The Bike List

Cateye Volt 300 Front USB Rechargeable Light £70

Tested by Neil Watterson, tester for The Bike List

It's always slightly worrying when you read the packaging for a product and it throws up a warning about the intended use you're going to put it to. The wrapper for the Volt 300 has a section highlighted in red lettering: 'For UK consumers. When used for cycling this light should be used in conjunction with a British Standard 6102/3 cycle light.' So, it's not an approved light, then…

But then, how many of us actually care whether a light carries a kite mark or not? It's not something I'd actually considered for a long time - I just want a light which I can see by and also alerts others to my presence. I appreciate that BS6102/3 regulates just that, but after spending the best part of an hour looking at lighting spec on websites, I'm struggling to find a single front light that proclaims to be approved to BS6102/3, so the number of road-legal lights must be tiny. Maybe the cost of testing is prohibitive for the numbers sold that although they may actually meet the relevant standard, because they've never been tested, they're not approved…

Going back to the Volt 300, it has made some concessions to being more visible on the road. Cut-outs by the side of the lens mean that you can see the light from side-on (some other headlights are fully enclosed, so can't be seen from the side) and it does have steady, flashing and steady and flashing modes. And it's the final of the three I really appreciate as both a cyclist and a driver.

It's one thing grabbing a driver's attention with a flashing light, but if, as the light extinguishes, you're plunged into darkness, the driver won't be able to pinpoint where you are. Having a setting where the LED is constantly on, even on a low setting, and backed up with a flash, is great. You've got both the attention grabbing aspect and the position marker. And it can be seen for more than 180 degrees. I'm not entirely sure what the requirements are for BS6102/3 but, to me, this is one safe light.

Anyway, assuming that you are running it with one of the legal lights, you will be seen and you will be able to see. The 300 Lumen output on full power is enough to go cross-country with. And the run-time of three hours at that power means you've got enough for most evening cross-country rides - well, mine never last much longer, anyway. And if you were out longer, you could always back it down a bit and use the middle 'normal' setting, which gives 8 hours of battery life - and it's still okay for most off-road work, you may just have to knock-back the speed a little.

The handlebar mount - an all plastic affair with a thumbwheel tightener - is very secure and easy to swap from bike to bike. It'll fit all handlebar sizes and you can trim off the excess for neatness, should you so desire.

The light slides on from the front and its release lever is also under the front, built into the light, rather than the handlebar mount. Its centre of gravity is right over the centre of the handlebar mount, which makes it so stable on cross-country jaunts.

You charge the battery via a USB adapter - the sort of thin micro-USB you find on most non-Apple smartphones these days, so if you get to work and find the battery is flat, the chances are you'll easily be able to find a charging lead. Standard charging time is six hours - if you want to turn it around quicker, the optional charging cradle will see you out again in three hours. If you're that worried, you could always buy a second battery for it (about £25, though I can't find any for sale in the UK).

Another optional accessory is the helmet mount - use that and you'll be able to illuminate the area you're looking at. I still prefer a handlebar mounted light as well as that will show what's in front of your wheel, but you sometimes can't beat a spot of looking around.

So, this light, like most of the others on the market, may not actually be approved, but at least the manufacturers tell you that. Should that stop you from buying it? Definitely not! It's compact, lightweight, has a good variety of lighting options, great output and 180 degree visibility. What more could you ask for from a light?

Buy from  evanscycles.com

At a glance

Verdict Powerful headlight with good variety of lighting options and easy recharging.
Value
Performance

Cateye says:

Features:

The Volt300 (HL-EL460RC) is a USB rechargeable headlight that features quick-change cartridge battery and 300 lumen output in compact design. This light features five modes: High, Normal, Low, Hyper Constant and Flashing. The Volt300 can be mounted on or under the handlebars or on the helmet. Spare cartridge batteries, ideal for long rides and commuting, and charging cradle are available as add-on parts and can be changed safely and easily without any additional tools.

Tech Specs:

  • Dimension: 111.5 x 31.0 x 38.0 mm
  • Weight: 120 grams (light unit and battery)
  • Light source: High intensity white LED X1
  • Light output: 300lm
  • Run time:
    • High mode: approx 3hrs
    • Normal mode: approx 8hrs
    • Low mode: approx 18hrs
    • Hyper Constant mode: approx 11hrs
    • Flashing mode:approx 60hrs
  • Battery: Li-ion rechargeable battery (3.7V-2200mAh)
  • Recharge time: approx 6 hrs (USB2.0 recharge), 3 hrs via optional fast-charging cradle
  • Recharge/discharge number of times: about 300 times(until the rated capacity drops to 70%)
  • Other: Low battery indicator, lighting mode memory function. Helmet mount (optional)

Supplier: Zyro Ltd, +44 (0)1845 521 700, zyro.co.uk