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As cyclists, we all run the risk of being involved in an accident. We, therefore, want to take the best precautions to be seen and to be safe. Whilst it’s true that bike lights make up just one part of this equation, it is never the less one of the most critical aspects.
Although there are a couple of high-end bike lights that made our list, the majority we’re reviewing today are very affordable. So, let’s dive in and take a look at the 12 bike rear lights that made the cut and see if we can identify the ideal one for you and your bike.
- Top 12 Best Bike Rear Lights In 2021 Reviews
- 1 Garmin Varia RTL510, Bike/Cycling Radar Tail Light
- 2 Ultra Bright Bike Light Blitzu Cyborg 168T USB Rechargeable Bicycle
- 3 Nkomax Smart Bike Tail Light Ultra Bright
- 4 Stupidbright SBR-1 Rear Bike Tail Light Strap
- 5 Cygolite Hotshot– 100 Lumen Bike Tail Light
- 6 Exposure Tracer ReAKT Rechargeable Taillight
- 7 Ibex Sports Blaze Rear Light w/USB – DayBright – React
- 8 CAT EYE – Rapid X3 USB Rechargeable LED Bike Safety Light
- 9 KNOG Blinder Road R70 Rear USB Rechargeable Light
- 10 CYGOLITE Hotshot Pro– 200 Lumen Bike Tail Light
- 11 Portland Design Works Danger Zone Tail Light
- 12 Planet Bike Superflash Bike Tail Light
- Best Bike Rear Lights Buying Guide
- Before We Announce Our Top Pick
- So, What Are The Best Bike Rear Lights?
Top 12 Best Bike Rear Lights In 2021 Reviews
1 Garmin Varia RTL510, Bike/Cycling Radar Tail Light
We’re starting our list with an absolute cracker. The Garmin Varia is both a light and an early warning system built-in to one. They honestly don’t get much better than this.
The light itself is long and sleek. It’s designed to fit on your seat post. It could be mounted elsewhere on the bike, but we think the seat post is the logical mounting point to create maximum visibility.
The Varia RTL510 is super bright and can be run day or night. In the daytime, the light will deliver 69 lumens of brightness, and you can be seen from a mile away. At night time it’s less bright, but you can still be seen from a reasonable distance.
The battery is rechargeable and will last between 6 to 15 hours, depending on which mode you use. You have the choice of solid, night flash, or day flash.
The cool thing about this light is that it can link to the radar system on most Garmin bike computers. It then acts as a third eye and gives you a warning about traffic approaching from the rear. It can detect vehicles from 140 meters away and will provide you with an alert on your bike computer depending on the level of danger.
It uses a traffic light system to deliver your warnings. A green light is all good; an amber light is a vehicle approaching, a red light is a vehicle approaching at speed. It’s a great idea and a great way to add another layer of safety to your riding.
- Suitable for daytime riding.
- Good mounting bracket.
- Traffic detection warnings.
2 Ultra Bright Bike Light Blitzu Cyborg 168T USB Rechargeable Bicycle
The Ultra Bright Bike Light Blitzu Cyborg 168T is a very affordable rear light. Like the Garmin rear bike light, it can also be used during the day. Similarly, it’s also long and thin and lends itself to being mounted on the bike’s seat post.
This bright light has six settings. You can either run it on solid at a high, medium, or low intensity. You can run it on flashing at either high or low. Or you can set it to strobe. If you’re using it in the daytime, you should set to the high flashing mode.
It weighs less than an ounce. However, despite it being lightweight, it’s robust and has an IPX4 waterproof rating. It’s durable and weatherproof enough to withstand the worst the elements can throw at it.
It takes two hours to fully recharge the light. When used in low flashing mode, you can expect to get around five hours of battery life. In high flashing, you will get three hours. The solid high mode gives you the least battery running time at just 1.5 hours.
Although battery running times are quite low, given the low price-point of the light, this is an excellent value proposition. It’s a good bright light for not a lot of money.
- IPX4 waterproof rating.
- Six light modes.
- Poor battery life.
3 Nkomax Smart Bike Tail Light Ultra Bright
This looks like a rear tail light from a Corvette Stingray. How cool is that? If we were being swayed by looks alone, we’d already be at the checkout with a couple of these in our cart.
The positives are that it’s bright enough to let you be seen up to 150 meters away in all conditions. It’s also IPX6 rated waterproof, and it’s rechargeable with some decent battery running times.
