Cateye is still onto a winner with the Volt 800 – so much so that it's done almost nothing to the product since my review of it in 2015. The two changes it has made, however, make it just as impressive as it was three years ago.
- Pros: Still class-leading performance
- Cons: Not much
The Volt 800 is almost precisely the same unit it was three years ago. To remind you if you don't want to reread that review, the Volt 800 impresses with a compact single LED barrel profile, 800 lumens of potential output on static, a wide beam profile, with a selection of three useful flashing/strobe settings when being seen is more important than seeing where you're going.
Build quality is also still up there with the best, incorporating the same screw-in replaceable battery design (but integrated USB connector for charging), as well as the same light unit and interface, plus easy-fit, semi-permanent bracket for the handlebar, and optional others for the fork and helmet.
Back then it got 9/10, and despite the £99.99 price tag and slightly chunky 135g weight, it was probably the best light of its type to be tested at road.cc at that time.
In 2018, there have been two changes: the battery unit has been boosted in capacity to 3400mAh from 3100mAh, and the price has dropped by a tenner.
Any price cut is welcome, as always, and thanks to the excellence of the original design, £89.99 still buys you a whole lotta light. There's a gain of a single gram on the scales – inconsequential – and the battery itself adds in the region of 5-10 extra minutes to overall burn times when on the static modes.
What it does notably claim to do is double the time on the strobe-only setting – up from 50 hours to a claimed 100 – and reduce empty-to-full charge times from 11 hours to 9. In reality, charge times are practically the same, perhaps reflecting the slight increase in capacity married to a more efficient internal architecture.
It's hard to make direct comparisons because the Volt 800 I already had from the last test has been well used, so the battery in that unit is aged and naturally not quite as efficient as it used to be.
It raises an interesting point, though – the battery units have the same design, which means if you already own a Volt 800, you could just opt to buy a new battery to refresh your existing unit, for £39.99. Of course, to do that you want to make sure that the existing light unit and LED is in good condition to make the most of it, but it's worth considering instead of replacing your whole light.
That said, should you not already own one, the slightly updated Cateye Volt 800 remains among the very best single-barrel lights around, although even at a tenner cheaper it's not exactly bargain priced, with others – such as the Lezyne Lite Drive 800XL, Kryptonite F800 and Giant Recon 900 – that can now meet the same power output for less money.
Others are snapping at its heels, but the Volt 800 is still pretty much king of the single-barrel hill
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Cateye Volt 800 front light
Size tested: 800 Lumen
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?
Cateye says: "The Volt800 strikes the perfect balance between minimalism and functionality. Features perfect for commuting or training in a sleek, compact body, it will become your favorite riding partner too."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the light?
- Compact and lightweight high power rechargeable headlight (800 lm)
- Lithium-ion cartridge battery - super easy and safe to change battery on your own
- Round beam pattern with OptiCube™ lens technology
- Can be mounted above or under handlebar
- USB rechargeable (Micro USB cable included)
- Built-in fast recharging circuit
- Low battery indicator
- 5 light modes
- Charging time: 5-9h
- Mode memory function
- Optional helmet mount, center fork bracket and charging cradle available
Super-easy to use, with handy memory function.
The clamp is easy to fit and remove, and the light fits with a slide-and-click interface.
Very good battery life and recharge times are acceptably speedy.
There are lights that can put out more lumens than the Volt 800, but they cost more.
No complaints here, borne of experience. Only the bracket is a slight weak link to look at but my old one is still working well.
A 1g increase over the 2015 unit is nothing.
It would have earned one mark up compared with the previous version, thanks to the £10 reduction in price and very slight increase in battery performance, but there are now others that can match the power at a lower price point.
Tell us how the light performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Tell us what you particularly liked about the light
That it's ostensibly the same as the 'old' one.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the light
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
Infini's Tron 800 is more expensive, but there are others that put out the same lumens for less – like the Lezyne Lite Drive 800XL, Kryptonite F800 and Giant Recon 900 – which you can see compared for real in our beam test engine.
Did you enjoy using the light? Yes
Would you consider buying the light? Yes
Would you recommend the light to a friend? Yes, it's probably still the standard-setter as an all-round single-barrel light, even with some sturdy competition these days.
Use this box to explain your overall score
If Cateye had upped the lumen count to 900 or more to show willingness to push the unit forward without compromising the rest of the light, it might have earned a 10.
About the tester
I usually ride: Canyon Ultimate CF SL 9.0 SL (2016) My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Under 5 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding