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Best rear bike lights 2024 — boost your day & night visibility with a bright back light

Running one of the best rear bike lights with plenty of lumens should mean all but the most idiotic drivers will notice you from a good distance

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Over the years we've clocked up thousands upon thousands of cold, dark winter road miles to test hundreds of rear lights. These are the best rear bike lights you can buy, from brilliant budget beamers to retina-ripping radiants that demand even the dopiest driver's attention.

A rear light is a legal requirement when cycling at night, and using one that's brighter than the legal minimum seems like a sensible way of helping drivers see you — or at least defanging 'but I didn't see them' excuses. The best bike rear lights have long run-times, can be seen from a good distance, and are sufficiently tough and waterproof to fend off day-to-day abuse.

Cycling rear lights universally use one or more red light-emitting diodes (LEDs) to generate their light. LEDs are very efficient, putting out lots of light for modest electrical power, which makes them cheap to run but effective at boosting visibility. Most rear bike lights are now rechargeable, taking power from a USB source like a standalone charger or your office computer. Battery-powered lights are still available and have their adherents who appreciate being able to revive a dead light at any filling station or corner shop.

A flashing red light says 'bike' to most drivers; we recommend using a constant light as well so your position can be easily followed. It can be hard to track the position of a flasher on an otherwise unlit minor road. Rear bike lights are increasingly intended as day-time safety lights too, with super-bright flash or pulse modes designed to be impossible for drivers to ignore. They can be very annoying to other riders though; please use them only when necessary.

If you want to see our top picks of back, front and combined lights all in one place, you can also check out our overall guide to the best bike lights. Just looking for a front beam? Head on over to our guide to the best front bike lights instead. 

The best rear bike lights: our top picks

Exposure Boost-R with ReAKT and Peloton

Exposure Boost-R with ReAKT and Peloton

Best overall
Buy now for £74.99 from Tweeks Cycles
Several modes
Good runtimes

Exposure's TraceR with ReAKT and Peloton rear light impressed us previously and in creating the new Boost-R, Exposure has taken the highly regarded Trace-R and doubled the runtimes while adding just 10g in weight. 

You get a beaming 80-lumen max output, with six modes that dictate how much burn time you have, from 6 hours in the brightest static mode to 48 hours on the lowest flash mode, plus DayBright pulse mode. 

ReAKT is probably the best feature of the lot, adapting to the light conditions at the time, and flaring up when it senses that the rider is braking. Additionally, the Peloton feature recognises when there is a front bike light behind you and dims itself to save dazzling the following rider. 

Garmin Varia

Garmin Varia RTL515

Best money-no-object
Buy now for £169 from Halfords
Great rear light
Alerts you about overtaking objects well before you can see or hear them

The Garmin Varia RTL515 is a very good rear light with a reliable alert system for being overtaken.

The radar system alerts you to cars behind you, and while you might be thinking that you don't need a radar system, Iwein felt that it made his riding safer because it alerted him to overtaking objects before he could see or hear them.

The rear light is among the best in class in terms of flash pattern and brightness too with a battery life of around 16 hours on day flash mode.

ETC R65 65 Lumen USB Rear Light

ETC R65 65 Lumen USB Rear Light

Best budget rear light
Buy now for £13.99 from Ebay
Solid mount
Easy to use
Useful modes
Waterproofing a little weak

Most of the lights we review are more expensive than £15.99, and of those that are close, few are as bright. The ETC R65 USB Rear Light is a well-made and effective light that lasts well between charges and at full power, and is easily bright enough to be seen in daylight. 

The light has six modes, cycled with a single press, so it's easy to choose. You get high and low solid beams, two speeds of flash, a mode that combines very fast flashes with bursts of solid beam, and a smoothly rising and falling pulse.

ETC doesn't claim any run-times, but in the solid 65-lumen mode it lasts around 90 minutes, and everything else runs usefully longer than that – flashing mode is easily good for a typical week's commuting, and unless you're running that full power solid mode it's dependably fit-and-forget rather than charge-every-ride.

Cateye Viz 450 Rear Light

Cateye Viz 450 Rear Light

Best rear light for brightness
Buy now for £37 from Merlin Cycles
Cateye lights tend to be solidly made and last for years
Very high output when you really need that...
...other effective (and less offensive) modes for when you don't
Generally easy to use, fit and live with
Overkill for most use-cases, and most will find all the illumination they need in cheaper models

As a whole, we've found that Cateye lights tend to be well-made units that chuck out lots of light and last for years and the Cateye Viz 450 Rear Light is no exception. 

Cateye's Viz 450 rear light can throw out an extremely bright beam, although the full power is reserved for an intermittent flash in the 'Daytime Hyperflash' mode. It combines the all-round visibility from Cateye's earlier Rapid models with a focused beam that will have you seen from hundreds of metres back.

