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Cateye Lights Recommendations?(4 posts)

Cateye Lights Recommendations?crosscut
Feb 13, 2003 7:42 PM
I don't do any heavy-duty night time riding. But this late winter and early spring, I want to do some rails-to-trails workouts after work, and I'll end up in the dark on these rides. The new Cateye lights intrique me in that they are inexpensive and I've heard good things about them.

What's your experience with them? Which model would you recommend? Which gives off the most light? Battery life? You get the picture.

Thanks in advance.
Don't use as main light: get 12 Volt Halogen or HIDteamsloppy
Feb 13, 2003 8:45 PM
I have three cateye lights: the original Opti-cube (1 LED), the Opti-cube EL-300 (5 LEDs) and the old HL-1500 Halogen. I commute 6 days a week by bike, every night after 7 pm PDT (i.e. dark)

None of these Cateyes allow you to ride fast enough to train (or ride 16 miles in a reasonable time or 16 miles in less than an hour). They are emergency, slow ride home at best lights. Get a 12 Volt Halogen or HID system (Jet Lights, Nite Rider, etc.) if you want to ride fast enough to train (i.e. over 12 mph). The sister site,, has reviews on real lights.

The HL-1500 Halogen has two settings, hi and low. It is the brightest of the three, but burn time is very short on Hi. I never ride on low (to slow). My commute is over 50 minutes at night (45 min by day, 57 typical night). I can ride maybe 15 mph with the HL-500 alone on High, even on a street with cars, easily 15 mph when the batteries are new on a MUT (Multi-use Trail). My reference is the Iron Horse Trail (San Ramon to Walnut Creek CA). New Alkaline batteries last for 3 or 4 rides. It has the very scary feature that if one battery of the four goes bad, the light just goes out. 3 of the four can test 90% charge, but one bad and the light is out. Rechargeable NiCADs start out lasting 3 or 4 rides and end up lasting for 2 rides on Hi.

The Opti-Cube 1 LED is weaker than moonlight. On the Iron Horse trail, it's light is washed out by the lights in backyards and other incident light. You can not see pedestrians (morons walking at night in the dark with no lights, dark clothing, etc. rant rant rant ). Roots and broken pavement are a problem. Those posts they stick in the ground to keep cars off the trail and paint dark brown can also be a little scary with an Opti-cube 1 LED. The Batteries last for ever(over 100 hours). But it is about 1/4 moon light. A great light for camping and climbing though.

The Opti-Cube EL300 (5 LEDs) last forever (over 100 hours) but are about 1 moonlight power. Still less than 12 MPH. Slightly better handling pedestrians in the dark.

I ride a 12 Volt, 20 Watt Halogen Head Lamp and use the Opti-Cube EL300 on the bars as backup.

The Opticube 1 LED is very small and fits in even a tiny saddle bag (for those road rides where you might make it home by dark, but want to look cool by day and need to hide the light).
re: Cateye Lights Recommendations?Andy M-S
Feb 14, 2003 6:11 AM
I've used the 100 and the 300. In general...

The first-generation 100 (3 LED) has enough light for low to moderate speed riding; you're very visible. There is enough light from the 100 to read nearby road signs. OTOH, because it has a "clear" case, there's some light pollution for the can tape it over or something though, and then it works well.

The 300 is incredibly bright--but it's a spot focus. If you mount it as Cateye intended, it will illuminate a 3' circle of ground about 2' in front of the bike. Rock it back, and it will illuminate a small circle at a greater distance. I bought one and used it a couple of times, but it's so focused as not to be useful for my commute. I picked up NightHawk 5w, 6v rechargeable for about the same price and now use that for commuting.
re: Cateye Lights Recommendations?dlbopfla
Feb 14, 2003 10:23 AM
I run a pair of Cateye Micros. I would not want to do any fast down hill runs but it should work fine on a rails-to-trails route.