Best Daytime Cycling Lights 2020
Could using a daytime running light save your life?
Quick Menu Navigation
- What To Look For In A Daytime Running Light
- Best 8 Daytime Running Lights
- See.Sense Icon2 Front and Rear
- Moon Comet X Front Light
- Proviz Triviz Electroluminescent Lighting
- Bontrager Flare R City USB Rear Light
- Blackburn Dayblazer 1,100 Front Light
- Ibex Sports Trace + TraceR
- Flux™ 1200 headlight
- Lezyne Lite Drive 800XL
- Best Daytime Cycling Lights 2019 Summary
Daytime Running Lights: To Have Or Not To Have?
You are of course required by law, not to mention common sense, to use both front and rear lights at night. Ask six cyclists what they think of the merits of using daytime running lights (DRLs) though, and you will likely get six very energetic replies, as this thread on popular cyclists’ forum The Paceline shows. Just make sure they’re not all in the room with you at the same time, or you could be there for a while!
Having decided to research an article on the best daytime running lights, at this time of the year where mornings get darker again for those travelling to work early, I did not expect to find such a disparity in people’s thinking. One might think that it would be a no-brainer: using lights on your bike will make you easier to spot, and therefore safer. That is sadly not the case though, according to some.
In fact there are those who even argue that a few people using DRLs make the roads more dangerous for the majority of people who do not yet use them; vehicle drivers possibly using the excuse that "the cyclist didn’t have lights", when really it was just their inattention that caused the collision. According to the Government's March 2018 Cycling Road Safety factsheet, over 90% of reported cyclist casualties involved just one motor vehicle, so clearly, this is the target group of road users whose attention cyclists need to reach.
With motor vehicle drivers needing to process so much information on every journey as it is, opponents of DRLs say that just having one small beam of light on your bike is not on its own going to help. They say it will not make you stand out from all the other road users using lights, in addition to the multitude of actual road lighting in place.
Most do seem to agree though, that if you can be perceived as a human riding a bike, then drivers do seem to be more careful… which is certainly good to know! With 80% of cycling accidents occurring during daylight hours, as stated in the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents’ November 2017 Road Safety factsheet, it cannot be disputed that this is where change in drivers' behaviour is most crucial.
So how can you best make yourself stand out? People report best success by fitting lights on a moving part, such as your lower leg, or a pedal, as opposed to a stationary point. Neon clothing and/or reflective strips, again preferably on a moving part, also come highly recommended. Lastly, when lights are used, a random/intermittent pattern, rather than a steady beam, can help to break through the ‘brain fog’ or autopilot mindset some drivers experience, especially after a long day at work.
Despite the reluctance of some cyclists to become fans of DRLs, there is actual evidence that they do have a positive effect on reducing casualties. This 12 month Danish study using 3845 cyclists on the effectiveness of using DRLs showed a 19% reduction in personal injury rates… I would take a 1 in 5 drop in the risk of one of my loved ones being injured every day of the week, wouldn’t you?
Certainly, every cyclist needs to make their own decision on the subject, but my thinking is well, if it can help even a little, I’m going to go with it. One of the above mentioned forum’s users, with the username SlackMan, said:
“After I put a Cygolite 850 on the front in flash mode, no cars pull out in front of me on my commute, and almost none pass and then turn right in front of me (the 200 lumen rear light - a Dinotte Quad - probably helps with that too). That was a big change from when I didn't run those lights during the day.”
Yes, this is just one person’s experience, and may well include some positive bias, but as the detractors of DRLs all appear to be non-users… my personal opinion is that with the cheapest lighting option in our report starting at just £15, why wouldn’t you give them a go?
What To Look For In Daytime Running Lights
They are a pretty simple product, in essence, so there’s not that much to differentiate them, on face value. Here are some of the product features to look out for:
Typically quoted in ‘lumens’ as a description for the total light produced, but as some brands use reflectors, and others talk about ‘visibility distance’, it’s essential to check out each product’s details, and try where possible to read the opinion of other users. Don’t necessarily just go for the brightest either; blinding other road users won’t help you stay safe!
Fitting and ease of mounting/removal
This sounds like the most obvious thing ever, but there is no use putting a light on your bike if it is going to move whilst you’re cycling, and end up pointing at the sky like Batman’s call to action.
And if it’s a pain in the proverbial to even get it on and off, the chances are you won’t bother to use it at all. No light is any good if it’s sitting on your kitchen worktop when you are at work about to leave for the night, before you realise the morning’s sunny weather is now long gone, and you have to ride home in a drizzly gloom.
