Since the clocks have changed the Cateye Volt 1200 has proved to be a faithful companion on cold autumnal training rides.
Its still incredible 1200 lumens (an astonishing number to those of us who within recent memory pedalled off-road with far less) on maximum have done a good job of showing the way and making other road users aware of my presence. Cateye quote an eight to 14-hour recharge time and along with the run times we found this to be accurate.
The two-hour burn time on maximum setting has been enough to get me around the local loop with no trouble, with the medium setting still providing an excellent level of brightness in exchange for a five-hour burn time: more than enough for a good night time mission. We tried the flashing mode and felt that it was great on country lanes to alert drivers to our presence good and early, allowing them plenty of time to adjust their speed.
With the Volt being used as our sole light we were pleased to see a low battery level indicator included as part of the button, giving you a chance to get home on flashing mode before you run out of charge. We did think that the button could do with being a touch larger for those of us with thick winter gloves and sausage fingers, although this may just be a personal observation.
The Volt runs a Li-Ion battery that should be good for 300 charge/discharge cycles before any drop off in performance. Cateye’s website indicates that the battery is replaceable and with their history on spare parts being good we would hope they carry these for when required.
The battery is charged via a mini USB port underneath the light. This has a rubber cover which is easy to access. The charging lead can be fitted to the light while it is still on its bracket, but this advantage is somewhat negated by the mini USB lead only being 40cm in length. Removing the light for charging was simple enough. Cateye fit one of their readily available thumbscrew plastic brackets, which will fit a multitude of handlebar diameters. We only wonder if a chintzy alloy bracket might be better deployed at this price point, if only for aesthetic reasons.
In this price range there are a lot of options available. We have Hope’s R1 on test at the moment and these two offer up an interesting contrast in approach. The Hope unit is not as powerful, but much like modern day sports cars there comes a point at which it’s possible to pose the question: how much power is enough? Hope have gone for adaptability and offer a myriad of battery and mounting options that can change with your needs. They have made a choice to do this at the detriment of headline power output. Cateye have gone down another road, prizing knockout lumen numbers in a neat and compact unit that does one job and does it very well.
We’ll be offering a final verdict on the Hope R1 soon, but its possible to suggest at this stage assessing your needs carefully before making a choice. Will this light be going on the road bike and staying there? Or do you need a helmet mount option, a change of battery for races etc?
All in all we think Cateye have come up with a great head light in the Volt 1200, with an impressive set of numbers to back it up, all bundled in a smart package.