Review: CatEye Volt 6000

The brightest light we've ever tested

Lights Lights Shootout

2016 Lights Shootout

The Volt 6000 is the first light we've seen to incorporate a fan in the light head.

The Volt 6000 is the first light we’ve seen to incorporate a fan in the light head (click to enlarge).

Editor’s Note: This article is part of Mtbr and RoadBikeReview’s 2016 Bike Lights Shootout. See the 2016 Mtbr Headlights Index and the RoadBikeReview Commuter Lights Index.

The Lowdown: CatEye Volt 6000

CatEye made the first HID bike light with the Stadium 3 bike light about ten years ago and revolutionized night riding. The system was incredibly heavy at 2000 grams and it put out about 500 Lumens of very white/blue-ish light.

Now, CatEye wowed us once again with the introduction of their Volt 6000 lights. With a claimed output of 6000 Lumens, the Volt 6000 weighs in at 718 grams with a cost of $800. The kicker is it has a built-in fan to counter the greatest enemy of LED bike lights today, heat.

Is it as revolutionary as the old CatEye Stadium? Is it an unfair advantage for trail night riding? Read on and find out.

Stat Box
Claimed Lumens: 6000 Lumens Mtbr Lux: 5400
Measured Lumens: 7252 Lumens Mounted weight: 718 grams
Lumens per $: 9.07 Lumens Category: Headlight
Lumens per gram: 10.10 Lumens Price: $800
Run time on high: 1:00 Hours Rating: 5 Flamin' Chili Peppers 5 Chilis-out-of-5 for achievement

  • Staggering output at 7252 Lumens
  • Run time at full power is only one hour
  • Integrated fan keeps light always cool
  • Fan is always at highest setting
  • Beam pattern is wide and massive
  • $800 is big investment
  • Light stays at its max brightness even with no airflow
  • No dedicated spot so distance throw is not that impressive
  • Light head is under 100 grams

Battery is big, weighing in at 600 grams, providing an hour of run time at maximum brightness.

Battery is big, weighing in at 600 grams, providing an hour of run time at maximum brightness (click to enlarge).

Full Review: CatEye Volt 6000

This light has many things going for it. First, the light is devastatingly bright and brighter than claimed. The beam pattern is very wide too so there is actually good usage of all the brightness. Often bright lights have a beam that’s too narrow and the rider adjusts to the bright beam but cannot see anything on the periphery. With this light, everything is lit up and visible.

Air is sucked in from the rear and let out through the sides to cool thin  heating fins designed to take all the head from the LED.

Air is sucked in from the rear and let out through the sides to cool thin heating fins designed to take all the head from the LED (click to enlarge).

Second, the integrated fan actually works. It allows the light to operate at maximum brightness in all conditions. Warm weather or slow moving rides are not a problem. Most lights become inefficient or step down in brightness to protect the LED. This light just stays on max brightness while keeping the light head fairly cool. Instead of using the light head as a heat sink, all the heat is pushed out of the side vents.

Finally, this light is designed and manufactured with the highest Japanese standards of CatEye. It is not uncommon to hear of CatEye Stadium lights still using their 10-year old lights.

Continue to page 2 for more on the CatEye Volt 6000, beam pattern and Lumen measurement »

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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  • SGK says:

    This lumen war is getting silly and dangerous. Blind cars, trail user… I could see some user getting sued by blinding some causing the to fall.

  • toddonbike says:

    The cool thing about night riding is riding in the dark. With all these high lumen lights around it could be brighter than daylight. I guess it just goes along with everybody taming down the trails. This sport is just getting too easy.

    • Francis Cebedo says:

      >>The cool thing about night riding is riding in the dark.

      Maybe. But really, the cool thing about night riding is you get to ride your bike when the days are so short.

      This has nothing to do with taming trails.

      This is all about choice. Just like having those very capable full-suspension bikes. It’s good that riders have the choice to ride fast and at a very high level. Or the rider can choose a hardtail and a 400 lumen light. That’s fine as well.

