2. Best value
The days may be getting shorter and darker as we head into fall (aka autumn) and winter, but that doesn't mean it's time to hang up your riding shoes. With the best mountain bike lights, you can keep pedaling for hours after the sun has said goodnight. Late summertime night rides can also offer up an adventure through the darkness at more palatable temperatures. Plus, the best mountain bike lights are essential for any bikepacking trip where you plan on venturing into the unknown.
A night-time mountain bike ride will also put a whole new spin on your local trails, as features cast unnerving shadows on the trail. Speeding between trees in the dark is demanding on a light setup and, like everything else in the bike industry, the best mountain bike lights are improving faster than the speed of… well, you get the idea.
Manufacturers are pushing out higher lumens, batteries are getting smaller and the burn times ever longer. After all, the last thing you want is for the lights to go out mid-ride.
So don't let the darkness prevent you from getting out onto the trails. Our expert reviewers have been on the case to assemble this list of the best front and rear mountain bike lights, checking out their brightness, run time, and extra features. Our top pick is the Exposure Six Pack Mk12, and our budget choice is the Magicshine RN3000.
Scroll down for our list of the best mountain bike lights, front and rear, or skip to the bottom to find out everything you need to know when choosing the best mountain bike lights. If you are weighing up all the different options, you may also want to check out our guides to the best budget mountain bike lights and the best MTB helmet lights too.
Best mountain bike lights
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The quick list
Best front light overall
Best front mountain bike overall
A fantastic light with 5,250 lumens on tap, and some innovative tech that maximizes battery life and usability.
Best value mountain bike light
A great light with a broad beam output, generous run times, and a useful power bank facility at a killer price.
Best app tuning
Best app tuning mountain bike light
Excellent light with version two bringing more power, smarter, more communicative batteries, and app tuning.
Best helmet light
Best helmet mountain bike light
A fantastic helmet light, with superb build quality, a powerful light beam, and genuinely useful tech options.
Best combo light set
Best combo mountain bike light set
A really useful, reliable bundle with excellent beam spreads, instant max power, and relatively long run times.
Best durable mountain bike light
A compact and tough light with a focused beam that works great for faster road and less tech off-road riding.
See the next 7 lights ↓
Best run time
Best run time mountain bike light
It's a bit of a beast but it’s big on power, with long run times, and a range of practical features.
Best small headlight
Best small headlight mountain bike light
Bombproof reliability and tunable performance make the Alpha a small but versatile night fighter.
Best rear light overall
Best rear mountain bike light overall
A great rear light with excellent wraparound visibility that offers reliable performance and decent battery life.
Best bright rear light
Best bright rear mountain bike light
A simple but powerful rear light that will keep you visible day or night.
Best smart features
Best smart features mountain bike light
A robust, durable rear light that uses Exposure's clever Peloton and ReAKT technology.
Best ANT+ connectivity
Best ANT+ connectivity mountain bike light
A lightweight rear light with 12-hour day-flash mode and ANT+ connectivity.
Best all-round visibility
Best all-round visibility mountain bike light
A rear light that offers a wide 260-degrees field of visibility, and a powerful day time mode.
Best mountain bike front lights
1. Best front light overall
Exposure incrementally improves its lights each year, and its Six Pack Mk12 is its most powerful light, with a maximum constant output of 3,750 from six white XPL2 (W3) LEDs powered by an internal 17,000mAH Li-Ion battery. The run time ranges between 2 and 36 hours, depending on which of the 10 pre-programmed settings is selected.
Exposure’s expertise in optimizing run time has led to Reflex+ technology, which can be accessed in programs 1 to 3. Reflex+ uses onboard sensors to calculate when you’re riding downhill and will automatically boost the light output, which will then automatically dim when back on the level or riding uphill.
The Six Pack is supplied with a handlebar bracket that can accommodate 31.8mm and 35mm handlebars and incorporates a neat quick-release function that allows for fast removal of the light for charging. We found fitting it was a cinch.
In our tests, we spent most of our time in program 1, which provides the brightest illumination and benefits from the Reflex+ technology. The 3,750 lumens continuous output in the High setting is already impressive, providing a broad beam pattern to capture all the trail features directly in front of you. This gives at least 25 meters of illumination down the trail as well as a good spread to the sides as well. Once the onboard sensors have detected you’re heading downhill, the output seamlessly increases to its maximum 5,250 lumens.
There’s no avoiding the fact that the Six Pack Mk12 is expensive, but you’re getting the latest LED technology with innovations to maximize run time and improve usability out on the trail. It’s a fantastic piece of kit.
Check out our full Exposure Six Pack Mk12 review.
