2013 Bike Lights Shootout – 50 LED Lights Measured

Lights Lights Shootout

Update: Nov. 4, 2013

The 2014 Lights Shootout is now available HERE.


Last Year’s 2013 Lights Shootout is HERE.

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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  • Pedro M. says:

    It would be great to test Magicshine clones too, jut to compare with the originals. 🙂

  • howard619 says:

    I wish the “coming soon” reviews would get here soon! I want to know how the improvements to the Jetlite FU2 turned out.

  • Bike LED light says:

    Hello! I just would like to give a huge thumbs up for the great info you have here on this post. I will be coming back to your blog for more soon.

  • Jörg says:

    The measure Lumens für the Wilma seem to be wrong, in the linked test report 2340 is measured.

  • ali says:

    The inexpensive/very bright light solution: Why anyone needs more than 200 lumens other than to simply show-off. How’d I do it economically? Went to Wal-Mart. Purchased a 250 lumen LED flashlight for twenty dollars. Made my own bracket from ACE hardware for another ten dollars and…You have a very bright, affordable, long-lasting light. And you won’t cry when it breaks or someone steals it off your bike.

  • Dan says:

    And the winners are? I love the hard hitting numbers, but how about some subjective opinions and recommendations?

  • D says:

    Didn’t see the Niterider Pro 1800 or Pro 3600. I’ve been looking for new lights and been looking at the Niteriders and the Baja Designs. Would like to compare the two.

  • Johann Rissik says:

    At what point do we say “OK, that’s bright enough” and then go look seriously at battery life, overall weight and quality as the defining factors? Brighter isn’t always better.

  • DirtBiker says:

    I agree that a subjective section is needed. With all this data what do YOU GUYS select as YOUR lights and why? That allows for run time, mounting and other aspects to get cooked in along with brightness, weight and cost. Nice job!

  • Neil Thunder Thighs Marsh says:

    I’ve just got a Ultrafire WF-5028, cost my Mother in Law about $45 inc handlebar mount.
    ( Christmas present.) OMG This thing is BRIGHT!!!! Luckily I had the TR18650 3.7V batteries/charger already.
    Can’t wait use it on a ride, and I’m gonna buy another one for my helmet too.

  • Josh says:

    Yeah I’m sorry but none of these lights are worth more than $50, the technology is not there, nor the R&D and most definitely not in materials. I do what others have mentioned, just find LED head mountable flashlight, (some look exactly like these with the same lumens) Google Head mounted flashlight 500 lumens, or whatever you’re looking for and save 90% of your money. Most of them are practically the same thing and easily bike mountable.

    • Tjader Harris says:

      Then make a comparable light, sell it for 49.95, and make a gazillion dollars. Better yet, infuse the technology you seem to know about, make a better light, and sell it for 51.00!

  • B77 says:

    No Hope R4 ?

  • Brian says:

    Why is the review for the JetLites FU-2 seemingly unavailable? Did they get mad when you rated the lumens at less than they ascribed to the unit?

    And why still have the Cygolite 350 self-contained when they’ve gone up to 700?

  • Edmund Tucker says:

    It really is a great website. It does an excellent job reviewing a whole bunch of very bright lights, that we have never heard of in the caving community. That is the only disadvantage about this website review list. It does not include the top lights used caving, such as the Rude Nora, El Spelio, Scurion, Kevin Manly, Zebra, and Sparx. I would love to see the same review with these lights included. Specifically, I would like to see the Scurion compared to the Lupine. It sure looks as though the Lupine is considerably brighter than the Scurion, and they are both the same price at $1000. Also, I could not see what kind of battery/battery pack the Lupine runs off of. The Lupine looks to be designed specifically as a bicycle light, so it probably isn’t rugged enough to handle the beating multiple cave trips would give it.

    • Russ says:

      From past experience I would think water-proofing, weight and battery life were far more important than lumens for caving?

  • geotrouvetout67 says:

    Lights that cost like bikes. Why are these so ridiculously priced? Not riding at night at these costs.

