Cateye Econom Force HL-EL540RC – 2012 Mtbr Lights Shootout

Lights Shootout

The Cateye Econom Force is a commuter light from the manufacturing wizards from Japan. Don’t expect too bright a light here but expect an affordable light that is constructed with high quality materials.

We tested the standard AA version but there is also a rechargeable version of this light. And of course, one can always put rechargeable NIMH batteries on this light and use an external charger. This is a commuter light but for trail riding at a low price range, we recommend the tiny Cateye Nano Shot reviewed here.

The EL540 uses reverse offset lens (ROL) technology, which allows 95% efficiency of the light emitted. Looking into the lens, you will not be able to see the LED emitter like typical lights. The LED is mounted facing backwards and the lens reflects the light forward to create the beam pattern. This improves efficiency according to Cateye but what we really like is they’re able to control the beam pattern. The beam pattern is basically rectangular. It has very sharp edges on all sides so the light goes exactly where Cateye prescribed it.

The significant effect of this lens technology is beam is not shined onto oncoming driver’s eyes. For commuting, this is a becoming a key issue as drivers not only get annoyed but also get distracted by a bike light shining onto one’s eyes and this can create a hazardous situation. So this is really a commuting light as peripheral objects like low hanging branches are not illuminated for trail riding.

This light is similar to the Philips Saferide which also has a controlled beam pattern with a fixed cut-off at the top. The Philips is much more expensive and brighter though at $200 and 39 Mtbr Lux compared to this at $70 and 13 Mtbr Lux for this Cateye.


  • Price: $65.00
  • Claimed Lumens: 100 Lumens
  • Light Head Weight: 209 grams
  • Installed Weight: 249 grams
  • Run Time: 2 Hours
  • Measured MTBR Lux: 13 Lux


Handlebar mounting is done with the standard Cateye light mount. It is threaded strap style that is tightened by a wheel that can be turned by hand. This allows for a tool-free mount that can handle any sized handlebar. This mount performs admirably for most Cateye computers and the small Cateye Nanoshot light. But for this 200 gram light head, it’s a bit worked. But luckily, this is a commuter light and not a trail light that is expected to take a lot of jarring hits.

Related Links
Mtbr Lights Shootout Main Page »
2012 Bike Lights Shootout »
Backyard Beam Pattern Comparisons »
Trail Beam Pattern Comparisons »
Light Meter Measurements »
Mtbr Lights Reviews »
Mtbr Lights Forum »

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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