Riding at night used to be hard. It was usually cold, probably wet and pretty dark even with lights. Luckily, LED lights changed this, and now the market is flooded with offerings. Walk into any bike shop and you can find a 400-lumen light for about $30. Want something brighter? There are plenty of lights in the 1000-lumen range, and many even brighter if you want to shell out more dough.

The thing is, not all lights are created equal. Specifications like weather-proofing, run-time and charging change from light to light, and that's not even mentioning mounting options, button operation, expandable battery packs and what the light produced actually looks like on the trail. Below you will find some vital stats on each light, but there are countless more nuances to each, so be sure to click through to the full review on each one.

Two lights are the best for night riding; one on the head, one on the bars. Certain lights work better in certain locations.

Over the last few months, I've been lurking around the forest testing four reasonably priced lights. Each light retails for under $100, and while they may seem nearly identical at first glance, I've come to think of the lights like today’s trail-bike offerings—it's hard to buy a bad light, but there are differences, and those difference make, well, a difference.

Whether or not those are good or bad largely depends on who's using them—it was surprising how some lights felt intuitive to me, while others were a constant annoyance in some respects. It's not as simple as one being the best and one being the worst, but I can outline how each differs from the others to take at least part of the guessing out of the purchasing game.

Click on each light to read a full review.

*Runtime was measured from turning the light on at the brightest setting until final shut off. All of these lights will switch to a low-power mode near the end of their battery life. The low-power mode won't let you ride at full speed, but it'll give you heads-up to get back to the trailhead before the light finally goes dark.

 

Bontrager Ion Pro RT

The light I didn't want to love

Love it or hate it—maybe even both.

From the moment I first got my hands on the Ion Pro RT, the two of us were destined for a love/hate relationship. I've been night-riding for a long time, and (I think) I know what works best for me. Unfortunately, upon the first inspection the Ion Pro, many little red flags popped up, ensuring that the two of us would be off to a rocky start. Luckily, that didn't last for very long.

Quick Specs:

Bontrager Ion Pro RT

  • Output: 1300 lumens
  • Runtime Actual – 2.6 hours*
  • Price – $100
  • Modes – 1 Group: 1300 lumens, 800 lumens, 400 lumens, night flash 200 lumens, day flash 300 lumen
  • Recharge – 7 hours (no fast charging)
  • Water Resistance – IPX4
  • Light Weight – 183 grams
  • Other – Connect with Garmin® and Bontrager ANT+ devices. Sidelights for road visibility.

Read the full review here.

Lezyne Power Drive 1100i

K.I.S.S

All the bells and whistles in a simple package.

Keep it simple, stupid—an age-old saying from the U.S. Navy that still holds true. Lezyne takes this to heart with the 1100i, and the result is a light that packs a lot of features into a very simple and effective package.

Quick Specs:

Lezyne Power Drive 1100i

  • Output – 1100 lumens
  • Runtime Actual – 1.5 hours* (3:20 with optional battery pack)
  • Price – $100
  • Modes – 2 Groups: 1100 lumens, 150 lumens | 650 lumens, 450 lumens, 150 lumens, 15 lumens, Flash 150 lumens, Pulse 150 lumens
  • Recharge – 2-6 hours (fast charging supported)
  • Water Resistance – IPX7
  • Light Weight: 159 grams
  • Other – Optional external battery roughly double runtime, GoPro helmet mount, stem mount. Swivels on all mounts. Side illumination.

Read the full review here.

Light and Motion Urban 1000

Unimpressionable, but not to be forgotten.

Unassuming but high-performing.

Light and Motion is nearly synonymous with quality bike lights. Its ultra-bright endurance lights have been standard-setters for many years, but its smaller lights are not to be overlooked. The Urban 1000 might not be the brightest or most feature-packed light out there, but it's solidly built, easy to use and certainly the underdog in the ring.

Quick Specs:

Light and Motion Urban 1000

  • Output – 1000 lumens
  • Runtime Actual – 1.5 hours*
  • Price – $90
  • Modes – 2 Groups: 1000 lumens, 500 lumens |1000 lumens, 500 lumens, 250 lumens, Pulse 500 lumens
  • Recharge – 6 hours (no fast charging support)
  • Water Resistance – IP67
  • Light Weight – 121 grams
  • Other – Yellow sidelights for road visibility

Read the full review here.

NiteRider Lumina 1200 Boost

Solid Practicality

Solid, reliable, minimal.

NiteRider and night riding go together like PB&J, and the company has always been one of the players at the front of the lighting pack. The Lumina 1200 Boost carries the mantle well with solid construction and elegant minimalism.

Quick Specs:

NiteRider Lumina 1200 Boost

  • Output – 1200 lumens
  • Runtime Actual – 2 hours*
  • Price – $100
  • Modes – 2 Groups: 1200 lumens, 1000 lumens, 550 lumens, 275 lumens | 75 lumens, Flash 1, Flash 2
  • Recharge – 3-6 hours (fast charging supported)
  • Water Resistance – IP64
  • Light Weight – 172 grams
  • Other – Optional K-Edge GoPro mount ($20)

Read the full review here.