2. Best value
Magicshine makes some of the best budget MTB lights, and it's not just a high-lumen output for a low cash input that makes them shine. Things like the full metal body, side ribs, and laser-etched logos mean the RN3000 feels far more premium than it actually is.
It's packed with neat features too – the IPX6 waterproof rating keeps the rain out while opting for a neat quarter-turn mount makes things simple and secure. USB-C charges the device as well as functioning as a power bank if you can spare some juice from the 10,000 mAh battery. Run times are decent as well, and we found the RN3000 can pump out the 3,000 max lumen output for around two hours and 19 minutes.
The bright, broad beam output is enough to ride without compromise even in complex situations. We opted to set it in the middle power setting which still pushes plenty of lumens for nighttime riding without needing to worry about battery life. Our only gripe is that there is very limited low-battery communication, but considering the price and battery life on offer, we still think this is a great light.
For more details, check out our full Magicshine RN3000 review.
3. Best app tuning
If you’re looking for a super-versatile yet very durable light for serious mountain bike use then New Zealand brand Gloworm is awesome.
The XSV is the most powerful light in the range with three LEDs giving up to 3,600 lumens of output. The new Generation 2.0 XSV (eXceSsiVe) has been upped by 200 lumens and has three different power settings as standard. However, a neat feature allows riders to customize their own power percentage settings. Plus, it comes with a bar-mounted Bluetooth remote that can operate two different lights at the same time.
The default setup uses a central honeycomb lens which gives tons of punch and reasonable peripheral vision. You can unbolt the faceplate (hex key provided) to swap these lenses for either another spot or honeycomb lens or a wide-ribbed diffuser lens to suit trail conditions.
Read more about the Gloworm G2.0 X2 and XSV lights in our review.
4. Best helmet light
New for 2023 comes the Mk2 version of the Exposure Zenith – which with it's improved light beam knocked the original version off our best helmet light top spot.
While the dimensions of the ultra-robust stainless steel body remain the same as the original Zenith, the Mk2 version boosts maximum light output to 2,100 lumens increasing the beam length and width.
Both models feature Exposure's Tap technology which enables you to cycle through three light modes by tapping on the body of the light and accelerometers which vary light output depending on the speed that you're traveling, giving you more light the faster you go and less when traveling slowly. Eight different light settings give you lots of control and you also have the option to turn the tap function on or off.
For more information, see our full Exposure Zenith Mk2 review.
5. Best combo light set
Cateye has been pushing bike light performance since it introduced the first Stadium Metal Halide lamp in the early 90s, but its latest light twin set is all about practicality.
The AMPP range has rolled in as a more all-around option with bigger side windows that make for a much broader beam and better side recognition. Unsurprisingly, maximum reach suffers so they’re not as good for flat-out riding but for more general riding off-road and on it’ll be a win for most people.
Communication of battery life is improved too, with a three-stage traffic light color change on the power button. You can double-click straight to high power from anywhere in the five-mode menu and then single-click back again which is great for surprise sketchy situations.
The FlexTight brackets have been slightly refined and the simple ‘worm drive’ strap system gives a secure mount on all bar sizes as long as you don’t lose the loose thumbwheel while it’s undone.
While you can buy each light separately (for $99.95 and $64.95, respectively) this AMPP 1100 / AMPP 800 combo comes with a (slightly tall but useable) helmet mount, as well as a GoPro-style shoe to create a relatively affordable do-it-all double act.
Read our AMPP 1100 / AMPP 800 combo review if you are looking for a new twin light setup.
6. Best bulletproof
While most lights we test are slightly disappointing compared to their claimed numbers the Lumina consistently had our reviewers asking, "are you sure this is only 1,200 lumens?". A lot of that is due to the fact that the single LED beam is tightly focused so projects its light a long way down the trail, literally throwing serious shade on allegedly similar power lights during testing. Unsurprisingly, that does mean more of a tunnel vision effect as the light drops off dramatically outside the main beam. That’s fine if you’re into speed on trails you know well and it makes a great helmet light if you buy the appropriate mount separately. However, if you’re wandering around on twisty tech stuff or wondering what just made that noise in the bushes over there the limited spread might freak you out.
There are seven modes including flash for traffic to help eke out battery life. Wherever you are in the menu a double-click of the button gets you straight back to ‘Boost’ too, which is a lifesaver if things suddenly get sketchy.
View our full NiteRider Lumina 1200 Boost review to find out why this simple light is seriously punchy for its price.
7. Best run time
Canopus is the latest big power light from Moon and it’s a heavily armored setup in terms of battery and head unit, too. That adds some bulk and potential frame mount issues but if you want enduro power lighting with the toughness to match then it’s well worth a look.
