Recently finding myself with an apparent battery failure on my primary headlight – which went from getting 3+ hours of runtime to not even lasting for a 30 minute commute in the matter of a few weeks – I found myself shopping around for a new headlight.
Knowing that I didn’t want a cheap Chinese knock-off light with a rubber O-ring style mount, and not being able to afford some higher-end models, I looked towards Cygolite.
Being familiar with a few of their lights I knew that waterproofing would be good and battery life is generally good for what I need – commuting and occasionally longer weekend rides – so I decided to give their newest Metro 1100 Pro a try.
What’s in the package?
Inside the box came the light itself, a handlebar mount with tool-free attachment, a charging cable, and a barebones “manual,” which says little more than the basics.
The charger cable plus into a USB port on a computer (or wall adapter) and the other end is a pretty standard port similar to what many Android phones use today.
Installation of the mount was very straightforward. The clamp opens to wrap around your bar, then you slide the bolt over the other end of the clamp and tighten down the generously sized plastic piece with just your finger tips.
The clamp stays very secure without the use of tools and is easy to move between bikes. The part that holds the light also swivels slightly, which allows you to aim the beam in a direction other than directly straight ahead (useful if you run more than one headlight), or can accommodate bars with unusual angles.
One odd thing I found with the mount is that despite looking identical to the mounts for older models, the part that holds the light was a slightly different length.
If you put the Metro 1100 Pro in a clamp from an older model Metro headlight it can move forward and back slightly (maybe a millimeter or two) and can make a rattling sound on bumpy roads, but still fits securely.
This may be something to keep in mind if you use these lights on multiple bikes and have separate mounts for each bike as opposed to moving the mount itself from bike to bike.
Is it easy to use?
Much like other models of Cygolite lights I’ve used, this one was fairly simple. There is only one button that you use to turn the light on and then cycle through the modes; holding the button down for a second or two shuts the light off.
The main difference in function is the lack of memory of the last used mode. On older models, if you used the DayLighting mode last, that would be the first mode the next time you turned on the light.
With the Metro 1100 Pro, the light always starts on Low and then cycles through Medium, High, and SteadyPulse. I was unable to figure out how to use the flashing modes at first, but consulting the manual showed me that I needed to hold the button for two seconds to turn on instead of just quickly pressing it to access flashing modes.
This was not intuitive like older models (which cycled through all modes without alternative ways to turn it on), but still easy enough to accomplish.
Despite the simple to use single button, the fact that they decreased the size of the button compared to older models was disappointing.
With lightweight gloves, the button was a little difficult to operate, and with heavyweight winter gloves, it was very difficult to operate, especially without a satisfying “click” type feeling like the bigger button on older models.
This was a perplexing change as most people tend to need lights in the winter when they’re also using gloves.
At the time of this writing I’ve spent about four months testing this light in the unpredictable weather we’ve been having this winter, from 70 degrees and sunny to 35 degrees and pouring rain, and a few days down to the low 20s (all temps Fahrenheit).
It’s been run side by side with either a Metro 500 or Metro 400 both for beam comparisons and battery life comparisons in identical conditions.
The lens is textured, which allows the beam to act more like a flood light than a spot light by spreading the light across a wider spectrum to light up the road.
My favorite mode to use was the Medium setting (pictured below), which was plenty of light on its own to light the way for both commuting and fast solo road rides.
The high felt far too bright for use on a roadway, and the risk of blinding (or at the very least angering) oncoming drivers was not worth it to me for the slight increase in visibility.
The Low mode was usable, but not ideal, and I only switched to it when the light’s button gave a low battery warning while I was using Medium.
The SteadyPulse mode was a disappointment, though. While older models had a legitimate pulse that did not bother me in the slightest, the version on the Metro 1100 Pro felt more like a flicker than a pulse which I found incredibly distracting; I know drivers did too because in the two days I tested it I had drivers flash high beams at me each day.
Besides offering good light, one of the bigger selling points of Cygolite has been the weatherproofing. Much like older models, the waterproofing is excellent and I have not had any issues at all with water intrusion despite dozens of hours in the rain.
I have not tried (and would not recommend) submerging the light in water, but I don’t hesitate at all to use it in heavy rains.
The only serious disappointment with this light, I must say, is the battery life. On Medium the light is supposed to get 3 hours, but in my own usage in mild winter temperatures (low 40s to low 50s) I found I was getting a low battery light warning before I had even reached 2.5 hours, and in colder temps, the light struggled to get much past 2 hours.
For comparison, my three-year-old Metro 400 advertises a 3-hour battery life for SteadyPulse and I still get 3 hours of battery life in that mode in the very same temperatures despite having used that light through well over a hundred full battery cycles.
Despite my unhappiness with the battery life, would I recommend the Cyglolite Metro 1100 Pro? Yes to Cygolite’s lights in general, but probably not this model in particular. Lights have become so cheap right now that something like the older Metro models can be found in the sub-$50 range on Amazon, and have beams that are not much worse than the Metro Pro 1100 despite costing significantly less with perhaps more reliable battery life.
Battery life is almost equally as important as the strength of the light, as you never want to be caught with a dead battery when you’re miles from home.
That being said, it’s possible that my light was a fluke. The battery life certainly isn’t bad, it’s just not as advertised, and as long as you’re keeping track of when you need to charge like I’ve been doing it’s probably not an issue.
It certainly doesn’t let me down when I need light, whether it’s a dark road or a dark greenway, and I’m happy to continue using it even after my testing is over.