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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
* 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 )
No issues at all.
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.
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.
About the tester
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.