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Verdict: 
Simple extra lights that provide some indication of width to overtaking traffic
Weight: 
52g

Cateye's Orb Bar End lights are a neat addition to the lighting setup on your bike, and while they aren't super-bright they are noticeable, well made and relatively cheap. They might even offset some close passes.

  • Pros: Easy to fit, robust, distinctive
  • Cons: Handlebar drop needs to be precisely aligned for best performance

I'm not going to start off with massive claims about how these Orbs made every car give me masses of space when overtaking, as there is no way of knowing. Maybe they helped a little by giving a clearer distinction to some drivers of just how wide you are in the dark, but in general road manners remained the same.

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I like having them on the bike, though. It's just another little part of the arsenal to help to be seen and even with their minimal output of just 5 lumen they are actually quite noticeable.

You even get a little bit of side visibility.

Cateye Orb Bar End Set.jpg

First, though, you need to make sure that the bottom of your handlebar drop runs parallel with the road; as with any LED, the Orbs need to be pointing directly at the intended target (i.e. a driver's eyes) for best effect. If you have your bar at an angle or yours doesn't have a full rounded drop then you will be losing a lot of performance as the light shines at the floor.

Each light comes supplied with a CR2032 coin style battery. They're quite common, so price/replacement isn't much of an issue.

They'll last for a while anyway (depending on how often you ride, obviously) with run-times of 50 hours on constant and 100 on both the fast and slow flash modes. These claims are pretty close to what I achieved with the original batteries, and as they wear out the LEDs just get a little dimmer.

> Buyer's Guide: 14 of the best rear lights

To turn them on and scroll through the modes, you just click the lens. It's a defined click too, so you can feel what you are doing even through thick winter gloves.

The Cateyes are well made, coming with an aluminium body rather than plastic for their 20 quid asking price. They withstood all the rain they saw plus my own power shower test with ease.

Fitment is easy too. You just remove your standard bar tape plugs and push these on in place. As long as your bar inner diameter is between 18mm and 22.5mm they'll be a good, firm fit.

There aren't many of this type of light on the market to compare them with for value, but I think they're worth the money, mostly for the build quality and ease of use rather than all-out brightness.

For the same price you could go for the Moon Meraks, which have the same rrp but slightly shorter like-for-like run-times. They do have a daylight running 15 lumen, though, if you want something a bit brighter.

Overall, I think the Orbs are a neat little package, and offer plenty of brightness.

Verdict

Simple extra lights that provide some indication of width to overtaking traffic

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road.cc test report

Make and model: Cateye Orb Bar End Set

Size tested: n/a

Tell us what the light is for

Cateye says, "The Cateye Orb Bar End Light Set is made up of two, highly compact, lights with red, rear LEDs. They fit neatly into any bikes handlebars that have an inner diameter of 18.5mm-22mm. To add to the light's user friendly nature the lights can be turned on, off and switched between modes via simply pressing the face of the lights."

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

From Cateye:

Robust aluminium construction

Fits bike handlebars with an inner diameter of 18.5mm-22mm

Lens acts as power and mode button

Compact design

Side visibility

2 x 2032 batteries included

Rate the light for quality of construction:
 
8/10
Rate the light for design and ease of use. How simple was the light to use?
 
9/10
Rate the light for the design and usability of the clamping system/s
 
8/10

Not exactly a 'clamp', but easy to fit.

Rate the light for waterproofing. How did it stand up to the elements?
 
9/10
Rate the light for battery life. How long did it last? How long did it take to recharge?
 
8/10
Rate the light for performance:
 
8/10
Rate the light for durability:
 
8/10
Rate the light for weight:
 
8/10
Rate the light for value:
 
7/10

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

A simple light set that works as it should.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the light

Ease of use.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the light

Handlebar angle has to be spot on.

Did you enjoy using the light? Yes

Would you consider buying the light? Yes

Would you recommend the light to a friend? Yes

Use this box to explain your overall score

A simple addition to your bike lighting solutions that are well made and easy to use.

