Mountain Bike Lights

Its that time of year again, the sun is sleeping in and then going to bed early. Questions about lights are coming thick and fast. The light offering these days has gone way beyond the old dyno on the front wheel with some lights giving more enlightenment than Buddha himself. We have been taking night time group rides for the last few years and during that time compiled the follow information on what we have found to be the must haves for the best illumination.

- Two lights - one helmet, one bars.

- Different Beams - One spread, one throw.

- Lumens - 1000 lumens is enough, 2000lumens is heaps

- Matchy, matchy – Lumens and colour should match

MTB at night
Riding at night can you give you that extra buzz...

Two Lights

There are a few reasons to take two lights, first is safety. If one has a mishap, you always have a spare. The next is more about vision. One light on the handle bars shows you where you are going, a light on your helmet will show you where you want to go. We all know, or should know, you look up the trail or around the corner before you actually get to the corner. Therefore, a good light on the helmet follows your vision and is a must in our opinion

Different Beams

This isn’t a big one, but if you’re going to buy two lights its good to get the best of both worlds. We find a good spread of beam is useful on the handlebars to light up your peripheral vision where a good pencil or long throwing beam is good for the helmet to enable you to see as far as possible down the trail. Be wary of lumen ratings though and how they differ


We find 1000 lumens per light is plenty for a good ride, 2000 is heaps. Anything above this makes it harder to adjust your eyes to the dark patches. Bright lights can really be annoying for a person riding in front of you too as you drown out their lights and cause strong shadows. Now, you need to read specifications carefully, typically a 2000 lumen, twin light will be a 1000 lumens per globe/led. Whereas, a single light will be 2000 lumens alone, thus being brighter than your twin light and probably throw further down the trail. Now, I rode for years with a 300 lumen road light, worked great, just don’t expect to ride a warp speed.

Matchy Matchy

One thing that is often overlooked is matching your lumens and colour. No, I know we are ‘cyclists’ but I am not talking about outfits! Making sure your two lights have a similar lumens and also similar colour, so when you go from looking straight ahead to looking around the corner your eyes don’t need to adjust to the different light. Amazing what a difference this can make.


There’s a bunch of other questions too, but I find the rest are personal choice. Battery packs? Yep, I prefer an all in one unit for my handlebars, but a separate battery pack on my helmet so I don’t have the weight up top. You can be guaranteed I will almost hang myself at least once a month when removing my backpack, but I still prefer it. Purely personal choice. Brands, well, we have riders running everything from $30 ebay lights to $1000 top of line, the most important thing is they work and you have a smile on your face. Happy riding!

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