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Cateye Volt 500 XC Front Light



A good light for commuting or riding after dark at a sensible price

At every product is thoroughly tested for as long as it takes to get a proper insight into how well it works. Our reviewers are experienced cyclists that we trust to be objective. While we strive to ensure that opinions expressed are backed up by facts, reviews are by their nature an informed opinion, not a definitive verdict. We don't intentionally try to break anything (except locks) but we do try to look for weak points in any design. The overall score is not just an average of the other scores: it reflects both a product's function and value – with value determined by how a product compares with items of similar spec, quality, and price.

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Cateye has a big range of lights on offer, with this Volt 500 XC slotting in somewhere in the middle. It is a simple four-mode light with a reasonable output for commuting and riding at night.

  • Pros: Bright, simple to use, durable
  • Cons: Charging time

The 500-lumen output from its highest constant setting is enough light to see by at sensible speeds on unlit roads. It lasts almost a full two hours in this mode, which should be long enough for just about any commute or a reasonable night ride. The beam offers a fairly large spot, although I was more impressed with that of the 400-lumen Lezyne Hecto Drive that I have also been testing.

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Charging time isn't the shortest at just over five hours, but it's still possible it could be charged up during the day between commutes on a typical working day if necessary. Charging is fairly standard via a micro-USB cable that comes included and plugs into a port on the rear of the light. A useful LED in the power button lights up to indicate that the battery is low when it falls below 20%.

The 500 XC has three other modes: 100-lumen solid beam, 50-lumen solid interrupted by a 500-lumen pulse, which is great for daytime use or street-lit commutes, and a 100-lumen flash. As usual, the flash is the best option if you really need to extend the battery life – according to Cateye you'll get an impressive 120 hours from it. While I haven't accurately tested this claim, the only times I have had to recharge the light so far have been after a couple of longer uses when testing the main beam.

Operating the light is very simple, with a single power button. It also features a useful double-click function which switches the light to the main beam regardless of the current mode.

> Buyer's Guide: The best 2017/2018 front lights for cycling

The bracket is a simple rubber band option, which is easy to attach once you get the hang of it and generally stayed put, except during some more vigorous testing on my cyclo-cross bike. Cateye claims to have improved this rubber band to make it more durable than previous versions. I had no issues here, though I did find it significantly less sturdy than the strap of the Lezyne Hecto Drive mentioned earlier. It also doesn't give much scope for different diameter bars, with only two size settings. However, I was pleasantly surprised to find that it was stretchy enough to fit around the base bar on my time trial bike during an impromptu evening session.

As far as value goes, another change Cateye has made is a £10 reduction in RRP to £49.99, which I'd say is a fair price for what's on offer. Using the beam comparison engine above shows there is a lot of competition out there, though, including a few options from Moon, the slightly cheaper Kryptonite Street F-450, and the Lezyne Hecto Drive already mentioned, at £33.


A good light for commuting or riding after dark at a sensible price

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Make and model: Cateye Volt 500 XC Front Light

Size tested: Max Output 500Lm

Tell us what the light is for

Cateye says: "The Volt500XC is a great option for those needing a powerful light at a reasonable price. Excellent for commuting or training after the sun has set, the 500 lumen Volt500XC is perfect for the rider seeking a dependable and bright bar-mounted light. Featuring 4 modes (high, low, hyper-constant, and flashing), a USB-rechargeable Li-ion battery, and an easy to attach (and remove) rubber bar mount, the sleek Volt500XC will quickly become your go-to light for night riding."

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

Cateye lists:

Light source:High intensity white LED X1

Run time:High mode 500 lumens- 2hrs; Low mode 100 lumens:14.5hrs; Hyper Constant mode 500/100 lumens:12hrs; Flashing mode 100 lumens: 120hrs

Battery: Li-ion rechargeable battery (3.6V-2200mAh)

Recharge time: approx 6hrs (USB2.0 recharge)

Recharge/discharge number of times:about 300 times

Low battery indicator

Lighting mode memory function

Rate the light for quality of construction:
Rate the light for design and ease of use. How simple was the light to use?

Very simple to use with a single power button.

Rate the light for the design and usability of the clamping system/s

A bit fiddly to get on and off the bar at first but I soon got used to it. Not as secure as others I've used either.

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

I never experienced any issues.

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

Certainly reasonable life for commutes and short rides, but charging time is quite extensive.

Rate the light for performance:
Rate the light for durability:
Rate the light for weight:
Rate the light for value:

A pretty fair price for what you get.

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

Performed well, with a bright enough beam for unlit lanes and a reasonable battery life.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the light

Simple and functional, no fuss.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the light

Charging time.

Did you enjoy using the light? Yes

Would you consider buying the light? Possibly

Would you recommend the light to a friend? Yes

Use this box to explain your overall score

Cateye has created a durable, compact light that's good for commuting and short nighttime rides.

Overall rating: 7/10

About the tester

Age: 21  Height: 164cm  Weight: 56kg

I usually ride: Planet X London Road  My best bike is: Bowman Palace:R

I've been riding for: 5-10 years  I ride: Every day  I would class myself as: Experienced

I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, commuting, club rides, track

Ashia is a Maths student at the University of Bath and has been riding and racing bikes for the past 6 years after a track taster session at her local velodrome had her hooked. Most weekends, she can be found out racing, be it track, road, criteriums, time trials, triathlons, or cyclocross.  Whilst she is fiercely competitive and loves to race, she is still on the look out for anyone hiring a "full time cafe rider" when she graduates.

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