    • jacob thompson says:

      I work for LIght & Motion and can share some insight that bike lights are definitely not overpriced. You do get what you pay for, including the battery capacity, LED quality, firmware engineering, and customer support. LED lights aren’t just a lightbulb, wire, battery – but a very sophisticated PCBA comparable to a bike computer- with up to 250 pages of firmware coding in some of the lights our company makes. The margins on lights is actually substantially smaller than other categories and as a whole, the category barely scrapes by.
      It’s interesting to see where consumers will justify expense and where they won’t. A good bike light can give you hundreds of extra quality riding hours in a season, where no other component or bike upgrade can say the same. So it all depends on your priorities… 6k dollar mountain bike isn’t much use if there isn’t enough light to ride it.
      The fascination with Magicshine and Asian Imports is also fascinating, as though cyclists feel like they are getting ripped off with every component they buy, and lighting is the one thing they can finally ‘cheat’ the high prices on. A bike manufacture ships their operation overseas and everybody complains…with bike lights, there seems to be a crowd almost proud to buy their lights overseas? I can tell you that supporting ‘factoryless goods producers’ in not positive in the long run. If you care that we know the names of the individuals that built your light, you would be okay spending a bit more for your light and knowing that there is a company that will support the product.
      There will always be cheap knock-offs and apparently knock-offs of cheap knock-offs. You can get a Rolex on the streets of NYC for 35 bucks, you can buy a cheap carbon bike frame the internet for a fraction of the cost of a name brand… but in the end you really do get what you pay for.

  • BigRed says:

    I agree with some of the above comments. Anything over 300 lumens for city/commute is overkill. Why would you not post run times? Sadly most of these lights probably wont run on high for more than two hours rendering them useless for any night riding. Yep, go to the hardware store and buy a flash light or save your money and buy a generator hub.

  • ledlights says:

    Most people prefer to buy LED lights in comparison of traditional bulbs because led lights produce less heat and saves energy. LED lights are cost effective and energy efficient diode. The installation of light emitting diodes is also very easy.I once buy from OKLEDLIGHTS (dot) COM is nice .

  • DirtBiker says:

    I’d also like to see your next update include under recommendations “best $50-$100”, “best $100-$200”, and so on since performance per buck is important but realistically some of us will only spend so much … knowing that technology moves quickly and next year we’ll get a serious improvement anyway … thanks for the great articles. I use these lights for camping, night work around the house and off road motorcycling …

  • Mark says:

    I would like to see a comparison of just road bike lights, or just mountain bike lights. Both have entirely different requirements. For a mountain bike you would like more wide-angle lighting, whereas on a road bike seeing further ahead (because of faster speeds) is much more important.

  • John says:

    I’d like to just start off by saying, thank you to the guys at MTBR for doing such a great job. As most of your readers can tell, even established light companies are claiming or publishing more lumen output, than what the light is really getting. This type of review and shootout is very helpful in so many ways, and also puts suppliers in check to test their product before it goes to market. For those of you who want to buy a flashlight and do the home made bracket program, that’s great, but remember you’re not always getting what you pay for, as you can tell with reputable light companies not able to publish true lumen output. Most of those lights that you’re buying with high lumen outputs, are really only giving you 60% of what they claim. Imagine buying a car claiming to get 45 MPG, and you get it home to find out you’re only getting 29. Would you be frustrated by this? Why should it be any different anytime you’re making a purchase? Just my 2 cents. Again, big thanks to the guys at MTBR.com for all of this helpful information!

  • Troy says:

    Great tests and reviews. As to people claiming 200 lumens is good enough as Russ mentioned this is MTBR and 200 lumens is pretty much useless for night riding singletrack in the woods.

  • alias says:

    Hi Guys,

    The test and comparison is nice and well done, but why still no Supernova E3 in test? You have off the shelf Taiwan stuff, and even some Supernova knockoffs…would be cool to see how the real deal stacks up….also you could be ahead of the curve a bit by throwing in a few other high power dynamo powered lights. Dragging batteries around is old hat man! The new generation of hub dynamos is where its at.

  • Luke says:

    anyone have any experience with the lights from DT-box.com?

    6000 lumen lights for under $100….

  • Chris says:

    Hi there,
    Im looking for a light for hunting and it seems that biking has the best range of lights around, But im in need of a light that is mountable as a headlamp, roughly 300+ lumens and preferably runs of lithium iron 18650 rechargable batterys. Does anyone have any ideas??

  • Kathleen says:

    I recommend a solite 250ex for a mounted headlamp. It’s not 300 lumens but it’s pretty strong and versatile. It can become a bikelight too. The charge lasts pretty long.

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