The Volt 300 is an above average light and is a great contender from CatEye. It features a quick-charge cartridge that is rejuvenated by a USB; and with a user friendly mounting system, it can easily be mounted above or under your handlebar.However, for a slightly better value on the city streets, consider our Best Buy winner, the Light and Motion Urban 350, or our high power performer and Editors' Choice winner, the NiteRider Lumina 750.
Cateye Volt 300 Review
Cons: Very poor beam quality, tricky to remove from mount
Compare to Similar Products
Cateye Volt 300
|Price||$70 List||$79.95 at Amazon||$57 List||$40.59 at Amazon||$19.95 at Amazon|
|Pros||Long battery life||Bright, wide and even beam pattern, illuminated on/off switch, easy on and off handle bars, good value||Great value, bright beam||360-degree swivel, amber side lights add to visibility, easy on and off at the bike rack, excellent beam quality||Inexpensive, small and easily portable|
|Cons||Very poor beam quality, tricky to remove from mount||Short (1.5 hour) battery life||Beam is more narrowly concentrated than other similarly powered lights||Not an especially bright or long beam, short battery life||Low beam quality, beam distance, below quality mount|
|Bottom Line||Has a very poor beam quality, hard to remove from mount but it does have a long battery life||This light not only is a great value but it has a super bright and even beam pattern||Great value with bright, narrow beam||Although this light has a 360 degree swivel, its not very bright and has a short battery life||Inexpensive and easily portable but has a poor beam distance and quality|
|Rating Categories||Cateye Volt 300||NiteRider Lumina 550||Cygolite Metro 400||Light and Motion Ur...||Cateye HL-EL135|
|Beam Quality (25%)|
|Battery Life (20%)|
|Specs||Cateye Volt 300||NiteRider Lumina 550||Cygolite Metro 400||Light and Motion Ur...||Cateye HL-EL135|
|Max Beam Distance (m)||130 m||146 m||120 m||110 m||34 m|
|Battery Life (hours)||2.9 hrs||1.5 hrs||1.7 hrs||1.5 hrs||38.3 hrs|
|Battery Type||USB Recharge||USB Recharge||USB Recharge||USB Recharge||AA Alkaline x2|
|Weight||134 g, 4.7 oz||180 g, 6.3 oz||142 g, 5 oz||120 g, 4.2 oz||96 g, 3.4 oz|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Volt's top competitors for the Best Buy winner are the Cygolite Metro 400 and the Light and Motion Urban 350. While they all three score the same, we handed the Best Buy Award to the Urban 350, mainly due to differences in beam quality and portably issues with the mounting system. Plus, the Volt is slightly more expensive.
The CatEye Volt 300 proved to be above average within this category scoring 7 out of 10. Our testers measured the maximum beam distance of this light to be around 130-meters. In the picture below, we compare the differences with the Best Buy winner, the Urban 350. You can see that the Volt, pictured on the left, illuminates farther down the trail than the Urban 350, which in turn brightens the peripheral areas of the path better than the Volt.
When compared to the Metro 400, we can see that the Metro 400 seems to combine the best of both the Volt and the Urban 350. We measured the max beam distance of the Metro 400 to be just 10-meters shy of the Volt; however, when looking at this comparison below, we can see that the Metro 400, on the right, floods the sides of the bike path as well as projecting a centralized spot down the middle.
In terms of beam quality, the ideal light casts an evenly lit, wide beam, and in this category the CatEye Volt once tanks, letting the Urban 350 take the lead in the tight Best Buy Award race. Though it throws a long beam, the beam is narrow and spotty. So even though the Urban 360 doesn't quite shine as far, it allows you to see better while riding.
When we compare this light to a higher performer, it is easy to see that this light has a narrow beam pattern that ineffectively illuminates obstacles that may easily pop up in your peripheral view.
A general rule of thumb here at OutdoorGearLab, is that we don't rely on the manufacturers' claims to be accurate, and therefore test accuracy for ourselves. During our coffin testing, the CatEye Volt once again ranks a 7 out of 10, and we measured its battery life to last around three hours, which is about twice as long as the Urban 350 and the Metro 400.
The Volt's almost three hours of battery life is the most comparable to the Light and Motion Vis 360+ with its external battery pack. However, as you can see in this battery life versus beam distance chart, the Vis 360+ is able to maintain a lower projected beam for a bit longer than the Volt 300's beam holding strong between 100 and 120-meters.
This was the only category that this light wavers away from a solid 7 in scores across the board. Here, the CatEye Volt loses a point on installation due to difficulty removing the light from the mount. It is reasonably portable because it's small and lightweight, as compared to the Metro 400 (off its mount) and the Urban 350. It's easy to carry around in your bag or slip into a pocket. Though, the light has an essentially tool-less mount that operates like an adjustable zip tie, similar to the CatEye HL-EL 135. We've found that other types of mounts are easier to adjust and can be cinched more tightly around your handlebar.
The light slides easily onto the mount, but, just like the other CatEye model we tested, removing it requires that you reach a trigger finger underneath the front of the light and push up on it in order to release the light from the mount. Other lights we tested come off much faster and allow the user to locate the release lever in a much more obvious and user friendly position, rather than hidden underneath.
This light is right at home during any urban application, especially on bike paths that do not require the whole path to be illuminated.
This light fought a good race for our spot as the Best Buy winner; however, our reviewers found they much preferred the wider, more evenly lit beam of the Urban 350 to that of the Volt. Plus, the Urban 350 is $10 less than the more expensive Volt.
See our Price vs. Value Comparison to see how this light stacked up again the other 16 we tested.
Though this light out performed our Best Buy winner in beam length and battery life, the narrow beam pattern of the CatEye Volt lost out to the Urban 350 during our field testing. However, if you're looking for a beam that is more narrow and projects farther into the distance than the Urban 350, then this is a great option to consider.
— Gentrye Houghton