Review: CatEye Rapid lights

There are a lot of “safety” (as in, be-seen) cycling lights out there and, to be honest, they aren’t all that different. Pick one with a style, price, and lumen output that suits your needs and run it until it runs out. When CatEye’s series of Rapid lights showed up, I shrugged, put them on one of my bikes, and went about my errand running and rambling.

Turns out, I quite like them. These Rapids are aesthetically pleasing and could not be easier to operate. The large, raised power button on the side of each light makes them simple to turn on and off without needing to look down or employ finger gymnastics. The streamlined, non-bulky shape means the Rapids don’t stick out obtrusively and sit tidily in line with seatposts, seat stays fork legs and handlebars alike. Since I run many of my seatposts low enough that a saddlebag will take up most of the available space, I appreciate the ability to mount the Rapid on a bike’s seat stay.

The light emitted isn’t limited to a single, straight-ahead beam. The light beams fan out nearly 90 degrees on each side, improving your headlight visibility and making it more likely that others will see your rear light, even if they aren’t directly behind you.

The mounting system is as simple as it gets. I applaud the current trend toward lights that are quick to take off and put on without tools, allowing you to swap lights between/among bikes with ease. Each light comes with two sizes of rubber bands for varying post sizes (including aero posts, if that’s your thing) and a clip for using on a backpack or saddlebag. Also available is the “Spacer X,” which allows you to mount the light to other random things, such as rack brackets or specialized saddle clips.

Those rubber bands are easy to lose, especially when you’re regularly undoing the light to charge it. Slide the band over the light or onto the bike’s handlebar as soon as you remove it so that it doesn’t wander off. Also unknown is how long the rubber bands will last with all the stretching. That said, an old-fashioned rubber band from your cubicle desk drawer, or a hair tie, would surely work in a pinch.

The CatEye Rapid light family features three models, each available in red rear and white front lights. They are powered by LEDs and offer several combinations of flashing modes, low battery auto-save functions and side visibility. The lights are charged by micro USB cables (included).

The insanely bright Rapid X3—brighter than even the 65-lumen Bontrager Flare R we tested and liked a few months ago—utilizes two strips of LED lights, which are operated separately by the two side buttons. In all, you can get 48 combinations of light modes out of the X3 and feel more confident about being seen during daylight hours, as well as at night.

Rapid X
Max output: 25 lumens front/rear
Charge time: 2 hours
Run time: 1 hour on a high mode to 30 hours on flashing mode
Weight (each): 22 grams
Price (each): $30

Rapid X2
Max output: 100 lumens front/50 rear
Charge time: 2 hours
Run time: 1 hour on a high mode to 30 hours on flashing mode
Weight (each): 30.5 grams
Price (each): $50

Rapid X3
Max output: 200 lumens front/100 rear
Charge time: 3 hours
Run time: 1 hour in high mode to 30 hours on flashing mode
Weight (each): 46 grams
Price (each): $60

See all of the lights here: CatEye Safety Lights

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