You own a classically-styled cycle — sure, you looked at its gears, wheel size and brake mechanism before your purchase. But what sealed the deal was its old-school looks.
Don’t ruin it with a modern-looking lamp!
A retro bicycle light not only appears amazing — but also provides illumination that won’t look out of place on your awesome two-wheeler.
The 10 Best Retro Bicycle Lights
Why Buy a Retro Bicycle Light?
Unless you only cycle in daylight — and perfect weather conditions — you need front and rear bike illumination.
It’s not just a case of lighting up the road as you pedal along — but you also require other road users, especially motorized vehicles, to see you. Even during the middle of the day, if you’re out on your cycle in heavy rain or fog — visibility lowers.
There’s no shortage of bike lamps online — and they’re not going to break the budget.
But there’s an issue.
They’re all, well, a little stale.
If you’ve hit middle age like me — you recall the cell phone revolution. Ok, in one form or another, they’ve been around since the 1980s — but it wasn’t until the late 1990s and early 2000s that they gained mass appeal.
And this was characterized by two phenomena — all the models looked the same, and they shrank to the smallest size possible.
The same happened with bike lights.
The advent of LED and lithium battery technology meant that cycle lamps no longer had to house massive bulbs and equally enormous D-size batteries. Hence, they evolved into miniature square boxes of light — each one inseparable from another model.
Don’t get me wrong, these lamps are perfectly functional, budget-friendly and add safety. But, they’re boring.
If you own a genuine vintage cycle — or a cruiser or comfort bike with a seriously old-school look — installing these ‘modern’ lights will stand out like a sore thumb. It’s akin to fitting a disco ball to a gramophone (that’s a large and cumbersome MP3 player for younger readers).
However, you can have the best of both worlds.
Purchase a retro bicycle light today — and you receive the gorgeous and traditional classic aesthetic of yesteryear — but packed with the latest in illumination technology.
What to Look for When Choosing a Retro Bicycle Light
It can be tempting to pick out your retro bicycle light purely on its looks. While that’s undoubtedly important — there are a few other key considerations to take into account.
Front and Rear Retro Bicycle Light
You need others to see you from the front and the back — just sporting a rear reflector on your two-wheeler isn’t sufficient. Some retro bicycle lights come as a pair — from other manufacturers, you’re required to purchase them separately.
While buying a ‘combo’ can indeed be a practical solution — choosing individual lamps allows you to tailor them to your personal taste and requirements.
Although you’re choosing a vintage bike light — that doesn’t mean you have to go ‘old-school’ and use disposable alkaline batteries (unless you’re a real stickler for tradition —and if that’s the case, you should really be going for an 1895 acetylene gas lamp).
Some of today’s tech-packed vintage bicycle lights are rechargeable — saving both money and the environment.
Furthermore, also check whether batteries are included in your purchase. Ok, it may not be a deal-breaker — but if you’re comparing very similar lamps — it can save you precious dollars.
The best and most authentic retro bike light will be distinctively more substantial than the commonplace modern forms. However, how large you go is down to your personal preference.
Consider how the lamps will look on your particular cycle. While many retro bicycle headlights possess a traditional chrome finish — some brands incorporate color accents to complement bike frame styling.
While some vintage bike lights will only provide a steady beam — others possess a strobe function.
Although not as effective for night time illumination — they are particularly useful for daytime pedaling — increasing your visibility to other road users.
Consider where on your cycle you want to install the vintage bicycle light — handlebar, forks, seat tube, or brake calipers.
Not only do you have to ensure that the lamp is suitable for your chosen location — but you also need to check that it will not interfere, nor have its illumination impaired, by other cycle accessories such as fenders, baskets and panniers.
Unlike road bikes and mountain bikes — cruisers and comfort cycles aren’t particularly lightweight.
The features that make them particularly suited for leisure riding increases their heft — and adding a lamp will make them even heavier.
Hence, when selecting your vintage bicycle headlight, consider how much additional mass it’s going to add to your cycle.
The 10 Best Retro Bicycle Lights
Here are my choices of the ultimate in traditional and classic cycle illumination. I’ve selected each example based on industry expert opinion, customer feedback, and my own insight and knowledge.
Weight: 1.5 pounds.
