6000 lumens. Yup, you read that right. 6000 lumens. Not 60, not 600 but 6000 lumens.
That, dear reader, is a veritable sh… er. bucketload of light!
In practical terms, that’s more than the full beams of most cars on the road today (per car, not them all together, before you ask!). I have to admit when I first heard that Cat Eye, the company that kick started the HID bike light sector with their ground breaking Stadium Light, had produced a light that pumps out 6000 lumens on power on full beam, I was more than a little excited. I remember trying a Stadium Light for the first time and being left slack jawed by the sheer unadulterated power and “Oh Dear Lord!” brightness. Night rides with Halogen bulbs and lead acid batteries were rendered obsolete overnight. Jump back to the future and the lights market is awash with all manner of brands vying for your money. Light technology has come on leaps and bounds and you can pick up a powerful LED light for not a lot of money these days. Of course the cheaper you go, the murkier the market. A quick online search reveals the downside of going cheap – batteries exploding, chargers going on fire, lights failing after a handful of rides.
The Volt 6000 light from Cat Eye is placed firmly at the top end of the market. At £649.99, it is a VERY expensive light and far beyond the reach of most riders. However, as with all innovation, does it shine a light on future developments in the market? More pertinently, do you need 6000 lumens and is it worth the money? Only one way to find out.
Don’t go into the light Carry-Anne
Opening the fancy padded box that the Volt 6000 comes supplied in, I felt a bit like I was about to open the Lost Ark. All I could think was 6000 lumens in a slightly maniacal manner. The light unit itself is tiny and clocked in under 100 grams on my scales. Up front, there is a clear lens covering what is truthfully the largest LED light array I have ever seen. Out back, there is an integrated fan based cooling system. In use, this draws air in from the side and projects onto the back of the light. This means that the unit stays cool to the touch even when stationary and on full power. Clever! I know it shouldn’t really matter but damn, it looks cool especially with the carbon wrap around housing built in. It looks slightly vulnerable but the fan and light never missed a beat despite repeated soakings.
Accessories a go-go!
Power wise, the Volt 6000 comes supplied with a fairly substantial Li-ion battery pack which wraps securely round a frame tube with the supplied rubber backed Velcro strap. At 606 grams, it isn’t light but that is the trade-off for retina burning levels of power. Accompanying the light are a host of accessories –a Velcro helmet mount and strap, an easy to use thumbwheel style bar mount which while looking a little cheap is actually very effective and secure, an extender cable to run the unit with the helmet mount, a charger and adaptor, a bar mount remote control and three clear cable covers which allow you the mount the battery without interfering with open run cables. It’s a small touch but one that I really liked.
Maximum warp, Mister Sulu!
Connecting the battery to the light is done via a secure, pull back collar which ensures that the battery and unit wont detach on rough trails. Switching it on for the first time, I pressed the button and…..nothing! Pressing it a little longer, without realising, I had slightly tilted the unit towards my face. When it powered up, I wasn’t quite prepared for the sheer brightness of the thing. After retiring to a darkened room for a few minutes to allow my eyes to return to approaching normal (seriously, do not make this mistake at home!), I was ready for action.
The unit starts on full power and cycles down through five further settings. You have a choice of 6000lm (1 hr), 4000lm (2hrs), 2000lm (4 hrs), 1000lm (8 hrs), 500lm (12 hrs) and constant flash (11 hrs). Out on the trail, 6000 lumens is truly incredible. Coming from riding with an old but reliable Hope Vision 4 LED, the Volt 6000 is the equivalent of bringing an M134 Minigun to a pen knife fight. It is BRIGHT! The light pattern itself is in my humble opinion, one of the best I have used in a long time. It is pure flood with a very even spread of light throughout its range. On lower settings, the beam is still bright and clear and provides good levels of trail detail up ahead. I have to admit that I was sceptical initially about 6000 lumens being too much power. In my head, I had expected the trail to flatten out and obstacles to just disappear from view. However, in reality, it’s still really easy to make out upcoming roots and rocks ready to jump out at you.
