07 October 2007

bikefix Review: Cateye HL-EL410 light

Fall has arrived- long-sleeve base layers are coming out of the closet and it seems like its staying darker later and getting darker earlier by the day. With that in mind, its not a bad idea to dig out your blinkies, check the batteries, and mount 'em up. Commuting 3-4 days a week by bike is an easy reminder of just how important a decent light can be. Walking around our fair city at dusk this week, I've witnessed two near-misses for completely unlit cyclists. Lights may be geeky, but they could save you a whole lot of pain.

What we've been using for over a year as a 'just in case the ride goes long' handlebar and supplemental helmet light is Cateye's recently improved HL-EL410 LED light. While not really bright enough to navigate by, this blinking LED is a great aid to visibility. Twice as bright as its predecessor (the EL400), this little jobbie kicks out 180 candlepower thanks to three AAA batteries. Its pretty small (under 4in long, under 1in diameter), taking up very little handlebar space. While there are loads of white blinking LED lights on the market (most significantly less expensive), the EL410 sets itself apart with very solid (and waterproof- to 50m) construction and a unique mounting strap.

While it works well as a handlebar/stem/fork leg/steerer tube mount (fitting a wide range of sizes quite easily), the coolest thing about the mount is that it pivots 90deg in either direction (in 10deg increments), allowing for helmet mounting (pictured, right). Having a lightweight, long-lasting (60hrs blinking) helmet-mounted light in addition to my bar-mounted HID (or other 10W+ light, to see with) has been great- allowing the rider to point it directly at (and get the attention of) cars merging from side streets.

What else? A cool magnetic switch doesn't break the waterproof seal, the lens has a wider viewable angle than many competing lights, and a ring around the bezel provides (limited) visibility from the side. Available in silver and black, this light runs US$35-40 at most good bike shops and, given its durability, is money well spent. Certainly the nicest I've seen (short of NiteRider's $175 MiNewt), though I'd love to see anything else this nice.


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