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Verdict: 
A very complete package for training or commuting, with plenty of power and good run-times
Weight: 
292g

The new Cateye Volt 1300 is a pretty complete package, offering plenty of light balanced with decent burn times, although it is a little pricier than some of its closest rivals.

  • Pros: A couple of decent modes to cover all road riding, lengthy run-times
  • Cons: Cheaper competitors are available, a bit weighty

The Volt 1300 replaces the previous 1200 model, and is the little brother of the Volt 1700.

> Find your nearest dealer here

As the name suggests, it pumps out 1300 lumens on full, which is perfect for jaunts out into the pitch black countryside, even when tackling twisty technical descents.

The beam offers quite a wide spread (as you can see on our beam comparison engine), which helps to pick up verges on both sides of the road to give you a decent level of perspective of your surroundings.

The central spot is bright, and if you get the angle right you'll get an excellent beam of useful light stretching out in front of you, without upsetting the birds trying to sleep in the trees overhead.

Using this high mode for the duration of your ride will see you being able to stay out and play for a good couple of hours according to Cateye, and that is what I achieved: just over, actually, at 2hrs 10mins after it had had a few charges.

The middle mode gives you 500 lumens for 5 hours of battery life and this is plenty for riding on main roads or even in the lanes on the flat at a steady rhythm.

Low gives you 120 lumens – not really enough for much in the dark, as it is a little bit on the dim side, but ideal if you're passing through street-lit urban areas so that you can stretch out the burn-times.

Other than that, there are two flashing modes, starting with the rather impressively named Daytime Hyper Contact!

Both LEDs remain lit at 120 lumens but you get a flash at the full 1300 lumens. I used it a lot on sunny rides, especially if I was on busy roads with many roundabouts and junctions and when in town filtering. The bright flash really makes you stand out against the background of all the solid state LED daytime-running lights on cars.

You get a traditional flash mode as well, which puts out 200 lumens. This is ideal when in urban traffic in the dark, when the Daytime mode would be just too inconsiderate.

Battery life for these is 12hrs and 150hrs respectively.

Operation/mode selection

Mode selection and turning the light on and off is controlled by one central button. It's raised enough to make it easy to find with gloves on.

I'm not a fan of having to scroll through flashing modes to get back to the solid state beams, as you find on some lights, but the Volt has a neat solution to this. No matter what mode you are in, if you double click the button you'll automatically jump to high; press the button and you'll return to the previous mode you were in.

Spending most of the time riding in the 500-lumen mode, I could easily switch to high mode when things became technical or I headed into the lanes. Using this trick I could easily toggle between two modes without having to scroll through the daytime flash mode – not something you want to be doing in the pitch black.

Charging

The button is also used as a battery life display when running and charging. When riding, if the battery is above 50% it'll remain unlit; when 50% is reached it lights up amber, red at 30% and flashing red at 15%.

Depending on how you charge it, you can achieve a full battery between 4.5hrs and 15hrs. Using a phone charger plugged into a wall socket was the quickest for me: it showed green for 100% charge after 4hrs 50mins.

The battery isn't only rechargeable it's also replaceable, so to extend run-times you could carry an extra battery and swap them over mid-ride.

Bracket

Cateye has been using the same thumbwheel-based bracket design for years now, and while I prefer something bolted together and clamped around the bar, like Exposure's solution, this one did stay in place on even the roughest of roads.

Cat Eye Volt 1300 RC Front Light - mount.jpg

The light is easy to fit to and remove from the bracket, so should you need to park your bike up outside the café or at work it isn't a faff to take the light with you.

Weatherproofing

Cateye doesn't list an IP rating to indicate its ability to shrug off the elements, so I put the Volt through the usual tests. Riding in the wind and rain saw it get a bit of a hammering from heavy downpours and being splashed in road spray from passing lorries and all was fine. Just to make sure, though, I also blasted it with the power shower at home and, as with many lights, as long as the cover is closed over the charging port there won't be any issues.

Value could be the only chink in the Volt's armour: it is a little bit pricier than some close rivals.

Lezyne is currently producing some very decent lights. We've tested the Macro Drive 1100XL at £70 and there is also the Super Drive 1500XXL, which costs £110.

I do prefer the Cateye's mounting bracket, and the choice of outputs to toggle between on Lezyne's Race mode irritates me, as you'll find out when my full review of the Lite Drive 800XL is published.

