Was one of your New Years Resolutions to ride to work? Through the rest of the winter months this probably means you’re going to need a light or two! Check out Peter’s review of the Cateye AMPP 1100 Front Light below. (Peter works on our buying team and rides to work every time he comes to the office so knows a thing or two about commuter friendly gear).
Anytime from September to March, there is a very good chance you will be out cycling in the dark to a greater or lesser extent. Having previously used Cateye AMPP500, Moon Meteor 1600, and a Lezyne Microdrive 400, I was keen to get an upgrade. One thing in particular has driven me to buy a new light, that being all of the lights above have all seen better days. I have heard of people keeping exposure lights running for years and years, but after about 3 years, my Moon has shone its last beam, and the Lezyne & Cateye while still working well have a reduced battery span after 3 seasons of heavy use (in winter).
Being periodically soaked and frozen, and then confined to a drawer for 6 months, its pretty understandable that lights don’t have the longest life expectancy.
At the more premium end of the market, you have features such as auto-dimming or adjustment (eg Exposure reAKT and See.Sense), smartphone integration, even software to make your own flash pattern. But for all out simplicity, for me it was a toss-up between the Exposure Strada, and the Cateye. The say buy cheap* buy twice, and that is exactly my strategy for my new front lights! [*RRP is £94.99 – not cheap in anyone’s book, but compared to some top end lights these days…] I plan to run this new light for as long as possible, and when it dies, I can buy a brand spanker and have a nice new battery at that time, plus cost wise it may work out about the same as the cream of the crop lights.
Another reason I chose the Cateye – compared to the Moon and Lezyne, I find the beam pattern the most pleasing to use. Isn’t it frustrating when you are blinded by some 4×4 with blazing halogen headlights, and some LED lights to me seem similar, emitting a dazzling white light beam from every angle. Although that may be my testing method (don’t try at home – turn the light on full beans and look straight into it… “Yep…that is definitely very bright”)!
The Cateye AMPP 1100 has quite a focused beam I find, and I am not aware that side visibility is reduced for it as far as I can tell. A friend who has the Exposure Strada was telling me about its high beam mode, and that it works really well, but when he re-joined a busy road and forgot to turn off high beam cars soon let him know they were being dazzled with a quick flash of their own lights. With the AMPP 1100, you can turn the dial all the way up to 11…hundred lumens that is, with a double click of the power button, without having to cycle through the various modes. Then a single click to come back to whatever mode you had before, super easy when going between areas with or without street lighting for example. On bumpy roads and my thickest winter gloves, I do find the button a little hard to double press occasionally, but to be fair with those gloves I struggle to do anything more dexterous than simply grip the handlebars!
This light also works with my existing Cateye mounts, and they have been using the same design for several years I note, great for giving the customer some value by allowing new lights to retrofit old mounts. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. There is a button on the side of the light to release it, and after a week or so of practice, I have got the knack of taking them off quickly. Cateye do loads of spare parts for their lights, all very reasonably priced, which I think shows they care about the end user. I also like how there are not too many modes or menus, and I don’t need a smartphone to turn it on. Call me old fashioned, but press a button, and light comes on, does it really need to be more complicated than that?
I find the day flash mode (Daytime HyperConstant: 400 + 1100 Lm, 6.5hrs) works really well, the light is always on, but regularly pulses a tiny high lumen burst of light, which in the day is just enough to catch people’s eye. I find an on/off type flash a little annoying, and like a strobe light, but the Cateye AMPP strikes a nice balance. Battery life seems as advertised, I hate not having all my tech fully charged all the time, but I have only seen the red low battery indicator come on once or twice in a couple months of ownership – read into that what you will. This is not a light for 12 hour marathons, but for my commutes which are an hour each way, it’s the perfect light to charge only every 1-2 days, rather than once per trip. Speaking of charging, its micro-USB. I have seen a few people raise an eyebrow at this, and I would much prefer USB-C but its better than a product specific charger I guess. There is a section on my commute which seems permanently flooded on a busy stretch, and a miss-timed dash has resulted in a couple ‘bucket-type’ drenchings from passing cars, but the rubber bung covering the charging port has performed admirably. There is no tell-tale sign of moisture on the inside of the bung, even after some monsoon style rides I have had the mis-fortune to do recently, so 10/10 so far for water resistance, fingers crossed.
Overall, the Cateye AMPP 1100 is a fantastic light, its robust, with great performance, and a happy medium of price and performance.
Weight: claimed 200g, weighed:210g (without mount)