If you’re looking for the perfect combination of old school and modern — I suggest that this is the ideal retro bicycle light.
Coming in both black and silver/grey, the bullet-shape shouts tradition yet possesses flat, shear accents that suggest its contemporary pedigree.
When you purchase this retro bicycle headlight, you also receive a complimentary rear red lamp. The front light houses a rechargeable 6400 mAh lithium battery, while the back lamp is powered by a replaceable CR2032 cell.
With high, medium and low beam settings, combined with fast or slow strobe functions, I’d suggest this illuminator is ideal for both night and daytime cycling.
- Easily mountable on handlebars with bands and velcro straps.
- Complete with charger and extension cable.
- CREE LED bulbs.
- Ideal for off-roaders and gravel grinders.
- Includes helmet accessories for multifunctional-use.
- Lifetime guarantee.
- Modern accents may not appeal to strict retro enthusiasts.
Weight: 9.8 ounces.
Should you demand the ultimate in classical styling — then I propose that this is the optimum retro bicycle light.
This headlamp, with its distinctive chrome bullet design, screams tradition. Powered by three AAA batteries, it delivers a white LED beam activated by a substantial top-mounted on/off switch. Hence, if you’re lacking in dexterity, I suggest this feature will appeal.
Installation should be effortless. The included bracket allows you to mount the light on the front brake calipers — or pre-drilled holes on disc versions.
Furthermore, with a 160-degree field of illumination — I’d say that this lamp is ideal for those who pedal along dimly lit streets or country lanes at night time.
- Durable metal casing.
- Left and right rotary switch.
- Classic styling.
- Includes a proprietary lens to increase beam intensity.
- Simple to install.
- Bracket has a distinctive rattle against the light casing.
Weight: 3.2 ounces.
The problem with many third party lamps is they look like an afterthought — I’d suggest that’s not the case with this sleek retro bicycle light.
The angled back allows this rear lamp to affix inconspicuously to your bike’s fender — giving it that factory-fitted appearance. However, should your bike lack these mudguards, you can equally attach to your seat stay.
Furthermore, this light has its own protective cage — shielding the internal LED from damage. Powered by two AAA cells (not included) — it will deliver 70 hours of illumination on a steady beam, and 280 hours in the flashing setting.
- Durable — features a chrome-plated iron casing.
- Long-running battery time.
- 10 lumens of output.
- Sleek design.
- Complete with mounts for seat stay or fender.
- Choice of flashing or steady beam.
- Has a protective cage.
- Changing the battery is a little time consuming — and you need a screwdriver.
Weight: 8 ounces.
Sometimes you demand serious power — and I feel that this retro bicycle light will fulfill that need.
While many lamps include just one LED — this light packs in a mighty seven — which should provide maximum illumination for your evening rides. What’s more, with a 160-degree panoramic beam — you will have a wide field of light vision.
The on/off switch is mounted on the top casing — meaning that it’s easily accessible. The matt black finish should complement all bike frame colors — while the bullet-shaped case adds that vintage feel.
- You can mount on either brake calipers or front fork.
- Powered by two AA batteries.
- Seven LEDs.
- Solid color design should suit all bike colors and decals.
- Lacks a choice of light settings.
Weight: 7 ounces.
Vintage bicycle headlights can be notoriously weighty — annoying if your cycle already carries a considerable amount of heft. This lamp, being just 7 ounces, could be the solution.
By utilizing a durable plastic casing — mass is kept to a minimum. However, with bold chrome styling — it has a classic metallic appearance that covers its lightweight nature.
Installation shouldn’t be challenging. A highly polished chrome bracket slips over your front caliper brake bolt. And, if you’re both a day and night cruiser — you should appreciate the high, low and strobe features of the LED lamp.
Although powered by four AAA cells — these are included with the purchase.
- Retro-styling yet still lightweight.
- Side slits to increase lateral illumination.
- Effortless battery replacement.
- Powerful reflector to elevate intensity.
- Doesn’t come with instructions.
- Not suitable for those without a caliper brake mount.
Weight: 7.4 ounces.
Back in the day — not all vintage lamps were chrome! This headlight, with its black finish, harks to yesteryear and may appeal to those who don’t want that metallic look.
With a three-watt LED wick — powered by three AAA batteries (not included) — it should provide up to 150 meters of road illumination.
