Whether a trail rider or a daily commuter, getting the right light for your bike can be daunting. There are many choices and lots of factors that make each option unique. Gone are the days of heavy, bulky bulbs. New LED technology makes bike lights smart, efficient, bright, and long-lasting. Are you looking for the best bike lights with remote switches or other smart features? Find top-rated options below, plus enough knowledge to make the best choice for your bike.
How to Determine What Kind of Bike Light You Need
Each light has a few common elements that impact its functionality. These include lumens, battery life, beam patterns, and weatherproofing.
Bike Light Components
- Lumens: These are part of what determines how brightly your light shines, along with beam pattern. Lumens measure how much light passes through an area per second, so the higher the lumens, the brighter the light typically is. In brighter light or well-lit settings, a 100-200 lumen headlight might be sufficient, whereas trail riders who need to light up obstacles quickly enough to dodge them will aim for 1,000 lumens or higher.
- Battery: The higher lumens or the brighter the setting, the fast your battery will drain. If your battery lasts only a few hours before charge but you typically take short trips, this will be sufficient. If you take longer trips, look for extended batteries and opt for ones that alert you when batteries are getting low.
- Weatherproofing: If you only ride your bicycle in fair weather, weatherproofing likely won’t matter as much. If you ride in the rain or wind, you’ll want to consider an IPX-rated light. Specifically, IP5+ ratings will withstand water resistance. The higher the number, the more particle- and water-proof they will be.
- Beam Patterns: Some lights are designed to light your path with a focused, bright beam, while others are meant to alert others to your presence using peripheral lighting, which can also alert you to nearby hazards. It’s best to have a mix of both peripheral and direct beam lights.
Lights come in a variety of types. Each one has a different use. You must check with your local laws to determine which ones are legally required.
- Combos: Combos combine functionality like headlights with peripheral light beams.
- Daytime Lights: These are bright enough to ensure you are more visible in busy traffic patterns.
- Tail Lights: These are often red spots meant to affix to the rear of your bike to alert traffic to your presence.
- Headlights – Brighter, focused, and able to guide you in low or dark light conditions.
- Headlamps – These are focused beams that affix to your helmet. If you plan on biking in rough terrain, your bike’s headlight will not necessarily direct the beam where you need it to be. A headlight plus a headlamp on your helmet can help you navigate tight switchbacks.
Consider the environment you ride in when selecting a bike light. If you are primarily a commuter that travels in the daytime but on busy urban streets, you may need less focused high beams and more peripheral lighting to alert drivers to your presence.
If you ride early or late, you’ll want to accommodate low-to-no-light conditions. Consider also how easy to navigate, and well-lit are the routes you take.
Trail riders need to see what obstacles they are approaching quickly. They will want to invest in good bright, focused, and peripheral lighting with long battery life and durable weatherproofing.
Bike Light Placement
You might attach your bike light to your bike’s frame, handlebars, seat riser, wheels, helmet, or even your clothes. You can often buy alternative mounting systems if the light doesn’t come with the right attachment kit.
So you are looking for the best bike lights with a remote switch? It’s important to know that bike lights now come with many smart features. Some allow you to customize LED displays or link groups of lights together. Remote switching can mean a variety of things, but for bike lights, it typically means you can adjust your bike light’s output mode using a cellphone app. Plus, it can feed you data like distance traveled, brake detection, and theft alerts.
Top Rated Bike Lights
Bontrager Ion 200 RT/Flare RT Light Set
The Bontrager lights got high marks from reviewers at Bike Radar, Cycling News, Bicycling, and Popular Mechanics. Why? It features an IP7 rating, meaning it can endure whatever weather conditions you throw at it. Plus, both the Ion and the Flare have significant light output. The company claims they can be seen from 1.25 miles away. Plus, they are durable, come with various lighting modes, and you can connect your Garmin to them.
The Cygolite was recognized by Popular Mechanics, Bicycling, and Hot Shot. Tiny but solidly affordable, these draw attention to the rider. They can affix to your bike or clip onto your clothes. They feature customizable light modes including blink and strobe, last for up to 5 hours, and have an IP4 rating so they can withstand a light rain no worse for the wear (one of Popular Mechanics editors ran it through the wash to no ill-effect)
NiteRider 1200 OLED Boost
The NiteRider was top-rated by Bicycling and Tom’s Guide and even won Editor’s Choice from Popular Mechanics. Some features that earned its high praise include its super bright beam, incredibly long battery life, and durability. The battery life gets a boost from a battery-saving mode that helps extend its life up to 30 hours. The mountain system is well-designed and sturdy, offering nine different lighting modes. It’s USB rechargeable and has a crisp screen that gives lots of data. It is more expensive than competitors but worth the extra cash.
Think carefully about what your needs are before buying a bike light. When looking for the best bike lights with a remote switch, consider what you want control over and why then make your selection based on what will best fill your unique needs.