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Switch on to a smarter lighting solution with CatEye bike lights

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4 Dec 2019
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With the number of daylight hours shrinking fast, you’ll find yourself out in the dark more and more often. But that’s no reason to cut back on cycling. Instead, grab yourself some extra reassurance in the form of one of CatEye’s new AMPP lights, and make the most of the night.

Founded in 1954 in Osaka, Japan, CatEye created the world’s first bicycle LED headlamp back in 2001. Since then it has been refining its products, which are rigorously tested using the same methods employed by the Japanese car industry. With two factories still located in the country, CatEye has built a reputation for reliability and optical excellence.

The AMPP range continues this, from the 400-lumen AMPP 400 up to the 1,100-lumen AMPP 1100. Each is a fit-and-forget unit with excellent weather resistance and high optical clarity.

Feature-rich despite their light and compact design, every light in the range comes with a daytime HyperConstant mode for all-day safety, along with a power button that also functions as a battery indicator, allowing you to keep an eye on the charge remaining.

‘A lot of manufacturers will just stick a high lumen-count LED in their units and call it a day,’ explains CatEye’s International Sales Director, Doug Brown.

‘We started with reflectors, and still have a factory focusing solely on them. To pass the different requirements for reflectors worldwide, we have to adapt the light in particular ways, meaning the lens of each reflector is cut differently. We’ve taken that knowledge and applied it to our lights.’

This means CatEye lights can compete with models from other brands even when they have a much higher lumen count, the result being strong and consistent illumination that maximises each light’s output.

‘The lumen count just tells you how much light the LED is producing, but the beam pattern will be different for each light. What riders should be more concerned about is what’s out in front of them,’ explains Brown.

While the larger AMPP units are capable of spreading a wide and even beam across whatever the terrain throws at you, the smaller lights in the range are also more than punchy enough to get you noticed.

This is partly thanks to their shared Opticube lens and reflector technology, which now includes larger side lenses for enhanced peripheral vision.

‘One thing that sets us apart is how we build in side visibility,’ says Brown. ‘If you’re at a junction, our lights have always been good. Now we’ve made the side windows 220% larger so that you’re protected in the type of situation where the majority of accidents happen.’

CatEye also pays a lot of attention to the things you can’t see. The quality of the battery and circuitry inside will determine the durability of any light.

As such, CatEye puts a lot of effort into sourcing and designing these unseen components. At the same time, the brand’s designs allow for effective heat dissipation to provide extended run times versus more basic alternatives.

By manufacturing its own products, CatEye can keep a tight rein on quality control too, rigorously testing units as they come off the production line to ensure all its lights will work season after season.

‘It’s both the light ahead of you and the technology hidden inside that sets us apart,’ says Brown.

 

CatEye's AMPP range of bike lights

CatEye AMPP 1100 | £109.99

Twin LEDs backed by CatEye’s OptiCube lens technology allows the AMPP 1100 to throw a wide and even beam across the terrain ahead of you. Bright enough for fast riding, it’ll help you pick out features in the distance, long before you arrive.

Like all the lights in the AMPP range, it benefits from a new, broader beam pattern for better peripheral illumination. But its usefulness isn’t confined to the darker hours: during the day, its long-running HyperConstant mode switches between 1,100 and 400 lumens to save power.

To ensure the light stays pointed where you want it regardless of the shape of your bars, it comes with the same tool-free FlexTight bracket found across the range.

CatEye AMPP 800 | £84.99

Providing plentiful forward illumination, the AMPP 800 is a powerful option for commuters. More than capable of dealing with short stretches away from overhead lighting, it’s also well suited to use as a secondary light for off-road riding.

Using a full aluminium body for improved heat dissipation along with a large-capacity lithium-ion battery results in above average run times compared to alternatives from many other manufacturers.

A three-level battery indicator helps you keep an eye on how it is performing, glowing blue when the remaining charge is above 50%, yellow when it’s between 30 to 50%, and red when it drops below 30%.

CatEye AMPP 500 | £44.99

Adding a little extra brightness compared to the entry-level AMPP 400, the AMPP 500 benefits from the same weather-resistant design and Opticube lens that provides improved side-on visibility across the range.

With four light modes to choose from – High, Low, Daytime HyperConstant, and Flashing – maximum illumination can be achieved instantly via a simple double-click of the power button. Once switched on, its mode memory function returns straight to the last setting used, so you always know where you stand.

Sold with a FlexTight bracket that will fit any bars with a profile up to 35mm, in common with the rest of the range, the AMPP 500 can also be used with CatEye’s optional helmet mount or centre fork bracket.

CatEye AMPP 400 | £34.99 

Providing top-level safety along with maximum side visibility, the AMPP 400 may offer the lowest lumen count of the range, but its effectiveness is boosted by the wide beam pattern created by the OptiCube lens.

Its low battery indicator illuminates red when there’s less than 20% charge remaining to help you avoid getting stranded.

The unit is held securely in place using CatEye’s rigid and ultra-secure FlexTight bracket, which outperforms the stretchy wraparound alternatives typically found on many similarly priced lights.

