The Cateye USB 2 Way Charging cradle is a plastic cap you screw onto a Cateye Volt light battery, which allows you to charge the battery, or alternatively charge things from it. It works really well and it's well worth considering if you've got Volt lights and epic rides planned.
We love our gadgets, us cyclists. Well, some of us, anyway. I use a Garmin 520 to record my rides and I carry my phone with me with too, and I'm fairly sure I'm not alone there. I also like to do some longer rides, and keeping gadgets working over the course of a day often means a mid-ride charge. I've carried and used a variety of battery packs for this purpose.
Cateye's excellent Volt range of lights has been around a few years now, and many of the lights – the 300, 400, 700 and 800 – use a screw-in rechargeable lithium-ion battery. This is handy, because you can easily pack a spare if you think you're in with a chance of running them down.
The USB 2 Way Charging cradle fits on to your spare battery (or your main battery, but obviously you can't run the light at the same time) and it has a clicky rotating wheel with two positions. One allows you to plug the battery to charge it, and the other allows you to charge USB devices using the charge in the battery.
So effectively you're turning your spare battery into the battery pack you might normally carry anyway. Which means that if your phone runs out, you can charge it up. And if your light runs out, you can swap the battery over. And if both run out... Well, you'll just have to make your choice.
I've been using the cradle with a 2100mAh battery from a Volt 400. My phone – a Sony Xperia Z1 Compact – has a 2300mAh battery, so you'd expect to be able to charge it to just about full, and that's what happens in practice. The Garmin 520's battery is about half that size, so you get the best part of two charges, extending your recording time from the 12-15 hour range up to nearer 40 hours. So enough for a 600km audax or a weekend of bikepacking, if that's your thing.
The clicky dial that reveals the charging and output ports feels a bit superfluous to me. I have other batteries with both input and output ports and I don't have masses of trouble distinguishing one from the other. Plus, it's just a thing to break when the battery is rattling around in your bag. It could be done away with and the cradle would be none the worse for it.
At £19.99 rrp the cradle isn't cheap when you consider that you can get a portable battery pack with five times the capacity of the Volt 400's 2100mAh battery for about the same kind of money. The spare battery will cost you the same again, making it an expensive way of getting a bit of extra juice. On the other hand, the Volt lights are excellent, and having a spare light battery means that you can swap it out immediately if everything goes dark. Having a massive battery pack isn't much help if you have to sit around for two hours waiting for your light to charge.
In the end it'll depend on how you use your stuff. If you routinely go off for long adventures then a bigger battery pack for devices and a light that'll last the full night (dynamo, preferably) are your best bet. For mid-range riding, the USB 2 Way Charging cradle is a useful thing to have in your pocket and could dig you out of a low-charge hole.
Useful add-on for charging your gadgets if you're running Cateye Volt lighting
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Cateye USB 2 Way Charging Cradle Volt 3/4/7/800
Size tested: For Volt 800/700/400/300/50, black
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?
Cateye says: "Recharge your battery – Charge your phone!
"Cradle and USB Output port in one."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
* Charging cradle to charge Volt 50/300/400/700/800 batteries
* Compatible Batteries and charge times: BA-2.2（3.6V-2,200mAh) – 3 hours
BA-3.1（3.6V-3,100mAh) – 6 hours
* USB Output Port - Use your spare Volt battery to charge your mobile devices such as a smartphone using this cradle plus the cartridge battery
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
If you've bought in to the Cateye Volt system it's a useful thing to have on long rides.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Small, light, works well.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Rotating ring could maybe be done away with.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your score
If you're starting from scratch it's an expensive way to get some extra juice on hand, but the quality of the Volt lights make it one to consider as a system.
About the tester
I usually ride: whatever I'm testing... My best bike is: Kinesis Tripster ATR, Kinesis Aithein
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo-cross, commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mountain biking, Mountain Bike Bog Snorkelling, track
Dave is a founding father of road.cc, having previously worked on Cycling Plus and What Mountain Bike magazines back in the day. He also writes about e-bikes for our sister publication ebiketips. He's won three mountain bike bog snorkelling World Championships, and races at the back of the third cats.