If you’ve been riding bikes for any amount of time, one of the things you may remember is how much smaller cycling lights have become over time compared to older models. Have a look at the best bike lights you can buy right now and they’re all pretty compact.
Thanks to space-saving designs, lighter materials and the ability to work using power from smaller batteries, modern bike lights are a fraction of the size of their predecessors. That’s obviously a good thing though, especially if you’re into road biking where keeping weight down is everything.
This pair, the CatEye HL-EL135 and Omni 5 is another duo that can be added to the ‘compact and bijou’ bike light list. They combine svelte design lines with plenty of power and come from the CatEye stable, which is a brand well-known for producing dependable cycling accessories. Are they as good as they look though? Short answer: yes.
CatEye HL-EL135 and Omni 5: Price and availability
The CatEye HL-EL135 and Omni 5 are available as a combination set and can be had in one box if you want to kill two birds with one stone. This is also the more cost effective way to go in terms of value for money.
Both lights can also be bought individually, if you only need one or the other rather than both. They’re available now from Amazon in the US for $31.75, Amazon in Australia for AU$54.92 and other cycle accessory retailers in the UK such as Wiggle for £21.79.
Considering their performance credentials and general usability they’re super value, compared to other rivals in the current best bike lights guide.
(Image credit: Rob Clymo)
CatEye HL-EL135 and Omni 5: Design
Flextight mounting brackets are easy & quick to useCan be mounted to a bagBattery insertion can get tricky
One of the most appealing things about a decent bike light, aside from its ability to let you see and be seen, is being able to get it on and off your bike. This is especially so if you have, or ride, more than one cycle.
Both the CatEye HL-EL135 and Omni 5 come with clever FlexTight mounting brackets, or rather, strap-like creations that allow quick and easy fixing to just about any type of frame or handlebar configuration. Alternatively, the lights can be fixed to a cycle bag, your clothing or a helmet depending on preference. Flexibility is the watchword here.
Elsewhere, although the bulk of the construction is plastic, both lights feel sturdy and able to fend of being dropped or knocked about a bit. The body of both lights is slender, with removable covers where the batteries need to be inserted. These can be quite tricky to get off and on again, and care is needed to ensure you don’t split the plastic. However, in terms of keeping moisture out, this is a real bonus.
Design score: 4/5
CatEye HL-EL135 and Omni 5: Features
Simplicity and low price means lack of featuresIntermittent flashing and strobe settingsIPX4 waterproofing
Alongside the FlexTight mounting brackets, another big part of the appeal of the CatEye HL-EL135 and Omni 5 lights is their simplicity. That means less in the way of features, but they do just work and require very little in the way of fixing and even less effort to turn on and off.
The front unit is certainly bright, with 150 Lumens and three LEDs. Meanwhile, the Omni 5 rear-facing light offers up five LEDs and delivers 360-degree visibility. Both lights have settings that can be changed to suit the cycling scenario or rider preferences such as always on, flashing intermittently, or a strobe effect in the case of the rear-facing one.
You also get the benefit of IPX4 waterproofing and, as previously mentioned, the tight fit of the battery casing cover is reassuringly sealed on both models. They seem more than capable of fending off the worst of any winter, which is fine as IPX4 offers protection against splashes of water and wet weather.
The lights will work for rainy commutes, but we wouldn’t recommend submerging the lights or subjugating them to jets of water for any reason, as you’ll need IPX5 or higher for that. If you’re going to wash dirt off the frame and wheels of your bike, best remove the lights and clean them separately.
Features score: 3/5
(Image credit: Rob Clymo)
CatEye HL-EL135 and Omni 5: Battery life
Both front and rear use replacement batteriesNo recharge optionEfficient, with up to 320 hours of use
There’s nothing wrong with insertable batteries if you only tend to use your cycle lights occasionally, which makes the CatEye HL-EL135 and Omni 5 combination okay. However, the front uses two AA batteries and the rear three AAA, which do obviously run down over time or after frequent use. There’s no option to recharge with this bundle either, so that might not appeal if you’re going to be using them every day.
For the HL-EL135, you will get around 320 hours of use from the batteries if set to flash. Always on provides around 80 hours on tap from the twin batteries. The rear light works in rapid mode if you want it, which delivers 120 hours of illumination. Alternatively, the flashing option will give you up to 90 hours of light. Keep it on constantly though and this goes down to around 60 hours.
Battery life score: 3/5
CatEye HL-EL135 and Omni 5: Performance
Bright and clear, up to 150 LumensViewable from multiple anglesGreat for the price
The CatEye HL-EL135 turns out to be pretty bright, considering its diminutive status, with a decent beam reach that makes it good for cycling around town. If you’re after higher performance you’ll probably want to head in the direction of something more potent, but this is perfect for everyday cycling activities. The same can be said for the rear light too and it’s very viewable from multiple angles, which is a definite plus.
Curiously, the Lumens rating for the rear light is nowhere to be found, either on the packaging or when visiting the CatEye website, but that doesn’t turn out to be too much of a worry. Simply pressing the on button underlines the brightness credentials of the Omni 5, with the different modes ideally suited to a variety of cycling scenarios. Both lights really win you over with their easyfix mounting options though.
If you’re keeping a keen eye on how much you spend currently the CatEye HL-EL135 and Omni 5 bundle makes a lot of sense. This is a very affordable duo of cycle lights, with the added benefit of coming from a tried and trusted brand. Get them as a pair and you’re talking solid value. It’s a cost-effective, practical solution you’re after, this CatEye combination is a sensible middle-ground option.
Performance score: 4/5
(Image credit: Rob Clymo)