The best headlamps for a bike are outdoors headlamps you wear on your head, but which you can adapt for your bicycle. We’ll cover 3 options for you below ranging from cheap to expensive. LET’S SEE WHAT’S OUT THERE!
Table of Contents
- Criteria for Choosing a Headlamp for a Bike
- Cheap Headlamp for Kids Bike and Adults Riding Slow
- Affordable Headlamp for Any Bike (Fast or Slow)
- Expensive Headlamp for Any Bike (Fast or Slow)
Criteria for Choosing a Headlamp for a Bike
Strength and Durability. Not just any headlamp will work (for long) when attached to a bicycle. Imagine riding a bike and how much shock your body would absorb if you didn’t have a padded seat. Nobody rides with a solid wooden or metal seat. There’s a reason for that! The shock would wreck you. Same with a headlamp. A headlamp is best mounted on the handlebar where shock could be very strong without a front shock absorber. You’ll need a strong headlamp and possibly some cushioning material.
Waterproof / Water Resistance. Most headlamps are simply IPX 4 rating. This means you can use it in light to moderate rain and it can get some light splashing. This won’t work for headlamps attached to bicycles because when you’re riding in rain, the splashing is constant. The rain is coming from the sides and above, maybe even below if you don’t have fenders. You need a very water resistant headlamp. IPX 8 as a minimum, or the higher the rating the better. Something submersible would be ideal.
A cable-free headlamp is best. Cables introduce a weak point where rain can get inside.
Brightness, Beam Pattern, and White Balance. When you’re riding a bike you need to see everything in front of you and that includes to the sides. Trail runners need to see the sides to some degree, but most trail running headlamps focus the beam on the center of the trail ahead and cover the sides just a little bit. Going faster on a bike you’ll need to brighten more of the area in front of you. A very bright wide-beam floodlight is essential for a biking headlamp.
A cool white flood beam, or combination flood/spotlight beam with 750 lumens brightness is adequate for most bicycle riding on the road or trails. Kids may need slightly less, 500 lumens or so because they’re going slower. Keep in mind also that being seen at night is very important, so a brighter beam will help others see you and help you avoid accidents. Go with a brighter headlamp when possible!
Cheap Headlamp for Kids Bike and Adults Riding Slow
The cheapest, brightest, strongest headlamp with good water resistance that we recommend is the NiteCore HC65 headlamp. This is a very strong metal-bodied headlamp with 1,000 lumens brightness. It has 100° wide beam and CRI 90 clarity. The rubber brace it comes with has 180° rotation up and down for crucial adjustments. It is water resistant at IPX 8 rating, and fully submersible. It is shock-proof rated to 1.5 meters – about a 5 foot drop. It also has numerous safety features like strobe and red light functionality.
The strap is adjustable to fit a child’s or adult’s head. You can also mount it on the center stem or the headset. You need not have any ready-made bracket to do this, I never buy the manufacturer’s offered solution. I get some heavy rubber bands, foam, and fashion my own bracket if I’m going to mount a headlamp to the bike.
Honestly, I rarely mount the headlamp to the bike because what is the point of a headlamp? Wear it on your head. When your head turns, you want to see what’s there, right? Better just to wear it on your head like it’s made for! The price of this headlamp is around $60.
Affordable Headlamp for Any Bike (Fast or Slow)
My absolute favorite headlamp for a bike is the ACEBEAM H30 headlamp that retails for around $120. It might be a little more expensive than you were considering, but once you read our full review, I think you’ll find it is probably the right headlamp for you if you need it for cycling, fast trail running on technical terrain, skiing, or anything else involving fast movement.
The ACEBEAM H30 and the NiteCore HC65 above look quite similar but the ACEBEAM has far more lumens to light up the night. Both are very tough waterproof headlamps that resist shock, dust, and water to a high degree. I only received one of these headlamps a few months ago and it immediately became my favorite as I realized it is tough and gives me every kind of lighting that I need for a moderate price.
Lumens output is as high as 4000 lm for burst mode, but it also has two brightness settings of 1100 lumens and 2200 lumens that last 3 and 2.25 hours respectively.
I strongly suggest you wear the H30 on your head with the strong and light-reflective strap, but you can also mount it on your handlebars if you insist using heavy rubber bands and foam. Most headlamp manufacturers don’t bother to make a bicycle mountain bracket for their headlamps because they know most riders will wear the headlamp on the head.
See our FULL REVIEW of the ACEBEAM H30 headlamp here >
Expensive Headlamp for Any Bike (Fast or Slow)
The Petzl DUO S. A headlamp I’ve never bought because other cheaper headlamps from unknown companies like ACEBEAM came out before I convinced myself that I needed such an expensive headlamp. When it was released a couple years ago I thought I had to have it. It combined control over flood and spot beams, toughness, perfect beam patterns and white color balance, water resistance, and the reliability of Petzl, the company making headlamps for many decades.
You probably shouldn’t buy the Petzl DUO S just for cycling, though some people do. You should buy it if you want the best headlamp money can buy. You should buy it if you want a headlamp that will last 10 years or more. You should buy it if you want a status symbol and people asking constantly what headlamp that is on your head. Really. It’s a status symbol because it’s over $400. You could buy 3 ACEBEAM H30’s with that money. AND buy pizza for three days. Up to you. We all spend money on things that mean something to us that seem frivolous to others, don’t we?
Petzl the company has been around since the 1970’s. They understand the importance of making accessories for their headlamps. They make an adapter for bike helmets so it will accept the DUO S. You can see it below. It’s called the “Mount for Cycling Helmet”. Really, that’s it. It’s Petzl part #E55920. I cannot find them on Amazon, but you can see the bracket at their website here.
See our FULL REVIEW of the PETZL DUO S headlamp here >