Truck-driver headlights for a bike
CatEye has been building bicycle head lamps since 1964. With almost 50 years of experience in the field, they’re no strangers to innovation and technology. The Sumo 2 system is CatEye’s newest, high-end light, designed for late nights on the trail and 24-hour racing.
The Sumo 2 uses two multi-chip white LEDs to throw a claimed 5500 candlepower at max output on the trail. It features their three-setting DNA (Dynamic, Normal and All night) power modes that allow the rider to toggle between more power and longer battery life. The light also has a flashing mode. The Sumo comes with helmet and handlebar mounts, a charger, extension cable, and a nifty foam-shell carrying case. The light is operated with a single button that doubles as a battery indicator. CatEye claims the battery takes five hours to charge and will last one hour in dynamic mode, two and a half hours in normal mode, and 10 hours in all-night mode. The Sumo 3 retails for $550 and weighs 1 pound, 6 ounces with the light unit, battery and handlebar mount. Check out CatEye here.
Field test results:
Our Sumo system lived up to its claims. The LED bulbs throw off tons of light in the Dynamic and Normal modes, making it suitable as a standalone light on even the darkest nights and most technical trails. The all-night mode throws plenty of light for climbing and would work in a pinch if you forgot to give the battery a full charge before your ride. The beam pattern is perfect and lights the trail far enough out for even very fast descents. The single button is easy to operate, even with cold, gloved hands.
We preferred the handlebar mount over the helmet mount for two reasons: First, the beam is so bright that if the trail is dusty, it tends to reflect light from the dust particles back into the rider’s face. This is much more noticeable when the light source is on the helmet. Second, the light unit is heavier than most, and this weight is very noticeable on a lightweight helmet, especially on a long night ride.
We had excellent luck with the battery. It consistently lasted longer than the advertised one-hour burn time in Dynamic mode, which is like putting a flamethrower on the front of your bike. When the battery began to run low, we switched it down to normal mode and finished several two-to-three-hour rides. It even lasted through a 17-mile, 24-hour race lap that turned into a four-hour epic. The cable connections and mounting hardware are also noteworthy. The mounting hardware is easy to use and adjusts to any bike or helmet. The cables, battery and contacts survived several stream crossings, rainy conditions and near-freezing temperatures.
This is a big light with tons of power. It lights the trail perfectly and delivers loads of durability and user- friendly features. It’s a perfect light for a handlebar mount, but doesn’t work as well with a helmet mount. If you’re looking for a dependable 24- hour partner, look no further. If you’re looking for a lightweight or inexpensive light, this one isn’t for you. This light is a sumo in more ways than one.
This review first appeared in our July 2012 issue. Subscribe to MBA here.