On steep, technical descents, full power is a hoot and made trails that are a challenge to ride during the day actually easier at night. It’s hard to describe but with the light focusing solely on the trail ahead, my perception of steepness changed. I have to admit than on more than one occasion, I caught myself giggling at the sheer ridiculousness of the power on tap. The width of the beam pattern means that a helmet mounted light becomes redundant. You don’t need to look round corners as the wide beam takes care of that very effectively.
In terms of overall power, I couldn’t quite work out how 6000 lumens on one hour is the same as 4000 lumens for 2 hours in terms of power draw from the battery. With the help of an engineer friend and some fancy equipment, we measured the maximum output and it came in at well over 7000 lumens. Credit to Cat Eye for actually understating the maximum lumen output. It’s something other manufacturers could learn from. As brilliant (in every sense of the word) as 6000 lumens is, for the most part I would happily toggle between the 2000 and 4000 lumen settings which gave me more than enough power for longer night rides. The 2000 lumen setting hits the sweet spot between burn time and power. On climbs, I would drop down to the 1000 lumen setting which proved to be more than enough power.
Used with the helmet mount, I found that the 1000 to 2000 lumens settings were good enough most of the time unless I wanted to put the hammer down. Having all that power on tap was reassuring. The included remote button is a useful. The button itself is a boon when using the helmet mount as it removes the need to take your hand off the bars to change settings. The mount is a simple Velcro strap thus should work with most helmets.
The inbuilt fan ensured that the unit remained cool to the touch throughout the test period at all power settings. It’s in no way noisy although when my good lady used it for off road commuting, she commented that it made a sound akin to waterproof fabric rubbing against a tyre. The sound is more pronounced when helmet mounted but I got used to it fairly quickly.
The small print
Cat Eye are explicit about the intended use of the Volt 6000. It is designed as an off road light only and as such, it excels in that area. However, the width and brightness of the beam means that it’s not suitable for use on the road as it will distract drivers. Seriously, don’t use this on the road. There is a good chance you will dazzle oncoming traffic and you may find yourself on the wrong end of a ton and a half of metal. Cat Eye advise that if you have no choice to use it on roads, do so only on low setting. Not one to argue, I happily took my commuting light of choice, a Niterider Lumina OLED 800 with me for riding to and from the trails.
What would I improve?
At £649.99, I expect perfection. The Volt 6000 comes close but could still benefit from a number of minor tweaks. The design of the mount on the battery pack could be improved. Currently, when used with a steel frame, you are left with along flap of Velcro doing nothing. A piece of Velcro attached to the body of the battery would fix this. The battery itself is pretty cumbersome and the built in guides for the Velcro strap would be better placed on the bottom of the battery as opposed to the top. As things stand, I ended up wrapping the Velcro around the body of the unit and didn’t always use the guides. This made for a secure fit on the underside of the top tube but mounting it became a bit of a chore as it made it easier to drop the unit. In addition, I would suggest that the light would benefit from staring on the lowest setting initially. I like to be able to move both up and down between light settings and not have to toggle through all of them to find the one I want. Finally, the Volt 6000 comes supplied with a generic travel adaptor. At the price, I would expect to have a proper UK plug.
The Cat Eye Volt 6000 is at the very cutting edge of light technology and shines a proverbial light on what the future holds. Its maximum power output is genuinely jaw dropping but it is on the lower settings that it really earns its stripes. The light generated is well focused with no dark patches or spotting whatsoever. Burn times are more than enough to enable you to get your 24 hour race head on. The only real downside is the price. At £649.99, it rules out a big chunk of the market that has become accustomed to cheap Chinese lights. However, if you are the kind of rider who loves night riding and wants to be ahead of the curve, the Volt 6000 is your light of choice.
Expensive but brilliant. As close as you are ever likely to come to the feeling of jumping into Hyperspace in the Millenium Falcon. Can I keep it please? Pretty please? With a cherry on top?
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|Product:||Volt 6000 Light|
|Tested:||by Sanny for 3 months|