Tuesday, 25 November 2014

CATEYE Volt 300 - a new front light

Regular readers will already know that when I bought my new P type I made sure it came with a SON dynamo hub. This had been something of a revelation and I cannot think how I lived without the convenience of having front and rear lights permanently fixed to the bike. The upgrade to the Edulux II front light has only enhanced an already good set up.

Despite this, I always have an extra light mainly one that flashes - the brighter the better. This has been my trusty Hope Vision 1 - which is an excellent light. There has however been a slight problem with this light and the limited space of the P type handlebars.

Having the Hope Vision 1 fitted to the bars has been a struggle. The brake cables get in the way and it has been a bit of a squeeze. I have been looking for a solution and after much searching I found the answer in the CATEYE Volt 300.






As far as specs go it is more than an equal for the Hope Vision 1 and in many regards beats it hands down:

  • Maximum 300 lumens output (the Hope has about 200)
  • Compact and lightweight (120g making it less than half the weight of the Hope)
  • Cartridge battery (more convenient than 4 x AA batteries)
  • USB rechargable
  • Five light modes, with memory function
  • Fast charge well under 3 hours
  • Waterproof



Much easier to fit on my P type's limited handlebar space


The Volt 300 is well made and the silver parts are metal. The black portion is the cartridge battery section that simply screws out.





In terms of runtime the Volt 300 is pretty good:

High 3h
Normal 8h
Low 18h
Hyper constant 11h
Flashing 60h

The high setting is very bright as is the hyper constant which is much brighter than a similar mode on the Hope.






The light can be charged via a UBS connection. My pack came with a spare cartridge battery, desk charger and 2 x USB cables. This means that you could charge both simultaneously.





My pack came with the spare cartridge battery

Desk charger dock and 2 x USB cables


The small desk charger is very compact and the cartridge screws in. You can connect this to a USB port or any plugged USB charger.



Cartridge battery in the docking station


Charge light on


The CATEYE mount for the handlebar - also included naturally - is a tried and tested formula that works well. All is held in place very securely and there is little chance of things slipping. For me it also means that it is small enough to be left on the bars. Putting the light on and off this mount is quick and easy.


Standard bar mount


For me this is a win, win situation. I have a light that: is brighter, fits my P types handlebar space more comfortably, more compact, takes up less weight and generally more convenient.


Quite a size and weight difference

I have no intention of getting rid of my Hope Vision 1 as it is too good a light, however as far as my P type is concerned this new light is just a better fit in all regards.

Monday, 24 November 2014

Return to Box Hill

Last night I joined a select band of intrepid sorts for a return to Box Hill. The journey from Kew Gardens (our meeting point) to Box Hill and back is alway enjoyable and very much an adventure, so I was looking forward to this sojourn.

I arrived at Kew Gardens just after 18:00 and it was not long before I saw the familiar sight of David, who had organised this ride. Sadly, Anne was unable to come but before long James, Matt and Mark had arrived. I was especially pleased to see Mark as it has been an age since we have been on a ride together. 


My Orange P type waiting for the off

We set off just after 18:30 with a dampness in the air. It was hard to believe that it was November as it was so mild. It didn't rain all night but the roads were damp from previously showers and the general dampness that hung in the air. 

Again my Orange P type was out for another adventure and I am becoming almost inseparable from it. My poor Titanium Orange Brompton is gathering dust at present and still has its summer footwear - Kojak tyres.

We cycled at a good pace considering the roads were somewhat greasey. As we cycled under bridges and archways that uncontrollable urge to ding ones bell took over and several dings later we had got it out of our systems. 

The roads were fairly quiet on our way to Box Hill and were making excellent time. There were no mechanical issues and everyone seemed happy to have short breaks. 

I mention mechanical issues for good reason. If you search my previous blog posts for Box Hill you will encounter the woefully tragedy of my chain snapping not far from Box Hill. This saw me walking / running up Box Hill only to later have the indignity of getting a taxi back to Kew Gardens. Ever since this, on all other rides to this location I carry a spare chain. Yes you read correctly. Not a a small length of chain to make good a repair...a full chain!!

One route to Box Hill David and I were a little disappointed that a landmark in the form of the 'Cock Inn' had now gone upmarket and renamed and perhaps rebranded to 'Headley Hills Restaurant and Bar.' A pity on many levels!

Before long we arrived at the base of Box Hill. I have now lost count of the number of times I have made the ascent to the top but all have been great fun. This was my first outing with my P type and it faired pretty well. Again I found myself spinning out - even when ascending Box Hill - with my 44T chainring. I keep saying that I hate it - and I do for this very reason - and I also keep saying I will have to change it over - which I must get round to doing!

