Autumn is here and – like or lump it – you need a decent mountain bike light to keep the riding going.
The Cateye Volt1600 landed with us just as the lights-out switch was flicked. Perfect timing!
What is it?
The Cateye Volt1600 is a powerful (1600 lumen) bar mounted, front light. It has 5 modes (including high, middle and low power) and runs from between 100 hours on the lowest setting to 2 hours on 1600 lumen, full blast. Charging time is up to 16 hours.
The retail price is a not-inconsiderable £199 although you can find plenty online for less. Probikekit currently have them for £127.99 and Wiggle have them for £134.75. Which seem to be the cheapest online and you might be able to price match in your local bike shop.
I’ve rolled merrily into my first month of winter riding with the Cateye and … So far, so good. It’s done a fine job on flat, pedaly trails and steep, technical trails alike. The various modes of brightness and quick-to-fit mount has seen it passed from MTB to Roady on a daily basis and USB charging has meant no stress over lost cables.
When compared to the heavy weight 2400lumen lights that we see, the Volt1600 doesn’t quite offer the same eye-bleeding, sun-eclipsing brightness. That said, it’s plenty bright enough for my riding and I’m not left wanting for any more illumination – particularly when riding in a group with plenty of other bright lights in the pack.
As an on-road light for training or commuting it’s absolutely powerful enough, almost too much so. On country lanes it offers plenty of confidence but you’ll definitely want to run it on a low setting on the cycle paths so as not to blind other riders. Or, perhaps, consider a less powerful light like the Cateye Volt800.
The shape of the Volt1600 is, in one respect, excellent. It’s a neat package with light and battery all contained in one. There’s no separate battery-on-a-string, no need to carry a bag and no bits to lose. Charging is equally neat, done via a micro-USB port tucked away under the light.
Bar mount vs head mount
The flip-side of that is the size and weight. At around 260g it’s not light which restricts the Volt1600 to your handlebars. We’d always recommend running a head-mounted light as your main beam, then a second on your bars. The fact that the Volt is only supplied with a bar mount adds to that restriction.
Not one to do as I’m told I have dug out an old helmet mount and fitted the Volt1600 to my Specialized Ambush. It feels weighty, it’s tall and risks snagging on branches but does work well enough. It’ll do and I’ll keep running it like that but it’s not ideal … especially when compared to the very neat, very compact (albeit less powerful and more expensive) Exposure Diablo.
Buy online: Buy the Cateye Volt1600 online here at ProBike Kit for £127.99.
What we think.
If you’re a die-hard helmet mount’er I’d probably look elsewhere.
As a bar mounted, do-it-all light the Cateye Volt1600 is great value and offers plenty of light for on and off-road riding. Power for price it’s one of the very best options available and if you shop around it’s almost half the price of similarly powered offerings from other brands.
If you don’t want to spend a fortune and want one light for every bike then, yep, the Cateye could be a very good investment. It’s certainly one of the most powerful lights for the least money that we’ve seen. At that price it’s not crazy to consider it as a second, bar mounted light alongside your usual helmet light.