The Cateye Rapid 3 rear light is rather like a good party guest - charismatic, confident but never brash. Bucking the trend for USB recharging cables, those not wanting to be tied to technology can pop a spare AA cell in the seatpack and be ready to go in a matter of minutes.But beware - in constant mode the battery will drain eye-wateringly fast.
Positioned vertically, its curvy 6x4x2cm profile delivers 180 degree visibility while retaining the clean aesthetic on contemporary compact road builds. Aftermarket clothing and carrier hardware is also available, although the standard bracket is pretty accommodating. (Mounted at the lowest point on a seatpost,it could catch on thighs every so often)
Plastics are to the brand's usual high standards, and 'opticube' is another way of saying the lens incorporates collimator know-how to bolster the central diode.
A translucent battery tray/switch housing doesn't appear to serve any practical purpose other than safely satisfying childhood curiosity but the supple rubber band seal ensures a seamless, weather resistant seal.
A succession of increasingly cruel immersion tests failed to touch this light, so you'd be pretty unlucky; dare I say careless to experience bother from the wet stuff. Similarly, the low profile, glove friendly switch requires a few seconds' sustained pressure so won't be partying mischievously when its supposed to be sleeping in your bag - and it recalls its chosen setting when you turn it back on.
Cateye don't quote specifics but general consensus suggests we were visible to around 450 metres from behind, 200 to the side on clear nights in flashing/rapid modes. Constant and/or serious gloom saw this drop nearer 250 and 100 respectively. With the exception of flashing, run times are relatively poor though-we've managed 2hrs 15 in steady while rapid flash returns about 16 hours.
Well made, nicely priced and very convenient blinky, but the runtime could be better.
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Cateye Rapid 3 rear light
Size tested: n/a
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
"Three modes allow you to customize your visibility. The rapid mode is an all out attention grabber, using all 3 LEDs in a unique pattern guaranteed to get you noticed. The flashing mode foregoes the high-power center LED to save blinding your riding buddies, while the constant mode adds a daytime safety option."
Broadly agree but would shy away from constant wherever possible.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
high power center SMD-LED and two 5mm LEDs, collimator technology, fueled by single AA cell, SP-11 FlexTight™ bracket. Compatible with the all-new RM-1 Saddle Rail bracket and the clothing clip, available separately.
To the Japanese brand's usual standards.
On a positive note, I've managed 72hrs (against a quoted 80) in flashing.
Solid light but running costs are potentially much higher than its contemporaries.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Cat Eye Rapid3 remains a potent, yet frugal safety light in flashing modes whereupon it snares driver attention at 450 metres on a clear night. However constant doesn't pack the same punch and positively races through batteries.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Compact design, user friendly bracket, good build quality and delightfully frgual in flashing.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Risible economy in other settings-especially constant.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes.
Would you consider buying the product? Possibly.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes but there are equally powerful and more economical models around.
About the tester
Age: 38 Height: 1m 81 Weight: 70 kilos
I usually ride: Rough Stuff Tourer Based around 4130 Univega mtb Frameset My best bike is: 1955 Holdsworth Road Path and several others including cross & traditional road
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: cyclo cross, commuting, touring, fixed/singlespeed, mtb,
Shaun Audane is a freelance writer/product tester with over twenty-eight years riding experience, the last twelve (120,000 miles) spent putting bikes and kit through their paces for a variety of publications. Previous generations of his family worked at manufacturing's sharp end, thus Shaun can weld, has a sound understanding of frame building practice and a preference for steel or titanium framesets.
Citing Richard Ballantine and an Au pair as his earliest cycling influences, he is presently writing a cycling book with particular focus upon women, families and disabled audiences (Having been a registered care manager and coached children at Herne Hill Velodrome in earlier careers)