The four-LED body sits in the center of a large alloy heat sink case which reduces the risk of overheating (causing an automatic power drop) or burnt fingers when running at the 3,600-lumen max. That’s overkill for most trail conditions, though, so we generally ran it in the 2,500- and 1,600-lumen modes. These give impressive three- and four-hour run times from the long alloy body battery pack. This gets twin straps and guide loops to keep it stable but the sheer length may cause fit issues on some curvy frames. It also adds a lot of weight to the system but it’s very crash-proof. The connectors and leads are all heavy-duty too, as is the ‘out front’ style handlebar mount. It also with an extension cable and a helmet mount.
The fact it’s USB-charged rather than needing a separate specific charger adds convenience and reduces cost. Having long run times to play with partially offsets the fact it only gives basic charge and run-time information, too, but we’d definitely prefer a more communicative setup.
If you're looking for the most lumens possible, the Moon Canopus may be an ideal solution.
8. Best small headlight
The two-piece design of the Gloworm Alpha won’t suit everyone, but the lightweight performance, versatility, reliability, tuneability, and included accessories bundle make it an awesome night riding investment for most applications.
We've rarely struggled for illumination and detail on the trail when using the Alpha, thanks to its well-balanced default optics with an appropriately long-reach and mid-spread beam. You also get a spare spot and wide optics in the box to focus or widen the beam as needed.
The Gloworm Alpha features the brand's proven hard case 3.4mAh battery cell, which means you still get over two hours of full power run-time even in the cold. Alternatively, the Alpha Plus model ships with a 6.8mAh battery for double the range, and all lights get a country-configured smart charger. Gloworm batteries are also compatible with Magicshine/Bikeray/Gemini lights in an emergency.
The only small niggle is that the small lens ‘hood’ added to the topside of the light – while it stops glare into your eyes when using it on the bar ‘the right way up’, it also slightly limits downward spread and ground context when inverted on a combination ‘out front’ bracket. Even so, this is a usefully bright light with super-comprehensive hardware and software tuneability – an awesome, affordable entry point into the super-reliable and versatile Gloworm range. Check out our full Gloworm Alpha review.
Best mountain bike rear lights
9. Best rear light overall
Knog's goal is obvious from the design of the Cobber Mid, with a wraparound LED output Knog has maximized the field of view offering 330 degrees of light to keep you as safe as possible. Lumen output is impressive as well and the Cobber Mid is capable of 170 lumens. The small unit size makes it easy to mount in a variety of places and an IP67 waterproofing rating means it won't be drowned in your wheel-spray.
There is a low battery indicator to prompt charging which takes a claimed four hours from empty to full charge. You don't need a cable as the charger is built-in although depending on your available USB charging source it may be awkward due to the placement of the charger.
10. Best bright rear light
At the top of Lezyne’s rear light range, the Strip Drive Pro features five LEDs that offer 11 modes, including a 300-lumen day-flash mode. These modes should cater to all riding conditions and consist of three constant modes, six flashing modes, and two modes for daytime riding. A memory function remembers the last mode that you used allowing a quick start-up to your preferred setting. To change settings, the single button on the top is used to cycle through the modes.
An elastic strap is used for mounting and is designed to fit a range of seat post sizes and shapes. Charging only takes two hours using a handy built-in USB plug, although it won't work with all charging devices due to its position on the light.
11. Best smart features
Exposure’s Blaze Mk3 brings some clever ideas to the market with its ReAKT and Peloton technology. Introduced on the Mk2, ReAKT adapts to ambient light levels to ensure you are always visible in changeable light conditions. ReAKT also uses Ambient Kinetic Technology to detect braking forces which flares the light to 150 lumens, dramatically increasing visibility. Peloton mode is a new feature that adapts the ReAKT technology for group riding. The Blaze Mk3 will dim if a drafting rider’s front light is detected to avoid dazzling, it will also automatically increase light output when at the back of a group.
The Blaze Mk3 is robustly built from aluminum and water resistance rated to IPX6. Charging takes four hours and uses a proprietary Exposure cable that charges from a USB port.
12. Best ANT+ connectivity
Bontrager has been an advocate of daytime lights for several years and has developed specific light-focusing optics and flash patterns for daytime visibility. Its rear Flare model has been updated and the Flare RT 2 returns with a claimed 36 percent weight reduction and 40 percent more lumens. The Flare offers convenience by connecting to compatible Garmin GPS units via ANT+ allowing the rider to control their lights and monitor battery life wirelessly from the handlebars. An ambient light sensor will manage light output, optimizing for the surrounding environment and saving battery life when possible.
