2015 Bike Lights Shootout

Bike lights reviews, measurements and beam shots

Lights Lights Shootout

2015 Lights Shootout

This is the 2015 Lights Shootout. The 2016 version is coming in next week as dozens of new lights are arriving at our doors daily. If you have lights that should be included, email fcebedo@mtbr.com for consideration.

The key components of this shootout are:

  1. Integrating Sphere Lumen Measurements – View actual measured Lumens of each light here
  2. Beam Pattern Shots – Compare all the beam patterns side by side here
  3. Individual Reviews Below – Click on each light below to read the editorial review
  4. Safety lights and Tail lights are reviewed in a separate section on RoadBikeReview found here
Unique lights by Trail Led

Unique lights by Trail Led

The 2015 Bike Lights Shootout is here! It is quite an exciting crop of lights as lights are getting lighter with improved beam patterns. Interestingly, the brightest lights are not getting brighter as companies have kept their brightest lights the same. There is a lot of movement though in the under $150 arena as companies offer a ton of great options in this segment.

Some of interesting trends we’re seeing are:

  • Self-contained or flashlight style bike lights are improving dramatically
  • USB charging is becoming a standard, especially in self-contained lights
  • Companies are becoming more honest with Lumen claims as they adopt the FL-1 measuring standards
  • Safety headlamps or ‘to be seen’ options are not vastly improved with under $50 rechargeable options
  • Tail lights are getting better and packed with technology as bike safety during the day or night becomes a key issue
Claimed vs. Measured Lumens Graph

2015 Lights Shootout Claimed vs Measured Lumens

(click to enlarge)

Lumens per Dollar Graph

2015 Lights Shootout Lumens per Dollar

(click to enlarge)

Lumens per Gram Graph

2015 Lights Shootout Lumens per Gram

(click to enlarge)


About the author: Francis Cebedo

The founder of mtbr and roadbikereview, Francis Cebedo believes that every cyclist has a lot to teach and a lot to learn. "Our websites are communal hubs for sharing cycling experiences, trading adventure stories, and passing along product information and opinions." Francis' favorite bike is the last bike he rode, whether it's a dirt jumper, singlespeed, trail bike, lugged commuter or ultralight carbon road steed. Indeed, Francis loves cycling in all its forms and is happiest when infecting others with that same passion. Francis also believes that IPA will save America.


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  • Pascal Laverdure says:

    Like to see the shootout, but it is a lot of info to go thru. Do you to a summary for specifically what to look for, best versus best value with top threes in say 100, 500, 1500 and 2000+ categories? Unfortunately I can’t read thru all patterns, lumens tests and reviews to see which are worth looking at…thanks!

  • sp00n says:

    Can you replace the graphs with larger versions that are actually readable? Even the ones in the gallery are too small to read (e.g. the Lumens per Dollar).

  • Headfirst! says:

    I’ll have to admit, I’m pretty ridiculous with my MTB expenditures, and when everyone was taping flashlights to their bike, I was hopping on the wagon with the magicshine mj808 on my helmet, and (I can’t remember the model number) the three cluster light on my handlebar. That seems like so long ago, and I’ve since upgraded to the one that looks like two owl eyes (forgot that model number too), but I’ll never forget my first ride with the Trail LED Halo! My friends used to say that I looked like a freight train coming through the woods…now they really don’t have words to describe except some guys have started riding that never had, and still don’t have lights, and they just go off of the light I’m putting out. Now I still run the highest power magicshine that I have (I think it was claimed 2200 lumens), and I believe in running a handlebar mount because it’s always pointed where your bike is, but the Halo absolutely drowns it out! The reason I believe in running both is because you’re supposed to look ahead at what you are going to ride in 30-40 feet, not right down at your wheel. With that combo, I ride like it’s daytime…that’s the best way I can put it. It’s daylight!

    Here’s the drawbacks…you constantly have to turn it down so you don’t (literally) blind your riding mates when you pause. It takes a little while to get the mounting right, and it was worth getting a different helmet to just leave it on there and have that as my night riding helmet. Lastly, if there’s a lot of fog or a lot of dust, it’s kinda like driving a car in dense fog or snowfall…it does no good to run high beams. But, turning the intensity down helps quite a bit.

    Notice I didn’t put the price down as a shortcoming. I think for something as powerful, fast charging (you could ur a 24 hour race with just two packs with the 1:1 charging time), excellent clearance over your head, and basically more light than your car will produce with the brights on, it’s worth every bit! Besides, it’s a quality product made right here in the US! No, I’m not a spokesperson not am I profiting from this post, but it’s worth looking at any of the Trail LED products, and it’s hard to believe the Halo isn’t in this shootout. Why would the guys that make cheaper products try to replicate it of it’s not on this review, setting the bar for bike light performace since it has been in production?!

  • Bill says:

    Dynamo lights are finally getting useful for my old eyes; I’d love to see a section on them and another on rear/turn signal lights. Thanks for your work!

  • Richard says:

    I was wondering about LED color. Higher lumen levels with no cost increase can be achieved simply by using a bluer LED. I find the blue colors to make it difficult to discern detail even though the lumen levels are higher. Are all of these lights comparable with respect to their LED color? Thanks!

  • bbb says:

    I really appreciate the amount of effort that goes into these shootouts, but holy crap is this a lot of data to go though. A table format like the one they use at OutdoorGearLab would be really nice for this. I also think it would be really helpful to only list (or list separately) the lights for actual trail riding, as that is (probably) what most of us are interested in. Tail lights, commuter lights, and other “to be seen” equipment are all pretty standard stuff (basically anything will work), and not really that useful for mountain biking.

    It would also be great to have more info regarding helmet mounting options. I’ve tried riding with lights on the bars, but to me they’re borderline useless if you have a decent helmet light, especially on twisty/technical trails, plus helmet lights allow you to look further out or closer in depending on your speed, which you can’t do at all with bar lights. A good, low(ish) profile, easy-to-use helmet mount is worth a lot to me.

    It would be great to have something like “best helmet mount”, or “best buy if you’re only using one light”.

    But enough of that. It’s a really impressive shootout you put together and the data is very helpful. Just some thoughts/wishes, maybe for next year (take it or leave it).

  • Brent says:

    It would be great to know which lights have available mounts to fit 35mm bars!

  • BenH says:

    A review score sorted summary would be great. It’s awesome so many lights were reviewed by it’s pretty difficult to find the 5 chilis reviews and there are just too many lights to go through them all.

  • Craig says:

    I really like the annual light shootout. I do however miss the tunnel photos. They are much easier to compare the lights. The yard shot is too close to the fence to compare the brighter lights.
    Thanks MTBR

  • bill says:

    great reviews! I would also love to see a comparison chart for battery life. I’m shopping for a light that will work 8+ hours

  • Camden says:

    You forgot at least one! What about Klarus?

  • Lynn says:

    Hope everything goes well.

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    Sincerely hope we will have the opportunity to cooperate with you. Please kindly let us know your US address if you are interested in, we will send the sample out. We will be really appreciated for your kind reply.

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