Product reviews: Rechargeable bike lights

For regular cyclists, rechargeable lights are the simplest and most economical choice. Modern lights now range from £20 for 'get you home' blinkers to £500 for full off-road race sets. Here we test models from £32 to £110 – and more reviews will be added over the coming weeks, so do check back.

CATEYE Nano Shot+
£99.99 
www.zyro.co.uk

Charge (claimed/actual): 8hr/6hr45
Run time (claimed/actual): 1hr30/1hr50 (full); 4hr/4hr15 (low)

Compact compared to lights of yesteryear, this was still the bulkiest unit in our mega test — but also the most powerful, promising a whopping 600 lumens. Average charge time of the Li-ion battery was more than an hour quicker than claimed, while burn time on full mode was 20 mins better. The unit has a twin LED with an 'opticube' lens which provided a fairly wide beam pattern, and there's a colour-change indicator to show battery wear. A bar mount and USB cable are included, but a helmet mount costs extra. On commutes we found we were lighting not only ourselves but the bike in front (it's very bright), though our main gripe was that the unit gets extremely hot in use. JK

 

LEZYNE Zecto Drive
£29.99
shop.upgradebikes.co.uk

Charge (claimed/actual): 2hr30/2hr50
Run time (claimed/actual): 3hr/4hr+ (full); 3hr40/4hr30 (flashing)
Another neat, clip-on front lamp from Lezyne, the Zecto has three LEDs built into its feathery 47g aluminium body. It pumps out 80 lumens at most and, interestingly, has transparent sections to the side of the lens which give increased side visibility for other road users. Charge time took a little longer than claimed and burn times on both full and flashing modes were impressive. An excellent multi-coloured indicator lets you know how much battery charge is left. The USB port is neatly covered and there's an integral clip if not using the rubber band. A matching rear's available for the same price or a pair for £54.99. JK

 

NITERIDER Lumina Micro
£55
www.2pure.co.uk

Charge (claimed/actual): 2hr30/2hr50
Run time (claimed/actual): 1hr30/1hr30 (full); 4hr/3hr25 (low)
Like most of the Niterider range, the Lumina Micro can be switched between handlebars or helmets, the latter allowing you to illuminate much more than the path ahead and comes into its own when doing road/trailside repairs. On full mode it puts out a bright focused beam of 220 lumens; on low setting the 80 lumens is brighter than many lamp's main mode. The run-time indicator's built into the on/off switch and the USB port's easily accessed with clamp fitted (cover flap did pop open sometimes). Unusually average run time were exactly as the manufacturer claimed. JK  

 

ELECTRON Terra Mini
£49.99
www.madison.co.uk 

Charge (claimed/actual): 2hr/2hr
Run time (claimed/actual): 3hr/3hr15 (full); 9hr/8hr20 (flashing)

Despite its name the torch-like Mini's not that discreet. But it does feature a powerful beam (165 lumens) with a reasonably long life, displaying a commendable burn time during testing on all functions. It features a handy traffic light warning system to let you know when it’s out of juice, and it’s easy to attach/remove from your bars thanks to interchangeable fittings that also allow you to attach it to your helmet. On the road it performed to a high standard in all temperatures and conditions, remaining bright with a wide beam, but often fell foul to rolling forward on the handlebar due to its weight. TMP

 

EXPOSURE Sirius Mk2
£109.95
www.use1.com


Charge (claimed/actual): 6hr/5.5hr
Run time (claimed/actual): 6hr/5hr (full); 24hr/18 (low)
Exposure sticks with its tried and tested torch-like design for the Mk2 version of the Sirius and the rubber band clip is quick to attach to any bars. It’s lighter than it looks at 84g and can be used on a helmet. Offering 360 lumens it’s one of the brightest lights we tested, with the new lens giving excellent side visibility and there’s a ‘glare guard’ to protect your eyes. The USB port is well covered from flying front wheel debris too. Our main issue is that the charge time is fairly lengthy, so do it before you go to bed. CJ

 

PDW Aether Demon
£32
www.paligap.cc


Charge (claimed/actual): 3hr/3hr15
Run time (claimed/actual): 3hr30/4hr15 (full)
The only rear light shown here (the rest will appear over the coming weeks), this little Demon's performance is as exceptional as the cycling facilities in the city from which it hails (Portland). With just a morning's charge the Li-ion battery lasts for over 4hr on full, 8hr on flashing and a monster 175hr on 'group ride' (10%) mode — we've tried to run it down on this mode but haven't succeeded! You get the option of seatpost or seatstay mounts, or simply clip it onto your bag. It's expensive solely for a rear light, but performance is well worth it. JK


Testers:
JK, Thomas Marshall-Potter, Chris Jubb

 

Replies

Surely a dynamo is the best option for utility cyclists? Never runs out, never needs charging and you never leave your lights at home.

Since you're campaigning for better cycling infrastructure for London, surely you should be listing lights for practical bikes, rather than for sports cyclists/bikes? For example, how many of these lights have a cut-off point to avoid blinding oncoming road users, and how many have an annoying flashing mode? There should be less emphasis on helmet mounts for them too. I agree with Marco, a dynamo system is much better than battery lights,  and are ideal for practical bicycles. An article to dispel common myths about them would be a good idea. A lot of people still think that they turn off when you stop and that they are unreliable and inefficient.

For people who really want battery lights though, I highly recommend the Philips Saferide front light.

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