Words by: Liam Woods
As the days get shorter and the time change looms, riding times become limited. Time to pull out the night lights and get riding after work. The new lights that are out now are powerful enough and last long enough to be completely self-contained in a unit without a separate battery pack. Yes, gone are the days of having a cord down your back or trying to tape up a cord and battery to your bike. Two small and simple lights are all you need, one for the head and one for the handlebar and you can now crank out long rides during fall and winter to keep some fitness, or really just be out riding bikes.
These lights offer different beams, some more narrow and direct and others more spread out and dispersed. My opinion is, if possible, have a more narrow light on the helmet and a more spread out one on the handlebar. If going with two of the same lights, two narrow beams will work better than two spread out beams. But that is my opinion and if you think otherwise, I won't be offended. Swear. I will go through some of our favorites, but as with any mountain bike product there are a plethora of options, so I will try to help with decision paralysis.
Don't be fooled by the size of this light. The NiteRider Lumina Micro 850 is one of our favorite lights and for many reasons. I think all mountain bikers are fans of small, light products that work, so that is one reason. This light only weighs 130g with a mount and has four light modes as well as a daylight flash mode. If you didn't get it by now, the Lumina Micro 850, well, has an 850-lumen output. This light is one of our top picks for the helmet as well since it's lightweight and has a more narrow beam.
The Lumina Micro 850 is charged via a USB cable as with all these lights, and will run for an hour and a half at the full 850 lumens, four hours at 450 lumens, and nine hours at 200 lumens. The simple but to the point NiteRider Lumina Micro 850 is a great option for night riding applications. Helmet mount sold separately.
The bigger brother to the Lumina Micro 850, the NiteRider Lumina 1200 Boost offers a bit more light, in a not so much bigger package. The Boost offers the full 1200 lumen light output when the power button is double tapped, while the other three riding modes have 1000, 550, and 275-lumen outputs. In Boost mode, the light has an hour of run time, which then increases as the lumens decrease at 1hr 30min, 3hr, and 6hr, respectively. As with the other lights, this light is USB rechargeable. Weighing in at 136g, it's not much heavier than its little brother the Micro 850 but it is a little bit longer.
The NiteRider Lumina 1200 Boost is a great option for the helmet or handlebar, and one of our favorite combinations is the 1200 Boost on the handlebar with the Micro 850 on the helmet. Helmet mount sold separately.
The Cygolite Dash Pro 600 light is one of the smaller lights we have here, but don't look past it. The Dash Pro 600 delivers 600 lumens and is only a handlebar light. It does not have the option to be mounted on a helmet. However, the Cygolite Dash Pro 600 features an extra-wide beam with a run time of 1hr 15min in full power mode, then 1hr 45min, 3hr and 10.5hr as the lumens go down. The flexible rubber strap works on different diameter and shaped handlebars from 35mm mountain bars to aero road bars. Coming in at only 95 grams, this light is light!
Another offering from Cygolite that we really like is the Metro Pro 1100, and you guessed it, at full power there are 1100 lumens. A larger package than the smaller Dash Pro 600, one major difference is this Metro Pro 1100 has a removable quick release mount that allows it to be used as a helmet mount as well (sold separately). With nine modes, four of which I would call riding modes with their solid beams, you can get up to 100 hours of run time. At full power, the Metro Pro has 1hr of run time, in high an hour and 30min, the medium is 3 hours, and the low is 10 hours. This light also has the Cygolite extra-wide beam that gives you a little more light on the trail when you need it most. The Cygolite Metro Pro 1100 can be run on the handlebars or on the helmet.
Not only does the Light and Motion Urban 1000 happens to be one of our best selling lights, but it's also one of the most versatile. The Urban 100 has 1000 lumens at full power, 500 at medium, and 250 at low, with run times of 90min, 180min, and 360 min, respectively. I would say the beam of this light lands somewhere in between narrow and wide, which is one of the reasons it's so versatile. Another is the mounting options, which are included in the box! While it is one of the more expensive lights in this group, it has your normal rubber handlebar mount that works great, an included helmet mount to strap through your vents, and an attachment to mount onto your GoPro mount, may it be on your helmet or bike. With three mounts, you should have very easy and secure places to mount this light. It's also easy on the scales at just 121g, it works great for helmets, and will not bobble your head in the rough sections. All in all, the Light and Motion Urban 1000 delivers a solid beam with the most options to mount anywhere you need.
While you might not be a fan of riding at night like me, the show must go on and sometimes that is the only option. I think night riding is much more enjoyable with new lights that don't have obnoxious cables and weigh as much as your helmet. No fuss, all fun when picking any of these lights. With USB rechargeable lights, it's as easy as charging your phone. Four out of five of these can mount on your handlebar or helmet, and all have enough run time that you can get in a solid ride post-work and still make it back with light to spare.
This article was written / authored by Liam Woods. Liam has been in the bicycle industry for over 10 years as a racer, professional mechanic, service manager and as of late, media and content creator. Liam has ridden thousands of different bikes, ridden countless components, tested endless MTB apparel of all kinds and written reviews on it all. He's a key piece to the Worldwide Cyclery "All Things MTB" content creation puzzle. He also makes consistent appearances on the Worldwide Cyclery YouTube channel and Instagram.