  • NotAnotherHill says:

    I appreciate the reviews, but why don’t you test the light output at multiple levels? Also test the actual run time, preferably at multiple levels. This would be very useful information.

  • Francis Cebedo says:

    >>I appreciate the reviews, but why don’t you test the light output at multiple levels? Also test the actual run time, preferably at multiple levels. This would be very useful information.

    We used to test output levels but they are very random among manufacturers. Some have two and others have five. Some have medium at 50%. Or 60% or 30% so it ends up not being useful.

    Run time is a cluster too. There is no good standard when the light is considered dead. Some shut the light down at 80% brightness, some at 50%. Some step down the light to the lower level.

  • Catmando says:

    The tech behind this lamp I find intriguing. Looks like it is using some sort of massive sized emitter. I can’t help but wonder why Cateye figured someone might want a lamp with 6000 lumen of output that is basically a flood beam pattern ( or so I’m led to believe ). My experience with any type of bike light tells me that if you are going to create a VERY bright bike light MOST of that light should project into the distance. Too much light in the foreground and the reflective bounce back glare becomes detrimental. At 6K lumen I can only imagine how annoying that would be. Maybe if Cateye cuts back the output and creates a lamp with more distance throw it might actually be worth buying.

    • BlackBean says:

      Spot lights are for fast riding, and mostly road riding because you move much faster than on the mountain. For mountain biking, a flood beam is much better. This light was made with mountain bikers in mind.

      • BigDaddy says:

        “Catmando” is correct–This light has WAY TOO MUCH light in the foreground at the highest power setting and it’s easy to outrun this light due to the lack of throw. I think the biggest deal-breaker, however, is the incredibly noisy fan that is always running at the same setting regardless of power level. Yes, it’s THAT loud.

  • fasterjason says:

    The original Cateye Stadium came out around 1998, it was about 500-600 lumen and took about eight hours to charge, ballast was integrated (hard to fit in a frame) .
    The Cateye Stadium 3 came out in 2000, and had 1500 lumen and a three hour charge time, ballast was separate.
    I had both and the Stadium 3 was a game changer. Still have my Stadium 3 and it still works, just not as bright and run time is two hours now. Not bad for a 15 year old light.

  • Jeremy Ellis says:

    Can you please set ALL of your lights up at once? If you have a library system set up, I would like to “check out” this light for use. 🙂

  • CaveMan says:

    I use a combo of Maxx -D and Volt 1600 to give me the throw and width I need. Both come in way under the cost of the volt 6000 and are more than sufficient for lighting up pitch black complex trails. I cannot help thinking Cateye have gone overboard with this one but at least they are innovating. The price rules out normal consumers.

  • jake says:

    I like the beam pattern.Its 6000L, even without a dedicated spot, its still going to penetrate pretty deep. If it had a spot, any sudden incline would be really bright and washed out. I would bet Cateye did a ton of research on the beam pattern before choosing this and could justify their reasons. This doesn’t strike me as some flash in the pan idea they just threw out to market.
    Too much spot is nasty, and most mtbing does not require a lot of long distance light.
    I just got this and just tried it out inside. Its really incredible in that it is extremely even. Like a universal light. Everything gets lit up.

  • Gabby says:

    Much of my riding is not off-road/MTB, but city commuting with a good 10km stretch on unlit riverside paths, where the mantra, “the more light, the better!” holds true — the river is never far away!! In traffic, I switch the light down to 1,000lum, about just right to be seen, but if there is any doubt as to my presence on the road, a further 5,000+lum is on tap just to be sure. In Australia, I do not think this light is street-legal at 6,000+lum continuous because of the patent danger of blinding oncoming drivers, pedestrians, dogs, birds and unicorns — the lot! True, some twats will ride with the most powerful setting blazing away, “because I can!”, with no regard at all for the safety of others caught in the nuclear hotspot.

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