The ABS (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene) delivers durability but keeps the weight of the lamp to a minimum. Furthermore, if you live in an area hounded by harsh weather — you might welcome the rainproof feature.
- Includes brake mount bracket.
- Possesses a top hood to focus the beam.
- Classic black styling.
- Rainproof for wet weather riding.
- Rear on/off button may be difficult to access.
- May require your own washers to prevent lamp slippage while in use.
Weight: 6.6 ounces.
Being seen from behind — whether in low-light conditions or night time — is crucial. This rear retro bicycle light provides both an old school aesthetic combined with safety.
With a chrome finish enhanced with a top visor — it resembles a miniature headlight. Hence, I’d suggest that it will complement cycles that already have a front vintage style lamp.
Measuring 3.5 inches by three inches — it’s large enough to provide sufficient illumination, while pleasingly small as not to be obtrusive or interfere with your current bike accessories.
- It can be used as a stylistic dummy lamp if you require.
- Authentic retro styling.
- Red lens — not a colored LED.
- Solid metal casing.
- Primarily for electric cycles and dynamos — it will require a little electrical installation for a standard bike.
Weight: 5 ounces.
If you’re an adherent of minimalism and clean lines — this may be the perfect retro bicycle light.
A completely chrome-finished bullet shell encases its three LEDs. The front glass is lenticular — not only to deliver an old-style finish to the headlamp but also to promote an evenly distributed beam during your rides.
An upper-mounted on/off switch delivers easy accessibility — but being small doesn’t detract from the overall aesthetic. Measuring 2.75 inches by 3.75 inches — I propose it’s large enough to add nostalgia to your cycle — but not so substantial as to be obtrusive.
- Powered by three AAA batteries (not included).
- Attaches to front fork or brake housing.
- Includes mounting bracket.
- White light output.
- Made from strong ABS plastic.
- Minimalist design.
- Batteries drain rapidly.
Weight: 13.9 ounces.
Should you consider that using batteries in your vintage light is unauthentic — you may have found the solution.
This front and rear bike lamp combo is powered by a dynamo — giving it a seriously nostalgic feel.
The included brackets deliver a vast array of installation choices — brakes, head tube, side forks, or fenders. Furthermore, both the light and the dynamo housing look genuinely traditional — perhaps only their lack of oxidation indicates they’re not antique.
The set is complete with all the wiring required for fitting — and even those with limited electrical knowledge should find installation effortless.
- Chrome styling with a hood visor on the headlight.
- Versatile installation options.
- Traditional filament bulbs.
- Old school technology and appearance.
- Simple to wire.
- Lights switch off when you stop — but then, it’s a dynamo.
Weight: 1.6 ounces.
Should you want a retro light but at an old school price — this could be the answer.
While this headlamp has the distinctive bullet design — you’re not paying over the odds for traditional styling. Furthermore, if you want a little color — you might welcome the fact that it’s available in green, black, pink and of course, classic chrome.
You can set the three ultra-bright LEDs into either a solid beam or flashing mode. Mounting directly onto your forks — it shouldn’t interfere with baskets or racks.
- Classic looks at a price that will not hurt your wallet.
- Choice of color designs.
- Includes a mounting bracket to fit brakes or forks.
- Ridged lens to evenly distribute light beam.
- Ultra-bright LEDs.
- Powered by two AA batteries (not included).
- Has a tendency to slip from its intended position.
Best Retro Bicycle Lights Conclusion
Don’t dilute the appearance of your classically-styled cruiser with modern-looking lamps!
Installing the best retro bicycle light allows you to boost the nostalgia value of your two-wheeler — while also packing in the up to date tech and reliability of 21st-century illuminators.
While there are some seriously dazzling products in my rundown — for me, there’s nothing to outshine the Bright Eyes rechargeable retro bike lamp.
I feel it has everything — a traditional aesthetic with a contemporary twist, powerful lithium battery, simple band and strap mounts, and a blinding 1200 lumen bulb.
That said, some users may prefer the strictly old-fashioned GOODKSSOP Chrome Shell, the sleek fender-mounted Kiley taillight, or the dynamo-powered Yoohigh.
But in my opinion, the light that puts all others in the shade — it has to be the Bright Eyes.