The end of Daylight Savings time has put an abrupt halt to the after work trail sessions that many of us northern hemisphere readers had been trying to sneak in during the week. But no need to fret, the early onset of winter darkness just means more opportunity to get in some night rides.
Every mountain biker (and graveller or crosser) should revel in night riding. Old trails become new. Familiar descents become technical again. All the while the climbs somehow seem shorter. Plus, modern trail riding lights are awesome. Light, bright, and (often times) reasonably affordable. Here’s a sampling of what’s out there, divided into two categories – bright, and ridiculous. The key difference is lumen output, but also note that many of the smaller ones are self contained and don’t require you to hold a separate battery pack on the frame or in your hydration pack.
Mountain Bike Lights to See the Trail
While our commuter round-up last week had options for smaller lights for being seen or navigating usually-illuminated city streets, for trail riding we need more power. They don’t always have to be ‘artificial sun’ levels of brightness. Some of our favorites are small, compact, and put out 800-1000 lumens. Lights at this output works well on their own for general trail riding, and even better when doubling up bar and helmet mounted lights. These are all about seeing the path ahead so we can enjoy our favorite woods with a new perspective. They prioritize decently powered forward lighting, often with little concern for side or rear visibility. If you are riding on roads from home to the trailhead, our commuter roundup has some great options for adding rear lighting.
The minuscule Light & Motion Imjin 800
The Imjin 800 is a surprisingly affordable & compact light that was designed just for trail riding. With a tiny CREE LED head with its micro-peened reflector, the focused light output does a good job of illuminating the trail without hotspots and a smooth transition across the entire lit area. The Light & Motion Imjin uses an external battery pack which means it works great as a lightweight option to mount on a helmet, dropping the battery into a hydration pack, or strapped to the handlebar & frame. Its standard battery has 2 cells, but an optional 3 or 6 cell battery can increase run times by 50% or 300% respectively.
- Output: 800 lumens
- Runtime: 2hr @800lm – 8hr @200lm
- Weight: 232g
- Included mounts: helmet strap-style, handlebar adjustable rubber strap, GoPro adapter
- BUY IT NOW ($199.99 on JensonUSA)
The light & tiny Lupine Neo 4
We reviewed the previous generation Neo 2 a couple of years ago together with Lupine’s smart tail light. Like the Imjin, the Neo uses a really small light unit paired to a compact battery pack. The newest generation Neo 4 puts out 900lm of light with an aluminum lamp head weighing just 50g. Lupine developed the Neo mostly as a helmet light, but now sells nicely machined optional quick release bar mounts and an adapter to work with any GoPro style mounts.
- Output: 900 lumens
- Runtime: 2hr20m @900lm – 4hr50m @530lm – 16hr @35lm
- Weight: 170g
- Included mounts: helmet strap-style
- BUY IT NOW ($265 on Amazon)
The powerful & compact NiteRider Lumina 1100 Boost
This one’s neatly integrated, one-piece aluminum light increased its output this fall at Interbike. NiteRider’s all-in-one Lumina was already a pretty powerful setup, but the latest version bumps it up to 1100 lumens of light in boosted mode to see even further down the trail. There is also a new version with an integrated OLED display showing mode & battery life. But for the money, we’d stick with the standard light without the display, saving $50 and getting the same weight & runtime.
- Output: 1100 lumens
- Runtime: 1hr @1100lm – 1.5hr @900lm – 3hr @450lm – 26hr @45lm
- Weight: 172g
- Included mounts: quick release handlebar
- BUY IT NOW ($99.99 on JensonUSA)
The slightly bigger & more powerful Lezyne Super Drive 1500 XXL
Like the Lumina, the new integrated bar-mount lights from Lezyne pack a lot of power into a tidy one-piece aluminum light combining lamp & battery. Again the Super Drive 1500 XXL isn’t the top-end light, leave that to the more expensive (and harder to find) Deca Drive 1500 that uses the same lamp, but adds in the ability to add an additional external battery pack. But that kinda defeats the purpose of the compact setup. We prefer the Super Drive which still overdrives with a whopping 1500 lumens from your bar, with optional helmet & GoPro mounts also available.
- Output: 1500 lumens
- Runtime: 1hr40m @1500lm – 2.5hr @1000lm – 3hr45m @600lm – 148hr @15lm
- Weight: 345g
- Included mounts: handlebar adjustable rubber strap
- BUY IT NOW ($119.99 on JensonUSA)
The modular & multi-functional Knog PWR Trail 1000
Knog may have had a rough go at starting and then cancelling their original Kickstarter crowdfunding attempt to fasttrack the modular PWR concept last winter. But they finally made good on the idea and production, with the setup available now. For trail riding you will need to use at least the Trail head unit that puts out 1000 lumens of light, plus a medium 5000mAh battery pack and a PWR Helmet Mount or handlebar Side Mount to attach it. Not available yet, but a 1800lm lamp head and a separate 10,000mAh battery pack are also in the works. Of course the allure of Knog’s PWR is that it will also power a camp lantern, a bluetooth speaker, and recharge your USB powered electronics.
- Output: 1000 lumens
- Runtime: 2hr @1000lm – 3hr @550lm – 21hr @80lm
- Weight: 230g
- Included mounts: none, all parts are sold individually
- BUY IT NOW ($45 lighthead + $70 battery + $15 mount on Amazon)
The affordable Serfas E-Lume 900
We haven’t really taken a detailed look at Serfas lights in a few of years, but they’ve been progressing as well. Their latest compact integrated series has gotten similar updates to others on our list, with the E-Lume 900 getting – you guessed it – 900 lumens of light output from the single LED. And at the lowest price of these six it should offer a lot of value in a compact bar mounted package.
