- Cateye EL 700 Triple Shot light
High-power LEDs are the latest thing in bike lights, and while it’s been smaller manufacturers getting products out first, it was inevitable that the big guys wouldn’t be far behind. Cateye is known as something of a pioneer in lighting technology – the Stadium was the first metal halide bike light to go on sale – so it’s not all that surprising that it’s one of the first out of the blocks with an LED system. In fact, it’s got two – the Triple Shot uses three 3W LEDs, the Double Shot uses two and is designed for helmet mounting. We’re looking at the Triple Shot here.
The advantages that a company like Cateye has are clear as soon as you set eyes on the Triple Shot. It makes enough stuff for it to be worthwhile investing in large-scale manufacturing processes. There’s no cottage-industry machining going on here – the Triple Shot lives inside a cast aluminium body, complete with an array of cooling fins to dissipate the heat from the LEDs. There’s also a simple quick-release handlebar bracket (actually two, to accommodate standard or oversized bars). It’s got an angle adjuster to let you compensate for wildly off-centre mounting, but it can’t do anything about being mounted on the risey bit of a riser bar – not that we noticed it sitting at a slight angle in use. A remote switch attaches to the bars by the sort of bungee-and-toggle arrangement that you’re probably more used to seeing around the hem of jackets, but works just fine.
The battery is a 12V, 2.6Ah NiMH unit stowed in a frame bag and connecting to the lamp with twist-locking connectors – no danger of a critical wire suddenly becoming unplugged and plunging you into darkness at an inconvenient moment. The supplied smart charger will fill the battery in three hours, and the Triple Shot will empty it again in a claimed three hours and twenty minutes. That’s a pretty impressive run time, but there’s no potential for extending your range by using a low-power setting – there isn’t one, it’s either on or off. This makes the presence of a remote handlebar switch seem slightly redundant, of course.
The inevitable consequence of the chunky cast aluminium body and large-capacity NiMH batteries is weight. The Triple Shot’s lamp and switch alone weighs 477g, plus another 234g for the battery – a total of 711g. That’s 280g heavier than a two-battery Solidlights 1303 and over twice the weight of an Exposure Enduro. Given that it’s about the same price as either, it’s going to have to be pretty special in the performance stakes to be a must-buy option.
Left to right: Cateye Triple Shot; Solidlights 1303 (full power); Exposure Race (full power)
Some caveats here – clearly the angles aren’t the same in all these pictures, and the markers aren’t necessarily equally spaced either. That said, the Cateye is pretty much indistinguishable from the Solidlights system – it’s got a slightly narrower beam but not really any greater reach. It has better penetration than the Exposure, but note that this is the first-generation Exposure, not the current Turbo model that we haven’t had a chance to try yet.
There’s certainly ample light to ride by and enough reach to go at a decent clip, too. It’s a pity that there isn’t a lower-power setting – you could certainly get away with a little less light a lot of the time.