David was his usual quite astonishing self and was off ahead into the distance. I followed at a good pace and felt that it was actually my fastest ascent to date. As I cycled up the twisting and turning road in the pitch black you would think that there would be little to distract. You would be wrong. Owls hooted, foxes screeched, small rodent creatures darted across my path and looks skyward afforded views of the stars almost impossible in central London.

Once at the top we all assembled and made our way to the 'Smith and Western' pub/restaurant. This is in my opinion one of the THE places to visit. Nothing in life really prepares you for a Country and Western themed restaurant at this location! Box Hill and its famous view appeared in a Jane Austen novel and I alway wonder what she and her fictional characters would make of it?!

As we entered country music - something by Dolly Parton - filled the air, instantly creating the necessary atmosphere to transport one to somewhere in the United States of America. I have yet to visit this wonderful country but it is a long held ambition. I alter between wanting my first visit to be New York  and then something more suited to its recent history, Tombstone for example.


What to eat?


This was as tasty as it looks

Shared between five, it didn't last long!


We sat at our table and had a good view of the gaol, with authentic steel bars where one could perhaps enjoy an enhanced experience. It must be said that we looked upon this with mild envy. Perhaps next time?



The gaol in the distance

People with birthdays - and there were lots - were greeted with their large desert ice cream carried by several members of staff, shouting out 'yeah-ha' and with one hitting a large triangle with enthusiasm. Our conversation turned to who might have a birthday to celebrate for our next visit?!


Boots above the bar

A saddle bar stool


Sadly, all good things come to an end and with our meal over we departed and got prepped for the ride home. As always, after spending some time indoors I felt cold and my Proviz 360 jacket was put back on.

Our journey back was as always at a good pace and this time David had found a route that bypassed the dreaded 'badlands.' This is essentially a muddy track through a wooded copse. I imagine in the middle of summer it would be fine but the last few times we have use it for the Box Hill run, it has been horrendous!

From Epsom onwards my longhand belief that I have lead a sheltered life gained some weight...again. Various youths shouted, gestured and staggered around in a highly vocal manner and to me looked like participants in a university Rag Week that had somehow been extended! Things didn't get much better when we passed Kingston. As we neared Richmond, several very large (tall and fat) rugby types lolled around after seeing the match at Twickenham. It was with a sense of relief that we reached Kew Gardens in one piece.

As per usual this was a highly enjoyable adventure and yet again I have conquered Box Hill. I have to say that I do howe that it isn't the last time we pay a visit to Box Hill in 2014. I am certain that it will feature in 2015!

The map and ride data can be viewed by clicking on the link below:

Box Hill map and ride data

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Your New Brompton - Expectations vs Reality!

So, you finally did it. You stumped up the necessary moula to purchase your gleaming new Brompton folding bicycle. I can tell you from experience that you are going to be a happy soul as owning one is rather special. However, there can be a considerable gulf in terms of expectations and reality. Here follows some advice that you may wish to consider.

Expectation #1 

I am going to take my new Brompton everywhere! I have the ultimate in personal transport and can quite literally go anywhere!!

Reality #1 

I don't believe it! It's raining. There is no way I am going to cycle in that weather and get my new bike dirty! I use it another time.




Expectation #2 

When my friends and family see my new Brompton, they are going to be captivated and want to know all about it!!

Reality #2

Your friends and family are incredulous that you spent that much on a bicycle that isn't something Sir Bradley Wiggins would use! You try to explain your Brompton bicycles many merits and even resort to folding and unfolding but to no avail!




Expectation #3 

You are going to instantly be faster than your work colleague who has been commuting to work on his/her road bike for the last five years!

Reality #3

Keep up the cycling and you will become fitter, stronger and faster but your sweaty red face and general shortness of breath indicates that you are not going to be instantly faster by virtue of owning a Brompton.




Expectation #4 

I will instantly become hipper, trendier and cooler as the Brompton is THE thing to have at the moment for the gentleman/lady in town!!

Reality #4

Your confidence takes a slight knock as you pass a group of spotty adolescents at the bus stop when they shout out various observations such as:

'Clown bike.'

'Shrunk in the wash.'

'Why are you riding that kids bike?'




Expectation #5

You have a Brompton and can now enter the fabled. Brompton World Championships. You're going to get on the podium or win the thing, right!!

Reality #5

Oh my days! That was harder than I expected. I didn't come last but perhaps I need to do a little more training in the next 12 months!



Buying a Brompton and owning one is going to be nothing but fun. They are build to last, great to use and put a smile on your face. As long as your expectations match the realities of ownership you'll be fine and part of an ever growing club of Bromptonians who sing the praises of their folding wonders.