Cateye Rapid 3 rear light  £19.99

7/10

Well made, nicely priced and very convenient blinky, but the runtime could be better

Weight 25g   Contact www.zyro.co.uk

by Shaun Audane   February 7, 2013  

Cateye Rapid 3 rear light

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The Cateye Rapid 3 rear light is rather like a good party guest - charismatic, confident but never brash. Bucking the trend for USB recharging cables, those not wanting to be tied to technology can pop a spare AA cell in the seatpack and be ready to go in a matter of minutes.But beware - in constant mode the battery will drain eye-wateringly fast.

Positioned vertically, its curvy 6x4x2cm profile delivers 180 degree visibility while retaining the clean aesthetic on contemporary compact road builds. Aftermarket clothing and carrier hardware is also available, although the standard bracket is pretty accommodating. (Mounted at the lowest point on a seatpost,it could catch on thighs every so often)

Plastics are to the brand's usual high standards, and 'opticube' is another way of saying the lens incorporates collimator know-how to bolster the central diode.

A translucent battery tray/switch housing doesn't appear to serve any practical purpose other than safely satisfying childhood curiosity but the supple rubber band seal ensures a seamless, weather resistant seal.

A succession of increasingly cruel immersion tests failed to touch this light, so you'd be pretty unlucky; dare I say careless to experience bother from the wet stuff. Similarly, the low profile, glove friendly switch requires a few seconds' sustained pressure so won't be partying mischievously when its supposed to be sleeping in your bag - and it recalls its chosen setting when you turn it back on.

Cateye don't quote specifics but general consensus suggests we were visible to around 450 metres from behind, 200 to the side on clear nights in flashing/rapid modes. Constant and/or serious gloom saw this drop nearer 250 and 100 respectively. With the exception of flashing, run times are relatively poor though-we've managed 2hrs 15 in steady while rapid flash returns about 16 hours.

Verdict

Well made, nicely priced and very convenient blinky, but the runtime could be better.

road.cc test report

Make and model: Cateye Rapid 3 rear light

Size tested: n/a

Tell us what the product 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?

"Three modes allow you to customize your visibility. The rapid mode is an all out attention grabber, using all 3 LEDs in a unique pattern guaranteed to get you noticed. The flashing mode foregoes the high-power center LED to save blinding your riding buddies, while the constant mode adds a daytime safety option."

Broadly agree but would shy away from constant wherever possible.

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

high power center SMD-LED and two 5mm LEDs, collimator technology, fueled by single AA cell, SP-11 FlexTight™ bracket. Compatible with the all-new RM-1 Saddle Rail bracket and the clothing clip, available separately.

Rate the product for quality of construction:
 
7/10

To the Japanese brand's usual standards.

Rate the product for performance:
 
6/10

On a positive note, I've managed 72hrs (against a quoted 80) in flashing.

Rate the product for durability:
 
7/10
Rate the product for weight, if applicable:
 
7/10
Rate the product for comfort, if applicable:
 
7/10
Rate the product for value:
 
5/10

Solid light but running costs are potentially much higher than its contemporaries.

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

Cat Eye Rapid3 remains a potent, yet frugal safety light in flashing modes whereupon it snares driver attention at 450 metres on a clear night. However constant doesn't pack the same punch and positively races through batteries.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

Compact design, user friendly bracket, good build quality and delightfully frgual in flashing.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

Risible economy in other settings-especially constant.

Did you enjoy using the product? Yes.

Would you consider buying the product? Possibly.

Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes but there are equally powerful and more economical models around.

Overall rating: 7/10

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,

 

10 user comments

Oldest firstNewest firstBest rated

It doesn't catch on your legs if you mount it vertically Wink

posted by Chuck [213 posts]
7th February 2013 - 15:36

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It's small enough to fit in your back pocket when your off the bike, it only takes one battery so it's lightweight, it's plenty bright enough... I've never once used it in 'constant' mode (who does that?) and the battery seems to last for ages. When I first got it people would stop me and ask what it was. USB lights are probably brighter but I prefer the convenience of a normal AA battery myself. Recommended.