This saddle mounted light will give up to 20 hours of run time. We think this is ample, and compared to the Blitzu Cyborg 168T, it’s far superior. However, if you need a little more battery time, you could opt for the slightly larger rectangular saddle/seat post version. This will give you 30 hours of running time.
More positives are that the Nkomax Smart Bike Tail Light has built-in light sensors. They automatically turn on the light in low brightness and then turn it off in times of high brightness. What’s more, when you brake, the light detects the rapid deceleration and increases the light’s intensity acting as a brake warning light.
Another small negative is that the tailgate bracket and fixing system is neither the prettiest nor the easiest to fix. We have to say that any light that relies on four zip ties to secure it is never going to get any prizes for design. A bit of a shame since this little round light, excluding fixings, is a real thing of beauty.
- Excellent battery life.
- Brake light feature.
- Automatic on/off as per light conditions.
- IPX6 waterproof.
- It cannot be used as a daytime light.
- Poor fixing system.
4 Stupidbright SBR-1 Rear Bike Tail Light Strap
These are a super affordable pair of microlights and probably some of the best rear bike lights on a budget. They’re undoubtedly hard to beat for this price.
They are very light and can be easily attached to any part of your bike. They use a flexible rubber strap that can easily secure them to your saddle, seat post, or rear stays. In fact, you can even attach one to the rear of your helmet.
Because the lights are so small and easy to attach, you’ll have no problems switching them between bikes. Alternatively, they can be used on backpacks, strollers, or anything that needs to be seen in the dark.
The lights use two CR2032 batteries. You get plenty of life out of the batteries. In flashing mode, you can expect to get as long as 50 hours of battery life. If you run it in the solid mode, you can expect to get less than half of this.
Never the less, although they don’t put out enough brightness for daytime running, they’re plenty bright enough to help you be seen at night. You will be visible from around 100 meters. Also, they can be seen through a full 180 degrees.
Incredibly for such an inexpensive pair of lights, they’re robust and hard-wearing. You get an IPX5 waterproof rating. Additionally, the core of the light is made from high-grade aluminum rather than plastic. This is material that’s guaranteed to stand the tests of time.
- Easy to attach.
- IPX5 rating.
- Not suitable for daytime running.
- Not rechargeable.
5 Cygolite Hotshot– 100 Lumen Bike Tail Light
This is very bright, and we think one of the best rear bike lights for daytime riding.
With 100 lumens of brightness, this will get you seen in the daytime with no problems at all. It has a special daylight flashing mode, as well as another five settings. The thing we really like about this light is that you can also alter it for brightness and tempo when it’s in flashing mode.
We also like the fact that you can get a massive 270 hours of use out of a single charge. Since this is rechargeable by USB, you’re potentially going to save a lot of time and money, either recharging the device or buying new batteries.
The light is easy to operate, and it’s easy to install when paired with its mount. However, before you buy the light, you should decide if you intend to mount it on your seat stay or seat post. This is because the light doesn’t come with either of the mounts provided. Unfortunately, you have to buy them individually by separate purchase.
This clip’s fine for mounting on something like a bag but useless for a bike. If you don’t buy either of the mounts, you’ll need to make your own bodge, to somehow fix it to your bike. Not something we’d recommend you do.
Despite a mounting bracket not being included, this is still a lot of light at a very low price.
- Excellent daytime light.
- Manual flash tempo and brightness control.
- Exceptionally long battery runtime.
- Good value.
- Mounts are not included.
6 Exposure Tracer ReAKT Rechargeable Taillight
A bit of black magic and wizardry seems to have gone on with the Exposure Tracer ReAKT Rechargeable Taillight. This is because it appears to have an awful lot of power packed into such a small light. You get up to a whopping 120 lumens of brightness, which is a lot for a rear light.
You can expect to get up to 24 hours on a single charge. The Exposure Tracer ReAKT is rechargeable by USB and will take around 2 hours to fully charge.
The most impressive feature of the light is the speed and light sensor that’s built-in. It automatically detects how fast you’re riding and also in what light conditions. It then adjusts the intensity of the light according to the conditions.
Unlike the Nkomax, this taillight can also adjust to daytime running. Additionally, like the Nkomax, when you brake, it detects the rapid deceleration, and the light becomes solid and brighter to mimic a car brake light.
