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Best Bike Wheel Lights – Totally Lit

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Every rider knows the importance of being seen on the roads and for most people that means bright clothing and front and rear lights. Something that few riders consider is wheel lights.

They are not just for kids’ bikes, although they do love them, they make a genuine difference to the visibility of any commuting bike.  

In this article, we take a look at the best bike wheel lights and how to choose the right set for your bike.

Top Picks:

Top 7 Best Bike Wheel Lights Reviewed

1. Monkey Light M204 A15 (Best Overall)

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  • Battery: Rechargeable & 3xAA battery option
  • Lumens: 40
  • Multicolor: Yes

The Monkey Light M204 is one of the smallest and lightest in the Monkey Light range but still packs an impressively bright 40 lumens.

The package itself is solid, with 4 LED’s in total (2 on each side) and there is plenty of silicon to keep it waterproof.

Installing the unit is easy and takes five minutes at most. There is nothing fancy here, just a few cable ties that do the job. Once installed, there is one button to toggle the lights on and off and another to choose between the eight different colors and five different themes.

Why we like these: unlike some other wheel lights, this is a surprisingly compact unit that doesn’t look bulky on the bike. Despite the small size, there are more than enough color and theme options available.

2. Bright Spokes LED Bike Wheel Lights (Best Rechargeable)

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  • Battery: Rechargeable
  • Multicolor: Yes

The Bright Spokes Bike Lights are one of the best value rechargeable bike wheel lights you can buy. The twenty LED lights are easy to install around any wheel size, from kids’ bikes to 29-inch mountain bikes.

Aside from the seven colors and three lighting modes, the ease of recharging really stands out. You simply unscrew the lithium-ion battery attached to the light unit and plug it into the USB port on your laptop.

Charging is quick and as long as you get into a routine of charging the lights, you never have to worry about running out of juice on the commute home.

Why we like these: the battery pack is easy to remove and charges quickly using the USB port of your laptop, which is great if you need just enough juice to get you home safely.

3. Sarissa Bicycle Hub Light (Best Hub Lights)

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  • Battery: 3 x LR44 Batteries
  • Multicolor: Yes

The Sarissa Hub Light is a bit different from the usual bike wheel lights here. Instead of attaching to the spokes or looping through the spokes around the wheel, these lights attach around the hub of the wheel.

Light is then reflected off the rims to give the impression of normal wheel lights when cycling.

The main advantage of hub lights is that they look better on the bike, especially during the day, and keep rotational weight down to a minimum since they are closer to the center of the wheel.

The Sarissa Hub fits wheels with 35mm or wider hubs and the package itself is waterproof and durable.

Why we like these: easy to install and discrete on the bike.

4. Activ Life LED Bike Wheel Lights (Best Budget Wheel Lights)

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  • Battery: 3 x AAA Batteries
  • Multicolor: Yes

For a budget option, these Active Life LEDs are great value and would be a great option for a town bike. The battery pack and lights are easy to install and don’t require any tools, you simply wind the strong silicon loop through your spokes.

The unit runs on three AAA batteries that are included in the purchase, further highlighting the great value of these lights.

These lights come in a variety of colors (the multicolor option costs a little more) so you can mix and match between your front and back wheel to get the right design for you.

Why we like these: great value without compromising on safety and fun.

5. Tinana Bike Wheel Lights

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  • Battery: 3 x AAA Batteries
  • Multicolor: Yes

If fun, colorful patterns are your thing, then the Tinana Bike Wheel Lights are for you. The unit that attaches to the spokes is fairly large but at night it transforms into stunning patterns on both sides of the wheel.

These are a great option for kids’ bikes. They will find them fun and you will have peace of mind knowing they are more visible out on their bikes.

They also have an automatic lighting mode that detects movement to switch the unit on and then turns it off again when the bike comes to a stop. Another great feature for kids who, even at the best of times, can be forgetful.

Why we like these: fun, funky patterns that kids will love and a motion sensor to switch the unit on.  

6. Daway A08 Bike Tire Valve Stem Light

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  • Battery: 3 x LR44 Batteries
  • Multicolor: Yes

The discrete size and unique attachment of the Daway A08 bike wheel lights might even be enough to tempt committed road cyclists into lighting up their wheels when the nights draw in.

They attach to the valve of the tire and are compatible with either Presta or Schrader valves. To keep the electronics as small as possible, the unit is controlled by motion and light levels.

The patterns become more impressive the faster you travel and at 15mph, a very achievable speed for road cyclists, the patterns change every four seconds.

Why we like these: unique attachment to the tire valve and the simple electronics make them discrete and, dare we say it, even suitable for road bikes.

7. Tipeye LED Bike Wheel Lights

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  • Battery: 3 x AA Batteries
  • Multicolor: No

The Tipeye LED Bike Wheel Lights are great if need a set of lights for one wheel that is reliable and long-lasting. Although not rechargeable, the LEDs draw only a tiny amount of current from the batteries, helping them to last longer before swapping batteries.

The 20 LEDs give great coverage around the rim of the wheel and look great even at slow speeds. The IP65 waterproof rating gives you confidence that these lights can survive the worst any winter rides.

The battery pack discretely attaches to the hub of the wheel to keep the rotational weight down. Placing it here has much less effect on the feel of the wheel when maneuvering the bike.

Why we like these: the low power drawn by the LEDs maximizes the battery life of these bike wheel lights.

Types Of Wheels Lights

Spoke Lights

Spoke lights, such as the ever-popular Monkey Light, attach to the spokes of the wheel close to the tire and create the illusion of full circumferential coverage thanks to something known as the persistence of vision.

Here the eye and the brain fill in the gaps as the light spins around to make it appear that the entire wheel is covered by individual lights.

They are easy to attach and usually come with either a standard battery pack or a detachable rechargeable battery.