Overall rating: 8/10

About the tester

Age: 38  Height: 180cm  Weight: 76kg

I usually ride: This month's test bike  My best bike is: Kinesis Aithein

I've been riding for: 10-20 years  I ride: Every day  I would class myself as: Expert

I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, club rides, sportives, fixed/singlespeed

Stu knocked out his first road.cc review back in 2009 and since then he's chucked the best part of seventy test bikes around the West Country, a couple of them quite literally! With three alloy and two steel bikes in his fleet he's definitely a metal man (that'll be the engineering background) but is slowly warming to that modern carbon fibre stuff along with fat tyres & disc brakes.
It's not all nostalgia though, after spending the last few years in product design Stu keeps banging on about how 3D printing is going to be the next big thing and he's a sucker for a beautiful paint job too.

17 comments

Avatar
Disfunctional_T... [337 posts] 9 months ago
0 likes

Pros: Nice crenulated bezel construction of sharp aluminum. Great for taking a nice chunk out of someone's thigh in a crash.

Avatar
janusz0 [174 posts] 9 months ago
2 likes

I've been using precursors of these ever since manufacturers started using red LEDs in cycle lights.  They're an excellent addition, that occasionally get remarked on by by people who've overtaken me.  They may not be as bright as a normal rear light, but it's nice that you can see that these are working as you ride.  I'm amazed that it's taken Cateye so long to get around to making these.  They appear to be a great improvement over the existing flimsy ones.  The only thing that puzzles me, is why they stick out so far from the end of the handlebar,  when 2 or 3 mm would be enough,

@Disfunctional_T...: Are you sure that the bezels are sharp?  I don't remember them feeling sharp when I examined them at the NEC Show.  If you're that concerned, you could round them off easily with a file.  However, I think they're there to protect the plastic LED cover and  I doubt that Cateye have made it sharp.   The two cutaways are there to allow the lights to be seen from the side.  I find that the road usually does me more damage than my bike does when I crash. 

 

 

Avatar
StraelGuy [1586 posts] 9 months ago
1 like

Might order a set of these come payday, a lot of my riding at this time of year is at night.

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Disfunctional_T... [337 posts] 9 months ago
0 likes

> Are you sure that the bezels are sharp?

They definitely look dangerously sharp in the photos. There's no reason for them to be designed that way.

Avatar
Tass Whitby [63 posts] 9 months ago
2 likes

I used to have a pair that were indicators too (I know, I know! hush everybody!) - most of the time I'd just have them on as constant lights (I think they flashed too), but they had a white front light too. I remember cycling up a long hill and a bloke who was stopped at the top told me they were really effective. Probably in a box somewhere. Should resurrect them...

Avatar
hirsute [488 posts] 9 months ago
0 likes
Disfunctional_Threshold wrote:

> Are you sure that the bezels are sharp?

They definitely look dangerously sharp in the photos. There's no reason for them to be designed that way.

And how many children use dropped handlebars? Which part of the handlebar did they hit in that list you posted ?

Avatar
alansmurphy [1916 posts] 9 months ago
2 likes

"Simple extra lights that provide some indication of width to overtaking traffic"

 

If they're having to use that then they're already likely to appear on the close pass video - you're likely talking 20 cm width from the seatpost to the bar end. You could argue it gives them a target to pass closer! 

Avatar
bechdan [171 posts] 9 months ago
1 like

ive used cheap chinese versions from ebay similar to these for about 10 years, they are low profile, low cost and easy to fit. 

Reinventing the wheel again

Avatar
andyp [1598 posts] 9 months ago
2 likes
Tass Whitby wrote:

I used to have a pair that were indicators too (I know, I know! hush everybody!) - most of the time I'd just have them on as constant lights (I think they flashed too), but they had a white front light too. I remember cycling up a long hill and a bloke who was stopped at the top told me they were really effective. Probably in a box somewhere. Should resurrect them...