As the name suggests, Cateye's Viz 450 rear light can emit an extremely bright beam—450 lumens. In some specific use cases, you might appreciate this level of power, but for most cyclists, it can be considered overkill.

Gemini Juno 100 rear light

Gemini Juno 100 rear light

Best affordable rear light
Buy now for £32.9 from Ebay
Very bright, but kind on the eyes
Versatile mount
Easy to use
Run-times shorter than claimed
Rotating mount could be better

The Gemini Juno 100 is a simple, easy to use rear light with few frills, but it does pack some useful features, including a 30 COB (chip-on-board) LED lighting array that's super-bright without melting eyeballs, and a clip mount that allows it to be attached on or off the bike in a variety of ways.

The oval arrangement of LEDS gives the light a distinctive shape that certainly stands out from the usual lighting crowd, and thanks to the ability to rotate around its base 90 degrees, it can be orientated either in line with your seatpost, or perpendicular to it.

The curved lens also gives the light decent side visibility as well, which is a bonus. Although 100 lumens max might not sound as powerful as some, even in bright daylight it really stands out – I honestly don't think you need any more than this to stand out, unless you want to be really obnoxious.

Brightside Bright, Amber and Sideways

Brightside Bright, Amber and Sideways

Best for extra visibility
Buy now for £22.99 from Halfords
Extra dimension of visibility

Brightside's eponymous light is a well-built double-ended side light at a good price that attaches easily to your frame, and gives you an extra dimension of visibility to other road users approaching you from the side. Bright 15-lumen Cree LEDs at each end attract attention.

The Brightside has filled a gap in the market (a quick internet search only unearthed the Brightside and the Cateye Orbit Spoke lightset) in a bid to reduce the instances of SMIDSY (sorry mate I didn't see you) incidents. With too many accidents happening at junctions and roundabouts, the light is designed to give you all-round visibility to motorists approaching from your side – Brightside, not broadside.

Techalogic CR-1 Rear Light with HD Wide Angle Camera

Techalogic CR-1 Rear Light with HD Wide Angle Camera

Best rear light with a camera
Buy now for £104.95 from Techalogic
Good value
Simple to operate
Includes various mounting options
Has a rear view mirror mode
Chunky looks
Buttons flat and hard to find

The Techalogic CR-1 Rear Light with HD Wide Angle Camera is a decent light and a good camera too, at least for safety use. 

The light consists of a stack of five LEDs and at the top, you'll find the camera lens, which is protected by a flush-fitted cover designed to minimise the risk of scratching. The camera captures footage at a resolution of 1920x1080, recording at a frame rate of 30 frames per second. With its wide 120-degree field of view, it covers the entire road width, and during playback, it consistently provides sharp images.

The light offers five different modes, consisting of four flashing modes and one steady mode. When solely using the camera, the battery lasts approximately 7 hours, whereas when using both the camera and the flashing light, it provides around 5.5 hours of runtime.

Kryptonite Incite XR USB Rear light

Kryptonite Incite XR USB Rear

Best for commuting
Buy now for £17.35 from Fawkes Cycles
Easy to operate
Lacks punch for fog

The Kryptonite Incite XR USB Rear light is well suited to being your weekday commuting bike light thanks to a solid run-time, easy operation and good side visibility.

The Incite XR has five modes lasting for around 20 hours in the high steady flash mode and up to 36 hours in eco mode. 

Usually, we see the brightness of bike lights measured in lumens. Kryptonite measures its rear lights in Lux and this Incite XR is given a value of 0.06. In real terms, I found the Incite XR to be perfectly bright enough for city commuting.

Bryton Gardia R300L Rear View Bike Radar Tail Light

Bryton Gardia R300L Rear View Bike Radar Tail Light

A more affordable rear smart light
Buy now for £114.89 from Halfords
Effective radar coverage
Easy pairing with head units
Simple to operate
Smart light functions
Not 100% on picking up motorbikes
‘Loses’ vehicles when they're moving at your speed

The obvious comparison to the Gardia R300L would be the Garmin Varia system, and for quite a lot less money the Bryton does an impressive job of detecting cars from an impressive distance away. The beam is pretty good too. 

There are also some bonus extras, like the easy-to-use smartphone app and smart light capabilities. The unit pairs with most head units (not just Bryton) and Bryton says it can detect vehicles up to 150m away. Our reviewer found it could pick up from even further away than that, about 180-200m on long, straight roads. 

As a light it is also very effective, with five settings and just a quick press to flick between them. The light also detects changes in speed and can deploy a brake light, and a flashing light pattern that changes when a car is approaching to increase the chances of you being seen.