An impressive 12-hour day-flash mode offers 45 lumens for long rides plus a 30-minute low power mode once a five percent battery is reached. The Flare RT 2 can be recharged back to full in around two hours from a USB mains supply.
13. Best all-round visibility
Whether or not the Sentry Aero 260’s odd shape actually offers any aero benefits may be up for debate, but it certainly offers a wide 260-degree field of visibility. The elongated length, dual-LED strips, and internal reflectors give the Sentry Aero 260 a very competitive performance in this regard. Lighting options are spread over six modes (two constant, three flashing, and one daylight-visible flash), however, NiteRider does not provide a breakdown regarding the lumen outputs of these settings.
Burn times are stated as between a claimed four and a half hours and 30 hours. A battery indicator flashes upon powering down to indicate when charging is required and charging is a quick two and a half hours via a USB cable.
How to choose the best mountain bike lights
How many lumens do you need for mountain biking at night?
With advancements in LEDs and batteries, it's possible to buy bike lights that are several times more powerful than car headlights. Lights are rated in lumens but it's an imperfect measure because the calculation is based on the LED power and battery charge in ideal conditions. In the real world, lights deal with limitations created by circuitry, and thermal rollback – that is, when a light automatically reduces its output to prevent it from bursting into flames.
Most lights designed for trail riding are rated to a minimum of 1,500 lumens, though if you're using a bar and helmet setup, you can get away with closer to 1,000 lumens depending on how fast you ride. If you're just running a bar-mounted light, buy the brightest unit you can afford.
Are bar or helmet-mounted lights better?
In a light system, bar-mounted lights should provide the majority of the lumens, flooding a wide beam down the trail. Mounted below your eye line, this light creates shadows helping you to spot rollers, rocks, and roots as well as creating some depth perception.
Helmet-mounted lights shine where you're looking, helping you see around corners, over rocks and anywhere your bars aren't pointing. This light doesn't need to have the power of the sun and should have a tighter beam pattern than your bar lights.
If possible the best option is to have both helmet and handlebar-mounted lights simultaneously to get the advantages of both setups to illuminate as much of the trail as possible.
Does beam shape matter?
When we talk about lights, lumen count usually grabs the headlines, but the beam shape is equally, if not more important. Ideally, you want something that will have a smooth transition from flood to spotlight with no dark spots or hotspots as this can distract from the trail.
If you're doing lots of high-speed riding and your trails aren't all that curvy, a narrow spotlight beam will suit, but if your local singletrack is twisty and more technical, look for something wide and bright.
What type of battery is best?
Pretty much every light will use a rechargeable lithium-ion battery. Some lights will be completely self-contained, while others will use a separate battery pack.
Self-contained lights eliminate the awkward cables and cumbersome battery packs, however, they are usually bigger and considerably more substantial.
For lights that have a battery pack, consisting of the head and the battery; you'll need to find somewhere to put the power pack, either on your bike or in a backpack. As batteries degrade over time, external packs can be replaced or upgraded, and some brands offer options with different capacities.
How much battery life do I need?
A light that won't last the entire duration of the ride is about as useful as a puffy jacket in the middle of summer. Take into account how long you're planning to ride (keeping in mind that you're probably going to be slower in the dark) and factor in some extra time.
Also, keep in mind that many batteries are affected by temperature, and the cold can have a severe effect on run time. If you live in an area where nighttime temps go below freezing, consider buying a bigger battery or storing it somewhere that's insulated from the cold.
Knowing how much juice your light has left is also vitally important. Some lights have rudimentary green, orange, and red battery indicator lights, while others will show you the time or percentage remaining.
Do I need a rear light?
Rear lights for mountain biking are less important as you don't need to be visible to traffic while on the trail. However, if you do need to ride on the road, whether as a connection between trails or in case of emergency, you will need a rear light so that cars can see you in the dark. Rear lights are also a nice safety feature for riding on the road in the daytime. A rear light will make you more visible to drivers.
A rear light doesn't need to be as bright as your front and we recommend looking for a 70-lumen rear light for general countryside and city riding. All rear lights will have at least a constant and flashing mode these days although different brands will offer various power modes and flashing patterns that are designed to increase visibility. Daylight modes differ from standard night modes as they rely on disruptive flash patterns to attract attention.
Fitting commonly uses silicon straps to mount lights to a seatpost, and is easy to attach or remove quickly. While most lights will accommodate a wide range of seat post sizes it is still worth considering fitting options. Especially important if you have a dropper seatpost or are looking to mount your light to seat stays, helmet, or saddlebag.