 

I had the same - Tacx Lumos, and absolutely loved them. They absolutely do make a difference.

Tacx ones were unfortunately fragile. I'm off to buy these straight away.

 

Avatar
stomec [58 posts] 9 months ago
0 likes
Disfunctional_Threshold wrote:

> Are you sure that the bezels are sharp? They definitely look dangerously sharp in the photos. There's no reason for them to be designed that way.

 

These aren’t the handlebars you are looking for. The dangerous ones in children are flat bars when the stem can rotate 180 degrees and the end goes into the abdomen compressing organs against the spine. Drop bars on a road bike are very rarely a problem. 

 

Avatar
kil0ran [1172 posts] 9 months ago
1 like
stomec wrote:
Disfunctional_Threshold wrote:

> Are you sure that the bezels are sharp? They definitely look dangerously sharp in the photos. There's no reason for them to be designed that way.

 

These aren’t the handlebars you are looking for. The dangerous ones in children are flat bars when the stem can rotate 180 degrees and the end goes into the abdomen compressing organs against the spine. Drop bars on a road bike are very rarely a problem. 

 

My fave childhood cycling injury (I had many - who needs track mitts/shoes/helmets anyway?) was the huge haemotoma I got in my upper thigh from my Grifter handlebars doing a lovely apple corer job. Still have vestigial evidence in the muscle almost 40 years later. Friend broke several bones in his foot and had deep indentations in the top from slipping out of a bear trap pedal wearing flip flops and jamming foot between pedal and kerb. I've got a set of pedal pin scars on my shin from a similar incident.

Never underestimate the ability of bikes to provide you with childhood "hey mum, look, no hands" injury one-upmanship  1

Avatar
StraelGuy [1586 posts] 9 months ago
0 likes

I had a mate at uni in the early 90's who nearly lost a nut crashing on a fire road in Scotland. End of the handlebar smashed him in the inner thigh narrowly avoiding tearing off something very important to him .

Avatar
ConcordeCX [904 posts] 9 months ago
2 likes
bechdan wrote:

ive used cheap chinese versions from ebay similar to these for about 10 years, they are low profile, low cost and easy to fit. 

Reinventing the wheel again

indeed. Once a product is on the market why oh why do other companies keep on bringing out their own versions? This needs to be regulated immediately.

 

Avatar
ConcordeCX [904 posts] 9 months ago
0 likes
kil0ran wrote:

My fave childhood cycling injury (I had many - who needs track mitts/shoes/helmets anyway?) was the huge haemotoma I got in my upper thigh from my Grifter handlebars doing a lovely apple corer job. Still have vestigial evidence in the muscle almost 40 years later. Friend broke several bones in his foot and had deep indentations in the top from slipping out of a bear trap pedal wearing flip flops and jamming foot between pedal and kerb. I've got a set of pedal pin scars on my shin from a similar incident.

Never underestimate the ability of bikes to provide you with childhood "hey mum, look, no hands" injury one-upmanship  1

one of my brothers managed to stab himself in the upper thigh with a brake lever when he tried unsuccessfully to bunny-hop a pavement. He fell off and the brake lever penetrated his thigh about two inches. Nasty.

 

Avatar
Disfunctional_T... [337 posts] 9 months ago
0 likes
hirsute wrote:

>And how many children use dropped handlebars? Which part of the handlebar did they hit in that list you posted ?

Nice redirection away from the fact that these bar ends appear have an unnecessarily dangerous design.

Avatar
StraelGuy [1586 posts] 9 months ago
6 likes

I ordered a set this morning for delivery tomorrow. If I get horribly killed by them I'll ask my parents to let you know .

Avatar
StraelGuy [1586 posts] 9 months ago
0 likes

Just fitted them, they look really good. I put a single width of bar tape coloured insulating tape around the join and they even look built in. First test tonight.

 

Oh, and just a wee correction to the article: each one takes two CR2032 batteries.