...

posted by AlexStriplight [59 posts]
7th February 2013 - 16:17

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AlexStriplight wrote:
I've never once used it in 'constant' mode (who does that?)

Everyone should. Constant mode makes it easier for people behind you to judge the distance between them and you. I have one flashing and one constant rear light.

posted by ubercurmudgeon [168 posts]
7th February 2013 - 16:25

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The bracket can catch your thigh though, depends on how thick your seat post is and how much excess strap is sticking out over the edge.

posted by Nick T [353 posts]
7th February 2013 - 17:14

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@ubercurmudgeon: I do most of my night riding in London commuting to work. Night work obviously. In the countryside or very poorly lit areas I can see that it would be an advantage to use both a constant & flashing rear light. In London I consider myself to be more that adequately lit. Near where I live in South London a slightly odd cycling gentleman has a helmet which he has attached 15 or 20 flashing red lights. It must cost him a fortune in batteries. I've never noticed whether he has a constant rear light, but rest assured you can always see him coming or going...

...

posted by AlexStriplight [59 posts]
7th February 2013 - 19:22

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ubercurmudgeon wrote:
AlexStriplight wrote:
I've never once used it in 'constant' mode (who does that?)

Everyone should. Constant mode makes it easier for people behind you to judge the distance between them and you. I have one flashing and one constant rear light.

On this model, which I have, there is a third mode of very fast flashing (it is more like a sparkling, so that at no moment the light is off), which is quite good and is a very good complement to constant and simply blinking. It saves the battery, since all LEDs are not constantly on at the same time.

Besides, I never experienced battery problems with it. I use it with a rechargeable AA battery and it lasts for weeks, or even months. I find very strange the tester here has had little battery life. It is brigth and very compact too.

posted by zeb [41 posts]
8th February 2013 - 13:38

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zeb wrote:
ubercurmudgeon wrote:
AlexStriplight wrote:
I've never once used it in 'constant' mode (who does that?)

Everyone should. Constant mode makes it easier for people behind you to judge the distance between them and you. I have one flashing and one constant rear light.

On this model, which I have, there is a third mode of very fast flashing (it is more like a sparkling, so that at no moment the light is off), which is quite good and is a very good complement to constant and simply blinking. It saves the battery, since all LEDs are not constantly on at the same time.

Besides, I never experienced battery problems with it. I use it with a rechargeable AA battery and it lasts for weeks, or even months. I find very strange the tester here has had little battery life. It is brigth and very compact too.

He did mention this.

With the exception of flashing, run times are relatively poor though-we've managed 2hrs 15 in steady while rapid flash returns about 16 hours.

Rob Simmonds's picture

posted by Rob Simmonds [226 posts]
8th February 2013 - 17:07

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Both my wife and I have these and thoroughly rate them. Only ever used in flash mode and seems to last for ages. I'll replace a rechargeable battery every week - about 18 hours use, haven't pushed this to the point of no charge yet though. Definitely prefer the simplicity of batteries over a USB charge.

posted by Ting [50 posts]
8th February 2013 - 20:51

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I have three of these now, and have recommended and supplied them to several friends and customers at the shop. I agree that constant is much more rapidly draining than the rapid flash setting but a) it isn't as good or bright and the rapid flash is the only pattern you'll likely use b) a decent battery makes a big difference to run time in all modes.

One note of caution re the immersion tests. The rubber seal must be carefully positioned after changing battery or opening the light for any other reason or the unit will not be watertight. And the rubber seal does stretch and start to perish with age.

Those things noted, I think this is the best rear light on the market. Cateye's range of brackets mean it can be mounted on bag, with belt clip, on the rack, on the seatpost, on the seat stays etc. It's immensely bright and visible at huge range, with the rapid flash really grabbing attention, and it is very compact and lightweight, easily pocketed when parked up.

posted by Malaconotus [17 posts]
9th February 2013 - 23:58

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I've never once used it in 'constant' mode (who does that?)

people who want to be seen.

posted by andyp [461 posts]
13th February 2013 - 6:34

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