It can be put just about anywhere on your bike. It comes with a rubber mounting strap that can be fitted in seconds. The only minor criticism we have is that despite its small size, it is relatively long. In fact, it looks almost like a mini microphone. This means it does sit a long way proud when attached to your frame.
Despite this, though, because of its great features, we consider this to be one of the best bike lights for commuting. It’s also honestly one of the best rear lights in our review.
- Very bright.
- Suitable for daytime running.
- Automatic intensity adjustment.
- Good battery life.
- Long, thin design is not ideal.
7 Ibex Sports Blaze Rear Light w/USB – DayBright – React
This is a small and lightweight bike light. It’s well-built and has very similar dimensions to the Exposure Tracer ReAKT rear light. However, the key difference is that the mounting point makes it a better-looking fit once fixed to the bike.
The mounting is a silicone strap and can be fixed around either the seat post or seat stays. We’d recommend you place it onto the seat post as we feel a higher position always improves visibility.
If you look carefully at the Exposure Tracer ReAKT and the Ibex Sports Blaze Rear Light, you can see they share a lot of the same looks and design cues. This is because they are made by the same company. Consequently, you get a lot of the shared technology between the two lights.
The Ibex rear bike light is an excellent daytime running light. It throws out as much as 120 lumens of brightness in flashing mode. This is more than enough to get you seen in the daytime. At night time you’ll be seen from your next State!
The Ibex rear bike light has light sensor detection technology to automatically alter the intensity of the light according to the conditions. The best part of this is that it works in both daytime and nighttime conditions.
Furthermore, if you’re on group rides, it can even detect where you are in the pack. If you’re at the back, at night, the light will go to maximum power. If you enter the middle of the pack, the light will dim down. It’s a great battery saver, and your fellow cyclists will be pleased not to have to ride behind an overly bright flashing light.
You can get up to a full 24 hours of run time when you’re using flashing mode. Which most of us do all the time anyway. The recharge is by USB and only takes a couple of hours to reach full charge.
- Good attachment system.
- Can be used in the daytime.
- Automatic brightness adjustment.
- Great for group rides.
- Good battery life.
8 CAT EYE – Rapid X3 USB Rechargeable LED Bike Safety Light
Cat Eye makes a great selection of quality bike lights.
The CAT EYE – Rapid X3 USB Rechargeable LED Bike Safety Light is super bright. It can deliver an incredible 150 lumens of brightness. It’s the second brightest rear bike light in our review.
The Cat Eye light has six different light modes. This, not surprisingly, includes a daytime mode. Whichever mode you choose, you can trust us when we tell you you’ll be seen by anyone that’s not asleep.
You get up to 30 hours on a single charge. You can recharge via any standard USB port in only two hours.
The light comes with a selection of silicone bands to enable you to mount it on different parts of your bike. We always recommend placing on your seat post if it’s possible. Although it will fit onto your seat stay, the angled position, plus it being lower down, is a little less optimal.
Like all Cat Eye lights, this is very well protected against the rain and elements. It’s also nice and tough and able to stand plenty of knocks and bumps.
If you need a pair of lights, the good news is that you can also get a 300 lumens version of the same light for the front. Plenty enough to help you be seen and see where you’re going.
- Very bright.
- Six different modes.
- Sturdy build quality.
- Good battery life.
- No automatic light adjustment.
9 KNOG Blinder Road R70 Rear USB Rechargeable Light
Knog makes a good selection of affordable bike lights.
The Knog Blinder Road has a strip of four lights that can deliver 70 lumens of light. The brightest light is at the bottom, and there are three less-bright lights above. If you don’t like the strip design, there are other styles to choose from in their range.
Although there are brighter lights, the Knog is undoubtedly one of the lightest. It weighs 75gms or just about two ounces if you prefer. In terms of its brightness to weight ratio, it’s right up there with the best.
The Knog has an IP67 waterproof rating. Additionally, it has a sturdy outer plastic case making it a good choice if you’re not so gentle with your gear. Possibly a great choice for kids!
Another positive is that the Knog comes with an interchangeable silicone strap. In the event of the silicone bands wearing, this is a great addition. Especially so since this is often a point of failure for this kind of light.
The Knog is rechargeable, and you can expect over 20 hours of use between charges. It even has a low battery indicator that’s very welcome. We’re sure you’ll agree there’s nothing worse than not knowing how much battery life you have left and then having your lights fail.
