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Lights test 2014 – the top 100 lights

5 May, 2014

The various bike tribes may be strangers to each other but they are united in their need to be seen. Simon Vincett offers all comers a run through the best lights out there.

5_Badass_Cyclists_SML

Photo by Thomas Joynt

Which lights for you?

Sooner or later, every bike rider finds they need lights. Despite your best intentions, you leave work late or the weather closes in halfway home and you’re mixing with traffic in the half light. Of course, if you don lycra before dawn to catch the bunch ride or tear around the singletrack at night you know it’s a BYO lights affair, but bike riding is an outdoor activity and very often, particularly in winter, you find yourself riding in the dark.

The road rules require that riders have a white light on the front and a red on the back, and that both are visible from 200 metres. That’s easy—pretty much all bike lights currently on the market are that powerful. It’s more a matter of making the most of your visibility for the money you spend, and matching with your carefully crafted colourway.

So you do the choosing—we’ll do the testing. Here’s how we do it.

Keeping it real

Photo by Jason den Hollander

Photo by Jason den Hollander

The first part is the visibility test. For a realistic scenario, it is conducted after twilight on an urban street. There’s a panel of 10 or so judges and the lights are set up 200m from them down the street. We display each light in turn, with a control light displayed in between, and the judges score them for visibility. We refer to each light by number only.

Next, we bring the lights 50m from the judges and turn them 45 degrees. This simulates visibility at an adequate distance for a car travelling at 50km/h to react and brake before hitting a bike rider.  Again the judges see each light in turn, alternating with the control light, and score it for visibility.

The judges also decide on a score for the effectiveness of the flash rate of each light. We test every light in a flashing mode because research shows this is the most visible mode for a bike light. Together, these scores make up a total visibility for each light.

The testing is conducted in Melbourne and judges are typically drawn from the Police, VicRoads, Choice magazine, RACV, RMIT, Bicycle Network members, bike shops and cycling clubs and BUGs.

Photo by Jason den Hollander

Photo by Jason den Hollander

Because the durability and usability of the lights are also essential considerations, all lights in the test are investigated by an industrial design team from RMIT convened by senior lecturer Dr Scott Mayson. The lights are assessed for durability, weather resistance and usability.

Finally, the visibility scores and the design scores are combined to determine the overall rating of each light. Because visibility is the primary purpose of a bike light, it is weighted to make up the majority of the overall score.

The test is cumulative, using the same method each year to test new lights on the market. The results for these new lights are added to the results of lights from previous years, creating a long list with all the lights ranked. We publish a list of the top performers, all of which are good buys.

Finally, if you’re familiar with the Lights test you might wonder why the same lights get slightly different results each year. With new lights on the market each year, the landscape changes and older lights have to be re-assessed. Using the original test data we re-calculate the scores of all the lights listed each year and this often results in changed scores.

For more, read about our test methodology.

We share our test results with Choice, who also produce an annual article on bike lights.

Ride On thanks the following people for judging at the visibility testing this year:

  • Peter Persic, Victoria Police, Melbourne West Bicycle Patrol
  • Blake Harris, RACV engineering
  • Scott Mayson, RMIT Industrial Design
  • Lachie Major, RMIT Industrial Design
  • Ross Arnold, RMIT Industrial Design
  • Lindsay Thebus, RMIT Industrial Design
  • Harry Major, Bikesportz
  • Ji Ae Bak, Bicycle Network
  • Grace Stubee, Bicycle Network
  • Mark Liddle, Bicycle Network
  • Nathan Stevens, Bicycle Network
  • Grace Macpherson, Bicycle Network
  • Alistair Wenn, Bicycle Network member
  • Jacqueline Anderton, Bicycle Network member.

Thanks also to Dr Scott Mayson and the RMIT Industrial Design team for conducting the design testing again this year.

With great power comes great responsibility

We should explain our category of ‘high-powered’ lights. Rear lights are simply rear lights but front lights have this sub-group reflecting the much higher output of some light over their compact, ordinary fellow front lights. Once it was only lights with an external battery pack that achieved this high output but with improved LED and battery technology, high-powered output is possible from a light that is also compact and self-contained.

Our distinction is that lights with a stated output of over 300 lumens are ‘high-powered’. This means that some of the ‘compact front’ lights have an output of 300 lumens, which is still pretty dazzling for on-coming riders on the bike path. These need to be pointed down at the ground a few metres in front of the front wheel. Better still is to have a compact front flashing light for the street-lit part of the ride. Helmet-mounted lights shouldn’t be used when sharing the paths or roads—they are for mountain biking in the dark. Research shows that bike riders are most effectively seen by other road users when they have lights at handlebar height. That goes for front and rear lights.

For more argument about how much light is about right, as well as issues to look out for when choosing a bike light, check out the article on last year’s test.

Manoeuvres in the dark

Depending on your riding, you’ll weigh up a few different qualities in a light when choosing what you need. These qualities include: visibility, price, durability, weight, appearance and output.

