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Photo ©: Bettini

First impression: Cateye Double Shot and Triple Shot lights, February 23, 2006

An illuminating combination

Our samples of Cateye's Double Shot and Triple Shot LED lights are still awaiting the arrival of winter darkness at our Sydney office for some serious testing, but meantime, Matt Barr has managed to stay up late for a couple of rides. Here are his first impressions.

Cateye Triple Shot complete
Photo ©: John Stevenson
(Click for larger image)
Cateye Triple Shot
Photo ©: John Stevenson
(Click for larger image)
Cateye Double Shot
Photo ©: John Stevenson
(Click for larger image)
The mounting bracket
Photo ©: John Stevenson
(Click for larger image)

We've taken the double- and Triple Shot light sets out a couple of times now, and we have to say that so far they are pretty impressive.

The first time you lay eyes on the light units, they certainly look like they've had some development time - the formed casings and the flush mount bolts all give the appearance that someone's put some effort into making these things.

Installation isn't too much of a challenge - although the bar clamp can be a bit fiddly (with the need to completely unscrew the bolt and not lose the little nut!); the battery pack attaches to the frame via a decent elasticised hook-and-loop band - so just find somewhere to put it and strap on. If you're using the Double Shot in a helmet mounted configuration (the double comes with both a helmet and bar mount, whereas the triple comes with only a bar mount), the battery pack sits fairly comfortably in a jersey pocket, or for the dirt inclined, slips into a hydration pack with no complaint.

When you first hit the power, the most noticeable thing about these lights is the colour, particularly compared to more common halogen lights. LEDs have a much bluer light (some may say "colder"). When we get to the full review of these lights, we'll probably throw in a few bigger words to explain it, but basically the bluish light of LEDs has a higher colour temperature, and so appears brighter. (It's not, as we originally thought, because the eye is more sensitive to the blue end of the spectrum - in fact the eye is more sensitive to green-yellow. Thanks to reader Keith Cody for straightening us out on that).

The Double and Triple Shot, as the names might suggest, have two and three LEDs, respectively. As a result, they have different light patterns, aided by the lensing that Cateye have used in front of the LEDs. The Triple Shot has a fairly broad beam, while the Double Shot has a much narrower, focused beam. This difference suggests that they are intended to be used in tandem - as most riders' preference tends to be a wider light on the bars, to give good general visibility and depth perception, with a "spot" light on the helmet to be able to look ahead and pick out certain trail features (and low flying wallabies!).

Now it could be just a matter of getting used to the two light units, but in use, it seemed that the smaller Double Shot unit was brighter than its larger sibling, and as a result, tended to wash-out the light coming from the bars. We'll continue to keep an eye on this (ouch! - Ed) and maybe even employ some techno-wizadry to see how much of this is perceived vs reality.

It is still too early to tell how well the claimed run time matches real world usage (it usually takes a few charge/discharge cycles for batteries to reach their peak capacity), but on a recent night excursion through the bush tracks near Sydney, we took a little longer than expected, and initial fears of running out of light were unfounded. We'll get a more quantitative measure of that feature too!

So expect a more detailed inspection of these interesting lights when we've had a bit more time to run them in and startle some more of the local nocturnal wildlife!

Prices: US$320; US$270
More info: www.cateye.com