The world's most in-depth and scientific reviews of outdoor gear

Cateye HL-EL135 Review

Cateye HL-EL135
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Price:  $25 List | $17.95 at Amazon
Pros:  Inexpensive.
Cons:  Narrow beam pattern, low light level, below average mount.
Manufacturer:   Cateye
By Chris McNamara and Max Neale  ⋅  May 9, 2015
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35
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#14 of 18
  • Brightness - 40% 2
  • Beam Quality - 25% 1
  • Battery Life - 20% 9
  • Portability - 15% 4

The Skinny

The Cateye HL-EL135 is one of the lowest scoring bike lights we've tested. Although it is highly affordable, our beam and field tests show that it performs poorly as a bike light — its concentrated, low-powered beam illuminates a small, narrow area in front of you, making it relatively difficult to see the road, and less visible to traffic compared to other lights with brighter and wider beams. If you're looking for an affordable bike light for commuting, we recommend the Knog Blinder MOB The Face.


Compare to Similar Products

Our Analysis and Test Results

Performance Comparison


Beam


This light has a concentrated beam that sends the vast majority of light directly in front of you and very little out to the sides. As you can see in the photos below, other lights such as the Light and Motion Urban 550 at right, have a much wider and more even beam pattern, which casts light down in front of you (which helps to see the condition of a road or trail) and also out to the sides (which is useful to turning corners, seeing street signs, and for helping oncoming traffic to see you). Thus, we give this light a score of 1 out of 10 in this category, the lowest possible score.

beam pattern.
beam pattern.

Brightness


The light scores low for brightness. We measured its maximum distance to be 113 ft. Other bike lights reach as far as 573 ft. The photo below compares the brightness and beam pattern of the Cateye to the Light and Motion Urban 550.

Beam Distance Photos

Cateye optiCube
Light and Motion Urban 550

Portability


The light scores reasonably well in portability because it's small and lightweight. It's easy to carry around in your bag. However, the light has rudimentary tool-less mount that operates like an adjustable zip tie. We've found that other types of mounts are easier to adjust and can be cinched more tightly around your handlebar. Therefore, the mount is below average in quality.

The light slides easily onto the mount, but removing it requires that you reach a finger underneath the front of the light and push up on a small lever. Compared to the other lights we've tested, this is the hardest and least comfortable light to remove from the mount. Other lights come off much faster and often position the release level on the top back of the mount, not hidden underneath. Thus, this light scores below average in this category.

Battery Life


At 39 hours, this light has the longest battery life of all models tested. However, because the light has is not "regulated" its output declines over time and becomes very dim after about 25 hours. Due to the concentrated beam and overall low light level, we feel the long battery life is mostly trivial.

Value


The light's low price is offset by its low performance. We believe other lights, such as the Knog Blinder MOB The Face, are a much better value over the long-term.

Conclusion


This is one of the lowest scoring lights we've tested.


Chris McNamara and Max Neale