If you ride only on roads with street lights, simple flashing lights are fine. If you ride unlit shared paths, you’ll want a light to see where you’re going. For country roads, you’ll want the most visible rear light you can find. Roadies are famous for wanting the lightest, most low-profile gear and mountain bikers need powerful illumination for tree dodging in the dark. Finally, manufacturers realise that most of us appreciate lovely aesthetics, so there are also plenty of offerings with design appeal.

Ride On recommended lights

Best-buys-updated

See the tables further down for the results and ranking of the Top 100 lights.

For more examples, here are suggestions of lights for some different rider types [stereotype alert!].

Commuter

This tribe has the widest variety in wants and needs from bike lights, but needs them to work day in, day out in all weather. Needs high power for unlit shared paths, excellent visibility for negotiating traffic and is drawn to reliable performance that is still affordable.

Chris_SML

Photo by Thomas Joynt

Moon mask $59.95

Top visibility, compact

Ilumenox Vega 3w $130

Capped beam doesn’t dazzle others

Serfas True 500+ $149.99

Lights up the paths

Owleye Highlux 5 $39.95

Good, reliable performance

ES Beacon rear$50

Excellent visibility

Tioga Dual Eyes $39.99

Good, reliable performance

City Chick

Photo by Thomas Joynt

Photo by Thomas Joynt

Favours attractive, petite lights with classic style (metallic) or design appeal. More inclined to spend on accessories not for the bike, so cheaper is more appealing than ‘high performance’.

Knog Blinder 1 front and rear $29.95ea

Simple, effective

Lezyne Hecto Drive front and rear $54.95ea

Design appeal, good visibility

Moon Comet $44.95

Under-seat attachment if the seat is too low

for a seat post mount

Roadie

Photo by Thomas Joynt

Photo by Thomas Joynt

Demands lights weight and low profile, and is habituated to high performance. Needs powerful visibility, particularly in the rear, for country roads but needs a courtesy dimmer setting for bunch riding.

Moon Mask $59.95

Light with top visibiliy

Serfas Raider $59.99

Low profile, good performance

NiteRider Solas 2W $69

Group ride mode

Knog Blinder Road rear $64.95

Peleton mode

Lezyne Micro Drive rear $54.95

Daytime boosted visbility mode

Hipster

Photo by Thomas Joynt

Photo by Thomas Joynt

Design is everything with this tribe and lights are another element of the carefully assembled statement of uniqueness that is their bicycle. Suave riders who don’t self-identify with reductive labels also, coincidently value lights with high aesthetic appeal.

Knog Blinder 4 front and rear $59.95ea

Design appeal

Lezyne Micro Drive front and rear $49.95ea

Design appeal

Moon Mask $59.95

Design appeal

The mountain biker

Photo by Thomas Joynt

Photo by Thomas Joynt

Isn’t afraid of a bit of weight, so the external battery is quite acceptable for the power of the light provided. Not so concerned with the rear visibility—any budget flasher will do. Durability and waterproofness are essential.

Fyxo King Bright $79

Top power, best price

Magicshine MJ808E $179

Excellent visibility

Lezyne Power Drive $99.95

Compact for a lights cannon

BBB Highlaser rear $34.95

Solid, affordable visibility

Moon shield $59.95

Top visibility, bombproof construction

Top 100 lights

These 100 lights are all good options to make yourself visible when riding your bike. The list is an aggregation of our nine years of testing, with discontinued models removed. The highest in overall ranking are the best available, but that doesn’t mean that the rest are worthless. Far from it, they all meet the legal requirement of being visible from 200 metres and meet the usability standards of this test. The lowest scores here do not reflect poor performance on the part of individual lights but the accumulation of losses in the many aspects of the testing. Many small losses can add up to a significant overall loss. You’ll note that the highest rated lights only achieve scores in the eighties. There are other current lights that we have tested that do not make it onto this list.

 

