Don’t let shorter days stop you from riding, with the best MTB helmet lights you can ride fast and far all winter long. Night riding can make trails you know like the back of your hand feel like exciting new places but to get the most out of riding in the dark the right light setup is an absolute must.
The best MTB helmet lights pair up perfectly with another of the best mountain bike lights mounted to the handlebar to give you the best off-road night riding experience.
The bar-mounted light shows where your bike is pointed, but your helmet light is essential for scanning ahead down the trail so you can see and anticipate corners and other trail features as it illuminates where you’re looking. And if you're looking for a new lid to perch your light on, why not have a look at our guide to the best mountain bike helmets once you've finished reading this?
Our experts have tested the best MTB helmet lights and coming top of our list is the Exposure Zenith which in its latest Mk3 version boasts a 2,200-lumen output and a range of level settings with a super-easy touch-based shifting system. It’s a fairly hefty investment, but it’s worth it for a bombproof product that will last well and light up the night – Exposure is well known for its excellent service should you have any issues too. If you are after a budget buy, our best value pick is the Light and Motion VIS Pro 1000 Trail light, and be sure to check out our best budget mountain bike lights guide too.
Read on for our full list of the best helmet MTB lights, and if you’re not sure what you’re looking for, skip ahead to the bottom of this article for our guide on how to choose the best helmet lights for you.
Best MTB helmet lights
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The quick list
Best MTB helmet light overall
The best on the market, with superb build quality, a powerful light beam, and genuinely useful tech options.
Best value MTB helmet light
A great budget-friendly, versatile helmet light with a long run time for all-night rides.
Best multiple beam
Best multiple beam MTB helmet light
Remote-control helmet light with multiple lens options to change beam pattern.
Best helmet mount
Best helmet mount MTB helmet light
Exposure's second-most powerful helmet light offers 1,800 lumens and TAP technology.
Best lightweight MTB helmet light
A tiny light that packs a seriously bright punch with a maximum of 2,100 lumens.
Best compact MTB helmet light
A compact and robust light with a great run time for its size, at an accessible price.
1. Best overall
New for 2023 comes the Mk3 version of the Exposure Zenith, which with its improved light beam knocks the Mk2 version off our best helmet light top spot.
While the dimensions of the ultra-robust stainless steel body remain the same as the previous Zeniths, the Mk3 version boosts maximum light output to 2,200 lumens increasing the beam length and width.
All three 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.
2. Best value
A more budget-friendly choice, the Light and Motion VIS Pro 1000 Trail light offers versatility for mountain bikers, gravel riders, and endurance cyclists. In fact, it’s great for anyone who likes to ride through the night.
It offers an hour and a half run time at full brightness, but if you want to also use it for commuting then you get a whopping 720hrs at the 500 lumen ‘safe pulse’ setting. It also charges impressively fast, getting a full charge in only 2.5 hours.
A range of included mounts means you can pop it on your helmet, your handlebars, or your GoPro mounts.
3. Best multiple beam
Gloworm makes very good bike lights and all the models we’ve tested on BikePerfect have exceeded our expectations. The X2 Adventure is no exception. The twin super-bright LEDs provide a whopping 2,000 lumens of light with a beam that can be adapted using the included lens options. Spot and wide options mean you can tailor your light to suit conditions and complement the other lights you are using.
Once affixed to the helmet, it can be controlled remotely using either the Gloworm Link app or by a Bluetooth remote that attaches to the handlebars, which we found handy.
It does use an external battery pack, however, which makes it a little more complicated in setup but once you’re loaded, you’re ready to ride and you’ll have no trouble seeing where you’re headed.
For more information see our Gloworm G2.0 X2 and XSV Adventure review.
4. Best helmet mount
The Diablo is Exposure’s second most powerful helmet light, and it’s an impressive offering. Low weight makes it unobtrusive in terms of neck load and it’s supplied with Exposure’s signature double-disc helmet mount, which is frankly brilliant.
Three XPL2 LEDs behind slightly detracting lenses emit a maximum of 1,800 lumens. In our tests, we found this gives some spread to the beam outside of a noticeably brighter center spotlight so it actually works fine as a road/gravel or less techy/twisty MTB bar light using the supplied O-ring mount. Run time is fairly short though and you need to tune the cunning TAP technology to your riding style, as it lacks wireless control or custom tuning.
