CatEye HL-EL135 & Omni 5 review in a sentence: a cracking front and rear bike light combination with dependable performance. Japanese outfit CatEye is a brand that frequently appears in listings of the best best bike lights along with some of the best rear bike lights guides too. Now though you can get a front and rear light in the same box and for a decent price, all with the backup of the CatEye brand name.
The great thing about buying a combination pack like this, which features the CatEye HL-EL135 front light and Omni 5 rear light is that you generally get better value than buying them separately. While it’s never a good idea to skimp on riding safety accessories, such as the best cycling helmets, it is always nice to know you’ve saved yourself a little bit of cash.
CatEye HL-EL135 & Omni 5: price and availability
The CatEye HL-EL135 and Omni 5 front and rear light pack is out now and available from Halfords in the UK and can be found more widely via Amazon too. These are one-size-fits all lights, so will fit any kind of bike and can also be attached to a helmet if desired, thanks to the neat clips that come supplied in the pack.
CatEye HL-EL135 & Omni 5: design and features
One thing I really like about the CatEye brand is the quality of the design and build. Both lights feel like they’ve been carefully thought out. In fact, once you’ve unclipped the halves of each light and inserted the batteries there’s a really solid feel to both. This is always reassuring as I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve had lights fall apart when riding on harsh road surfaces.
CatEye has also come up trumps with the mounting brackets. These are plastic, but they’re so ingeniously designed that they don’t go anywhere once you’ve got them mounted. This is because both the front and rear brackets have CatEye’s neat FlexTight screw thread-style tightener that lets you fix them really tightly to handlebars, the frame or, in fact, anywhere else without fear of them coming loose. Without tools too!
Equally, this mounting system makes it really easy for you to remove them when needed, which is worth doing if you’re parked up somewhere that might make them a tempting target for thieves. The plastic helmet mounting bracket is also useful if you’d rather have a light attached to your head than your bike.
The front light is made of two halves and you need to slide one half and separate it from the base in order to insert two AA batteries. The rear light needs a coin to crack open the case and this holds two AAA batteries instead. These come supplied as part of the package. Another bonus with this lighting bundke is, save for the odd screw, it’s predominantly plastic, which reduces the risk of corrosion and your lights subsequently failing.
As with anything plastic, you do need to exercise some caution when prising the halves of the lights apart, but everything clicks back into place nicely. The joins are also reassuringly secure to avoid any worry about rain or moisture getting inside. Once you’ve got the batteries inserted both lights feel solid, chunky but not so heavy as you wouldn’t want to have them attached to your cycle helmet.
CatEye HL-EL135 & Omni 5: performance
You’ll get plenty of illumination from both of these lights. The HL-EL135 OptiCube lens delivers wider visibility while the bright 150 candlepower white front light features 3 LEDs. Meanwhile, the Omni 5 rear-facing light boasts five LEDS and offers 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.
For the HL-EL135, you should get 320 hours of use from the batteries if you've got it set to flash. Keep it always on and you’ll get less, with around 80 hours on tap from the twin batteries. The rear light can be set to work in rapid mode, which delivers 120 hours of illumination, while the flashing option offers up 90 hours. Keep it on constantly and this goes down to around 60 hours.
I found both lights to be really bright and, on their respective flashing modes, really hard to ignore. That’s always a good thing if you’re on a bike and want to be seen, right? As a headlight, the CatEye HL-EL135 is more than capable, with a strong, powerful beam of light that illuminates the road ahead and, indeed, anything else you point it at. It’s therefore mighty handy when you’re fumbling around in the dark looking for a bike lock or door keys.
CatEye HL-EL135 & Omni 5: verdict
There are plenty of options for buying cycle lights and it’s tempting to plump for a cheap and cheerful solution. However, I think purchasing something like this CatEye HL-EL135 & Omni 5 pack is a better route to take. You’ll invariably save a little money as opposed to buying them individually and you also enjoy all the benefits of the CatEye brand.
There are some clever and very practical design features here, especially the tool-free fixing brackets, but the units are also nice and tightly sealed. Keeping dirt and moisture out of your bike lights is crucial and these CatEye’s look like they’re more than capable of doing that over a long period of time. Best of all though, these lights are bright, which should improve your chances of being seen. Money well spent I’d say.