Cateye's nano shot rechargeable front light is the answer to a svelte commuter/ winter road bikes' prayers. No hefty batteries to induce premature bottle cage fatigue, or contaminate a sportier bikes' clean lines, its slender fig biscuit profile and textbook build quality delivers a scorching 250 lumens, charges from the computer's USB in a matter of three hours all in exchange for £100!
Paired with a helmet lamp, there's enough oomph for moderate green laning/similar forest short cuts on the cross bike too. Taking things to their logical conclusion, you could buy a pair of nano shots and have a trail ready 500 lumen lightset for £200 and a serious weight advantage into the bargain.
Three time-honoured settings (high, low and flashing) are easily engaged via a quick prod of the recessed 'Broad bean' thumb-switch, which requires a deliberate action, so won't change or engage unexpectedly. There's some trade off in terms of run-time in high beam but thankfully the low battery indicator gives ample warning, allowing you time to toggle down and potter safely home in low or flashing. However, though it's undeniably powerful, some form of side window would be an improvement.
Measuring 86x50x32 the nano shot is remarkably compact for a design that will trump old school single lamp, ten-watt commuter models on every level while still matching and in some cases, exceeding operating times. Thanks to Cat-eye's serrated bracket it breezes aboard any bar in seconds and won't budge a millimetre unless you need it to but from the box the li-on battery needs a good three hours fuelling before you vanish into the night.
Said port lives on its belly and can prove tricky to locate with the bracket attached but emits a warm pulsing glow, turning green having reached its optimum charge. The charge indicator nagged me after an hour and three quarters on full beam; more than the stated hour and a half whereas it was dead faithful to the three hours (low) and twelve hours (flashing) quoted for the other modes.
Longevity, compact sizing and indifference to temperature has always been the attraction for this type of cell, although after three hundred charges, this type of battery drops to seventy-five percent of original capacity but without any detrimental effect upon lighting performance.
There's enough power from the pure white beam in the highest setting to navigate back roads at 20+ mph, oncoming vehicles dipping their headlights from around five hundred yards. Low strikes just the right balance between performance and economy through town and suburbs and while strobe was the obvious choice in misty/overcast conditions, it also rapidly became my preferred option through congested areas, quickly warning pedestrians of my approach. Arguably there's sufficient projection to negate the need for side windows in some situations, but it's a missed opportunity.
Powerful and extremely versatile design. Loses a mark on the grounds of peripheral illumination but I'm contemplating buying a pair for some fast-blast 500 lumen fun on the 'cross bike.
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Cateye Nano Shot
Size tested: Black
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?
"Nano size, massive output. CatEye's Nano Shot HL-EL620RC is a compact, super light-weight USB rechargeable headlight featuring OptiCube technology to produce a powerful wide beam". Covers most bases-even some trail fun too!
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the light?
USB recharheable Li-on battery, Opti-cube lens technology, 250 lumens maximum output, run times between 1.5 and 12hrs depending upon setting. Mode memory,optional helmet mount.
Simple, rugged and secure universal type.
Generally very good and in practical terms the USB charge port shouldn't prove a weak spot.
Not very frugal on high beam but then 3.5hrs zero to hero charge-times are pretty good compared with old school lead acid systems of similar output.
Tell us how the light performed overall when used for its designed purpose
The Nano Shot is an extremely verstatile light that combines the best features of a high-power system without the encumberance of heavy bottle batteries. Good enough for reading rural roads at speeds of twenty three mph plus,you can simply toggle down to low or flashing for economy when riding through built up areas. Side-on visibility could be improved but easily overcome with a couple of inexpensive blinkeys mounted either side.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the light
Awe inspiring outputs relative to its proportions, classic Cat-eye build quality and user friendly operation.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the light
Side-windows and longer run times would be my requests.
Did you enjoy using the light? Yes
Would you consider buying the light? Yes
Would you recommend the light to a friend? Yes
About the tester
Age: 37 Height: 1m 81 Weight: 70 kilos
I usually ride: Rough Stuff Tourer Based around 4130 Univega mtb Frameset My best bike is: 1955 Holdsworth Road Path and several others including cross & traditional road
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: cyclo cross, commuting, touring, fixed/singlespeed, mtb,
Shaun Audane is a freelance writer/product tester with over twenty-eight years riding experience, the last twelve (120,000 miles) spent putting bikes and kit through their paces for a variety of publications. Previous generations of his family worked at manufacturing's sharp end, thus Shaun can weld, has a sound understanding of frame building practice and a preference for steel or titanium framesets.
Citing Richard Ballantine and an Au pair as his earliest cycling influences, he is presently writing a cycling book with particular focus upon women, families and disabled audiences (Having been a registered care manager and coached children at Herne Hill Velodrome in earlier careers)