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How to choose a mountain bike headlight: Who turned out the lights?! If the answer is Mother Nature, then it will take more than the flick of a conveniently located switch to light up your favorite mountain bike trail. Cycling lights are not a new invention, but modern lighting systems have come a long way and can make even the darkest night the perfect time for a ride. For riders living far from the equator, where the autumn brings beautiful weather but short days, a set decent set of riding lights is definitely worth the money, whether they are for lighting up the trail or to be more visible to drivers when riding along the road at dusk.



Lights can be categorized according to their power source and where they mount. The two forms of power are rechargeable lithium ion batteries and standard batteries that can be purchased anywhere. Lighting systems with rechargeable batteries are able to pump out more intense light and do not need to be replaced, instead they come with a charger and some can even be charged by USB. Some models use a separate battery pack that connects to the lamps via cable for more power. Lights using run of the mill disposable batteries are easy to set-up, affordable and are a simple way to see and be seen at night.

There are two mounting styles for lights: helmet and handlebar. Riders looking to attack technical trails at night will benefit from a combination of the two types, whereas a single unit on the bar or helmet should suffice for wide double track and road use. If you can only afford one type, we'd suggest a helmet mounted light because it will point where you want to go. Many lights will work on both a helmet and the bars with the use of an adapter.


In terms of size, lights can be categorized according to their output, measured in lumens. The larger the number the better.


Lights are made up of a lamp body, light source and mounting bracket. Bodies are either made of plastic, aluminum or rubber. Light can be emitted from a traditional bulb, LEDs or halogen bulbs. The mounting brackets consist of plastic bits and rubber shims to keep everything snug.

Things To Look For

When shopping for a new set of lights the most important thing to know is how much light your riding requires. Quite simply: the more technical the riding, the more powerful the lights you'll want. Riders looking to go on longer rides will want a lighting system with long-lasting batteries, so consider that into the equation as well.

How Much To Spend

Mountain bike lights range in price from $10 to $1500 depending on the type and intended application.

Lights in the $10-$50 price range are generally bar-mounted designs intended to provide enough light to navigate easy trails and roads. This range also includes small lights to increase rider visibility to drivers.

Moving up to the $50-$150 range, lighting systems begin to incorporate more powerful LED and bulb lamps, along with rechargeable battery options and helmet mounts. These lights are adequate for night trail rides on less technical trails.

Models in the $150-$400 range become available with separate battery packs and even dual-lamp designs. These lights are powerful enough to light up most trails.

The $400-$1500 range is a broad one, but as the price of lighting systems increase, so does their battery life and illuminating power. Riders looking to ride at night frequently and for extended periods will appreciate models in this price range.

Product Reviews

Before buying, be sure to do your research and read product reviews. Reviews are a great way to find out specifics about a particular model, user impressions, and things to watch out for. After you've purchased a product and had enough time to thoroughly test it, we encourage you to leave a review for other people to see when they are researching bikes and parts on the web.

We hope you've found this information to be helpful. If you have a question that isn't answered in this guide, our mountain bike forums are a great place to get advice from knowledgeable riders. Your local bike shop is also a great resource.

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