't need to be as bright as front lights, will generally have a long run time.