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Cateye Volt 300 Review

Has a very poor beam quality, hard to remove from mount but it does have a long battery life.
Cateye Volt 300
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Price:  $70 List
Pros:  Long battery life
Cons:  Very poor beam quality, tricky to remove from mount
Manufacturer:   Cateye
By Gentrye Houghton ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Jan 14, 2018
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70
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#6 of 16
  • Brightness - 40% 7
  • Beam Quality - 25% 7
  • Battery Life - 20% 7
  • Portablity - 15% 7

Our Verdict

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.


Compare to Similar Products

 
Cateye Volt 300
This Product
Cateye Volt 300
Awards  Top Pick Award Editors' Choice Award   
Price $70 List$241.76 at Amazon$99.95 at Amazon$140 List$51.73 at REI
Compare at 2 sellers
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Pros Long battery lifeGreat beam distance and quality, lasts four hours in high modeWide even beam pattern, bright, illuminated on/off button, swivel mountWide, even beam pattern, multiple blinking modesBright, wide and even beam pattern, illuminated on/off switch, easy on and off handle bars, good value
Cons Very poor beam quality, tricky to remove from mountVery heavy, expensive and time-consuming to install and removeBeam could be more even/less narrow, battery life on the short sideMinimal swivel, short battery lifeShort (1.5 hour) battery life
Bottom Line Has a very poor beam quality, hard to remove from mount but it does have a long battery life.This is your go to light for quality and distance of beam.This light is bright, swivels nicely and even has an illuminated on/off switch.Although it has a shorter battery life, it has a wide even beam with multiple blinking modes.This light not only is a great value but it has a super bright and even beam pattern.
Rating Categories Cateye Volt 300 NiteRider Pro 1800 NiteRider Lumina 750 Cygolite Expilion 850 NiteRider Lumina 550
Brightness (40%)
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7
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9
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8
Beam Quality (25%)
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7
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8
Battery Life (20%)
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Portablity (15%)
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Specs Cateye Volt 300 NiteRider Pro 1800 NiteRider Lumina 750 Cygolite Expilion... NiteRider Lumina 550
Max Beam Distance (m) 130 m 175 m 180 m 147 m 146 m
Battery Life (hours) 2.9 hrs 3.8 hrs 1.7 hrs 1.4 hrs 1.5 hrs
Battery Type USB Recharge USB Recharge USB Recharge USB Recharge USB Recharge
Mount Options Handlebar/Helmet Handlebar Handlebar/Helmet Handlebar/Helmet Handlebar/Helmet
Installation Tool-free Tool-free Tool-free Tool-free Tool-free
Swivel Mount No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Weight 134 g, 4.7 oz 500 g, 17.6 oz 182 g, 6.4 oz 174 g, 6.1 oz 180 g, 6.3 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.

Performance Comparison


We loved this light for commuting on barely lit streets and bike paths.
We loved this light for commuting on barely lit streets and bike paths.

Brightness


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.

Beam Distance Photos
Beam photo of Cateye Volt 300
Beam photo of Light and Motion Urban 350

Cateye Volt 300
Light and Motion Urban 350

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.

Beam Distance Photos
Beam photo of Cateye Volt 300
Beam photo of Cygolite Metro 400

Cateye Volt 300
Cygolite Metro 400

Beam Quality


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.

Beam Diameter and Pattern
Beam photo of Cateye Volt 300
Beam photo of Light and Motion Urban 350

Cateye Volt 300
Light and Motion Urban 350

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.

Battery Life


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.

The CatEye 300 is compact both on and off the mount  and can easily slip into most pockets.
The CatEye 300 is compact both on and off the mount, and can easily slip into most pockets.

Portability


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.

The Cateye Volt 300 lights up trails during dim lighting.
The Cateye Volt 300 lights up trails during dim lighting.

Best Applications


This light is right at home during any urban application, especially on bike paths that do not require the whole path to be illuminated.

Three output modes deliver consistent light for up to 3 hours at 300 Lumens.
Three output modes deliver consistent light for up to 3 hours at 300 Lumens.

Value


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.

Conclusion


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