Here we are looking at what is called IP (ingress protection), which is the same safety rating scale that bathroom lights have to adhere to. The scale is split into dust and water, which are the first and second number accordingly.
For example with IP67, the 6 is the maximum dust protection, 2-8 hours, and the 7 refers to the water protection of 15 minutes submerged at a depth between 15cm to 100cm of water. Only IP68 is more water/dust proof.
Now, living in the UK, would you think it makes sense to have a light that’s basically waterproof? Yep, me too. Although I'm also thinking that if your bike is submerged for more than 15 minutes, you probably have more to worry about than whether the IP rating on your DRL is accurate...
Battery life/run time under different modes, eg constant or flashing
With all of the different light types out there, it’s important you pick the right one for how you cycle. If you typically ride for long distances or participate in day-long events, you will have different needs to someone who just commutes, or goes for a couple of hours' easy riding at the weekend. Above all, you never want to get into a dangerous situation because your lights’ battery running time wasn't sufficient.
Ease of charging
Unless you have a really long charging lead, or can bring your bike right into the house, the ability to easily remove the light in order to recharge it is critical. It needs to be secure, so you avoid the aforementioned Bruce Wayne situation, but it needs to be easily detachable too. You don’t want to have to get your toolset out each time you need to charge it. Then, the length of time it takes to recharge needs to work with your lifestyle too.
Angle of visibility, ie how far from the side is the light visible?
The main idea of a DRL is for you to be seen, so it makes sense for this to work from as many positions as possible. It’s fabulous you can be spotted from 2 miles away (although why this is necessary I’m unsure, given an accident that far apart has never in the history of mankind taken place), but if you are invisible at 10 feet from 45 degrees, then really, is that the right light for you?
Mode of operation: steady, blinky, intermittent, or ‘intelligent’
As 3 out of every 4 cycle casualties occur within 20m of a junction there must be something to be said for the various intellgent lighting modes that react at junctions. Some lights are so clever now, you wonder if they'll soon be walking your dog too.
Any additional features: camera etc
Lights can be incorporated into other cycling tech, as I wrote about in my piece on cycling safety cams last month… what… you missed it? Well fear not, here’s your opportunity to read it now here:
My fellow Proviz blog writer, Hannah Rogan, also wrote an excellent piece on cool cycling safety tech last month, which again you can read here:
Both articles discuss really worthwhile gadgets that include lights, so if you’d rather not have something attached to every available inch of your bike’s frame, maybe you'd like to consider a multipurpose item instead?
So that’s everything I can think of that may be important to you, when buying your daytime running light. Read on to see my thoughts on a few of the best-known products below. Please note that my article isn’t influenced by any manufacturer incentives (ie cashback/affiliate link), so that I could be as independent in my opinion as possible. The prices quoted are generally as stated on the manufacturer’s websites, but often there are great deals to be had elsewhere, so do shop around. And as always, stay safe.
Best 8 Daytime Cycling Lights
There are dozens of DRLs on the market now, and it’s impossible to say which is best, as the way in which you cycle will make all the difference. I have looked at a few that I think are great, and hope you find the information useful.
When you find one you are interested in, there will surely be a cool video from the manufacturer, plus umpteen in-depth reviews and opinions from current users. Be sure to read everything possible before spending your hard-earned money, because all jokes aside, being as safe as it’s possible to be, whilst out and about in the big wide world on two wheels, is what really matters.
See.Sense Icon2 Front and Rear
See.Sense Icon2 is the third light that the company has used Kickstarter to bring to market. The brand have had great success with one of their lights being the most backed product in that category. It will enter the market at £105 for the front and rear set, or £55 for just the rear.
The Icon2 is, as you would expect, based on the very successful, award-winning Icon light. The unit comes equipped with two types of LEDs, one of which can be seen at a huge 270 degree angle. The other is super bright and according to the manufacturer, can be seen from up to 3km away.
One very cool feature is the reactive mode, which links to your bike’s braking, so that when you are approaching a more risky environment (such as junctions and give ways), it flashes brighter and faster. It is this variance that is said to penetrate people’s ‘autopilot’ mode, and help them to notice you.
Pros: See.Sense Icon2 Front and Rear
2 types of LED giving both distance and 270 degree vision
Reactive lighting and brake light modes
ANT+ app integration (think less energy used on syncing with app)
16 hours on one charge in reactive flash mode
Cons: See.Sense Icon2 Front and Rear
As the product is not due for shipping until July 2019, it’s hard to say right now. The previous model had a few issues, such as a less than sturdy elastic fitting mechanism, but we are hopeful they will have addressed these, as they did when going from their previous model Icon to the Icon+
See.Sense Icon2 Front and Rear Codes
Manufacturer Link = See.Sense Icon2 Front and Rear
Moon Comet X Front Light
The Moon Comet X front light is a compact light that is easily mountable and comes with a rubber band wrap making it easy to attach to a seat post. With its size and weight it can be worn on the body too.