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

We've recently tested the Blackburn DayBlazer 1100, which costs £84.99. True, it's not as powerful, but it is machined from aluminium alloy and offers decent burn times and outputs. It is nearly half the weight too.

Overall, though, other than the price there is very little to dislike about the Cateye; if you can find it discounted anywhere, it quickly becomes a bargain.

Verdict

A very complete package for training or commuting, with plenty of power and good run-times

If you're thinking of buying this product using a cashback deal why not use the road.cc Top Cashback page and get some top cashback while helping to support your favourite independent cycling website

road.cc test report

Make and model: Cateye Volt 1300 RC Front Light

Size tested: 1300 Lm

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?

Cateye distributor ZyroFisher says, "Replacing the popular Volt 1200, the new Volt 1300 includes the key features of the recently launched Volt 1700, at a more affordable price."

I think the light covers pretty much everything needed for road riding.

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

From ZyroFisher:

* 1300 Lm, 2 hrs on High mode.

* Super powerful wide beam with Opticube technology with improved sideways visibility over the Volt 1200

* USB Li-ion rechargeable, tool-free, quick-release replaceable cartridge battery

* Large, raised mode & power button for ease of use when wearing gloves

* 3 level battery indicator:

 

When charging: Red = less than 50% charged / Orange = more than 50% charged / Green = charging completed

When illuminated: Orange = battery capacity 50-31% / Red = 30-16% / Red flash = less than 15% remaining

* Double click to High Mode. Single click returns to the previous mode

* Recharge time: 4.5 – 15 hrs, 30% faster than Volt 1200 ( 4.5hrs with USB @ 1500mA )

* Includes Flextight bracket 22-32mm

* Weight: 256g

 

Mode: Output, Runtime

High: 1300 Lm, 2 hrs

Middle: 500 Lm, 5 hrs

Low: 120 Lm, 15 hrs

Daytime HyperConstant: 120 / 1300 Lm, 12 hrs

Flashing: 200 Lm, 150 hrs

Charging time: 4.5 – 15 hrs, 30% faster than Volt 1200 ( 4.5hrs with USB @ 1500mA )

Weight: 256g

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?
 
8/10
Rate the light for the design and usability of the clamping system/s
 
7/10
Rate the light for waterproofing. How did it stand up to the elements?
 
9/10

No issues at all.

Rate the light for battery life. How long did it last? How long did it take to recharge?
 
8/10

Recharging takes around five hours via the mains. A two-hour burn time on full is the very minimum I'd expect from a light of this price.

Rate the light for performance:
 
8/10
Rate the light for durability:
 
9/10
Rate the light for weight:
 
7/10
Rate the light for value:
 
6/10

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

The top two modes cover pretty much any road riding situation.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the light

A great balance of light output versus battery life.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the light

Nothing really, especially if you can find it cheaper than rrp.

How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?

In a like for like comparison the Cateye is a little higher in price but it is very well built.

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

Plenty of light for seeing with, and decent run-times; it's a little pricier than some of the competitors but that's the only real issue.

Overall rating: 8/10

About the tester

Age: 40  Height: 180cm  Weight: 76kg

I usually ride: This month's test bike  My best bike is: B'Twin Ultra CF draped in the latest bling test components

I've been riding for: Over 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.

13 comments

Avatar
handlebarcam [1292 posts] 8 months ago
2 likes

Yet another "I'm all right, Jack" light for people who don't care who they dazzle. Cateye does make StVZO lights, but the UK importer, like UK product reviewers, thinks lumen counts are all that matter. You can get them on Amazon by searching for cateye gvolt, or via German web sites.

Avatar
Plasterer's Radio [530 posts] 8 months ago
1 like
handlebarcam wrote:

Yet another "I'm all right, Jack" light for people who don't care who they dazzle. Cateye does make StVZO lights, but the UK importer, like UK product reviewers, thinks lumen counts are all that matter. You can get them on Amazon by searching for cateye gvolt, or via German web sites.

Drama queen.

Avatar
handlebarcam [1292 posts] 8 months ago
1 like
Plasterer's Radio wrote:

Drama queen.

Thank you for your invaluable contribution to this discussion. Don't worry, I'm sure that certificate in debating skills from Trump University will arrive in the mail any day now.

