A couple of weeks ago I announced that I had a Cateye HL-EL450 Bicycle Headlight in for review. I’ve ridden with it for two weeks during my pre-dawn rides on the weekdays and am ready to give you my final review.

I purchased the HL-EL450 at a local bike shop because I needed a new headlight. My old light worked for my old Cannondale but it’s mount didn’t fit the over sized bars of my Specialized Allez. Because my weekday rides are performed pre-dawn I had to have something that made more more visible to the early morning drivers.

What Cateye Has to Say About the HL-EL450

From Cateye.com:

See your way home. The HL-EL450 is perfect for occasional night rides and regular commutes. Its improved OptiCube™ lens focuses the beam to help find your way through dark streets. A lockable switch eliminates accidental switch-on/off, while letting you easily toggle between high, low and flashing modes. The adjustable bracket quickly mounts to almost any handlebar, stem or helmet, and a simple clip lets you attach and detach the light in seconds — without tools. Whether you mount the HL-EL450 on your bike or keep it in your pack, it will always light the way.

  • High, low and flashing modes
  • 720 candlepower
  • 30-hours of run time on high beam on three AAA batteries
  • Waterproof to 50 meters/165 feet
  • Lockable switch

Cateye HL-EL450 Bicycle Headlight Final Review

HL-EL450 Mounting

Mounting the HL-EL450 to my handlebars was very easy and the bracket accommodated my oversize bars with no problem. It’s attached with a simple ratcheting mechanism that’s tightened down with a small lever on the back of the light. You can see in the picture above how much extra mounting strap was left over after the light was tightened down. I guess you could trim off the extra if you wanted to. The mount lets you rotate the light 90 degrees to the left or right.

HL-EL450 Modes of Operation

As stated above, there are three modes of operation for the HL-EL450. They are High Beam, Low Beam, and Flashing. The light is turned on by depressing the red button on the switch and sliding it to the right once. This puts the headlight into the last mode it was used in. A second and third push of the switch to the right puts it in one of the other two modes. Pushing the switch to the right and holding it there for a few seconds turns the light off. You can lock the switch by depressing the red button and pushing the switch to the left.

HL-EL450 On the Road

My normal weekday rides are performed about 30-45 minutes before sunrise so I needed a headlight that let’s drivers know I’m there. Especially those looking to pull out into the main lanes of traffic or cross in front of me. I rode with each of the modes several times before deciding that I liked the flashing mode best. With the constant flashing it was very good at projecting a visible target several hundred feet in front of me. As I rode it was very easy for me to pick up the flashing reflecting off street signs. It gave me a good indicator just how far out in front the light could be seen. It also gave me the feeling I was letting drivers know I was there. Below is a short 10-second video of the flashing mode in operation from a distance of about 100 feet.

As you can see in the video above, the HL-EL450 has a prominent flash and is readily visible even though there’s still plenty of light outside. I think you can see why I liked the flashing mode so much.

Cateye HL-EL450 On Off Mode Switch

Cateye HL-EL450 On Off Mode Switch

Final Thoughts on the Cateye HL-EL450

Because I ride so close to sunrise, and the routes I ride have plenty of street lighting, I didn’t need a light that illuminates a path. And that’s really not the purpose HL-EL450. It sits right in the middle of the Cateye lineup of Multipurpose/Commute lights so it’s not their most powerful light. If you ride in very dark areas or need more road/trail illumination you may want to go with a light with more power and coverage. Another item that I wasn’t totally sold on was the 360 degree ring that allowed the light to project to the sides. The ring is pretty small so there isn’t much light getting out. Also, if your riding with your hands on the hoods, you’ll be covering up the light ring with your arms.

What You’ll Like About the Cateye HL-EL450:

  • Simple to mount.
  • Flashing mode is very visible.
  • Long battery life.
  • Easy to aim.

What You May Not Like About the Cateye HL-EL450:

  • Hi and low beams don’t provide good road/trail illumination.
  • The small switch can make changing modes while riding challenging.
  • Easy to knock the light off-center.

Get the Cateye HL-EL450 at Amazon.com