It's the purity of delivery that separates Cateye's Rapid 3 front light from a wealth of similar blinkeys. I don't like watts as a measure since it's concerned with consumption, rather than output. However, ours has saved my blushes (possibly my life too) when a high power main system packed up ten miles from the nearest stretch of street lighting, let alone my front door.
Sharing identical guts with its rear sibling, there's a central 0.2watt spot flanked by two 5mm LEDs powered by two ubiquitous AAA cells, which in my book makes these a better choice for tourists and indeed mountain bikers. Now for those of you uninitiated with the brands' opti cube technology, it's where lens and reflectors are matched to optimise output according to the light's intended purpose, which seems a genuinely effective.
Talking of which, I've come to appreciate Cateye's simple mounting system that resembles a super-refined zip tie snaking anaconda-like around the full set of handlebar diameters, extension brackets and even some stems too (photo). Another interesting feature is the sculpted anti glare strip that fits shroud like between lens and casing, overcoming the problem of being dazzled by your own light but without muting peripheral potency. Essentially it's a strip of electrical tape, so a neat trick you could use with similarly powerful designs.
Powering up unleashes a retina tickling pool of white light with a faintly blue aura that's just enough for navigating the suburbs to around 14mph in steady but economy drops to around 5hrs 43 minutes (against a quoted six, depending upon cell quality) whereas flashing has returned at least 78.25 with bargain basement batteries. Rapid also works very well because it oscillates faster than most other neon pollution and identifies you as a cyclist to other road users to at least 250 metres, nearer 400 in the sticks with a return of 33.5 hours (35 quoted).
Literally brilliant with old fashioned dynamos, slow speed saunters through congested traffic, waiting at level crossings have all felt markedly safer. Plenty of wet stuff coupled with garden hose testing suggests winter won't get close, while positive switches mightn't be prod n' play with heavy tog weight gloves, the diodes won't be doing the samba when bouncing around in rider luggage.
Extremely capable urban commuter light/dynamo companion or main light back up with excellent output and economy all at a reasonable price
road.cc test report
Make and model: Cateye Rapid 3 front light
Size tested: n/a
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?
Possibly the most noticeable front LED on the market. The front version of the massively popular Rapid 3 uses
the same high power centre led as the rear version, backed up by 2 x 5mm Led's to fire a pulse of bright light
up front, making sure you get noticed!
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the light?
* Opticube lens technology
* 3 LED's including centre high power 0.2W LED
* 3 Modes: Flashing / Rapid / Constant
Simple serrated loop affair and all the better for it.
Tell us how the light performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Cat eye rapid 3 is an extremely bright and well conceived front light, keenly priced and with great power to economy ratios. That said, the otherwise positive switch can prove a little tricky in gloved hands but prevents unwanted engagement when holidaying in panniers, pockets and similar luggage.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the light
Keen pricing, simple bracket,potent output and great economy in the lower settings.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the light
Nothing, although operating the switch proved tricky in gloved hands.
Did you enjoy using the light? Yes
Would you consider buying the light? Yes
Would you recommend the light to a friend? Yes
About the tester
Age: 38 Height: 1m 81 Weight: 70 kilos
I usually ride: Rough Stuff Tourer Based around 4130 Univega mtb 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, mtb,
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)