Best Bike Tail Lights: Stay Safe While Riding at Night
Be visible to vehicles behind you with these top bike tail lights
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PUBLISHED ON October 28, 2019
Tail lights on a bicycle are just as important as headlights. Both help to warn drivers and others of your presence. They greatly minimize the chances of getting caught in an accident, especially at an intersection. Our buying guide features some of the best bike tail lights that you can attach on the rear of your bike for enhanced safety.
- Best OverallGarmin Varia Radar Tail LightsSummarySummary
A highly visible radar tail light that gives visual and audio alerts to rear approaching vehicles.ProsProsLong battery life. Can sense vehicles within 153 yards. Visible within a 220-degree range. It features three lighting modes. Wirelessly compatible with other Garmin devices. It can be firmly secured on a seat post.ConsConsExpensive. Not as bright during the daytime. Can’t mount on a backpack. The sound warning may be inaudible.
- Best ValueStupidbright Tail Light Strap-On LED Micro Bicycle LightsSummarySummary
A single LED rear bike light that offers a bright light with a 180-degree beam.ProsProsAffordable. Water and shock-resistant. Compact and lightweight. Made from durable high-grade aluminum. It comes with long-lasting batteries. Convenient strap-on design. It can be mounted on almost anything.ConsConsNon-rechargeable batteries. Poor customer support from the manufacturer. Fits loosely on thin seat frames.
- Honorable MentionCygolite Hotshot Rechargeable TaillightSummarySummary
A 2-watt rear bike light with LED technology and a USB rechargeable built-in battery.ProsProsIt produces a bright and intense light. Water-resistant casing. Compact design. Adjustable flush speeds. Features five flash modes. It comes with a USB cable charger and a seat post mount. Good battery life.ConsConsIt may stop working if you completely drain the battery. It doesn’t have a power switch on the device. Hard to find a mini USB charger.
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Benefits of Bike Tail Lights
- Improved safety. Having a tail light installed on your bike is a great way to stay safe if you ride on the road. They are bright and powerful beacons that can be seen from far away to alert those around you. Their light can let other drivers know where you are so they don’t run you off the road or worse.
- Increased noticeability. While bike reflectors may be great in many aspects, they aren’t always noticed on the road. Some aren’t powerful enough to alert other drivers and that can lead to an accident. Tail lights shine brightly on the back of your bike so those behind you know you’re there. You can even install multiple lights so you are even more noticeable.
- Aesthetics. A bike tail light is a great way to improve the look of your bike as well. If you enjoy riding at night and want to stand out, you can find lights that change color, flash, or blink to music as well. Just make sure they aren’t distracting to yourself or others on the road.
Types of Bike Tail Lights
There are a few different types of bike tail lights and while they all function the same, it’s the way they attach to your bike that varies. A clip-on bike light simply clips onto your bike and stays in place. The clip may only fit on smaller sections of the bike, however, so it may work best on the spokes or the seat. Finding a place can be difficult to install a clip unless your bike already includes a place to mount it.
Bike lights with straps may install more easily on your bike. They feature a strap that wraps around the bike frame or post. They are more easily adjustable, as they can be tightened or loosened to fit around larger or smaller posts or bike frames.
Garmin was founded in 1989 and is well-known for making GPS systems for vehicles, boats, and pilots. The company also manufactures bike lights and wearable technology like fitness trackers, watches, and radios. The Garmin Varia Radar Tail Lights is one of Garmin’s best bike tail lights.
Portland Design Works
Founded in 2008, Portland Design Works has its headquarters in Portland, Oregon. The company is focused on designing gear and accessories for bikes, including bags, bottle holders, headlights, tail lights, tools, and more. If you’re interested in one of its best tail lights, consider checking out the Portland Design Works Danger Zone Tail Light.
Bike Tail Light Pricing
- $10-$50: This is the price range where you’ll find most bike tail lights. They will feature different modes to alert other bikers and drivers around you. You may also find them in different colors as well. They will be sturdy and reliable with rechargeable batteries.
- Over $50: This price range is for premium and high-quality bike tail lights. The main difference will be in their features and benefits. These lights tend to be much brighter and have more lumens. They can also have audible warning sounds and built-in proximity modes to automatically alert you of approaching vehicles.
The brightness of the bike tail light is the most important factor. It needs to be visible to other drivers to avoid potential accidents. Look for one that has higher lumens, various light modes, and can attach easily to your bike. You should also consider a light that has a longer lifespan so you don’t have to recharge it as often.
Making sure the bike light attaches to your bike is important as well. Some simply clip on to either the frame or the seat of the bike, while others include a strap that wraps around the frame. Most can fit on several different types of bike frames and bikes including hybrids, mountain bikes, road bikes, and touring bikes.
