Over the last six months I have been exploring the new trend that is adventure road cycling. Using one bike to ride all manner of terrain in all manner of different conditions and so when it comes to lights, my requirements vary hugely from ride to ride. The lights I have been testing are the Cateye Volt 1600 and Cateye Volt 400 RC Front Lights and the Cateye Rapid X3 100 Lumen Rear Light - between them they have managed to cover every base.
Cateye Volt 1600 and Cateye Volt 400 RC Front Lights
I decided it was best to cover these two together because that's exactly how I've been using them, for pretty much every ride. Most of my rides are pretty varied with a mix of urban riding, country lanes and remote footpaths. With a great selection of lighting modes between them, the Volt 1600 and Volt 400 have been the perfect combination to cover all three.
As soon as I get over the hill and out into the sticks I boost the Volt 400 up to the high constant mode which is plenty powerful enough for riding on unlit country roads. One of the great things with both of these lights is that a quick double tap of the button will take you from whatever lighting mode you are on to full power. Another click takes you back to the setting you were on.
For off-road riding I've been using the Volt 1600 on the bars with the Volt 400 on the Cateye Volt Helmet Mount. With a maximum output of 1600 lumens and a wide beam pattern The Volt 1600 really does light up the whole trail and having the Volt 400 mounted on the helmet helps when negotiating tight corners and also picks up any hazards that might otherwise get lost in the shadows.
The only downside to all this power is that the Li-ion rechargeable battery in the Volt 1600 does take a good few hours to recharge. Cateye claim a charge time of around 9-16 hours which is about the industry standard for a light of this size. To be honest I just put it on overnight and it’s always been charged in the morning. The Volt 400 has a charge time of 3-6 hours and the batteries can be swapped out with just a twist so you can take a spare with you or keep them in rotation.
Both the Volt 1600 and Volt 400 come with the Cateye Flex Tight handlebar bracket. This is a great bracket. It is easy to install to just about any size handlebar and without the need for any tools. It features a small amount of side to side adjustment, which you don’t get from some other manufacturers and it incorporates a rubber grip that keeps it exactly where you set it on the bar, even when riding off road.
Once you have the bracket in place, the quick release mechanism allows you to clip the light on and off the bracket in a matter of seconds. The quick release system is so easy to use, I can even transfer the Volt 400 from the bars to the Cateye helmet mount on the fly.
Cateye Rapid X3 100 Lumen Rear Light
Wow! This is one seriously bright rear light!! The Cateye Rapid X3 100 Lumen Rear Light is actually two individually controlled strip lights in one unit and together they are capable of kicking out a massive 100 lumens in just about every direction. There is also a low constant mode with an output of 20 lumens and 4 different flashing modes with varying outputs. Each side of the light has its own power/function button so you can mix and match to get your perfect lighting combination.
The battery is claimed to last for one hour at 100 lumens but I managed to get almost another 20 minutes on top of that. In low constant mode you get 5 hours and in flashing mode you get up to 30 hours. A full charge takes 3hrs.
Mounting is really straightforward with a rubber O ring running round the seatpost and fastening to a hook on each side of the light. The light is supplied with a selection of O rings for different sizes of seatpost and the back of the light is shaped to fit round or aero posts.
Overall I've been really impressed with these lights. The quality is excellent, the features are really well thought out and they are really user friendly. If I could make one small criticism it would be that the angle adjust on the helmet mount should be a smooth action rather than set clicks but with all things considered I think that's a pretty small issue and I would definitely recommend all these lights to anyone looking for a great all-round lighting package this winter.