Avatar
vonhelmet [1353 posts] 8 months ago
2 likes

You know, these lights are fine if you have the wit to switch modes when you move from a well lit area to an unlit one. My commute home takes me through well lit streets at either end, but includes 4 miles of unlit shared use path in the middle. I need a pretty bright light to travel at any sort of speed on there.

Avatar
handlebarcam [1292 posts] 8 months ago
2 likes
vonhelmet wrote:

You know, these lights are fine if you have the wit to switch modes when you move from a well lit area to an unlit one. My commute home takes me through well lit streets at either end, but includes 4 miles of unlit shared use path in the middle. I need a pretty bright light to travel at any sort of speed on there.

A fair point. However, I disagree. In well-lit areas these lights are antisocial but not dangerous. You can still see what is beyond the light. It is when you are riding in the black that an oncoming light like this complete blocks out your view. Is there another cyclist behind the one with the photon cannon about to swing out and overtake on a bicycle path only barely wide enough for two? Is there a massive, wheel-swallowing pothole on your side of a country lane just as you come around a corner to face thousands of lumens directed straight at your face? Sure, they can be pointed down at the ground, but most people don't do that.

Avatar
janusz0 [343 posts] 8 months ago
0 likes
handlebarcam wrote:

Yet another "I'm all right, Jack" light for people who don't care who they dazzle. Cateye does make StVZO lights, but the UK importer, like UK product reviewers, thinks lumen counts are all that matter. You can get them on Amazon by searching for cateye gvolt, or via German web sites.

 

Thanks for that hint.  It's a shame that UK Trading Standards doesn't prosecute importers of lights without BS6102/3 (or EU equivalent).  I knew that German lights conform, but now know to look for "StVZO".

Avatar
Anthony.C [278 posts] 8 months ago
0 likes

I am another one who doesn't feel comfortable blinding people so it is interesting to see that Cateye do lights with a cutoff for the German market. I noticed Lezyne do them too and they can be bought on Wiggle although these lights don't seem any better than the old Philips saferide, apart from the batteries.

Avatar
Christopher TR1 [245 posts] 8 months ago
2 likes

Ideally we all need to see where we are going without dazling others. However, it does seem unfair that the StVO does not allow anything brighter than a damp candle for bikes and yet is perfectly happy to have swarms of SUVs driving around pumping out thousands of lumens of bright white light.

I suspect that the direction of the light and the beam pattern is more important in the real world than the actual brightness.

Avatar
paulrattew [302 posts] 8 months ago
2 likes

Echoing the comments about not wanting to blind other road users, I siply don't understand why more lights don't have a more road specific beam shape. I've got a Ravemen PR1200, which has a full beam mode which is great for going off road or for using on empty roads, and then has a cut off / squared off mode, where the beam pattern is designed specifically not to blind other road users. Easy and quick to switch between the two.

It's bad enough with so many cars nowadays having super bright headlights that are angled too high up without other cyclists adding to the problem. 

Avatar
akmbikes [26 posts] 8 months ago
1 like

Referencing blinding other road users (specifically car drivers). I ride with a Ravemen PR 900 as my primary light. As a backup I have a Lezyne 400XL. If I have that on full I get loads of car drivers keeping their full beam on but if I have the Ravemen at full power (but not full beam) all I tend to get is people putting their beams down. This is on rural un-lit roads.

So I feel it's definitely the shape of the beam that annoys drivers. And don't even talk about how they hate even a low powered helmet light. I keep mine for dealing with emergencies now.

I too wish for a proper car light style beam for my bike lights or rather, a market full of them so I can make a decent choice. The StVZO ones all look underpowered and after that there aren't many choices. 

 

Avatar
Plasterer's Radio [530 posts] 8 months ago
0 likes
handlebarcam wrote:
Plasterer's Radio wrote:

Drama queen.

Thank you for your invaluable contribution to this discussion. Don't worry, I'm sure that certificate in debating skills from Trump University will arrive in the mail any day now.

And thank you for proving my original point beautifully. X

Avatar
Anthony.C [278 posts] 8 months ago
1 like

Lupine do some high powered StVZO lights but they are prohibitively pricey.

Avatar
janusz0 [343 posts] 8 months ago
0 likes
Anthony.C wrote:

Lupine do some high powered StVZO lights but they are prohibitively pricey.

385,00 € on Bike 24, with 6.6AH battery.  Larger batteries available.  Pure kitchen porn.