Billed as the ultimate commuter light Cat Eye AU-230 is a very neat hybrid of cutting edge and tried 'n' tested technology. At one end we have the clever automatic sensor shared with the brand's Reflex family that engages the five super-bright LEDs when it decides dusk, dawn or darkness have arrived. At the other and in stark contrast to the USB-or-nothing dogma, it's powered by four AA cells returning a very frugal 57 hours in flashing, 28 steady. Dynamo fan that I am, I have to say that these qualities lend themselves perfectly to those times when you've arrived at the caf' in daylight and emerged to find it very dark several coffees and one tall-tale too many later.
Taking its name from the Japanese for auto, the sensor works on a combination of light and motion so the light has to be moving and conditions dusk, or darker. Stay stationary for 50 seconds or so and it goes straight into hibernation, thus conserving battery life but thankfully, the slightest movement brings it back on stream so you won't be in danger come railway crossing, traffic lights or major junctions. Most of us will be familiar with the Opticube lens concept; it varies from model to model depending on intended use but is where lenses, reflectors and LEDs are matched for maximum output while maintaining efficiency.
Choosing Auto and setting out before dusk, I was quietly impressed by the way the five little LEDs just burst into life, in stark contrast to my own indecision as to whether flashing or steady was optimum given the conditions. Being a townie; the beam, while bright, isn't for navigating with although a steady fourteen mph is manageable along suburban stretches. Strobing seems perfectly synced to avoid confusion through congested traffic, tempering the lemming tendencies of sleepy pedestrians as I snaked through lines of stationary vehicles and there's plenty going on peripherally, greatly reducing the likelihood of coming a cropper turning right/changing lanes etc.
Early on, the intelligent systems' cutout induced a cold sweat but this split second panic saw an involuntary rocking of the bike and the light restored. Use a mini blinky, or simply override manually if this sounds too unnerving to you-there's negligible effect upon run times. Cat-Eye reckons 30 and 60hrs respectively and we've cruised pretty damn close-28 and 57 from the OEM batteries.
Clever and competitively priced alternative to bottle type dynamos for urban duties or less frequent night riding beyond the yellow glow
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Cateye AU-230 Jido Front Light
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?
"Enjoy automatic safety with the CatEye Jido. Five 5mm white LEDs turn on automatically whenever darkness and motion are detected and will stay on for 40 seconds after you've stopped riding. Easily choose between auto and manual mode for additional safety options". Clever utility lamp for town duties but larger surface area makes a good option for those occasions where you've lost track of time at a friend's house or post chain-gang cafe' stop.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the light?
Dimension： 100.0 X 52.0 X 41.8mm
Weight： 183 grams (with bracket and battery)
Light source： White LED X5
Light output： 250cd
Run time： Constant mode ： approx 30hrs
Flashing mode ： approx 60hrs
Battery： AA alkaline battery X4
Other： Auto/manual modes and low battery indicator
Extremely simple-auto is a lovely touch and a great talking point but thankfully there's a manual override and the rubberised switch couldn't be easier to locate or engage.
Fine given the design brief.
Thirstier than simple blinkeys but very competive for this type of light. Switching to nimh rechargeables and keeping some dry cells handy "just in case" covers all bases.
190g according to my scales.
Tell us how the light performed overall when used for its designed purpose
The Jido is a really clever take on the humble battery powered commuter lamp. Solid performance and trademark reliability inspires confidence when trickling through town and there's enough presence along unlit roads around dusk too. Some may sneer at the auto function but novelty value aside, it's great for battery conservation.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the light
Inteligent system, good prowess in semi-lit contexts.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the light
Nothing, given the asking price and design brief
Did you enjoy using the light? Yes
Would you consider buying the light? Quite possibly
Would you recommend the light to a friend? Yes
About the tester
Age: 38 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)