Coming in at £14.99 on Amazon, it seems to be a really great price, especially considering the wide angle beam and its super light weight, at just 59g. The Moon Comet X comes with 7 programmable modes so that you can pick one that suits the conditions.
Pros: Moon Comet X Front Light
USB chargeable, only taking 2 hours
Great low price
Cons: Moon Comet X Front Light
Selecting different settings ccould be easier
Not the brightest at 120 lumens
Moon Comet X Front Light Codes
GTIN = 4897029982174
Manufacturer Link = Moon Comet X Front Light
MPN = 220727
Proviz Triviz Electroluminescent Lighting
Whilst not strictly a daytime running light, I thought I'd give an honourable mention to the Triviz, the Proviz RedDot design award-winning electroluminescent lighting system. This is something a bit different, being in the shape of a warning triangle, worn on the body and available in three colours (red, green and blue). With a great 9 - 18 hour battery life, the light has one constant and two flashing modes.
Every road user understands the symbolism of the triangle and associates it with a warning, which I think is a great alternative to the standard 'oh look it's yet another vehicle light', to alert other road users to your presence.
The Triviz is very simply attached using hook/loop material to any of the products in the Nightrider Backpack range, the Nightrider Waterproof Backpack cover, or the simple and inexpensive Triviz Lighting System Harness. At the current sale price of £22.49, it is also great value for money.
Pros: Proviz Triviz Electroluminescent Lighting
9-18 hours run time
Very easy to attach/detach
3 hour USB recharge time
Lightweight at 74g
Cons: Proviz Triviz Electroluminescent Lighting
Since the Triviz was updated, everyone seems to be really happy with it! Take a look at the reviews here:
Proviz Triviz Electroluminescent Lighting Codes
GTIN = 5030578319278
Manufacturer Link = Proviz Triviz Electroluminescent Lighting
MPN = PV756
UPC = 5030578319278
Bontrager Flare R City USB Rear Light
The Bontrager Flare R City is a really compact unit that can be mounted discreetly onto the seat-post and comes with four operating modes, 2 for day and 2 for night usage. It is another keenly priced product at around £18.
The unit is visible from 900m away in daytime mode with an auto brightness feature, meaning it gets brighter in lighter conditions, and it has a useful wide visibility angle. The battery lasts between 5 and 20 hours depending on the mode. There is also a useful battery sensor, which automatically engages when running low, so that the risk of running out of power at a critical time is reduced.
Pros: Bontrager Flare R City USB Rear Light
Both a DLR and night time unit
Good battery life and clever sensor
Lightweight and unobtrusive
Cons: Bontrager Flare R City USB Rear Light
Only IP46 meaning it could suffer in severe weather conditions
Stated lumens of 35 is on the low side of those reviewed, but users say this is fine in other reviews
Bontrager Flare R City USB Rear Light Codes - H4
GTIN = 0601479512263
Manufacturer Link = Bontrager Flare R City USB Rear Light
MPN = 536548
UPC = 0601479512263
Blackburn Dayblazer 1100 Front Light
The Dayblazer 1100 is the next model up from the 800 and is the most powerful Dayblazer light at the moment. The 1100 has various flashing modes, from permanent to a strobe mode, so you can feel safe in a range of conditions.
The unit is fairly low in weight and has the standard USB charging ports you have come to expect. With its IP67 rating is is well suited to poor weather conditions. With only one more level of IP protection (IP68) you could almost cycle underwater with this one :-)
We like the small handlebar footprint due to LEDs being above and below as opposed to left and right. This is useful if you have multiple accessories like a GPS or phone and priced around £55 from the UK suppliers of this US branded product, it seems good value for such a powerful unit.
Pros: Blackburn Dayblazer 1100 Front Light
Super-bright 1100 lumens option
Lightweight 140 grams unit
BLITZ Daytime Running Mode ridiculously bright
Good for British weather with IP67 rating
Cons: Blackburn Dayblazer 1100 Front Light
Needs to be used with USB charging cable provided
5 hour recharge time means you need to be organised
Battery run time not great on any of the constant modes
Blackburn Dayblazer 1100 Front Light Codes
GTIN = 0768686152696
Manufacturer Link = Blackburn Dayblazer 1100 Front Light
MPN = 7097039
UPC = 0768686152696
Exposure Lights Trace + TraceR
Exposure have created a nice pair of front and rear lights with the Trace and TraceR, which have a visibility range of up to 1km when using the pulse mode. Although the manufacturer price is £75, they can be found as a pair from around £44 at several online stores.