- Output: 900 lumens
- Runtime: 1.5hr @900lm – 3hr @450lm – 9hr @150lm
- Weight: 162g
- Included mounts: handlebar strap
- BUY IT NOW ($80 on JensonUSA)
HOW THEY COMPARE:
|Light & Motion||Lupine||NiteRider||Lezyne||Knog||Serfas|
Mountain Bike Lights to Illuminate the Entire Forest
Need even more power? Do you want your riding buddies blinded and have their own lights be lost in the overwhelming brilliance of your helmet light? Up above 2,000 lumens (and we do mean way above 2k), we’re in rare air…only a few options push this much light. If you’re into nighttime enduro racing and need to see everything all the way down the trail, or just like being the brightest one in the room, check out these four premium options that obliterate shadows.
Affordable day glow from Gloworm’s XS 2500
Kicking things off is a lesser known brand from New Zealand called Gloworm. Their flagship light is the XS 2500, pumping out that many lumens from three LEDs. Each has its own reflector and lens to create a broad but focused light pattern that does a solid job of putting most of the light in front of you, but showing just enough of your surroundings to add peripheral awareness. We’ve used Gloworm’s lights in years past and been happy with the beam pattern & quality. And the light heads come with helmet mounts and low weights… a good combination. Plus, they’re affordable, making them a tough act to beat. Cons: The U.S. website’s little clunky, but their main homepage shows pricing for virtually any country.
- Output: 2500 lumens
- Run Time: 2h on max, other settings user programmable
- 330g system weight
- 6800 man Li-Ion battery
- IP66 waterproof
- Includes remote switch, helmet mount & QR bar mount, spare optics and hex tool
- Retail is $289.
See it all with Light & Motion’s Seca 2500 Enduro
At 2500 lumens of light output the Light & Motion Seca 2500 is available in two different versions that share the same 4 LED array lamp head that puts out one of our consistency favorite beam patterns. The Enduro gives you a bigger battery to drop in your hydration pack at a 495g total weight and up to 2.5 hours of burn time on max. The Race version gets a smaller clip-on battery that fits better into a jersey pocket for just 355g total and 1.5hours on high. All that power doesn’t come cheap, but at least it includes handlebar, GoPro & helmet mounts.
- Output: 2500 lumens
- Runtime: 2.5hr @2500lm – 5hr @1250lm – 10hr @625lm
- Weight: 495g
- Included mounts: helmet, handlebar & GoPro adapter
- BUY IT NOW ($469.99 on JensonUSA)
See even more with the NiteRider Pro 3600 Enduro Remote
Bump it up to 3600 lumens with NiteRider’s Pro 3600 and you get a wired, bar-mounted remote control to adjust output on the go. That’s going to help make it easier to extend the runtime since that much max power will drain even the biggest batteries. We recently tested the previous 2800 lumen version, and this dual lamp layout is a design that has been successful from NiteRider for over 20 years, since the days of halogen bulbs & ni-cad batteries. Flip through the settings and save the eye searing 3600 lumens for when you really need it on the technical, fast descents.
- Output: 3600 lumens
- Runtime: 1.5hr @3600lm – 3.5hr @1800lm – 6hr @1000lm – 16.5hr @450lm
- Weight: 839g
- Included mounts: 31.8-only handlebar
- BUY IT NOW ($412.49 on JensonUSA)
Ride on the surface of the sun with the Lupine Betty R14
Yeah, this creature from Lupine is packing 5000 lumens of unbelievable power output from an array of 7 high powered LEDs that you strap to your head. Lupine wasn’t kidding when they said they were making their ‘Worlds Most Powerful Helmet Lamp’ even brighter. While we are happy with the 900 lumen Neo, this thing puts any other light to shame. At this level the price is out of reach of most normal humans, but with that comes a high-tech smart core battery, a Bluetooth remote control (or you can use your smartphone), and fully customizable light output levels. It comes with just a helmet mount though, so if you want a bar or GoPro mount that will still cost you extra. If the price makes you a little queasy, there is a cheaper version with a lighter R7 battery for 1/2 the runtime.
- Output: 5000 lumens
- Runtime: 2hr @5000lm – 4hr20m @2650lm – 48hr @270lm – 310hr @30lm
- Weight: 610g
- Included mounts: helmet strap
- BUY IT NOW ($1049 on Amazon)
Burn down the trees with the Cateye Volt 6000
Just when you thought they couldn’t get any more powerful… Cateye is no stranger to high intensity lights. They were the first to bring HID to the trails with their insane-for-the-time Stadium headlight back in the late 90’s if we remember correctly, which used Xenon bulbs to cast a cool blue-white light over the entire trail system. Fast forward two decades and they again lead the output race with the Volt 6000, a 6000-lumen headlight that’s small enough to fit on your helmet. And it’s $250 less than the Lupine and 60g lighter.
- Output: 6000 lumens
- 14.4 volt 6800 man Li-Ion battery
- Runtime: 1hr @6000lm – 2hr @4000lm – 4hr @2000lm – 12hr @500lm
- Weight: 550g
- Included mounts: handlebar and helmet
- BUY IT NOW ($800 on Amazon)
HOW THEY COMPARE:
|Gloworm||Light & Motion||NiteRider||Lupine||Cateye|
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