Compact front lights

Light RRP Ch/B Weight WR Design Visibility Overall
Moon-Mask Moon Mask front $59.95 USB 36 8.5 9.25 86 88
 lezyne-macro-drive-front Lezyne Macro Drive front $74.95 USB 109 10 8.17 90 87
 Serfas_5_LED_USB_Raider Serfas Raider USL-5 $59.95 USB 40 9.5 9.50 80 84
 knog_blinder_4_led_front_light Knog Blinder front $49.95 USB 37 9 9.08 75 83
 cateye_nano-shot_13_z Cateye Nano Shot $99.95 USB 99 10 9.50 80 83
 lezyne-micro-drive-front Lezyne Micro Drive front $54.95 USB 66 10 8.6 80 83
 Moon-meteor Moon Meteor $89.95 USB 84 10 9.67 72 81
 ES Gamma Ray ES Gamma Ray $130.00 USB/mains 143 9 8.17 86 81
 Owleye Solar Hybrid 40 Owleye Solar Highbred 40 $79.00 USB/solar 138 10 8.33 83 80
 Knog-Arc1.7 Knog Blinder Arc 1.7 $69.95 USB 102 10 10.00 64 78
 Serfas-200-headlight Serfas 200 lumen Headlight $74.99 USB 102 10 9.11 73 78
 Owleye Highlux 5 Owleye Highlux 5 front $39.95 USB 41 8 7.67 76 76
 serfas-thunderbolt-front Serfas Thunderbolt front $49.99 USB  48 10 9.08 65 77
 LiteRover-Deluxe-White-LED LiteRover Deluxe White LED $29.95 AAA x 4 140 8 8.22 76 77
 Blinder_Road-2 Knog Blinder Road 2 $84.95 USB 76 10 9.56 63 77
 Blackburn Super Flea front Blackburn Super Flea front $69.95 USB 40 10 9.6 70 76
 tioga_alien_light_frontt Tioga Alien front $29.99 AAA x 3  67 10 9.50 65 76
 Blackburn Flea 2.0 USB front Blackburn Flea 2.0 USB front $64.95 USB  20 9 8.75 70 76
 Knog Boomer USB Front Knog Boomer USB Front $49.95 USB  46 7 7.92 65 75
 Moon Comet front Moon Comet front $44.95 USB  47 10 9.50 58 74
 BBB Spark front BBB Spark front $44.95 USB  27 9.5 8.42 66 74
 Knog-Blinder-1-front Knog Blinder 1 front $29.95 USB 16 10 9.8 55 74
 Lezyne Zecto Drive front Lezyne Zecto Drive front $44.95 USB 50 10 9.00 63 74
 Planet Bike Beamer 5 Planet Bike Beamer 5 $39.00 AA x 2  116 10 8.25 75 73
 Skully-K2-sm Skully K2 $60.00 USB  79 9 7.67 70 73
 magicshine-mj-890 Magicshine MJ-890 $69.95 USB 80 5 4.44 72 72
Knog Gekko Knog Gekko $32.95 AAA x 2  54 10 9.11 63 71
 Ilumenox Vega 3w Ilumenox Vega 3w $130.00 USB  140 9 8.83 71 71
 Ilumenox Highpower SS-L1222W Ilumenox Highpower SS-L1222W $79.00 AAA x 3  93 10 8.33 79 71
 Lezyne Hecto Drive Front Lezyne Hecto Drive Front $54.99 USB 66 5 6.67 71 71
 Blackburn Scorch Blackburn Scorch $89.95 USB  132 10 8.50 68 70
 Owleye Highlux 30 Owleye Highlux 30 $52.95 USB 65 10 9.00 59 69
Lezyme Femto Drive Front Lezyme Femto Drive Front $16.95 USB  27 10 8.33 49 68
 Planet bike Blaze 2W Planet bike Blaze 2W $89.95 AA x 2 142 6.00 7.7 68 65
 NiteRider Mako 200 NiteRider Mako 200 $59.00 AA x 2  164 8 6.50 77 65
 BBB EcoBeam BBB EcoBeam $24.99 AAA x 3 76 10 8.56 61 64
 Bontrager Ion 1.5 Bontrager Ion 1.5 $39.95 AAA x 3 107 10 8.11 55 64
 Portland Design Works Cosmic Dreadnought Portland Design Works Dreadnought $59.00 AAA x 3  121 8.5 7.00 81 64
 Bontrager Ion 2 Bontrager Ion 2 $49.95 AAA x 3 107 10 8.11 54 62
 Bontrager Ion 1 Bontrager Ion 1 $34.95 AAA x 3 102 10 8.11 47 59
 Bontrager Ion 700 Bontrager Ion 700 $139.95 USB 141 10 6.33 50 56


Table key
 RRP: Recommended retail price, Ch/B: Charge method / battery, W: Weight (grams), WR: water resistance (/10), D: Design score total (/10),V: Visibility (/100), OR: Overall rating (/100).