There are 6 different modes to fit different ride requirements, so you are sure to find one to suit. Battery time is from 3 - 24 hours, so if using on DayBright mode you'll need to watch the battery, but recharge time is fast at just 2 hours.
What we like is the 360 degree visibility with both the front and rear units, due to both having clear sides. Thes are the only 360 degree lights reviewed, so you have a better chance of being seen from any angle... should a grown person on a bike not be obvious enough.
Pros: Exposure Lights Trace + TraceR
DayBright flash pattern
'Fuel gauge' displays remaining battery life
360 degree visibility
Just 2 hour recharge time
At 35g per light, they are the lightest reviewed
Cons: Exposure Lights Trace + TraceR
Can be a little difficult to access charging port
Be aware of low battery life in the constant modes
Exposure Lights Trace + TraceR Codes
GTIN = 0689791600332
Manufacturer Link = Exposure Lights Trace + TraceR
MPN = EXPTRACEPACKDB
UPC = 689791600332
Flux™ 1200 headlight
The Flux 1200 comes with left and right dual beams at a huge 1200 lumens, along with a nifty clear side giving 180 degree visibility, although at around £125 just for a headlight, this is definitely not the cheapest on the market.
There are 3 modes (300, 600 or 1200 lumens), which can be chosen depending on the situation and the time of day. This unit is both helmet and bike mountable. It does have a 1.5 hour to 90% battery fast charge time, which is useful when it only runs for 75 minutes on the top output steady beam.
A nice benefit though is that there is a low-level emergency light mode, if the battery gets too low, so if you are out for longer than you thought you'd be, you will still have some protection for up to three more hours.
Pros: Flux™ 1200 headlight
Clear sides for extra visibility
Very bright at 1200 lumens
Fast charge time
Cons: Flux™ 1200 headlight
Mount will not work on 35mm frame and can be tricky to initially set up and adjust later on
On the pricey side
Low battery time on steady mode, compared to others reviewed
Flux™ 1200 headlight
GTIN = 888818406579
Manufacturer Link = Flux™ 1200 headlight
MPN = 49119-1610
UPC = 888818406579
Lezyne Lite Drive 800XL
The Lezyne Lite Drive 800XL headlight come in at 800 lumens (as you may have guessed from the name), has a internal reflector lens giving good side visibility, and has 8 modes, some with amazing battery times (if relatively low output). Do shop around as it is currently available at around £37 in the UK, rather than the manufacturer's $69.99, making it a good value light at that output.
There is a large, easy to use (even with gloves on) button on the top of the light, even with gloves, and a nice feature is that it changes colour during usage, allowing you to see battery life at a glance.
It also comes in a nice range of funky colours, if you are bored with the standard silver/black options from most manufacturers.
Pros: Lezyne Lite Drive 800XL - H3
High brightness, although with relative highly reduced run time
Easy to see remaining battery life
Great colour choice of red, blue and purple, alongside the standard silver
Cons: Lezyne Lite Drive 800XL
Rubber attaching strap may not be the most durable
You'll need to play around with the output options to get the required power/battery life balance
Lezyne Lite Drive 800XL Codes
GTIN = 4712805997367
Manufacturer Link = Lezyne Lite Drive 800XL
MPN = L-1-LED-16-V104U
Notable mention: if you’ve had a recent lottery win, the Garmin Varia Smart Bike Lights might be worth splashing out on. At £279.99 currently for both the headlight and rear light set, the cost may seem a little eye watering, but with its array of clever features that link up with Edge bike computers to give even more benefits, it is certainly the light set that James Bond would choose, should he ever decide to swap his Aston Martin for two wheels!
Best Daytime Cycling Lights 2019 Summary
So, that's my opinion of these 8 lights. You will need to pick what works for the way you cycle and as prices change, we suggest you shop around. For us the winner at the lower end of the market is the Exposure Lights Trace + TraceR
being the best priced pair, with full 360 visibility, lowest weight, fastest recharge time, and with a visible battery display. If you have more cash to splash, I'm sure the Icon2 from See.Sense will be a great product, if as promised they have got rid of the niggles from the previous version. I hope this guide gives you some idea of the options available to you and a bit of head-start on what to look for, should you decide to try life with a DRL. Please let me know what happens if you do! I'd love to hear you get a good response from drivers; after all that's the purpose of this product.