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Verdict: 
Well-thought-out compact light for all but the darkest nights
Weight: 
21g
Contact: 
Cateye Rapid Micro Rear
7 10

The Cateye Rapid Micro Rear LED is the baby of the Rapid family and marketed as Cateye's budget model, which has apparently been designed for minimalists. It's a lot mightier than 15 lumens would suggest, and at a mere 21g seems ideally suited to sleek commuter bikes, or even lightweight/winter trainers.

Behind the fetching, slightly Lego-like lens, which uses collimator technology to amplify the middle of three diodes, there is a slightly traditional feel. A rechargeable lithium-ion cell recharges in a genre-typical two hours, slightly less from the mains, with a charge indicator light denoting when it's fully juiced. Others will doubtless disagree but four modes (constant, flashing, rapid and pulse) seem ideal for most contexts.

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To operate, just press its little grey rubberised switch for two seconds until the unit engages and you're ready to go. Though slightly softer than some, it hasn't accidentally engaged when bouncing around in a jersey pocket and it's surprisingly easy to operate mid ride.

Constant produces a rich, red glow that grabs attention better than I was expecting after dark and won't irritate riders following close behind. Visibility is good to 150m on a clear night, 120 on murkier rides, and around 100 through town. I was also pleased by its peripheral bleed, welcome at roundabouts or when turning right. A life of 2hrs 51mins from a full charge is pretty respectable too.

The rapid mode lives up to its name and reaffirmed my belief that presence isn't a numbers game: we're talking 220m on a clear night, 150 through neon soaked high streets. This put a relatively big dent in run times compared to pulsing or flashing, and it isn't the most pleasant to eyeball for any distance. Nonetheless, 4hrs 54mins is still pretty frugal.

Flashing has been my go-to setting and when mounted vertically, the light not only looks sleek but pumps out a surprisingly compelling beacon of light. As it's only 15 lumens, I wasn't surprised to discover it's too weak for daytime, though turns extrovert enough come dusk. Although 30 hours is claimed, 29hrs 47mins has been the best I've achieved. Theoretically at least, urban riders could get a month between charges. Visibility is a more modest modest 125m on the open road, 80-100 in town.

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Pulsing is another distinctive, reserve-sipping option which, aside from those occasions when dusk came quicker than expected, I used as backing singer to a dynamo. I've got 19hrs 47mins from ours against the 20 quoted. On clear, dark nights, it can be seen from up to 180m, 120 through built-up areas. It isn't going to break any records but is up to the job.

Cateye has embraced the minimalist and pretty universal O-ring bracket, which is a vast improvement on its zip-tie concept from a few years back. Not only is it neater, but super-dependable on all diameters.

Ultimately, in my opinion, the Rapid Micro Rear is an excellent benchmark for rear LEDs, though I would recommend running it in conjunction with a bigger, brighter unit on really dark nights.

Verdict

Well-thought-out compact light for all but the darkest nights

road.cc test report

Make and model: Cateye Rapid Micro Rear

Size tested: Triple LED * 15 lumen output

Tell us what the light is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?

Cateye says: "Specifically designed for minimalists, the USB-rechargeable Rapid mini offers 4 modes of eye-catching illumination. At only 22 grams, whether it's on a seatpost, Fizik saddle or messenger bag, extra weight and bulk are no longer excuses for not being seen. Small in size but big on safety, Rapid mini has all the features of its big brothers Rapid X and X2, including low battery indicator, Battery Auto Save and mode memory".

Nice compact light with decent output and sensible choice of modes but it wouldn't be my sole rear light for extended rural miles.

Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the light?

Dimension: 52.2 x 20.0 x 31.6mm

Weight: 21.5g (with batteries)

Light source: Red LED X3

Battery: Li-ion USB rechargeable

Runtime: Constant mode: 3 hrs

Flashing mode: 30 hrs

Rapid mode: 5 hrs

Pulse mode: 20 hrs

Recharge time: 2 hrs (USB2.0)

Mount size: 21.5-32.0mm (FlexTight SP-14-R)

Other : Battery auto save, Low battery indicator, Light mode memory

Rate the light for quality of construction:
 
7/10
Rate the light for design and ease of use. How simple was the light to use?
 
7/10
Rate the light for the design and usability of the clamping system/s
 
7/10

Simple and very secure.

Rate the light for waterproofing. How did it stand up to the elements?
 
6/10

Meets IPX4 and water resistant in the everyday sense.

Rate the light for battery life. How long did it last? How long did it take to recharge?
 
7/10

Two-hour charge times with operating figures close to those quoted.

Rate the light for performance:
 
8/10

Very good relative to size and numbers.

Rate the light for durability:
 
7/10

Reassuringly rugged.

Rate the light for weight:
 
9/10

Great for pared-to-the essentials training bikes or TT builds.

Rate the light for value:
 
6/10

Tell us how the light performed overall when used for its designed purpose

Overall, the Rapid Micro is a well made and capable little light with enough presence peripherally and straight on for most contexts. The pulsing and flashing modes were my defaults, other riders suggested they could spot me from 180 metres on a clear night. Run times are pretty faithful to those quoted and the compact design is an obvious choice for clutter-phobic bikes on calorie controlled diets. That said, it wouldn't be my only rear light for regular long distance riding along unlit roads.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the light

Compact, lightweight, user-friendly design with decent output.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the light

Nothing given the design brief, but lacks the presence required for miles of unlit rural roads.

Did you enjoy using the light? Yes

Would you consider buying the light? Yes

Would you recommend the light to a friend? Yes

Use this box to explain your score

Decent little light well suited to suburban/semi-rural riding but lacking the presence I like for pitch black lanes.

Overall rating: 7/10

About the tester

Age: 42  Height: 1m 81cm  Weight: 70kg

I usually ride: Rough stuff tourer based around 4130 Univega mountain bike frameset  My best bike is: 1955 Holdsworth Road Path and several others including cross & traditional road

I've been riding for: Over 20 years  I ride: Most days  I would class myself as: Experienced

I regularly do the following types of riding: cyclo-cross, commuting, touring, fixed/singlespeed, mountain biking

Shaun Audane is a freelance writer/product tester with over twenty-eight years riding experience, the last twelve (120,000 miles) spent putting bikes and kit through their paces for a variety of publications. Previous generations of his family worked at manufacturing's sharp end, thus Shaun can weld, has a sound understanding of frame building practice and a preference for steel or titanium framesets.
Citing Richard Ballantine and an Au pair as his earliest cycling influences, he is presently writing a cycling book with particular focus upon women, families and disabled audiences (Having been a registered care manager and coached children at Herne Hill Velodrome in earlier careers)