We have contacted all of the companies in this current review and noted any upgrades in the reviews, if applicable. A complete review was performed in June 2014.
Best Overall Bike Light
Cygolite Expilion 800
Wide, even beam pattern
Many blinking modes
Difficult to remove from handlebars
The Cygolite Expilion 800
was the best overall tested. The competition was tight, but the 800 edged ahead because of its bright beam and, more importantly, the quality of that beam. The NiteRider Lumina 55
was just behind because it cast a more tunnel-like beam to the Expilion's broad, even beam. The one downside to the Expilion is that it is noticeably more difficult to remove than the Lumina series. It also costs a bit more. If you are looking for a little more value, and a product that is easier to remove, we strongly recommend considering the Lumina 550. One note, the Lumina scored almost identically to its more expensive sibling, the NiteRider Lumina 700
The Expilion 800 has been discontinued and replaced by the new Cygolite Expilion 850. They both look similar, but the latest version features 50 more lumens and supposedly has a wider beam. We are currently in the process of testing the 850.
Best Bang for the Buck
Cygolite Metro 360
Beam is not as even or broad as other bright lights
There is really no contest here: of all the contestants that cost $60 or less, the Cygolite Metro 360
was the only one with both a bright light and good beam quality. No, the beam quality is not nearly on par with the Cygolite Expilion 800. However, it delivers a beam almost as far, has a slightly better battery life score, and a street price of $45-60 compared to $100-140 for the 800. We toyed with the idea of giving a Best Buy award to the best $5-20 product. After all, many people want a light just to "be legal" while riding at night. However, all of the sub $20 products scored so low in beam quality and brightness, we just can not recommend them.
Top Pick Award for Mountain Biking
NiteRider Pro 1800
Great beam distance and quality
Lasts five hours in high mode
Expensive and time-consuming to install and remove
Riding around with a very bright light that has a long battery life and a near perfect beam pattern is a true pleasure. The NiteRider Pro 1800
is by far the best mountain bike model we've tested
if you want a light for mountain biking look no further. This thing brightens up the night better than one of your car's headlamps!! However, unless you rarely remove a light from your bike, this is a very poor choice for commuting because it's the largest, heaviest, and most difficult to install of all sixteen contestants tested. For many people, this is only suited for off-road use.
Top Pick Award for Helmet
Light and Motion Vis 360+
Helmet mount allows you to point light where you want it
Front side light
Built-in tail light
Long battery life
Beam is not as bright/wide/even as some handlebar lights
Helmet mount not for everyone
Can't turn off side lights
Of all the portable designs tested, our testers agree that the Light and Motion Vis 360+
made them feel the safest. This AMAZING helmet mount product lets you point the beam where you want, which is incredibly useful
because you can see around corners, find street signs and house numbers, and shine it at oncoming and turning cars so they know where you are. The design also has two yellow side beams and a built-in red tail light…360 degree visibility!! To boot, it's compact, lightweight, very quick to install and remove, and its battery lasts twice as long as the Lumina 500's. If you are open to trying out a helmet mount product we highly recommend the Vis 360+ for both commuting and mountain biking.
Top Pick Award for Ultralight Safety Light
Knog Blinder 4 Standard
Very wide, eye-catching beam
Integrated handlebar mount
USB rechargeable battery
Small on/off button is hard to press
Short maximum beam distance
The Knog Blinder 4
blows all other ultralight models out of the water with its wide, even beam, small, sleek, and compact design, tool-less attached mount and rechargeable battery with an integrated USB port with a 3.6 hour runtime on high, steady mode. Like all budget safety models, our testers mostly used this product on flashing mode because it caught the attention of drivers best (and much better than other small lights). On flashing mode the battery lasts nearly 7 hours! We found the Blinder 4 to be by far the best product under $45. Whether you're an occasional rider, a dedicated commuter, or a road cyclist we highly recommend this as a small safety light.