Best budget mountain bike lights 2024 – ride after dark for less money

Best budget mountain bike lights: Quick Menu

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. Of course, lights are also a necessity for riders who are pedaling on the road through traffic on the way back from the trails in dim light. 

Our expert reviewers have tested out a selection of budget mountain bike lights to create this guide. Most of the lights on this list are around the $100 price mark and offer fairly powerful brightness levels. Our top budget light is the NiteRider Lumina 1200 Boost. 

Whether you are new to riding in the dark or an experienced night shredder, scroll down for our selection of the best budget mountain bike lights, or skip to the bottom to find out everything you need to know when choosing the best budget lights. If you're specifically after a light to fit to your helmet, then check out our guide to the best MTB helmet lights.

Best budget mountain bike lights 

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The quick list

1. Best overall

NiteRider Lumina 1200 Boost bike light

We found the light appears much brighter than you'd expect from a 1,200 lumen unit (Image credit: Guy Kesteven)
All-around handlebar-mounted light

Specifications

Lumens: 1,200 lumens
Weight: 172g

Reasons to buy

+
Focused power
+
Compact and tough
+
Solid universal mount
+
Instant Boost
+
OLED option
+
Safety lock
+
Fast charging

Reasons to avoid

-
Limited peripheral
-
No side shiners
-
Small battery

The Lumina 1200 offers 1,200 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 you would expect from a 1,200 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. 

2. Best combo light set

Cateye AMPP light set review

The handlebar and helmet-mounted lights give you 1,900 lumens in total  (Image credit: Guy Kesteven)
A handlebar and helmet light

Specifications

Lumens: 1,100 and 800 lumens
Weight: 223g (AMPP 1100) 143g (AMPP 800)

Reasons to buy

+
Broad beam patterns
+
Useful power
+
Fast recharge
+
Instant emergency max
+
Universal bar fit
+
Bundle gets you ‘free’ mount
+
Slow power transitions

Reasons to avoid

-
Mis-shaped GoPro shoe
-
Tall helmet mount
-
Bracket dial needs care

The Cateye AMPP 1100 / AMPP 800 combo light set combines a handlebar-mounted light with a helmet-mounted one. That gives you 1,900 lumens in 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. 

3. Best brightness

LifeLine Pavo 1400 Lumen Motion Front Light

1400 is an impressive lumen output for a budget light (Image credit: LifeLine)

LifeLine Pavo 1400 Lumen Motion

High power and long battery life handlebar or helmet light

Specifications

Lumens: 1400 lumens
Weight: 223g with mount

Reasons to buy

+
Impressive power
+
Long battery life at full power
+
Motion feature auto dims the light at a standstill
+
Compact body
+
31.8 and 35mm handlebar compatible

Reasons to avoid

-
Minimal modes
-
Long charge time
-
 Capped 1100 Lumen in constant mode

LifeLine's Pavo 1400 Lumen Motion light trumps almost all budget mountain bike lights in terms of power. The Pavo 1400 Lumen Motion pumps out up to 1400 lumens to light up the trail and road ahead, this doesn't come at the expense of battery life either. The Pavo 1400 is claimed to maintain full power for up to 2.5 hours making it great for longer night rides.

Lifeline has a minimal three constant codes and one flash but it also has a smart speed-sensitive motion feature. Motion control halves the light's power when the light comes to a standstill to conserve battery life, dropping the 1400 lumen to 700 lumen and the 700 lumen to 350 lumen.

The light comes with 31.8 and 35mm compatible handlebar mount and its small size means it would work well as a helmet mount too (helmet mount sold separately)

4. Best compact

Lezyne Litedrive

The unit is capable of producing 1,000 lumens at full blast for one and a half hours (Image credit: Lezyne)

Lezyne Lite Drive 1000XL

Small but mighty light from Lezyne

Specifications

Lumens: 1,000 lumens
Weight: 153g

Reasons to buy

+
Lightweight and low profile 
+
Good power to price ratio

Reasons to avoid

-
No side flashers 

The Lezyne Lite Drive may look compact but it packs a mighty punch deserving of the XL moniker. The unit is capable of producing 1,000 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. 

5. Best innovative

Specialized Flux 850

The unique mounting system will easily bolt on to 22.2, 25.4, or 31.8mm bars (Image credit: Specialized)

Specialized Flux 850

Innovative concept at an entry level price

Specifications

Lumens: 850 lumens
Weight: Unpublished

Reasons to buy

+
Double beam pattern
+
Good price for a double beam system

Reasons to avoid

-
Less powerful than some 
-
Slightly more complicated mounting system

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 1,200 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. 

6. Best minimalist rear light

Specialized tail light

It will flash at 20 lumens for four hours or 5 lumens for 20 hours (Image credit: Specialized)

Specialized Flashback

Minimalist rear safety light

Specifications

Lumens: 20 lumens
Weight: Unpublished

Reasons to buy

+
Small and light 
+
Mounts nearly anywhere
+
Cheap

Reasons to avoid

-
Not the brightest

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. 

7. Best bright rear light

Lezyne Tail light

This rear light will last for 14 hours while flashing at 125 lumens (Image credit: Lezyne)

Lezyne Zecto Drive Max

Small but bright rear light

Specifications

Lumens: 250
Weight: 69g

Reasons to buy

+
Small and light 
+
Good price 
+
Bright

Reasons to avoid

-
Strap can be fiddly

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 1,000 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 dramatically 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 is for 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, they will generally have a long run time. 

Ryan Simonovich

Ryan Simonovich has been riding and racing for nearly a decade. He got his start as a cross-country mountain bike racer in California, where he cultivated his love for riding all types of bikes. Ryan eventually gravitated toward enduro and downhill racing but has also been found in the occasional road and cyclo-cross events. Today, he regularly rides the trails of Durango, Colorado, and is aiming to make a career out of chronicling the sport of cycling. 

Rides: Santa Cruz Hightower, Specialized Tarmac SL4

With contributions from