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Verdict: 
A clever auxiliary light that works fine to enhance a wider Cateye Sync system, but it's so expensive
Weight: 
25g

Cateye's Sync Wearable is an auxiliary light to complement its Sync app-controlled lighting system. As a standalone item, it is ridiculously expensive. But as a way to augment and enhance the rear visibility of a Sync light system, it's pretty effective.

  • Pros: Fun app control; Mode Sync and Kinetic-mimicking features are good; helps to create an integrated lighting setup
  • Cons: Only of any real use with a wider Sync system; very expensive for what it is; not particularly well made

I tested the Cateye Sync Core and Kinetic front and rear light set here, to which this Wearable can be added. In a nutshell, Cateye's Sync system uses a smartphone app to turn on your lights, see the battery charge levels, and change not only each individual light's function mode but even a group of lights' mode all at the same time. Setting it up is very easy and, although I'm not a huge fan on of the Core front light, this Wearable rear has a far closer relationship to the Kinetic rear when part of a Sync system.

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It takes full advantage of the Sync system's 'Mode Sync' feature, which results in the Wearable replicating whichever mode the Kinetic main rear light is in. And through the Kinetic light's 'Kinetic' feature, the Wearable can also mimic the rear light's ability to act like a braking light and turn to a bright solid constant High mode when the Kinetic's inbuilt accelerometer feels the rider slowing down. (Because the Wearable doesn't have an inbuilt accelerometer itself, though, this function is only mimicry – when braking, a Sync Wearable won't turn constant High if used on its own.)

Performance

So what can the Wearable do by itself? Well, it can operate as a simple secondary rear light with a trio of extra features – namely, app-controlled remote switch on/off, mode selection and battery level indication.

Cateye Sync Wearable - on bag.jpg

In terms of modes, there is a choice of six. Constant High (30 lumen) will run for 1 hour 30 minutes; constant Low (2 lumens) runs for 18 hours; Flashing (50 lumens) runs for 45 hours; Rapid (50 lumens) runs for 16 hours; Group Ride (50 lumens) will last 12 hours; and Daytime HyperFlash will last 25 hours. Charge time is 2.5 hours and the Wearable also features battery auto-save and mode memory – meaning it will turn on in the same mode last used.

> Buyer's Guide: 16 of the best rear lights for cycling

When it comes to establishing your road presence, those modes are fairly effective. The flashing options are the probably the most obvious choices, considering the enhanced run-times. They also make effective use of the Wearable's two rings of LEDs, one in the centre and one concentric outer ring. As with Cateye's Kinetic rear light, I like the social-rider-friendly Group Ride option, which shouldn't irritate anyone stuck behind you for extended periods, and the Daytime HyperFlash is unmissable, if potentially risky for any following epileptics.

Build quality and value

I was quite impressed by the build quality of both Cateye's Sync Core and Kinetic lights, but the Wearable is a rung down from either of those two products. Although the LED arrangement is novel and effective, the body of the light is simple plastic and the rear clip to attach to clothing, bags and so on is very basic. (For years I've used a similarly sized Knog light that uses a high-power magnet to attach it to clothing, which has always seemed a far more useful system.) The Wearable does come with a rubber strap to mount it to a bike, but again, that's no high-tech solution.

Cateye Sync Wearable - clip.jpg

Consequently, at a penny shy of £49.99, the Wearable's value is really pretty poor. In fact, I can't see why anybody would choose to use a Sync Wearable as a solo product.

However, if you like the idea of the wider Sync system, my suggestion would be to use it in conjunction with just a Kinetic rear light (tested previously as part of a front/rear light set but available separately for £59.99). That way you could have an easy-to-use, manageable and effective rear light arrangement, albeit at a hefty price.

Verdict

A clever auxiliary light that works fine to enhance a wider Cateye Sync system, but it's so expensive

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road.cc test report

Make and model: Cateye Sync Wearable

Size tested: 50 lumens

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?

It's an auxiliary light used to enhance a rider's visibility.

Cateye says: "The enhanced visibility of CatEye SYNC in a wearable light. When used with the other lights from the CatEye SYNC family, SYNC Wearable gives you an extra way to be seen, day or night. Using the mobile app, SYNC Wearable can be synchronized with SYNC Core and SYNC Kinetic for 360-degree visibility."

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

Cateye lists these features:

Max output 50 lumens

Low profile round shape

Clip-on bracket for easy installation to bags and clothing

Li-ion polymer rechargeable battery

USB rechargeable (Micro USB cable included)

Battery Auto Save (Lighting mode automatically changes to slow flashing when the battery power gets low)

Rate the light for quality of construction:
 
6/10

Relatively smart looking, but effectively just a cheap plastic body.

Rate the light for design and ease of use. How simple was the light to use?
 
8/10

Simple to set up and use.

Rate the light for the design and usability of the clamping system/s
 
6/10

The LED design is novel and effective, although the clip to attach it to clothing or luggage is very, very basic.

Rate the light for waterproofing. How did it stand up to the elements?
 
9/10

Really well – no problems in any conditions and the rubber bung protecting the mini-USB charging port is very good.

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

Good life on flashing modes, and recharge time is fairly fast at just over two hours.

Rate the light for performance:
 
8/10

It's decently bright and there are enough modes to satisfy most requirements.

Rate the light for durability:
 
6/10

I don't like the look of the rear clip in terms of long-term use, but no problems so far.

Rate the light for weight:
 
9/10

Very light.

Rate the light for value:
 
2/10

At £49.99 for a simple (if clever) auxiliary rear light, this is very, very expensive.

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

It works well as part of a wider Cateye Sync system.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the light

LED shape and design; Sync functions – especially the Kinetic mimicry.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the light

Price and build quality.

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

Not particularly favourably. Even Cateye's non-Sync version is almost half the price.

Did you enjoy using the light? Yes

Would you consider buying the light? Nope

Would you recommend the light to a friend? Only if I thought they had too much money.

Use this box to explain your overall score

It's a decent enough auxiliary light, and the Sync features are clever, but at this price it needs to feel much more like a premium product.

Overall rating: 5/10

About the tester

Age: 39  Height: 6'0  Weight: 16 stone

I usually ride: Islabikes Beinn 29  My best bike is: 25-year-old Dawes Galaxy

I've been riding for: Over 20 years  I ride: Most days  I would class myself as: Experienced

I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, touring, sportives, general fitness riding, mountain biking, leisure