Best budget MTB lights
A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away… Jedi Knights had to make a decision as to which color of lightsaber they would create and use, and this reflected the way that they used the Force. A green lightsaber was used by a Jedi Consular, who would meditate on the unexplained mysteries of the Force and prefer to fight the Dark side at its evil heart. A blue lightsaber, on the other hand, would be used by a Jedi Guardian, who preferred to fight the Dark side on a much more physical level.
One tool. Two very different philosophies and approaches to life.
With mountain bike lights it’s much the same (though with possibly fewer implications for the fate of the known universe and every creature in it).
We’re going to look at the two philosophies on mountain bike lights today. In the Blue corner, we have the all-powerful blow-the-whole-budget front bike light. The kind of headlight that you would see attached to the front of a Star Destroyer.
In the Green corner, we have a slightly more subtle approach: the budget being split between a cut-through-the-darkness headlight, a see-round-corners helmet light, and a let-them-know-you’re-in-front tail light.
Let’s take a look and see.
Best mountain bike trail lights
Let’s take a look at the two approaches to mountain bike lights now.
In the Blue corner, we have the all-powerful front light. The idea being that you spend your entire budget on a bike light for your handlebars that will light up the trail ahead all by itself.
The great news here is that, actually, it’s pretty difficult to spend the full amount of money and still grab yourself a very high-quality front bike light.
I’m a massive fan of this Helios front light from Bright Eyes. First up, you actually get two lights for your hard-earned cash – the front light and a bonus tail light. Obviously taillights aren’t as critical on trails for being seen as when you’re on roads, but it’s still useful if you have some rear illumination.
The front light though is the bit that I’m really excited about. If you do your research online you’ll see a ton of lights that are in the category of brightness (which is measured in Lumens) of around 400 – 1200 lm. The Bright Eyes lamp totally blows them out of the water with a whopping 1600 lumens! Which is more than enough to light up the trail ahead of you. That’s great because it enables to go faster downhill when you can see further ahead. And you’ll be able to see further ahead in time as well with the 4-hour battery life (on High Beam).
The light comes with an external battery pack, which is rechargeable, using the included cable. And the battery pack can be secured to your bike frame using the supplied Velcro straps. By itself, the Bright Eyes lamp has a narrower spotlight style of beam. That’s great for giving a very bright light on the trail directly ahead. If you want to widen the beam then you can use the supplied diffuser lens to throw a much wider arc of illumination in front of you.
As if all that wasn’t enough, the lamp also comes with a headtorch harness. So you can dismount it from your bike and use it hands-free. Useful for hiking or if you’re pitching a tent in the dark whilst bikepacking.
In the Green corner, we’re taking a different approach to lighting up the trails when mountain biking. Now we’re going for a three-pronged approach: High-quality front bike light, a back-up rear light, and a powerful helmet light.
I think helmet lights are great for many different reasons. First up, they give you illumination whichever way your head is pointing. That’s ideal when mountain biking for seeing what’s around the corner ahead without needing to direct your handlebars that way.
They’re also fantastic because they give you light from higher up, so you’re lighting up the trail from a more elevated point and that can be useful if the trail is bumpy or has a particularly broken up surface.
These helmet lights from Topside are an awesome option because they have a front and rear light. Front light for lighting up the trail, rear light for letting trail users behind you know you’re there. It’s got good brightness at 100 lumens, is USB-rechargeable, and has easy-mounting straps to secure to your helmet.
The great news is that, with your budget, you can also add the baby brother of the Bright Eyes Helios front light above to your MTB Illumination arsenal.
I say “baby brother”, but the Bright Eyes Blaze is more of an “identical twin that was born half an hour later”. How so? Well, take a look at the spec, and you’ll see that this front light isn’t much different from the older sibling.
Included in the kit are all the bits that we’ve seen on the Helios: rechargeable external battery (with fixing straps), diffuser lens (so you can choose a tight or wide beam pattern), free tail light, etc.
So, what’s the difference? Well, the Helios has a brightness of 1600 lumens, with the Blaze at 1200 lumens. There’s a clear and noticeable difference there but, as we’re teaming up the Blaze with the Topside helmet light, it’s likely that the actual illumination you’ll get will be the same or better, depending on trail and weather conditions.
Mountain bike light setup
Thanks for joining me to look at mountain bike lights today. I hope that this article has given you the information you need to choose which Jedi path you’ll be taking.
Of the two approaches, blue and green, my personal preference is for the Green. The combination of powerful front light (backup tail light) and helmet-mounted light, I think, give the best of all worlds. Lighting up the trail ahead of you and letting you see what’s coming up around the corners.
Whichever option you go with… may the Force be with you.
Have fun and stay safe on the trails.
**Please note that our reviews are based on customer reviews, star ratings, and online complaints. Therefore, Bicycle Volt are in no way liable**