Notably, if you choose to use the non-eco mode, you will get a less impressive five hours of light run time.
- IP67 waterproof rating.
- Good value.
- Extra interchangeable silicone bands.
- Low battery indicator.
- Only three light modes.
10 CYGOLITE Hotshot Pro– 200 Lumen Bike Tail Light
Cygolite makes some crazy bright front bike lights, and this rear bike light is equally crazy bright.
200 lumens of brightness make the CYGOLITE Hotshot Pro the undisputed brightest rear bike light on our list…
We thought that the 100 lumens version of this light was bright. But this takes visibility, particularly during the daytime, to a whole new level.
Considering the brightness, plus some additional great features, this has to be one of the best bike rear lights for value.
We love the look of the light. We love the aero styling and the way it fixes to your seat post like it was never meant to be anywhere else. One of the big advantages of the Cygolite Hotshot Pro over the 100 lumens version we reviewed earlier is the mounting system.
This light comes with hard mounts supplied that can be used to either attach to your seat post or seat stay. A welcome extra and something that justifies the additional cost. Though we think 200 lumens of brightness probably did that already!
The light has six modes, including a daytime mode. As well as the modes, you can also control the light’s intensity and tempo, when flashing, by using the two button controls on the rear of the light.
The light can give you as much as 210 hours of runtime or as little as two hours, depending on what mode you choose. The light can be recharged in just two hours.
If all that’s not enough for you, the Cygolite Hotshot Pro is lightweight too. It weighs just 60gms.
- 200 lumens of brightness.
- Daytime running mode.
- Adjustable brightness and flashing tempo.
- 240-hour maximum battery life.
- Great value.
- It cannot automatically adjust according to light conditions.
11 Portland Design Works Danger Zone Tail Light
This is a no-nonsense rear bike light.
It’s nice and lightweight, weighing just 57gms. It has a simple clip that can be attached to your bike or helmet. It also comes with a silicone strap that can be attached to your seat stay or set post. Since the Portland Tail Light weighs very little, we’d first consider attaching to our helmet.
The fact is that any light attached to a moving part of the body is more visible than a light strapped to your bike. It, therefore, makes sense to attach your bike light to your helmet whenever it’s feasible to do is.
These are flashing, strobe, and solid. We’d have liked to see more alternatives. We’d also like to have seen a daytime running mode. However, with just half a watt for each LED light, there isn’t enough power to make these an effective daytime running light.
You get 50 hours running time using two AAA batteries. We’re sure you’ll agree that this is pretty good. We’re sure you’ll also agree that, unfortunately, battery costs could also quickly add up since they’re not rechargeable.
The light has a decent level of waterproofing, and it’s nicely put together. In fact, one of the biggest positives is it has a lifetime warranty. You, therefore, can’t go wrong. You can buy this light with confidence that, other than paying for batteries, there’s going to be nothing more to pay.
- Good battery life.
- Good silicone strap.
- Lifetime warranty.
- Only three modes.
- Not suitable for daytime riding.
- Batteries are not rechargeable.
12 Planet Bike Superflash Bike Tail Light
We honestly like this company. They make a lot of fair priced and fair quality products. They also pledged 1% of their profits to environmental transportation solutions. They’ve already donated more than a million dollars.
The Planet Bike Superflash Bike Tail Light, like the Portland bike light, has two half-watt LED lights. This means that it’s fine for running at night but is not going to make you very visible during the day.
Another negative is that it only has two modes. Solid or flashing. Frankly, we don’t think this is enough. We criticized the Portland light for only having two modes, so we can’t do anything other than be unimpressed with just two.
Thankfully, the Planet Bike Superflash makes up for the unimpressive selection of light modes with its low price point and also its excellent battery life. 100 hours of battery life on super flash is decent. Sadly, this is when using two AAA batteries that are not rechargeable. We’re not keen on non-rechargeable batteries as the replacement costs can add up—consequently, another negative.
Finishing on a couple of positives, we like the construction and the mounting system. This is a well-built and rugged light. We think it should last a long time, and Planet Bike thinks so too. They stand behind their product to offer a lifetime guarantee. Well done, guys and girls.
Also, the two mounting brackets are pure class. They’re solid, and without a hint of silicone involved, they should last a good long time. The chance of the light coming off is also close to zero.
