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The best cycling lights for helmets: buyer's guide

Joseph Delves
22 Jan 2021

Get some extra illumination up where it can be seen with these helmet-mounted lights

Although it’s a legal requirement to have both a front and rear light fixed to your bicycle, adding some additional illumination to your helmet is a great way to get yourself further noticed.

As well as having the advantage of sitting high above the traffic, a helmet-mounted bicycle light will have several other benefits over the fixed units they supplement.

For example, it’s possible to use a helmet-mounted light to gesture to other road users in a way that’s impossible with fixed lights.

Not only that, more powerful helmet-mounted lights can be used to illuminate your way while cycling in dark areas, with the fact that the light is attached to your head allowing you to point it exactly where it’s required.

Finally, by having a second set of lights, you’ll always be prepared with a back-up in the event your main lights malfunction or suffer a flat battery.

Here are five of our favourites...

The best cycling lights for helmets

1. Cateye Volt 400 Duplex helmet light

The 130g Cateye Volt 400 Duplex provides a maximum of 400 lumens of forward illumination, plus an adequately bright 10 red lumens at the rear. It uses Cayeye’s reliable click-to-fit attachment, on the Volt 400 Duplex this is transposed onto a helmet mount.

Dependent on the pattern of vents on your helmet, this should allow it to be positioned neatly on the middle of your dome. With an adjustable angle, the light’s beam can then be directed exactly as needed.

Just about feathery enough not to be irritating, if turned up full it provides enough illumination to work as a fill-light in conjunction with a larger handlebar-mounted unit for off-road riding.

On-road, it’s bright enough that you’ll want to dim it down to conserve battery life and avoid dazzling drivers. All round a solid and well-made performer.

Read our full review of the Cateye Volt 400 Duplex helmet light here

Maximum output: 400 lumens front / 10 lumens rear Run time maximum: 3h Run time economy: 150h Power: 2600mAh lithium-ion USB rechargeable Weight: 130g Extras: Shows charge remaining

2. Cateye Duplex helmet light

Basically a baby version of the light listed above. The Cateye Duplex helmet light provides a maximum of 30 lumens at the front paired to 10 lumens at the rear. Featuring a long stretchy rubber strap it should gel with most helmet designs, and can easily be transferred over to the bike if needed.

With a single flashing or constant mode for each, its maximum run time is a stated 100 hours. Unusually for a modern bike light, this model isn’t USB rechargeable, instead running on two AAA batteries.

It weighs an unnoticeable 50 grams and has decent brightness and runtime, so we’re not too bothered by this. Plus you can usually pick them up for less than £20 too, making the Duplex a cheap way to add a little extra visibility.

Maximum output: 30 lumens front / 10 lumens rear Run time maximum: 100h Run time economy: 100h Power: 2x AAA battery Weight: 51g Extras: Lens pushes to activate

3. Exposure Link Plus MK2 DayBright helmet light

Buy now from Pure Electric for £85

UK brand Exposure makes some lovely lights. Encased in a slim and neatly machined aluminium housing the Link Plus DayBright helmet light is no exception.

Having found its other products pretty indestructible, we’ve no reason not to expect this to be the same. With tough lenses, IPX6 water resistance and a diminutive 77 gram weight, it’s a great addition to any kit bag that’s also useful for camping and hiking.

Concentrating on cycling, its uniquely designed poseable mount allows the light to be fitted through almost any size or shape of helmet vent. Powered by a 1500 mAh lithium-ion battery, once in place its 300-lumen front output is just enough to see by if you go slow and easily bright enough for visibility.

More impressive is the rear LED, whose 50 lumen output leaves it also able to function as a day-time running light. Lots of clever features, like a charge remaining indicator and mode memory function, round off a very neat if moderately expensive option.

Maximum output: 300 lumens front / 50 lumens rear Run time maximum: 3h Run time economy: 48h Power: 1500mAh lithium-ion USB rechargeable Weight: 77g Extras: N/A

Buy now from Pure Electric for £85

4. Moon Aerolite helmet light

Buy now from Tredz for £23.99

This fairly cheap dual-ended light manages most of the features you want without costing too much. First and foremost it produces an attention-grabbing 60 lumens at the front and a decent 10 lumens at the rear.

Powered by a USB rechargeable lithium-ion battery, it’ll last a claimed 4h 15min in flashing mode while kicking out maximum illumination, which given its low cost and 60 gram weight is pretty impressive.

Its Velcro attachment and adjustable angle bracket are both decent, while the range of modes is extensive and lets you change the output of the front LED between 15, 30 and 60 lumens allowing you to extend the run-time or maximise your illumination.

Rated IPX4 for waterproofing, this should leave it splashproof, but lags slightly behind some of the posher models here. Still given it’s less than half the price, it’s hard to grumble.

Maximum output: 60 lumens front / 10 lumens rear Run time maximum: 2h 40min Run time economy: 38h Power: n/a Weight: 40g Extras: N/A

Buy now from Tredz for £23.99

5. Knog PWR Rider Duo

With a tube-style aluminium body and simple rubber strap attachment, this light from Knog is very low-key looking. However, with a maximum output of 450 lumens, it won’t struggle to get you noticed.

Thanks to an elliptical beam, when used on its maximum setting it’s bright enough to see where you’re going, while if turned down a bit it’ll benefit from a very respectable run time of up to 90 hours on eco-flash.

Part of Knog’s modular light system, the main light arrives with what the brand refers to as the ‘Redcap’, a push-in back to the main light that contains a 12 lumen rear lamp. Once combined, the two work together and their myriad modes can be adjusted and combined using Knog’s Modemaker app, which is great if you like that sort of thing.

It's powered by a USB rechargeable 2200mAh battery contained in the main light. Cleverly this can be run in reverse, allowing you to charge your electronics via its stored charge. Its helmet fixing uses the same standard as a GoPro camera, letting you swap between the two items without changing mounts.

Maximum output: 450 lumens front / 15 lumens rear Run time maximum: 2h Run time economy: 90h Power: 2200mAh USB rechargeable Weight: 115g Extras: Modular/Batterypack function

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