Review: CatEye Volt 1200

Lights Lights Shootout

Two years ago, CatEye wowed us with the 250 Lumen Nano Shot as we marveled at its small form factor, light weight and useability. Then CatEye followed it up last year with the Nano Shot+.  It got a whole lot bigger as it bumped it up to 600 Lumens.

So it was with great anticipation that we opened up the latest Volt 1200 offering, claiming 1200 Lumens of output.  This is the big leagues of flashlight style lights, of course as 1200 Lumens is in the high range of what is available. Other competitors in this coveted space are:

Light and Motion Taz 1200 – Best beam pattern, but is $300 and not useable as a flashlight.

Lezyne Mega Drive – Most robust construction, stays cool and holds its brightness the best.  However, it is big and sharp and has little utility as a flashlight. A great value at $200.

Lupine Piko TL Max and MiniMax – Smallest and sleekest package and thus useable on the bar, helmet or pocket. However, it is $370 for the TL MiniMax.

All sport a claimed output of 1200 Lumens and are between $200 and $400 in price.  We are happy to report that the Volt 1200 is the brightest at 1234 Lumens and the cheapest at $200. Packaging is not too shabby either, with a nice build and an Opticube lens that controls the beam pattern into a square shaped beam. The square shape is advantageous, as not too much light is wasted on top unlike other lights when there is a full, round beam, that shoots up in to the sky. But the square is not ideal either, as a rectangle is preferred to put more light on the sides or periphery.

This light is definitely a winner with its price to performance ratio.  It is a potent little package that throws a lot of light. The enemy of this light is heat, as there is not a lot of heat sinking available and the light can heat up rather quickly. As it heats up, the light gets dimmer to protect the LED.  Even after we cooled it down with a powerful fan, the Volt 1200 stepped up in brightness but very, very slowly.  So in warmer conditions or rides where the rider is not moving the whole time,  the rider will not get as much light from the Volt 1200. It will start out very bright and dim down as the light gets hot.

Specifications
  • Price: $200
  • Claimed Lumens: 1200 Lumens
  • Measured Lumens: 1234 Lumens
  • Measured MTBR Lux: 125 Lux
  • Lumens per $: 6.17 Lumens
  • Lumens per gram: 5.77 Lumens
  • Time on High: 2:00 Hours
  • Charge Time: 8-14:00 Hours
  • Mounted Weight: 214 grams
  • Category: Flashlight/Commuter
Strengths
  • Incredibly bright at 1234 measured Lumens
  • Excellent form factor for such a powerful light
  • Opticube square shaped beam pattern exhibits good light control and can keep the light aimed away from others’ eyes.
  • Incredible value for the money.
  • Light can detect a high powered USB port and charge in 8 hours instead of 14.
Weaknesses
  • Can heat up very quickly and step down the light output
  • Square shaped beam pattern would be much better served as rectangular to offer better peripheral view
  • Trusty, small mount is starting to look outgunned on this big light head
Mounting

The mount is the old school CatEye bike computer mount. It worked fine for bike computers and it was fine for the small Nano Shot light.  Remarkably, it still does the job for the 214 gram Volt 1200.  Such is the foundation of the CatEye brand.  They have simple, well-designed components that can do the job and more.

Mtbr Light Meter Measurements

This light measured 125 Lux on our ambient light measurement facility. The light output measurement is performed by placing a Lux light meter beside the light. Both are pointed at the ceiling (five feet above) of a dark room. This measurement uses the ambient light produced by the bike light.

Integrating Sphere Measured Lumens

This light measured 1234 lumens in an integrating sphere. Claimed Lumens by the manufacturer is 1200 Lumens. The Lumen-hour graph below shows how the light performs over the first three minutes of its battery cycle.

Compare all Lumen Tests here »

Tunnel Beam Pattern Photo

The location is useful since it has walls and a ceiling that can display a bike light beam pattern. The walls have a lot of graffiti on them and actually show detail when they are lit up by a light with a wide angle. Cones and targets are set up with the far target set up at 120 feet.

Note that the beam pattern of the light is square shaped, with a nice straight line on top. This means the rider can aim it down lower when commuting and other riders or drivers will not be harmed with eye glare. This is key in commuting, as a blinded driver is a dangerous and angry driver.

Unfortunately, the beam is not rectangular so the sides of this beam photo are rather dark.  This means that the rider will not have great peripheral vision on twisty trails and switchbacks.  A complementary helmet light is recommended so the rider can see and aim to the sides of the trail.

At 214 grams, this light can be mounted on the helmet as well for ultimate range and performance on tight, twisty trails when used by itself.

Compare all Tunnel Beam Patterns here »

For more information visit www.cateye.com.

Review: CatEye Volt 1200 Gallery
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Related Links
2014 Tunnel Beam Pattern Comparisons »
2014 Mtbr Lumen Tests »
2013 Bike Lights Shootout »
2012 Bike Lights Shootout »
Mtbr Lights Reviews »
Mtbr Lights Forum »

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About the author: Francis Cebedo

The founder of mtbr and roadbikereview, Francis Cebedo believes that every cyclist has a lot to teach and a lot to learn. "Our websites are communal hubs for sharing cycling experiences, trading adventure stories, and passing along product information and opinions." Francis' favorite bike is the last bike he rode, whether it's a dirt jumper, singlespeed, trail bike, lugged commuter or ultralight carbon road steed. Indeed, Francis loves cycling in all its forms and is happiest when infecting others with that same passion. Francis also believes that IPA will save America.


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  • Johan says:

    The dropoff in output seems negligible. The problem seems more like at start up the light overshoots on it’s brightness. It seems to peak at over 1350 lumens and then drop to about 1225 in 45 seconds or so. The problem seems to be more overshooting on start up than dimming due to heat? It dims to about 1175 lumens at 3 minutes which is not a big loss if the peak is 1234 lumens.

    • Francis Cebedo says:

      The dropoff continues in the 1 hour lumen graph unless this light is cooled with sufficient airflow. When cooled, the brightness doesn’t jump back up. It has to be turned off and on to reset the thermal sensors.

  • Johan says:

    One weakness besides the possible overheating issue is the small switch of this light. It looks like it could be pretty hard hitting that small button when riding with winter gloves.

  • Johan says:

    I think I’m getting one of these. This time of the year I doubt overheating would be an issue and I would run it at MED most of the time (I have a Gloworm X2 I will run with spot-spot lens setup on the helmet for additional light). This would be my handlebar mounted flood light. Thx for the updates Francis and you guys are doing a great job. I would assume the MED setting produces about 500 lumens (run time is 2.5 times the run time at HIGH).

  • Gustavo says:

    My problem with this lamp is i recently receive my lamp and i can`t see the difference between Dynamic and normal . What`s happening. Need more charge, i don`t thik so because the battery is ion Lithium . if it is ok then the lamp is wrong i feel is a poor light i thik is like 800 lumens in dynamic.

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