There are some small quirks like patchy pick-up of motorbikes and losing vehicles when they're moving at your speed, but overall this is a decent light and radar system in one. 

Lezyne Zecto Drive Max 250

Lezyne Zecto Drive Max 250

Best super bright rear light
Buy now for £39.99 from Leisure Lakes Bikes
Excellent build
Long run-times
Very bright
Brighter than you might really need
A little expensive

Do you really need a 250 lumen rear light? Probably not in most circumstances, but the option is there with Lezyne's Zecto Drive Max 250. 

Of course there are loads of less bright settings and there are five flashing modes in total - i the 35 lumen mode it can last a full 24 hours, at least a fortnight's worth of commuting for most of us. 

While the high visibility is this light's main USP, it's also very solidly built and should last you years. Our reviewer's only real criticisms were that it's not cheap, and that it might even be too bright!

Knog Plus Rear Light, Black

Knog Plus Rear Light, Black

Lightest rear light
Buy now for £15.99 from Chain Reaction Cycles
Light and slim
Easy to detach
Highly visible
Cable-free charging
A bit wobbly on aero posts

If you're a time triallist or hill climber, or just want some brightness without adding weight to your bike set-up, then this tiny 18g beam from Knog is well worth a look. It's very affordable too at well under the £20 mark. 

Our reviewer described it as "an impressively simple light that weighs almost nothing". Pumping out 20 lumens, it's bright enough for a useful visibility boost. The mount is magnetic, and there's a USB port built into it so you don't need a cable for charging. 

Burn time is two hours in steady mode which isn't huge, but on eco flash you can get 40 hours out of it according to Knog. There are five modes to choose from, and you can't really go wrong for this price.  

Giant Recon TL 200 rear light

Giant Recon TL 200 rear light

Bets mid-priced rear light
Buy now for £29.99 from Cycle Store
Good run-times
Waterproof, reliable and durable
Easy to use
Tricky to separate light from bracket (but at least you won't lose it on bumpy ground)

Neither cheap nor expensive, Giant's Recon is worth every penny if you value brightness, reliability and good run times. It's also waterproof, durable and easy to use. 

This compact light is great for day or night, and it kicks out 200 lumens on the max setting. 270 degrees of visibility thanks to two strips in the side of the light unit ensures you're visible to motorists approaching from side streets. 

You can mount it vertically or horizontally, and charging is via USB. There are seven modes to choose from, and even the high flash mode provides an impressive six hours of run time. 

If your budget is tighter or you simply don't need this much brightness and extra settings, we also highly recommend the Giant Recon TL 100

Best rear bike lights: how to choose and what you need to know

Should rear bike lights be flashing?

In terms of the law, it's up to you. The law requires flashing modes to be between 1Hz and 4Hz (one to four flashes per second) but actual modes vary considerably and some fall well outside that. Pulsing constant modes are a grey area.

Ask a rider why they have their light flashing and they'll often argue that it makes them visible from further away. Ask another rider why they have a constant light and you'll often hear that it makes distance easier to judge for following vehicles.

There's not a lot of scientific research to hang your choice on. Most people who run two lights will have one of them flashing. One thing to bear in mind is that if you're riding in a close group – be that a club run, sportive, Audax or anything else – having a bright light flashing in your eyes at close range is pretty annoying. Many lights have low-power steady modes for group riding.

Are bike lights a legal requirement?

In the United Kingdom, it is a legal requirement for bikes to have a white front light and a red rear light illuminated when ridden on public roads during the hours of darkness. 

In terms of the law, it's up to you whether your rear light is flashing or not. 

What is the recommended lumens for a rear bike light?

A rear bike light doesn't need to be as powerful as a front light as its primary aim is for you to be seen rather than to see. 

A rear bike light of between 50-100 lumens is sufficient but it depends on the type of riding that you plan to be doing.

If you're mostly just pootling to the shops and back then something basic will probably do the job. Simple flashers that use button cells or AAA batteries are cheap and effective these days, and they last ages before the battery needs replacing.

If your commute is on busier roads, or you plan to do longer rides at night, you'll probably want something brighter. There's a wealth of USB-rechargeable and brighter AAA-powered rear lights about that will catch a driver's attention from further afield. Many riders who spend a lot of time on the road after dark fit more than one rear light to increase their chances of being seen.

How long do bike light batteries last?

This can vary massively and depends on whether the rear bike like is rechargeable or battery-powered. 

Most rear lights will cope easily with the longest ride you're likely to throw at them, though not all USB-rechargeable ones can be fully trusted to last a whole night, especially on steady beam. If you're planning some big forays into the dark unknown – or if you're just a bit crap at remembering to charge your lights – pick something that has a long run time. AAA-powered lights tend to be the pick for that.