Compact rear lights

Light RRP Ch/B Weight WR Design Visibility Overall
medium_Moon-SHIELD-Bicycle-Light-Rear Moon Shield rear $59.95 USB 57 9 8.83 83 86
 ES_Beacon-rear ES Beacon $50.00 USB 53 9 9.00 81 85
 Knog Blinder 1 rear Knog Blinder 1 rear $29.95 USB 16 10 9.67 69 83
 Knog Blinder rear Knog Blinder rear $49.95 USB 40 9 9.08 72 82
 Serfas Thunderbolt rear Serfas Thunderbolt rear $49.95 USB 48 10 9.08 74 81
 tioga_dual_eyes_usb Tioga Dual Eyes USB $39.99 USB 81 10 8.44 85 80
 Lezyne Micro Drive rear Lezyne Micro Drive rear $54.95 USB 73 10 8.83 69 79
 Serfas Seat Stay Taillight Serfas Seat Stay Taillight $29.95 CR2032 x 2 37 10 8.83 73 78
 BBB BLS-Highlaser BBB BLS-Highlaser $34.95 AAA x 2 64 10 8.11 84 78
 Serfas Raider rear USL-5R Serfas Raider rear USL-5R $59.95 USB 38 9 9.00 69 77
 S-Sun Eaglefly S-Sun Eaglefly $25.00 AAA x 2 73 10 7.44 88 77
 Serfas True 80 rear Serfas True 80 $89.99 USB 81 10 9.33 69 76
 BBB Spark rear BBB Spark rear $44.95 USB 27 8 8.25 70 76
 Knog-Blinder-rear-4V Knog Blinder 4V rear $49.95 USB 44 8 8.00 65 75
 Tioga Alien rear Tioga Alien rear $29.99  AAA x 2 67 10 9.50 66 75
 Moon Comet rear Moon Comet rear $44.95 USB 47 10 9.50 58 75
 Skully 1W Rear Skully 1W Rear $25.00 USB 12 9 7.67 81 74
 NiteRider Solas 2W sm NiteRider Solas 2W $69.00 USB 73 10 8.67 68 73
 SuperFleaRear Blackburn Super Flea rear $59.95 USB 33 10 8.50 68 72
 Cateye Rapid 5 Cateye Rapid 5 $49.95 AAA x 2 59 9 9.00 56 72
 Lezyne Zecto Drive rear Lezyne Zecto Drive rear $44.95 USB 52 10 9.00 55 71
 Portland Design Works Danger Portland Design Works Danger
Zone
$39.95 AAA x 2 74 7 7.33 69 71
 Owleye HighLux 5 rear Owleye HighLux 5 rear $39.95 USB 48 8 7.67 64 70
 Lezyme Femto Drive rear Lezyme Femto Drive rear $16.95 USB 28 10 8.33 53 70
 Knog Blinder Road R Knog Blinder Road R $64.95 USB 53 10 9.56 49 69
 Moon Gem 3.0 rear Moon Gem 3.0 rear $34.95 USB 33 7.00 8.25 66 68
 Cygo-lite Hotshot USB Cygo-lite Hotshot USB $69.95 USB 60 9.00 8.50 58 67
 Fibre flare Long Red Fibre flare Long Red $39.95 AAA x 2 84 9.00 8.00 60 67
 Planet Bike Blinky Superflash Planet Bike Superflash $34.95 AAA x 2 70 10.00 7.00 65 66
 Cateye Rapid 3 Cateye Rapid 3 $14.95 AAx1 61 10 9.63 48 66
 Ilumenox Crocolight Ilumenox Crocolight $29.00 CR2032 x 2 32 10.00 5.00 67 62
 Infini Amuse Rear Infini Amuse rear $14.95 CR2032 x 2 13 6.00 6.00 67 61
 Nite Rider Cherry Bomb 1W NiteRider Cherry Bomb 1W $39.95 AAA x 2 79 8.00 5.25 69 61
 Bontrager Flare 2 Bontrager Flare 2 $29.95 AAA x 2 73 9 8.33 49 60
 Bontrager-Flare-1-small Bontrager Flare 1 $19.95 AAA x 2 70 9 8.33 47 60
 Knog Beetle rear Knog Beetle rear $25.95 CR2032 x 2 21 10.00 5.00 66 60
 Lezyne Hecto Drive rear Lezyne Hecto Drive rear $54.99 USB 68 5 6.67 51 60
 ES Flare ES Flare $30.00 USB 34 10 8.25 50 58

High-powered front lights

Light RRP Ch/B Weight WR Design Visibility Overall
moon-500-01 Moon Power 500 $149.95 USB 174 9 9.29 81 86
 Magicshine-MJ808E Magicshine MJ808E $179.95 Mains 391 9 9.56 81 83
 Fyxo-King-Bright Fyxo King Bright $79.00 Mains 411 7 9.00 83 82
 Lezyne Power Drive Lezyne Power Drive $99.95 USB 158 10 8.67 71 80
 NiteRider Lumina 350 NiteRider Lumina 350 $119.90 USB 170 10 9.83 71 80
 Lezyne Mini Drive Lezyne Mini Drive $74.95 USB 103 10 9.00 66 78
 Cateye Nano Shot Plus Cateye Nano Shot+ $149.95 USB 179 10 9.50 73 78
 Serfas True 750 Serfas True 750 $179.99 USB and mains 258 2 6.22 78 78
 Light and motion Urban 550 Light and motion Urban 550 $200.00 USB 113 10 9.50 67 77
 Knog-Blinder-Arc-5.5 Knog Blinder Arc 5.5 $129.95 USB 150 10 10.00 59 76
 Serfas True 500+ Serfas True 500+ $149.99 USB and mains 150 5 7.89 74 75
 Serfas-True-1000 Serfas True 1000 $349.99 USB and mains 327 10 9.78 69 74
 BBB Strike 500 BBB Strike 500 $149.99 USB 131 10 8.11 73 71
 Cygo-Lite Expilion Cygo-Lite Expilion $169.00 USB and mains 169 10 9.00 64 71
 Serfas True 250 Serfas True 250 $99.99 USB 150 8 8.89 60 71
 Knog-Blinder-Road-3-sm Knog Blinder Road 3 $99.95 USB 105 10 9.56 52 71
 NiteRider Mi.Newt Pro 750 NiteRider Mi.Newt Pro 750 $329.00 Mains 259 10 6.00 79 70
 Cygo-Lite Metro Cygo-Lite Metro $99.00 USB 134 10 9.22 55 68
 Exposure Lights Joystick Exposure Lights Joystick $320.00 Mains 150 8 8.33 61 67
 Ay-Up V Twin Sport Ay-Up V Twin Sport $275.00 Mains 184 9 8.17 68 66
 BBB Strike 300 BBB Strike 300 $119.99 USB 131 10 8.11 63 66
 Cygo-Lite Streak Cygo-Lite Streak $79.00 USB 113 10 9.22 51 66
 Exposure Diablo light Exposure Lights Diablo $299.00 Mains 175 8 8.50 62 58
 BBB Highpower BBB Highpower $279.95 Mains 230 10 5.50 63 58

