Of all the products I saw at Interbike, there were a few that I absolutely couldn’t wait to try. The Volt 6000 from Cateye was one that left our entire staff impressed. Having both excitement and doubts regarding the punch of light being as glorious as it was over-kill, I had the Cateye Volt 6000’s battery charging less than a minute after it arrived at my doorstep.
Beam past the break to get my first impression of the brightest light we’ve ever tested…..
When Caboose McRib, (break a rib on a less than graceful fall when bringing up the rear, you get a name), calls out for a night ramble and a 6000 lumen light shows up on the day of, there is nothing else to do but put “work” first and light this thing up! Our ramble is part groomed trails, urban dipshittery, and even some bushwhacking in undeveloped areas below the flood plane, followed by food, beer and laughs. It was the perfect setting to break in the Volt 6000 and get some reactions from others, such as…. Jeff: Wow, that is insane”, Conner: “I’m turning my light off”, and Caboose: “A 6000 volt battery sure sounds like a lot to lug around” *smacks forehead*.
The Cateye Volt 6000 comes in a tidy little package that comes complete with what you would expect including the light, charger, *large* battery, extension cable, helmet & bar mount, and a sweet little bluetooth remote. Because I was in a hurry to get it charged and never need instructions, *eh hem*, I fumbled with how to charge the @#&^ thing. Even after reading the less-than-helpful micro-print instructions, it took me a bit to figure out how the “knob” worked and that forcing the (tightly fitted) control unit off the battery wasn’t going to break it. Finally I plugged it in, waited for the little red light to turn green, and success!
Looking inside the powerhouse, you know this thing means business. The LED COB (Chips on Board), module takes all the individual “LEDs” and sandwiches them together making a a giant panel of sorts.
The unit houses a fan that runs constantly regardless of what setting it’s on. Though not loud, it’s not quiet either. On one occasion someone initially thought I was losing air out of my tire. I would eventually forget about it, then react as if there was a leaf stuck in my fork. Regardless, even on full blast, it stayed just a little above room temperature! Because the “Control unit” is attached to the battery the light itself doesn’t weigh much even with the built in fan.
This is what the bluetooth unit looks like inside after the rubber cover falls off. It still worked just fine but being this is just one of the two “pre-production” Volt 6000’s in existence, there could be some revisions to little details like this on the final version.
There have been a lot of assumptions of this light being way overkill and would practically wash out and reflect too much light off of near by objects defeating the purpose of that much light. My initial impression was that the light was somewhat underwhelming…. but in a good way. Though it is powerful, it doesn’t throw a ton of light in one spot or even area. It throws a solid, even amount of light EVERYWHERE. I had Jeff stop in front of me in a narrow corridor of saplings just to show how only the sapplings in my face got a little “reflective”, but my path and everything around it was clear as day.
Look closely at the upper left of this pic. The whiter area of light is from my personal Niterider Pro 1800. The calmer color of the Volt 6000 keeps colors more realistic thus not washing them out. You can see it in the previous pic when comparing the surroundings with that of the light Jeff’s helmet is casting. If the Volt 6000 had a light color similar to that of other lights, it would likely do more harm than good.
Regardless of performance, I do have some initial beefs. The bluetooth switch like many things nowadays, uses a silicon rubber band to hold it on the bar. This is fine with something that didn’t need to be “touched” constantly, but it kept moving on me causing my thumb to have to “hunt” for it. Speaking of mounts, I tried the bar mount first to see how it would do on the trails, (I never felt like I needed a helmet mount). I initially mounted it backwards setting the unit rearward of the bars. This caused the light to be in my face when standing up and pedaling. I discovered then that it could be flipped around in the forward position (above) fixing the problem. However, the mount did not match up to the rest of the unit’s build quality. It uses an unattached plastic nut that threads onto the mount’s threaded strap to secure it. It held well, but when fumbling with it, I dropped the nut and had to crawl around looking in the spider infested *shudder* space under my workbench.
I will be doing a long term review and light comparison in the near future, but my initial impression has me less than thrilled to have to go back to my “more than adequate” light when I’m done testing the Cateye. I have an astigmatism which gives me less than perfect night vision, so I like a lot of light and the Volt 6000 has plenty.