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Cateye’s CL EL 600 is a rechargeable, single watt LED front light well suited to urban commuting and as a complement to dynamo systems but despite generally good build quality and user friendly design, more accessible batteries and a USB charging option would be welcome refinements.
Separating the imaginatively named EL600 from the competition is a clever Reverse Offset inner lens (ROL) which focuses the single watt beam upon a precision, curved reflector, maximising output. Three beams (high, low and flashing) give run times between two and twenty four hours and selection is simple-even on the fly and wearing winter gloves courtesy of a well positioned, rubberised switch.
A full charge takes five hours using the surprisingly cumbersome smart charger, although in a pinch it accepts dry cells but access to the battery compartment demands removing the slightly vulnerable lens assembly held in place with two tiny (2mm) Allen screws-fine in the living room but a nightmare along dark country lanes. Some might reason, used properly this should never happen but we live in an imperfect world and the option of a USB charger would be a welcome upgrade.
An ingenious, tool-free universal fitting kit consumes nominal space and accommodates all bar diameters-I’ve successfully attached ours to a Space Saver bracket and even mounted it securely atop a helmet. Bridle path blasting has failed to budge it. Despite advice to the contrary, positioning millimetres away from a wireless computer hasn’t presented any problems. Run times are pretty accurate, although ours only managed 23 hrs and 45 minutes against the 24 stated in flashing mode, but hey, that's a lot closer to 24 than 23.
Stout weather seals are to Cateye’s usual high standards and toggling between modes in a downpour hasn’t revealed any obvious flaws. Just the same, mile munching, foul weather commuters might want a lick of Vaseline on the battery contacts. Output is more than adequate for being seen by- even on unlit roads and is handy for roadside mechanicals but insufficient for rural lanes. Sixty quid seems steep too- nice tyre driven dynamos and budget ten watt lead acid systems can be had for the same money. However, low weight and reliable design backed by a two year warrantee gives peace of mind.
Good, if pricey lamp for urban riding and complementing dynamos on rural runs
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Make and model: Cateye HL EL-600RC
Size tested: n/a
Tell us what the product 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?
The EL600RC is a single watt rechargeable LED light aimed at the suburban commuter and to that end does exactly what it says on the tin.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Unique ROL Lens ensures the one watt output is used to maximum effect, three modes-hi, low and flashing managing 2,6 and 24hrs respectively. 100g including universal bracket and batteries is very impressive. Claimed 10,000 chare cycles before replacement batteries. Also accepts dry cells in emergency.
Generally to Cateyes renowned high standards but 2mm allen screws are easily lost-especially performing roadside bulb or battery changes.
Generally very good.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Great commuter light with reasonable burn times in all modes but very much a light of the seen-by family rather than for seeing with. Short charge times are conviient but USB technology would've been more practical as the charger isn't one you'd pop in a pannier.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Solid build quality, surprisingly bright beam, great mounting bracket and low weight.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Vulnerable lens and akward to access battery compartment, lack of USB charging option. Pricey too given the output.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? No
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Possibly
Age: 35 Height: 1m 81 Weight: 70 kilos
I usually ride: Rough Stuff Tourer Based around 4130 Univega mtb Frameset My best bike is: 1955 Holdsworth Road Path and several others including cross & traditional road
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: cyclo cross, commuting, touring, fixed/singlespeed, mtb,
Shaun Audane is a freelance writer/product tester with over twenty-eight years riding experience, the last twelve (120,000 miles) spent putting bikes and kit through their paces for a variety of publications. Previous generations of his family worked at manufacturing's sharp end, thus Shaun can weld, has a sound understanding of frame building practice and a preference for steel or titanium framesets.
Citing Richard Ballantine and an Au pair as his earliest cycling influences, he is presently writing a cycling book with particular focus upon women, families and disabled audiences (Having been a registered care manager and coached children at Herne Hill Velodrome in earlier careers)