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Cateye Loop Review

June 27th, 2010 [print] Go to comments

I got this little light a few days ago for those rides where I want to be sure I’m seen by drivers, but I don’t feel I need a headlight to help me see the road.  There are a few different types of these small, easily mounted lights on the market, but since I’ve had good luck with Cateye products in the past, I decided to skip the others and try the Loop.

Cateye makes this light in both with and red, but since I already have a Cateye TL-LD610 taillight, I just went with the white version.  Mounting couldn’t be easier, since all you have to do is wrap the elastic band around your handlebar, frame, seatpost, backpack, or wherever you want to mount it, and you’re done.

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The body of the light is made of semi-translucent gel, so it mostly conforms to whatever you mount it to.  You can tell by the curvature of the back that it’s designed to fit a 31.8mm handlebar, although it bends around my 25.4mm bar just as easily.  I doubt I’d want to mount it on a thin seatstay, like I have on my steel road frame, but I think it’d work pretty much anywhere else.  Since it weighs only 22 grams, you could even leave it on your bike all the time, and not notice the extra weight.

Using it is pretty simple, since the headlight itself is the on/off switch.  Other brands have tiny buttons that you have to try to find in the dark, but all you have to do with the Loop is tap the front once for solid light, twice to make it blink, or a third time to shut it off.  I also noticed that if you leave it on solid light for more than maybe 10 seconds or so, tapping it a second time shuts it off, bypassing the blink mode.  This is nice for if you just want to shut it off, but if you were wanting to go into blink mode after having it solidly lit for a while, you’d have to tap it three times–off > solid > blink–to get to the proper mode.  I’m not sure if it’s designed this way or if it’s a flaw, but I’d prefer if it just always cycled through all three modes in a predictable fashion.

Despite being so small, and having only one LED, it’s extremely bright.  The semi-translucent body allows light to be cast in all direction, not just straight ahead.  The good thing about this is, drivers coming from side streets will have an easier time noticing the light; the bad thing is, it’s somewhat distracting.

While riding well after dark with the Loop in blink mode, I couldn’t help but notice it in my peripheral vision.  It also didn’t help that I was wearing a ball cap, with the underside of the bill repeatedly illuminating.  Since I wear glassed, too, the edges of my lenses occasionally lit up, depending on the angle of my head.  At first, I thought white police lights were coming up behind me, but I soon realized what was going on.  This may be less annoying to others–or if it’s just left in the solid mode–but I doubt I’m the only one who will be bothered by it.  At times, I wished it had a hood I could put over it to cover the top, while still allowing the light to shine in all other directions.

All in all, the gel body and solid build make it feel like a quality product.  Unlike a cellphone or most expensive bike lights, you wouldn’t have to worry it you dropped it on concrete.  Using it is dead simple, and the LED will most likely last forever.  Considering the low price–I found this one for $12 new on eBay–it’d be worth it to stock up on a few in each color, and be as visible on the road as possible.

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Pros:

— Price
— Light weight (22 grams)
— Easy to mount and use
— Long battery life (claimed 30/50hrs depending on mode)
— Also comes in red to use as a rear light

Cons:

— Weird solid/blink/off mode as noted above
— Can somewhat be distracting

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Product page:  http://www.cateye.com/en/product_detail/577

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