Where is the best place to put the rear light on a bike?

The best place to mount a rear light on a bike is typically on the seatpost or seat tube, facing directly backwards as this provides a clear and unobstructed view of the light from behind. Some bike lights will also fit under the saddle. 

Depending on your bike's design, you might also consider additional mounts such as a rear rack or saddlebag, providing alternative locations for mounting lights. 

Emily is our track and road racing specialist, having represented Great Britain at the World and European Track Championships. With a National Title up her sleeve, Emily has just completed her Master’s in Sports Psychology at Loughborough University where she raced for Elite Development Team, Loughborough Lightning.

Emily is our go-to for all things training and when not riding or racing bikes, you can find her online shopping or booking flights…the rest of the office is now considering painting their nails to see if that’s the secret to going fast…

Add new comment


NickJP | 1 month ago

I'm normally commuting with a Carradice saddlebag, so can't use seatpost-mounted lights as they're obscured. It would be useful in your reviews if you mentioned whether lights come with either a seatstay mount (eg most Cygolite taillights have both seatpost and seatstay mounts in the box) or a belt clip that will fit the mounting strap on saddlebags.

zero_trooper replied to NickJP | 5 days ago

I use a NiteRider Sabre clipped onto the back of my rucksack. It has a big clip, never had any retention problems. In fact use it there so much I'm not sure where the actual mounting bracket is!

The Knog+ ('lightest rear light') has a decent looking clip. The actual bracket for it works with magnets and gets good reviews.

ktache | 1 month ago

I am considering the Knog Blinder Link, the saddle rail version. As a bit of an extra, and to lower my Hope District+, as I can with my mudguards.

I did want something to go on the right hand seat stay, a Moon, but the weatherproofing seemed somewhat inadequate, and I was unsure of the fixings.

The Knog has a USB C, which will mean I need another cable as this will be the first for my lights...

HoldingOn | 1 month ago
1 like

the Cateye Viz is frustrating me. It comes with a plastic mount that you slide the light into, then you wrap a rubber block over the mount, which stops the light from sliding out. Then you use the rubber "ladder" to hold the light to the seat post.

Two problems I've found:

  1. to get the light off the bike to charge it, you have to take the whole thing off your bike, to be able to slide the light out of the mount
  2. if you use the light horizontally, the tag at the end of the rubber "ladder" has to be forceable bent and squashed between the light and the mount - leaves me worried it isn't actually seated properly and will fall off


Hirsute replied to HoldingOn | 1 month ago

Eh? You just take it off and charge it, no need to dismount it.

Not following the second point - the ladder end locking is independent of the orientation.

HoldingOn replied to Hirsute | 1 month ago

The image on the left is how you have to have the rubber block to slide the light in and out, the the part you slide the light out of is how it is held onto the seat post - so you would have to pull it away from the seat post and push the rubber back (as i have in the photo) and then slide the light out.

The image on the right is the light put in horizontally - the tag is pushed out by the light and makes me worried it'll slip out of the mount.

mark1a replied to HoldingOn | 1 month ago
1 like

I see what you mean now - I have one of those but use it on a Brompton with the proprietary Brompton seat mount, which allows it to slide in and out easily. I've just dug out the original mount like yours and it's just as you say. One solution for off-bike charging perhaps would be to get an alternative mount? The Cateye square mount is fairly common and there should be others available. 

Hirsute replied to mark1a | 1 month ago
1 like
Hirsute replied to HoldingOn | 1 month ago
1 like

I wasn't envisaging you making it horizontal on the seat post, I thought you were using it elsewhere as horizontal.

I've just tried and you can slot the light on afterwards if you want horizontal and the retaining tab in the square mount will hold it. I needed an allen key to move the tab to get the light out.

Hmm, although I don't use that mount any more and I'm now wondering if I've lost a bit !


Apologies, I have found the missing bit and now I understand the issue. What is even more bizarre is the site shows the horizontal placement as an option with no reference how it is very hard to get it on.


peted76 | 1 month ago

USB-C is now a must, when will we see more manufacturers implementing this... 

But why I hear you cry.. 

1) No right or wrong way up so no bent connections

2) Higher amp bandwidth means faster charging

3) future proof (until the next better thing sticks at least)

Sriracha replied to peted76 | 1 month ago
1 like

Amen. At this point it's a no-brainer. It would be helpful if the charging port could be in the first line of the review, could save a lot of wasted reading!

the_mikey replied to peted76 | 1 month ago

USB C is a bit of a mixed bag, sometimes it means what you say, like higher charging current and quicker charging times but all too often USB C charging protocols aren't observed so none of those benefits are actually available, and in many cases a compliant USB C charger won't charge your light at all. The USB C plug is certainly better than micro usb though.