Table key RRP: Recommended retail price, W: Weight (grams), Ch/B: Charge method / battery, V: Visibility (/100), WR: water resistance (/10), D: Design score total (/10), OR: Overall rating (/100).

Ride On content is editorially independent, but is supported financially by members of Bicycle Network. If you enjoy our articles and want to support the future publication of high-quality content, please consider helping out by becoming a member.

41 Comments leave one →
  1. 5 May, 2014 5:51 pm

    Reblogged this on BikeNCA and commented:
    Riding home tonight and realise you need new lights to see and be seen….some great reviews in this top 100 lights review.

  2. ColinJ permalink
    5 May, 2014 10:53 pm

    This is a great service, thank you. And as someone who commutes against the bulk of the bike path traffic, thank you particularly for the “with great power comes great responsibility” section – some oncoming lights are so highpowered I think I’m in danger of sunburn some nights! I think I’ll avoid the Knog brand even though they seem good value just because of their nasty “blinder” model name, there are plenty of nicer names for me to associate with. The improvement in lighting technology in just a few years is astonishing and I’m looking forward to trading up with the help of this report.

  3. 6 May, 2014 11:06 am

    I really thought the Exposure Diablo would be up there a lot higher.

    • Jim permalink
      21 May, 2014 4:22 pm

      Read what they are testing for … it’s about how well others can see you not how well you can see where you are going.

      “We test high-powered lights for how effectively visible they are, so we the most visible mode, their flash mode, rather than their constant beam modes. Sometimes the flash mode is a lesser output than their brightest constant mode, but most often the flash is in their brightest output.”

  4. Grant Taylor permalink
    6 May, 2014 11:19 am

    People must remember to aim their lights correctly, so as not to blind oncoming riders/drivers. some of these lights are extremely bright and can be very annoying/dangerous especially on flash if not directed properly.

  5. Steve Gough permalink
    6 May, 2014 9:47 pm

    Why no Ay-up score? I use them for commuteing and would love to know how the newer lights compare

    • 8 May, 2014 1:00 pm

      Hi Steve, Ayup Twin Sport is in there. It’s a fine light. Particularly, it has great versatility in mounting and welcome capacity to direct the beam of light down to avoid blinding on-coming traffic.

  6. Greg permalink
    9 May, 2014 10:56 am

    Two comments:

    1. If you batteries are not fully charged, when you first turn your light on the batteries have a burst of power and the lights appear bright. They quickly fade to be almost invisible. Be sure to charge your batteries every day or so to be sure they have sufficient power to last your whole ride. Avoid using non-rechargeable batteries. They give the same early boost of power when you turn them on but they fade just as badly as under charged batteries.

    2. Keep the adjustment screw on your lights a little loose so you can easily tilt your lights down to the ground and not blind other people. Even a relatively llow power light putting out 50-100 lumens is blinding when shinded straight into your eyes.

  7. Wayne permalink
    9 May, 2014 8:28 pm

    Flashing is fine to be seen, but I am becoming annoyed at these hi power flashers. This is fine if the light is low powered, or it is daytime. If high powered, Lights on constant please. I don’t mind bright lights even from oncoming traffic, they light up the path and the ninjas! Your eyes adjust to constant brightness and you can look straight on to stop being dazzled. Flashing, my eyes have a problem adjusting. How do you see in full darkness when your light is on only half the time anyway?

    I have watched other cyclists and noticed they can disappear or when signalling, you just can’t see their arm. To combat this I do a few things.
    1. Have lights mounted low on the bike, this provides a pool of light front and back, it also lights up your wheels so it is easy to see you from the side. This is when it is the hardest to see a bicycle.
    2. I place lights at different levels. It makes it easier to judge your distance away
    3. Small cheap lights fitted to my wrists, this allows vehicles to see me signalling left or right.
    Okay you say this is a overkill. I have added these item due to me not being able to see other cyclists or not see them signalling. If I can’t see them how does a car.
    The worst is when you see a bike cross a intersection up ahead and they almost disappear as they get 90 degrees to you.
    Remember drivers don’t just view you from the front and back.
    Enjoy cycling at night, I love it!

