While the recent weather in London might be a lot milder than normal, the nights are still drawing in. That means cycle commuters need to use lights for their evening journey home.
But if you have ever gone shopping for a bike light you will know it's almost impossible to choose from the vast array of products on the market. Over the years I've tried various solutions, but by the far the best light I've ever had is the Cateye HL-EL610.
It also happens to be the most expensive. I purchased mine from an online retailer in 2008 for roughly £80. It was worth every penny.
What I like about the Cateye headlight EL610RC
- It is BRIGHT! 1500 candlepower bright, in fact. This one illuminates the road ahead without problem. Certain parts of my route are very dimly lit (street lighting is practically non-existent, especially along the cycle path on Constitution Hill), but when I'm using this light there's no fear of hitting an unseen pot hole or running over a twig on the ground. The light is so bright, I've had loads of cyclists approach me at traffic lights to ask where I bought it — they want one too!
- It has three modes — a high mode (which I never use), a low mode and a flashing mode
- It's rechargable — that means you don't have to worry about constantly buying batteries. It comes with its own recharger that you simply plug into the wall. It takes about four hours to recharge. I usually do it overnight.
- The battery lasts for several weeks or more. Of course, it depends on how long your commute is (mine is about 40 minutes one way) and which mode you use the light in (the flashing mode saves battery power considerably), but I can use it every weekday for more than a month and not have to recharge it. (According to the manufacturer's guide, the battery is supposed to last 3 hours in high mode, 9 hours in low mode and 36 hours in flashing mode.)
What I don't like
- It's tricky to get on and off the bike. (But once you figure out that you need to push it in the opposite direction to which you think it should be pushed, all the while holding down the little button, it slips off fine.)
- It's tricky to work out how to switch between modes. If you want it to flash, you need to press the button twice very quickly, otherwise it will just revert to the standard high beam.
- The recharging equipment is bulky and not something you really want to be towing around in your bike bag.
I love this light and highly recommend it to anyone looking for something sturdy, reliable and bright! It's expensive, but I think this is a good example of getting what you pay for — and if you factor in the cost savings in terms of not having to buy batteries, it won't take long to recoup your costs.
Where can you buy?
While it is listed on the official Cateye website, it doesn't look like you can buy it from the UK site. At the time of writing it is listed on the Chain Reaction website for £89.99 and Wiggle for £79.99, but do check other online retailers — you might find a better deal.
Note that the headlight was NOT supplied to me for review purposes. I purchased this one with my own hard cash a couple of years ago.