Cateye have nailed this one. They've been steadily increasing the power of their torch-style lights over the last three years and they've come out with some crackers. We loved the 250-lumen Nano Shot and we loved the 600-lumen Nano Shot Plus. And now we love the Volt.
It's not all about the maximum output. But the Volt 1200 puts out masses of light on full, more than some lights that are rated higher in terms of lumen output. You get two hours on full (Cateye's battery life predictions are pretty accurate), five hours on Normal (about half power) and a whopping 17.5 hours on All-Night, which I reckon is about what the original Nano Shot used to kick out, 250 lumens or so.
That means you can genuinely ride all night with the Volt 1200. In fact, assuming it's summer riding and you're frugal with the high beam, you could probably do a whole weekend. From a light this size that's mighty impressive. The All-Night setting is plenty of light to navigate by in the darkness, although when you're heading downhill you'll want to switch to a higher beam. Normal is generally fine for that but if you're really screaming down a descent then you can go for the mega beam; I seldom used it on road. In the woods it's fantastic: the amount you can see is astonishing, to the point that your skill, not the visibility, is often the limiting factor.
On the road, it's often too much: certainly when you're in traffic it's just too bright to use considerately. Even on Normal I got flashed a couple of times by cars thinking I was a motorbike stuck on full beam. Most of the time I stuck to low power, using the higher beams on deserted lanes. There's a Hyperconstant setting too, which is low power with a full-beam strobe; that's brilliant for getting seen in the daytime. Double click the button and you get a standard flashing mode that's also good around town.
That double click is the only major issue with the light. More than once on a dark lane I'd try to switch from high beam to All-Night mode (two clicks) to avoid dazzling an oncoming car/cyclist/pedestrian only to find myself in flashing mode which is very much not adequate for staying out of the hedges in the dark. If you're in Normal mode it's not an issue, as it's only one click to All-Night.
The beam isn't road specific – in fact Cateye's product video of the Volt shows it mostly used off-road – but so long as you're sensitive to other road users it's not really an issue. There's decent side visibility from the lens design, although it'd be nice to have a touch more.
The LEDs also light up the mode button so it's easy to find in the dark, although my gloved hands would like it to be a bit bigger. And a red LED comes on inside that button when it's time to charge the Volt - that takes ages on a computer USB port (14 hours!) so it's better to try and find a high-output USB transformer that'll juice it up overnight.
I've had to charge the Volt less than once a week based on a half-hour each way commute; at that rate the 6200mAh battery will last about six or seven years. The light is very well built with an alloy/nylon body that's proved to be more than a match for the elements.
The mount is Cateye's FlexTight bracket which is a kind of plastic Jubilee clip. It doesn't sound that sexy but you can swap it between bikes in about half a minute and it holds the light firmly, and is adjustable for tension so you can keep the Volt adjustable by hand, useful for on-the fly adjustments.
There's a lot to like about this light. It's insanely bright on full, has good power options for the road, is well built and waterproof, has a long battery life and is easy to switch between your bikes. £150 isn't cheap but it'll do you for both on- and off-road and should last a few years. That makes it well worth considering as an investment.
Really good all-purpose high-power light with good power options and battery life for road riding.
The light comparator
If you have a nice big screen you can click here for the widescreen version (1400x1000px)
road.cc test report
Make and model: Cateye Volt 1200
Size tested: Black, Front light
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?
The Volt1200 emits 1200 lumens of light through 2 super bright LEDs. This light features 5 modes: Dynamic, Normal, All-Night, Hyper Constant and Flashing. The Volt1200 has a Lithium-ion rechargeable cartridge battery that is safe to change. With a 2 hour run time on Dynamic Mode and optional helmet mount, the Volt1200 will take you from the bike lane to the trail.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the light?
Features Tech Specs Manuals Small Parts
Dimension： 112.0 x 58.9 x 43.8 mm
Weight： 214 grams (light unit and battery)
Light source： High intensity white LED X2
Light output： 1200lm
Dynamic mode： approx 2hrs
Normal mode： approx 5hrs
All-Night mode： approx 17.5hrs
Hyper Constant mode： approx 14.5hrs
Li-ion rechargeable battery (3.6V-6200mAh)
Recharge time： approx 8-14 hrs 80% full recharge in 10hrs.
Recharge/discharge number of times： about 300 times（until the rated capacity drops to 70%）
Other: Low battery indicator, lighting mode memory function
Really solid build.
Mostly great, but double click to flashing is annoying when you're cycling through the modes.
The FlexTight bracket is simplicity itself.
Very well sealed.
Battery lasts for ages in normal and all-night modes. You need to seek out a high-output USB source though.
Fantastic light on or off road.
Very well built.
Not the lightest and too heavy for a helmet, but fine.
£150 isn't cheap but the Cateye delivers comparable or better outputs than many other top end lights costing more - in some cases significantly more.
Tell us how the light performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Tell us what you particularly liked about the light
Beam strength, long-lasting low-power modes, build, bracket.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the light
double click to flashing caught us out a few times, side visibility could be better.
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: 40 Height: 190cm Weight: 102kg
I usually ride: whatever I'm testing... My best bike is: Genesis Equilibrium 853
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mtb, Mountain Bike Bog Snorkelling, track
Dave is a founding father of road.cc and responsible for kicking the server when it breaks. In a previous life he was a graphic designer but he's also a three-time Mountain Bike Bog Snorkelling world champion, and remains unbeaten through the bog. Dave rides all sorts of bikes but tends to prefer metal ones. He's getting old is why.