  8. Wayne permalink
    9 May, 2014 9:19 pm

    I noticed the Moon shield was rated best rear.
    Note:
    I had this light and yes it is bright and has 3 levels, plus flashing. At a rated 80 lumens it is bright, but only directly behind the bike, it has very poor peripheral light bleed. Still, considering this, it is a good performer.
    Now, I don’t use mine anymore as it broke. This light, although very good, has been fitted with an attachment clip from one of its low end models, this is made from a different plastic to the main housing, this clip breaks very easily. Also the rubber plug for the usb detachs very easily and it is near impossible to get it back in, even the bike shop couldn’t.

    So if you decide to buy this light, it does preform well, but be very careful removing it from its rubber mount and don’t apply any sideways force on the clip and be gentle with the rubber usb seal. If careful its a great light.
    :o)

    • Greg permalink
      10 May, 2014 11:31 am

      I had the same problem replacing the USB cover on a Cygolite. The manufacturer said to apply a little Vaseline to the stem before installing the replacement cover. You push the stem into the hole until it squishes and it goes straight in. Very easy once you know how.

      I broke the plastic tab off my Moon Shield and they gave me a new light in replacement. I removed the broken tab from the old one and replaced it with a Velcro loop that I attach to my pannier bag. It has been working perfectly on the back of my bike ever since. The light points slightly down and I end up riding in a big pool of redness. I am very happy with the result.

      • Wayne permalink
        10 May, 2014 11:49 am

        Hi Greg,
        Glad you had a win.
        My opinion is it shouldn’t be breaking in the first place. This is not a cheap light.
        I have moved on to another brand after looking at many lights. I decided on the PDW danger zone. This light has a very I catching flash pattern, and the plastic is high grade quality. The light at night appears to look bigger than it is, a optical illusion or something I suppose because it is not as big a lumen light compared to the moon shield. The only drawback is it needs 2 x AA, so I bought some rechargables which I charge once a week. Loving this light, well made, good spread of light from of centre and quality plastic.
        PS still easy to see in the daylight, as per the shield.

    • Simon permalink
      15 May, 2014 2:19 pm

      I too have had an issue with the Moonshield mount clip snapping off the light housing on a commute ride to work. The plastic is certainly brittle and whilst the bike shop eventually gave me a replacement, I was told that it’s my fault if it broke off due to riding over a bump. I found this very difficult to accept and argued the point that if the item fails during use, that it should be a warranty replacement, after which they told me that I may have forcefully removed the light and hence, broke the clip off. The point I want to make here is that this light is by far and away the brightest rear light out there, but take measures to ensure that should the clip break, you don’t end up losing a $60 light.

      • Wayne permalink
        16 May, 2014 11:46 am

        Yes I have to agree, it is disappointing moons top rear light has a clip adopted from one of its cheaper lights. The other problem I had is the clip needs to be checked that it is seated in the rubber holder. If not it bounces out! Luckly I found it by back tracking a few times. So you insert it in the holder making sure its clipped and secure, then it takes quite a bit of force to unlatch it, which fatigues the clip. Then it breaks! If it was a $20 dollar light, okay, costs have to be cut to meet the target selling price, but this light is normally $60 upwards. Yes it may perform well, but how good is a light that falls off or the clip breaks in a few months. If you can’t attach it it is useless! I have only had one other light fall off and lost, it was a moon as well. The products are good, but the mounting brackets need improving.
        Would not buy another shield, more durable lights are on the market.

  9. 13 May, 2014 10:35 am

    A concern I have is how the lights behaves as the battery gets low? Eg, does it just switch from normal operation to stopped, or switch to a different mode, maybe lower battery demand, say steady to flashing; or reduce the power say with only using one LED. I consider this an essential aspect, not a nice to have option! Everyone needs to get home safely, and knowing they need to take some action, eg, replace or recharge the battery.

    • Wayne permalink
      16 May, 2014 11:48 am

      This is a good point, a limb mode when the battery gets to a quarter. Hope some manufactures read your post.

  10. Lynette permalink
    14 May, 2014 4:24 pm

    Where can you buy a Moon Mask or Shield light in Australia – I just had a look online and I can’t find them.

    • Wayne permalink
      16 May, 2014 11:51 am

      Moon products are distributed in most bike shops. Probably the most common brand, at least here in west oz. You could also try wiggle or chain reaction. I’m certian you will find one.

  11. diamondjim permalink
    14 May, 2014 4:32 pm

    I have a Moon Shield rear light and have largely been disappointed with it.

    Output of light (to the rear) ranges from high-powered to thermo-nuclear, and I feel obliged to run it at its lowest output and angled down so as not to dazzle people behind me. Annoying other riders and drivers is bad enough, but dazzling is even worse. And I’d hate to be behind someone with one of these in the bush on a MTB, where visibility from the rear isn’t very important but night-vision for all riders is.

