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Cateye Orb bar end lights review

4 Dec 2017
Verdict:

Ever ready, width defining lights. A top low-key addition to any drop bar

Cyclist Rating: 
Price: 
£19.99
For 
Surprisingly bright; Long running; Low profile
Against 
Could be more secure fitting

Designed to fit the end of your drop handlebar, the Cateye Orb lights provide additional illumination, with the benefit of being spaced so as to help ward off close passes.

While the Orb’s minimalist five lumens aren’t going to set the night ablaze, a bright rear light can pack in ten times that, their output is still easily visible enough to alert passing cars.

Even at a distance, or in heavy city traffic, there’s no excuse for missing them. This is accentuated by the in-built lens's ability to focus the light into a small, but very bright point.

It’s not just about lumens anyway. Plugged into the end of your drops, the span between the two units is obviously far wider in appearance than a standard light.

Delineating the exact width of your bike, hopefully this should buy you some extra room and deter drivers from passing too closely.

Traveling in a straight line both lights should remain visible to following traffic. Swing the bike around, either when riding out of the saddle, or when whizzing around corners, and you may find one or both lights briefly obscured.

For this reason the Orbs are best used as a supplementary light, paired with a traditional option out back.

Additional, not stand-alone lights

While the Orbs are probably best utilised as an additional light, because they live on the bike it’s impossible to forget them. This is especially useful if you’re a busy and important cycling journalist who’s always swapping between bikes.

Or if you’re a bit of fussy and don’t like having light brackets uglying up your racer.

Acting as a failsafe if you find yourself outrun by the setting sun, they’ll keep you safe if unexpectedly caught out in the dark.

Yet poking out a barely detectable 21mm from the end of the bar, they’re low profile enough to preserve the silhouette of your bike, while at 20 grams apiece they won't weigh you down either.

Made of machined aluminium they’re also very sleek. With the lens acting as the on/off and mode switch, there’s very little to them.

Unlike most quality lights, which have long since switched to USB rechargeable batteries, each of the Orbs run on two CR2032 button cells.

While this might not be as environmentally friendly, it allows for a much extended runtime. It also does away with the need to remove them from the bike, or fiddle around with charging leads.

Managing a constant runtime of around 50 hours, switching to either of the two flashing modes will double that. With the surround that protects the lens cutaway at the sides, side-on visibility is also very good.

Fit with caution

Allowing them to stay put, the back of the light units feature grippy rubber fins to anchor them to the bar. Depending how much tape you have stuffed down the end of your particular handlebar will dictate how well this system works.

Designed to fit models with an internal diameter of 18.5-22mm, plugged into the 20mm wide ends of my standard aluminium drops the Orbs felt a bit loose.

Enough that I didn't fancy to chance riding with them as they were. Recourse to some electrical tape, which judiciously wrapped around the internal part of the light allowed for a tighter fit, proved the solution.

Still, it’s a little annoying to not find them entirely ready to roll straight out of the packaging. Although it’d complicate the design, and add a little weight, an expanding wedge mechanism of the sort that would actively lock the lights in place would have been nice.

Being a confirmed scatterbrain, and seemingly incapable of getting back home in good time, remembering my lights, or on the rare occasions I do have them with me, ensuring they’re charged, I’m going to make the Orbs a permanent addition to my bike.

However, I imagine I’d be pretty grumpy if they fell out of my bars and under a truck. Something that seemed possible if fitted without additional precautions.

Luckily this fate is easily avoided with a little modification. All thing considered, for twenty quid it’s the slightly insecure fitting that's stopping these getting full marks.

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