- Good battery life.
- Lifetime warranty.
- Excellent mounting brackets.
- Sturdy construction.
- Not suitable to use in the daytime.
- Only two light modes.
- Non-rechargeable batteries.
Best Bike Rear Lights Buying Guide
It might surprise a lot of people that the majority of bicycle accidents happen during the day. About 75%. Consequently, it makes a lot of sense to run lights during the day to help you be better seen.
To run daytime rear lights, you need a powerful light. Anywhere around 80 lumens or more are sufficient. If you want a super-powerful light, they don’t come much brighter than the CYGOLITE Hotshot Pro. This has 200 lumens of brightness. And that’s a lot.
- Night Time
Nighttime rear lights don’t need to be anywhere as powerful as daytime lights. As little as 50 lumens will be plenty to get you seen from a long distance. All the lights we’ve featured are strong enough to make sure you are seen from a distance of at least 500 meters.
Flashing and strobe lights will get you seen more readily than a solid light. Some cyclists just don’t like to use these modes, but we would encourage you to do so. In daytime mode, this is even more important as it will increase your likelihood of being seen considerably.
The best bike rear lights with a daytime running mode will always use a flashing option.
You would think that the most expensive lights would have the highest level of intelligent functions. Whilst it’s true, in part, for the Garmin Varia, which can detect and warn you on your bike computer of danger from behind, it’s not true in all cases.
Some of the much more affordable lights, like the Nkomax light, can turn themselves on and off automatically at night time, depending on the light conditions. Some of the more expensive ones, like the Ibex Sports Blaze Rear Light, can even do this for daytime as well as night time riding.
Even on very affordable lights, like the Cygolite lights, there are cool functions. These include the ability to change the flashing tempo manually. Plus, the ability to manually alter the brightness. A couple of excellent innovative and useful features.
All of the lights have a seat post mounting option. This is for a good reason. Mounting your rear bike light on the seat post will place it at the highest possible spot on your bike. It will also afford a wide angle of light projection.
If mounting a light on your seat post is not possible, your seat stay, or rear bike rack, are good alternatives. Always fix the light on the side of the traffic in these circumstances.
If it’s at all possible, put your rear light on your helmet, this is the preferred choice. This is because a light on a moving part of your body makes you more visible. Also, the light will be significantly higher up than if placed on your seat post.
The Portland light is a good option to attach to your helmet.
We like rechargeable batteries. And who doesn’t? If you ride a lot, they make a much better value proposition than using standard batteries. However, this is not to say you shouldn’t consider a light with standard batteries.
If you are not a regular cyclist, lights without rechargeable batteries are often less expensive to buy, have long battery lives, so they can still make economic sense. The Stupidbright SBR-1, the Portland, and the Planet Bike lights are all affordable lights that don’t use rechargeable batteries.
Then, they don’t come much better than the CYGOLITE Hotshot Pro. This can deliver up to 240 hours of battery life, which is incredible.
Whatever light you do choose, if you run it in flashing mode, you’ll increase the battery life considerably. You’ll also increase your chance of being seen too. A real win-win.
Before We Announce Our Top Pick
Then for other safety enhancements, check out the Best Bike Brake Pads, the Best Bicycle Tire Pressure Gauges, the Best Bike Chain Degreasers, and the Best Bike Helmets reviews. And remember, if you get stuck on the side of the road, the fastest way to get back in action will be by having one of the Best CO2 Bike Tire Inflators and the Best Bicycle Tool Kits.
Back to rear lights…
So, What Are The Best Bike Rear Lights?
So, there you have it—a choice of some of the best bike rear lights currently on the market.
We’ve absolutely no doubt that if you choose any one of these lights, you’ll be seen. They all have their own positive features. However, there was one light that stood out, and we’ve selected it as our top pick.
We love the… CYGOLITE Hotshot Pro.
It’s the brightest light on our list, but we didn’t pick it just for this. We chose it because it also has a daytime running mode, it has a whopping 240 hours maximum battery runtime, and it’s lightweight.
If all of that isn’t enough for you, the CYGOLITE Hotshot Pro also has an innovative design that allows you to manually adjust the light’s intensity and flashing tempo. What’s more, this is a light that won’t break the bank.
What’s not to like?
Enjoy your bikes, and enjoy your rides.