CatEye SYNC: the smarter bike lights

The CatEye SYNC range is a constellation of lights all controllable via a single button. A leap forward in illumination and connectivity, Bluetooth low-energy technology allows multiple units to be turned on, off, or cycled through their various modes, with just a single button push on any connected light.

‘The SYNC system does many things, but its main feature is that when you turn your headlight on, all your other lights turn on too. Turn it off, and everything goes off,’ explains CatEye’s International Sales Director, Doug Brown.

‘If you pull into a coffee shop, you push one button. You’re not going around switching everything off individually.’

At the heart of the system are the Core front light and the Kinetic rear unit. SYNC Wearable dots can then be added to your bike or belongings to further increase your visibility. In total, up to seven lights can be added to the system.

You pair them using an app on your phone, which you can then use to check the remaining charge in each unit, and should any go missing, you can locate them using the ‘find me’ feature. The app also allows you to customise how all your lights work.

‘Each light has five modes, but you might only use two, for instance,’ says Brown. ‘The app enables you to deactivate those unused modes for simpler operation.’

It also gives you detailed information on the battery level in each unit. ‘Even if your bike is downstairs in the car park and you’re at your desk, you’ll be able to see the charge remaining via your phone,’ explains Brown.

Battery information is also shared between units, and the indicator on the headlamp will warn you if the level in your rear light is dropping, with no phone required.

Of course, none of this smart technology is much good if the lights don’t get you noticed. ‘People’s main fears about riding at night are being able to see and be seen,’ says Brown.

‘Riding in the city where there’s so much light around, you don’t so much need to see, but you certainly want vehicles to see you. We’ve conducted studies in Japan, showing that synchronising the flashes between multiple lights makes the rider much more noticeable.’

However, the SYNC system won’t just alert other road users to where you are, it’ll even tell them what you’re doing. Using data from an accelerometer in the Kinetic rear light, the light will blast an additional 10 lumens towards any following traffic as you slow down.

It can share its intelligence with any connected SYNC Wearables too so that all your connected rear lights glow brighter at the same time. This will leave anyone following in no doubt that you’re slowing down, giving them the chance to give you any extra space you may need.

The system’s ability to keep you visible even extends to the daylight hours, with each light having a daytime HyperContant flash to help alert traffic to your presence. With each unit made to CatEye’s exacting standards, the range is an investment you can expect to benefit from for many seasons to come.

 

CatEye SYNC Core Front and Rear Kinetic set | £119.99

SYNC Core Front

The SYNC Core Front light takes charge of activating and monitoring all other lights in the system, which means you can keep your eyes fixed where they should be – on the road ahead.

‘If I’m riding along and I hear a truck coming up, I always want to check behind and make sure my tail lights are on,’ says Brown. ‘Now if there’s anything wrong with the whole system, I can tell just by looking at the indicator on the button of the Core front light.’

Even when used on its own, the unit is impressive. It has a 500-lumen output, and an Opticube lens makes the most of this by providing a wide and clear beam ahead of the rider, along with enhanced side-on visibility.

Other useful features include a mode memory function allowing you to return straight to the last mode used, while a double-click of the light’s button instantly brings up its highest output setting.

However, when power runs low, its battery auto-save function switches to a lower output automatically, helping you reach home safely.

SYNC Rear Kinetic

With its built-in accelerometer, the Kinetic knows when you’re slowing down, and will make sure following traffic knows too. Switching to burst mode as you decelerate allows it to employ the light’s entire 500-lumen output to clearly warn anyone following of your decreasing velocity.

It offers exceptional side-on visibility in all its six modes. The daytime HyperFlash mode means its usefulness isn’t limited to the darker hours, while Group Ride mode is designed to avoid dazzling riders following behind when you have company.

The Rear Kinetic light seamlessly combines with other SYNC lights using the CatEye app and its Bluetooth connectivity.

Providing all-round security, this equips any connected SYNC Wearable units to echo the Kinetic’s speed-adaptive braking feature, while also allowing them to be switched on and off or through their various modes via any connected light in the system.

Able to work independently, the app also gives you detailed information on the Kinetic’s battery status and connections.

SYNC Wearable | £44.99 

Able to be used alone or with other lights in the range, the SYNC Wearable gives you an extra way to be seen, day or night. With a punchy 50-lumen maximum output, its six modes include a Daytime HyperConstant mode and Group Ride function that’s easy on the eyes of following riders.

However, its most intelligent feature is its ability to mirror the Kinetic’s brake light function. Taking its lead from the sensor in the larger rear light, the SYNC Wearable can mimic its brake warning function, pulsing brightly when the latter’s accelerometer detects that you’re slowing down.

Making it obvious where you are and what speed you’re travelling, it’ll allow following traffic to provide due space as you decelerate.

With a built-in clip, the SYNC Wearable can be fixed directly onto luggage or clothing, or slotted into the included rubber mount for attachment to the bicycle.

It provides powerful illumination paired with excellent side-on visibility, using the same OptiCube lens technology found on other high-end CatEye lights.

For more information on CatEye’s full range of lights, go to cateye.com