CatEye created the first HID light over a decade ago with the Stadium light. It launched a whole new era in lights as they led other manufacturers into an arms race to use the latest technologies in bike lights. They showed us a new light this year and we immediately knew it was as revolutionary as their Stadium light.
The Volt 6000 is special in many ways. First, the output is 6000 lumens which makes it the most powerful light available today. And being a conservative Japanese company, CatEye is not one to exaggerate and claim double their measured output as most Chinese companies do these days. In fact, recent CatEye lights we’ve tested measure well over their claimed output when tested in an integrating sphere. They like to claim their output at the end of the battery charge. Thus, when they say 6000 lumens, that’s its minimum output throughout its run time. So we have no doubt this light will measure well over 6000 lumens in the laboratory.
The other more fascinating feature of this light is that it integrates a fan based cooling system. When turned on, a fan on the rear of the light matches the light output level. It spins at a desired level to suck in air from the sides of the light body and drive it to the back of the light. Instead of using the light body as the heat sink, the COB (chip on board) light array is isolated from the light so the light body remains cool. The heat on the COB board with over 120 LEDs is driven out the back by the fan even without any outside wind or airflow.
This is a key development since heat is the number one enemy of LED light technology. It is damaging so designers have to provide ample heat sinking to cool the light. Since heat sinks rely on airflow, a bike light often has to protect itself by dimming down to protect from overheating. Thus a 1000 Lumen light often has to operate at 80% of its max when there’s not enough airflow or when outside temperature is too hot. Good lights turn back up to full power when the bike gets up to speed. But some lights don’t and they operate at a lower level even when on max brightness until they are turned off and back on.
CatEye invited us to touch the lens of the light after it was on for a minute and we were very hesitant. But we took their lead and put our fingers on the lens and the body of the 95 gram light head and it was not hot indeed. It was warm to the touch but that’s actually more from being in the path of a 6000 Lumen beam (even without touching anything).