    I’d also take issue with the design. While I haven’t had the strap break (as is widely reported), the case on mine had one of the screws loose and when I nipped it up, the light went on permanently. I’ve managed to make it workable after pulling the halves apart, screwing in 3 of the screws most of way and leaving one loose, but I doubt it’s waterproof now. Certainly (in my experience) it’s not ‘bombproof construction’.

    For the record, I’ve just bought a new Cat-Eye Rapid X tail light, as it appears to have more controllable light (and plenty of it), better side visibility (talked about in other reviews), and I’ve had good quality in other Cat-Eye products. Unfortunately, this light is too new to appear in this test but I’d recommend it be considered.

  12. Michael James permalink
    14 May, 2014 5:30 pm

    The ideal front setup is compact, steady handlebar light and bright pinpoint helmet light. Must have both. Yes, with power comes responsibility, don’t be the bike equivalent of the roadhog who blinds you with high beam, look down at the left curb for oncoming traffic. Unless they are failing to give way, or not dipping, or a cyclist with too bright handlebar lights possibly even set to flashing. Only for these pests, signal your displeasure by “flashing high beam”.

  13. Geoff permalink
    14 May, 2014 6:06 pm

    It seems pretty weird that with all the testing done no one thought to test battery life on any of the lights or include it in the ratings calculation. From my experience USB charged lights and very compact lights dont seem to last very long. Often the cheaper lights dont last anywhere near as long either and it is a false economy to buy them when battery costs are taken into account. The same goes for the small circular disc batteries which whilst compact dont last long and are quite expensive.Final point I see no magneto or solar powered lights in the test. It would be good to know how these rate and rank. Maybe next year.

    • Greg permalink
      15 May, 2014 10:50 am

      I used USB powered compact lights and charge them every other day. I always have ample light and plenty in reserve for the very dark off-road sections I ride. The lights are supposed to be good for 300 re-charge cycles. I don’t know how many cycles I have gone through but it’s at least 5000km of night riding. I have Cygolite and Moon Shield lights.

  14. Karen Burton permalink
    14 May, 2014 10:06 pm

    Ay ups are the best by a long shot. Both for roadies and mountain biking, helmet and cycle mounted. Great quality and value for money and recharge quickly, in Canberra where it gets really foggy on morning rides,may ups work a treat- totally recommend and surprised you didn’t test them.

  15. Greg P permalink
    14 May, 2014 10:31 pm

    I would like to offer another opinion relating to the comment that ” Helmet-mounted lights shouldn’t be used when sharing the paths or roads—they are for mountain biking in the dark”. The increasing use of fixed handlebar mounted high powered lights is becoming a major issue for both pedestrians and oncoming cyclists being blinded. I have noticed this to be much more of an issue this year as the price and availability of these lights has increased their usage.
    Helmet mounted lights have a number of advantages which extend beyond their use for mountain biking. Firstly, the higher mounting position changes the angle of glare and greatly reduces the blinding effect.
    Secondly by tilting the head by only a couple of degrees to the left as oncoming traffic approaches, it is possible to eliminate the blinding effect whilst still having enough light to light the path ahead.
    Thirdly, helmet mounted lights allow motorists and others to be made more aware of the presence of the cyclist, particularly at intersections as the light can be directed towards the vehicle. A moving and directed light will always attract more attention than a fixed light.
    I would suggest that a combination of a fixed handlebar mounted flashing light in combination with a helmet mounted high powered light gives the best chance of seeing and being seen and is considerably more friendly to fellow path users than fixed high powered lights

    • Greg permalink
      15 May, 2014 11:00 am

      I am sorry but as the other rider on the cycle path I completely disagree with you. There is no place for a helmet mounted light in an urban environment unless it is an extremely low powered, non-directional visibility beacon. Anything above 20-30 lumens is just way too bright.

      I have had to stop riding on certain cycle paths in the evening commute to avoid the blinding helmet and handlebar mounted lights. The nature of helmet mounted lights is that the light goes where you are looking and you are always looking at the other traffic. It is ludicrous to suggest that you are riding along looking at the curb.

      Handlebar mounted lights work fine. The mounts can be left hand tight so you can tilt them down towards the ground when riding on shared paths. Most mounts have several degrees of rotation so you can point them around bends or towards side roads if you want a little more visibility.

      • wayne permalink
        15 May, 2014 12:31 pm

        I have mentioned this before, but fitting any item to your helmet could change the performance of the product in an accident. Therefore not meeting it’s Australian testing criteria to Australian standards. Unless the manufacturer has endorsed the attachment it could be deemed not meeting the standard therefore illegal. I personally wouldn’t attach any item to my helmet.