- Durability. Biking can be strenuous and, whether you’re a commuter or prefer riding on off-road trails, you’re bound to hit a few bumps every now and then. You’ll want to consider a bike tail light that is durable and sturdy enough to last through tough bumps and divots. It should also be waterproof or at least water-resistant so you can use it in the rain.
- Battery type. Take note of the batteries required to use the bike light. Many modern ones use rechargeable batteries and can be charged with a USB cable. You may also find lights that require AA or AAA batteries to function as well.
Best Bike Tail Light Reviews & Recommendations 2020
Best Overall: Garmin Varia Radar Tail Lights
If you’re a cyclist looking for a futuristic bike light with a bright, vibrant beam of light, consider Garmin’s Varia Radar Tail Light. It’s a highly visible radar tail light that includes both visual and audio alerts letting others know you’re on the road. It features 15 hours of battery life and three different modes.
One of the most useful and beneficial factors of this light is that it’s smart enough to know when other vehicles are around. It can sense cars within 153 yards, well before they get near you and your bike. The light is visible within a 220-degree range and is wirelessly compatible with other Garmin devices.
The main problem with this bike tail light is its price. It is quite expensive and will put you back a few hundred dollars. Another thing to note is that it is not as bright during the daytime, but that’s to be expected. Also, it cannot be mounted on a backpack and the sound warning may be inaudible.
The name may be a bit out there, but these Stupidbright tail lights are powerful and improve your overall visibility at night. The small light releases a bright beacon that lights up a 180-degree area around it. It’s also capable of being attached to nearly anything on the bike for extra convenience and efficiency.
The light is set at an affordable price point. It’s water- and shock-resistant, compact, and lightweight. It’s constructed out of durable and reliable materials. The light is made from a high-grade aluminum. Plus, it includes long-lasting batteries and features three light modes.
There are a few downsides you should be aware of before making your final purchasing decision, however. The bike light does not come with rechargeable batteries. Plus, if you ever need to call the company for any reason, its customer support isn't the most reliable. You may also find that the light fits loosely on thin seat frames.
Honorable Mention: Cygolite Hotshot Rechargeable Taillight
This Cygolite light may be the smallest of our choices, but that doesn’t mean it’s not as powerful. This bike tail light includes 2-watts of LED power and a built-in USB rechargeable battery. You also get multiple light modes with up to five settings—including a strobe light—to help you stay visible on the road. Plus, it lasts up to 500 hours.
The light produces a bright and intense light and it comes in a water-resistant case. Its small and compact design makes it great at fitting just about anywhere on the bike, your helmet, or your backpack. It also comes with a USB cable charger and a seat post mount. It’s easy to attach and detach, so you can quickly charge it as well.
You may not want to completely drain the battery pack, though, as it may stop working. It also does not have a power switch on the device. It can be difficult to find a mini USB charger if you end up losing or misplacing the mini USB charger.
- If you don’t plan on riding your bike for a long time, remove the tail light and recharge it. If it has detachable batteries, remove them and store them in a safe place to preserve their lifespan.
- Wear safety gear when cycling, such as a helmet, knee and elbow pads. There’s never enough light to keep a reckless driver from knocking you over.
- If the unit has a remote control for adjusting the light, consider attaching it to the handlebars. You will get distracted if you always have to reach in your backpack for the button.
- Keep an eye out for pedestrians. Invest in a loud enough bell for your bike to alert them of your presence.
Q: Where’s the best place to mount a bike tail light?
A: The most common place is your bike’s seat post. It can stay undisturbed there, and you don’t have to think about readjusting it. Confirm that the mounting system can fit on your seat post before buying the light.
Q: Will I distract the driver behind me with a tail light?
A: It’s only distracting if the light is too bright, flashing, and elevated. Attaching it on your backpack can also be distracting. To be considerate of the vehicles behind you, keep a steady light and ensure that it’s as low as the headlights on a vehicle.
Q: Should I switch on the tail light during the day?
A: Absolutely. Taillights are just as important during the day since they help draw the attention of motorists around you to the source of the light. Consider setting it to a flashing mode so that it can stand out from other lights in the surrounding area.
Q: How many lumens should a bike tail light have?
A: The brighter the light, the better. A unit of 70 lumens and above is bright enough to make you visible. Select a unit with adjustable light modes so that you can reduce the brightness at night and increase it during daylight.
We picked the Garmin Varia Radar Tail Light as the best bike tail light because it projects a strong and powerful beam of light. You will be easily spotted by vehicles, pedestrians, and other bikes on the road.
The Stupidbright Tail Light Strap is our value pick since it’s way more affordable than most bike tail lights, yet it still delivers a bright light that spreads 180 degrees.