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How we test bike lights

The steps our experts follow to find good quality bike lights.

two bicycles riding at night
CHOICE staff
CHOICE staff

Need to know

  • This test was undertaken by our sister organisation, Consumer New Zealand (CNZ) which, like CHOICE, is a non-profit organisation.
  • The tested models are available in Australia.
  • CNZ assesses light performance, ease of use. These are broken up into sub tests which are listed by their experts below.

How we test

Light performance

We measure lux of lights in our lab, positioned at three different angles - 0°, 20° and 45°.

  • Many manufacturers claim a light output in lumens, the total amount of light available, but we think lux (lumens per square metre) is a better measure of light performance as it shows the quality of light, not just the quantity.
  • A good front light should make you visible to drivers at junctions, so we calculate light performance combining 40% of the score at 45°, 40% at 20° and 20% at 0°.
  • A good rear light needs to be most visible to drivers overtaking from behind, so we calculate light performance combining 40% of the score at 0°, 40% at 20°and 20% at 45°

Ease of use

The total ease of use score is comprised of three tests.

  • "In-use" performance (50%) includes turning the light on and off and selecting the mode (with and without gloves), usefulness of the battery indicator, and robustness of the mount to knocks and vibration.
  • Daily convenience (30%) includes removing and refitting the light, charging or changing batteries and carrying it in a bag.
  • Ease of fitting and versatility (20%) of the mount completes the assessment.

Water resistance

We thoroughly doused the lights with a garden sprinkler for our water resistance assessment.

  • We checked they all worked correctly while soaking wet, then inspected for any water inside the lens and battery compartment or charge port.
  • Though we don't include water resistance in our overall score, but we won't recommend lights that show signs of water ingress.

Battery life (burn time)

We measured the battery time of USB rechargeable lights on their maximum steady setting. Note, some data was supplied by the manufacturer. This is listed as "claimed" in our table.

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