It’s definitely very expensive compared to similar power lamps from other brands, but the details of the Diablo in terms of light quality, neat mounts, and manufacturer support do elevate it to another level.
Check out our full Exposure Diablo Mk12 review.
5. Best lightweight
Don’t let its small size fool you; the Lupine Piko packs a seriously bright punch. This versatile helmet light produces a diffused light beam and runs off an external battery pack. With a relatively quick charge time, the smaller battery pack is full and ready to use in just an hour and a half, so it’s a good option for regular riders with limited time.
The machined aluminum casing is tough and the light is waterproof too. There are two options with the associated battery pack; the 3.5Ah FastClick is compact enough to sit on the helmet, while the chunkier 6.9Ah SmartCore will need to sit in your bag or pocket.
Bluetooth enabled, pair it with the Lupine app and you can control it remotely and create custom settings and profiles. And if you’re into multiple sports, the Piko can be used as a torch, a headlamp for running, or a camp reading light and is easily moved between helmet mount and headband mount.
6. Best compact
Blending a good lumen output with a more accessible price, the Lezyne Multidrive is a versatile light that’s good value for money.
A sturdy yet compact body houses super-bright LED lights that offer 1,000 lumens of light for 3 hours, running at maximum output, which is good at this price point. It's powered by an external battery pack and controlled by a switch on the back of the light.
It comes straight up or as a ‘loaded’ option which has additional accessories. Also available are an array of different mounting options including handlebar mounts, GoPro mounts, and Lezyne’s Direct Lock system.
How to choose the best MTB helmet lights
There are a lot of MTB helmet lights on the market, and with advances in technology, they’re becoming ever more powerful and more compact. If you want to make sure you get the right MTB helmet light for you, then consider these elements.
Why use a MTB helmet light?
Helmet lights are, as the name suggests, mounted on your helmet so they’ll point the way you look as you ride. This is critical because as you ride, you’ll frequently look ahead to anticipate features, and since handlebar-mounted lights will only illuminate the way the handlebars are pointed, you need a second light to see your surroundings and find your way out of a berm.
How much run time do I need?
Run time is the duration the light will work for. Since helmet lights are designed to be very bright, the run time is often affected by how big the battery is, and how hard it’s working. Most lights will have several brightness settings; the top setting will be the brightest but will run the battery down the fastest, and vice versa.
Many lights will also automatically drop to a lower brightness when the battery level drops below a certain threshold, and/or will flash a few times to let you know the battery level is low. This serves two functions; to make sure you’re not suddenly plunged into darkness out in the middle of the forest when it does run out, and to provide you with some light to get to your finish point.
What’s best, an external or internal battery?
Helmet lights, like many of the best lights for night riding, will come with either an internal battery or an external one that is carried or strapped either onto the bike or on the person and connected to the light with a long cable.
Generally speaking, external battery lights are brighter and have a longer run time, but advances in technology mean that lights with internal batteries are beginning to give them a run for their money.
Which lights will be compatible with my MTB helmet?
A lot of MTB lights can be run as helmet lights if the brand supplies, either incorporated or as an aftermarket purchase, a helmet mount. Others are more specifically designed to be helmet-friendly.
Mounts can take the form of velcro strapping that wraps through and around sections of the helmet via the vents, or sometimes a clamp system that again uses a ventilation hole for its base.
You’ll need to either consider what helmet you have when purchasing a light to decide on the mounting options or purchase a helmet specifically for night riding. Generally speaking, a centrally placed vent near the top of the helmet is what you’re looking for.
How long do the best MTB helmet lights take to charge?
This varies and depending on your riding habits, you might be able to make do with longer charging time, or you’ll need to invest a little extra for something fast and convenient. If you ride at night a lot, then you’ll want a light that charges quickly. Most helmet lights will need three or four hours to fully charge, and the bigger the battery and longer the run time, the more time it will take to charge up the battery.
Make sure your light and charger are from a reputable source and conform to safety standards as, unfortunately, dodgy connections, batteries, and chargers can be a fire risk.