      • Michael James permalink
        15 May, 2014 1:29 pm

        It depends. I’ve seen helmet light fittings that were held on by a bolt down through the helmet. No way, I don’t want a bolt through the top of my skull. But sensible ones (I use the Ay-Up gecko mount) are a light bit of plastic that will brush off in an accident.
        Going blindly legal is the kind of risk-averse box ticking that ignores the real problems it creates while fixing imaginary ones.

      • wayne permalink
        15 May, 2014 1:55 pm

        Unfortunately the law is “blind”. I would doubt if ay-up helmet mounts have been endorsed for fitment to any helmet. These attachments are for off road use away from legal requirements. If you are in a accident with a motor vehicle and the driver can argue you were not wearing a helmet legally, he can possibly a portion some blame. Reducing your claim for compensation.
        There is no real need to mount items on your helmet, so why tempt fate if you are unfortunate enough to be involved in a accident.

      • MattyP permalink
        15 May, 2014 1:57 pm

        Agree with Greg. there’s no place for high powered helmet mounted lights on a commute. Use them for mtb racing, or at least when no one is coming in the opposite direction. Having to ride past someone with AyUps (or similar) on their helmet is challenging and sometimes dangerous.

    • Ezy rider permalink
      2 July, 2014 10:28 am

      Spot on. I use both handlebar mounted and helmet mounted for exactly the reasons you outlined.

  16. Graham permalink
    15 May, 2014 12:33 pm

    Your testers were all ‘young folk’ with plenty of money. As a dad with 3 tween / teenage kids that ride regularly there’s no way we can manage those prices for all of us. Last time I bought high powered lights I shopped around on eBay & bought 1 x noname light in pink (only colour available) for $23. It was so good that I then bought 2 more so that with our 2 x existing light sets we had the family covered.

    2 years later, remarkably, all our light sets are still brilliant & long lasting. So, don’t scoff at the bargains (as long as you don’t mind pink or whatever variant is not selling well).

    As for tail lights I’ve bought 10 x $2 lights. Yep, they’re not as bright as the best, but they’re always on the bike. Better a not so great light that’s always there rather than an absolutely brilliant light that accidentally gets left at home because you didn’t want to have it stolen. At that price I’m happy to replace them whenever they do very occasionally get nicked.

  17. Michael James permalink
    15 May, 2014 2:27 pm

    “There is no real need to mount items on your helmet.” I disagree. I gain safety from my helmet mounted light; by being able to signal my approach to inattentive motorists (and watch their bonnets go down as they brake), inspect obstacles on the road (at full speed), check for kangaroos (in Canberra we have kangaroos hopping down urban streets), and look around corners (remember the Citroen?) I feel helpless and passive out at night without it.
    Yes, the law is “blind” or more popularly “an ass”. Rather than maximising compensation, I prefer to do all I can to avoid the accident. If I lived my life in fear, I wouldn’t be riding a bike anyway.

  18. Wayne permalink
    16 May, 2014 12:09 pm

    We all have our Individual personal set ups for our light that make us feel safe. Thatcis fine, keep on keeping on…….. BUT
    Just recently, I have come accross really bright strobing bright lights on road bikes! A minority, but a few are out there. They must be thousands of lumens! Boy they are bright! I understand having the super lights have advantages due to the fact you can set a lower brightness and increase your run time. 2 hrs on full is normal not enough if you are a serious rider. But two thousand lumens on a solid strobe pattern is two much for oncoming traffic on PSPs.

    If you want more light, get more lights at lower lumens. I run two 500 lumens at 300 and two 200 lumens at 100. So four lights facing forward. Two close to my front wheel and two further down the road. So I have 800 lumens facing forward, but not from one light, reducing the dazzle.

    Guys please, if you have the super bright lights with the battery packs that produce thousands of lumens please select the lower settings.

    Cheers

  19. ColinJ permalink
    4 June, 2014 12:19 pm

    I’ve noticed an increase in the number of oncoming riders courteously shading their headlights and would like to think it was this article and discussion that inspired it. Thanks all!

    • 9 July, 2014 2:38 pm

      Thank you, everyone, for the article, and for all your comments. Having just last week had three lights stolen, in broad daylight, when my bike was locked against a post just outside of my office, I’m currently looking for replacements. The article, and the subsequent comments, have been most helpful.

      I suggest another useful tactic to being seen, both in the dark and in daylight, is the use of reflectors and reflective vests.

      Kind regards,

      Kaete

  20. Gavin permalink
    27 July, 2014 9:42 pm

    I had the Moon Comet rear light and rode in the wet with it yesterday. The light would not turn off when I got home. I opened it up using the two screws on the back and found it had a fair amount of water inside. I waited for it to dry out and now it will not turn on.

    • wayne permalink
      28 July, 2014 11:07 am

      Moon, are fair weather lights.

  21. 1 August, 2014 3:34 pm

    Love your light tests. Next year can you include battery charge hold as one of the criteria?

Trackbacks

  1. Top 60 lights for commuting 2013 | Ride On
  2. In any weather: 30 tips for first-time winter commuters | Ride On
  3. The Best Bike Lights – Choose Best For Your Bike | Thetop16

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