They look great at night but some cyclists feel that they can look bulky and unsightly in the full glare of daytime.

Hub Lights

Hub lights clamp securely around the hub of the wheel and project colorful light out towards the rim of the spinning wheel.

The light reflects off the rim to give a halo of light around the entire wheel.

As long as you have the right size of hub, they offer a more discrete way to light up your wheel and are barely noticeable during the day. Keeping the weight at the center of the wheel also has the advantage of reducing rotational weight which can slow you down.  

The drawback is that the overall lighting effect tends to be diluted compared to standard wheel lights that fit the spokes.

Rim Lights

Rim wheel lights are almost like Christmas fairy lights that weave through the spokes of the wheel around the entire circumference. They are easy to install but perhaps don’t look the best during the day.

Features Of Cycle Wheel Lights To Consider

Attachment

The clamping system varies across different types of wheel light, but common to all of them is an easy installation with no tools required.

Some attach across one or two spokes using clips whilst others are interwoven between the spokes around the circumference of the wheel. It is safe to say that most children could install wheel bike lights with ease.

The attachment methods tend to be secure in themselves but for a belt and braces approach, there is no harm in using small cable ties where appropriate.

The battery packs are either integrated into the lights themselves or have a separate attachment. Where possible you should try to mount this as close to the hub and the center of the wheel as you can. This will help reduce the rotational mass of the wheel and stop it from feeling wobbly when turning.

Lumens

Lumens is a measure of how much light the bike wheel lights give out or at least how much of the light is visible to the human naked eye. In simple terms the higher the lumen number, the brighter the bike wheel light will appear.

If being seen on the road is your priority then opt for bike wheel lights that use a high lumen number.

Colors and Patterns

Some bike wheel lights are multicolored where the colors can be changed manually or automatically. Being able to choose the color is a fun feature, especially for kids as they will want the lights to match their bike perfectly.

Some of the bike wheel lights that attach to one of the wheel spokes can also create unique patterns as the wheel turns, again thanks to the persistence of vision phenomenon.

Again these patterns are a great feature for kids’ bikes and one that is sure to turn a lot of heads. The patterns are designed to be at their most eye-popping when cycling at a certain speed so you need to check that this is achievable for young riders.

Watch this video and prepare to be impressed.

Video: Monkey Light Pro Kickstarter

Battery vs Rechargeable

More and more wheel lights are available with a rechargeable battery pack that can be removed from the unit and topped-up using a USB port.

Rechargeable lights are more cost-effective and tend to smaller and lighter on the wheel but typically offer less running time between charges than standard battery packs. This shouldn’t be an issue as long as you remember to charge them regularly.

Standard battery packs using AA or AAA batteries usually give between 10 and 50 hours of life.

In terms of battery life, bike wheel lights tend to be made up of LED’s for the most part thanks to their awesome power-saving qualities that don’t compromise on brightness.

Waterproof Rating

Bike wheel lights have to withstand a lot of abuse, so it stands to reason that they should also be waterproof if you want them to survive the winter commutes.

Most lights will have an IP rating (which stands for Ingress Protection) that describes just how waterproof they are. Get familiar with these before you purchase so you can have confidence in the lights.

How To Install Bike Wheel Lights

Different bike wheel lights will have their own unique installation instructions and most are relatively straightforward. Here we will take a look at the steps to install LED lights around the wheel, which are perhaps the most time-consuming.

  1. Unscrew the top of the battery holder and insert the right batteries, the right way in the battery insert. Screw on the lid firmly to keep water out.
  2. Use the rubber gaskets supplied to attach the battery holder to the hub.
  3. Run the LED wire to the valve of the tire. Wrap it around one of the spokes as you go.
  4. Loop the strip around the spoke at the top a couple of times.
  5. From here go around the wheel, winding through the spokes as you go.
  6. Depending on the length and the wheel circumference you may have some excess wire. You can keep going or if permitted, simply cut off any excess.
  7. Tie the ends securely and test before hitting the road for real.
Video: How To Install Bike Wheel Lights

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Monkey Light for Bike Wheels?

Monkey Lights fit the spokes of the wheel and create unique, colorful patterns as the wheels spin thanks to the phenomenon known as the persistence of vision.

Are bike wheel lights worth it? Should I Use Normal Lights Instead?

It is not a case of should you use normal lights at the front and rear of the bike but you must use them in low visibility conditions in most states. Wheel lights compliment standard front and rear bike lights and help to improve visibility from the side.

They are also a lot of fun and something different. They are a great addition to kids’ bikes; they love showing them off to friends and you can feel safer knowing they are more visible.

Are Bike Wheel Lights Legal?

Wheel lights are legal but they are not legally required in most states for riding at night. Most states require a front white light and a red reflector at the rear. Wheel lights simply add to the visibility and that is never a bad thing on a bike.

C’mon Baby, Light My Bike Wheels: Conclusion

Bike wheel lights add a dose of extra safety and a heap of extra fun on the bike. What is not to like?

Ok, they are not for everyone and we will have to wait a long time to see them light up the Tour de France but for kids, commuters, and riders who like to cruise the streets, they are definitely something to consider.

The Monkey Light M204 might be the hipster flavor of the month but that doesn’t mean they don’t deserve to be at the top of our list. The patterns are simply stunning and guaranteed to turn heads at night.

Every parent knows that children have unique ways to destroy things, especially when it comes to bikes. The Active Life LEDs are a great set of lights that are both durable and wallet-friendly.

Pinterest Pin for Best Bike Wheel LightsPin
Bike Push - Mark W
Mark W
I’m a cycling enthusiast, and the founder and chief editor of Bike Push. If I’m not working on this website, then I’m out on the bike clocking up the miles. I want to help others get the most out of cycling.

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