Magicshine MJ880 Bike Light
2nd Apr 2012
There’s been something of a revolution taking place over the past few years. If you’ve noticed incredibly bright lights bobbing and weaving towards you on the road at night you’ll know what I mean. Head torches and bike lights have meant that runners and bikers have never had it so easy when it comes to running after dark. It’s turned the activity into something which is a lot of fun, and not just something that has to be done to keep fit after work through the winter months.
On a recent night ride with a bunch of friends I spent much of the ride just in front of one guy who had a Magic Shine light mounted on his handlebars. His light was so bright that it drowned out my own fairly beefy one. It was staggering. So I made some enquiries and was pleased to hear that they had just brought out the latest upgrade, the MJ880. A few days later it arrived – delayed slightly by the Chinese New Year – and I took it out for the first time. Whereas my mates’ model had been 1,400 lumens this one weighs in at a whopping 2,000 lumens! Compare this to the industry standard Petzl Myo XP at 85 lumens… The first thing I did was actually to shine it out of the bathroom window onto the field next to the house. It lit up the entire field as well as the halogen spotlight does each year on bonfire night!
The light itself is surprisingly small. LED technology has advanced so far that there are just two small bulbs houses in a sleek metal head with complete with cooling fins (I’ll come back to them later). As a comparison it is a similar size to the head of the Myo XP. This attaches to your handlebars via a heavy duty rubber clip. It can also be fitted to a bespoke helmet mount which basically features a round tube section that mimics a handle bar, or a head strap (currently still not in the country, so not yet tested). A cable then runs from the head and connects with a waterproof male-female socket to what I would describe as a medium sized battery pack. It’s about the size of two packets of cigarettes. It straps on to the underside of your cross bar by means of a pair of heavy duty rubber clips, or goes into a bumbag or rucksack. The helmet mount comes with a spare section of cable to extend the distance from head to batter in case you need it which is a nice touch.
The unit is turned on by pressing either of two rubberised buttons on the head unit. The buttons glow a different colour depending on how much charge remains in the battery: green = 100% to 70%, blue = 70% to 40%, red = 40% to 10% and flashing red = less than 10%. Clever. One thing t note. As long as the battery is connected up to the unit, even when it is not turned on, the switch glows. Not sure why, presumably to encourage you to disconnect the two when not in use and avoid draining the battery? Depressing the left button reduces the brightness of the light, depressing the right button increases it. It has 4 settings: 25%, 50%, 75% and 100%.
That’s all there is to it really. No flashing modes. No diffusers. No clever computers to second-guess where you are looking and change the light accordingly. Just one whopping bright light and a simply switching mechanism.
On the basis that 2,000 lumens is enough light for you to be able to bike, run or climb pretty effectively let’s concentrate on the nitty gritty – the battery life. It’s touted on their website as 2.3 hours at full power. I’d say that this is a little on the generous side. That said, it’s a bit of a grey area defining full power. Practically speaking on a 1 hour run if I leave the light on full power and don’t mess with the settings at all the switch is normally glowing red by the time I have finished. I’ve not yet arrived back with it flashing. However, on longer stints, with some judicious use of the power settings, dropping it down on slower climbs, or non technical road sections, and upping it on the flying descents, I’ve had far longer than 2.3 hours out of it. I guess it’s a little like a petrol tank. It depends on how you treat it, and even then the guauge can be a little unreliable. Bottom line is that it has not failed on me whilst out and about yet.
I said I would come back to the cooling fins. Basically it gets incredibly hot. I’ve been running with it, and have not yet managed to get hold of a head strap for it so have been having to hold it in my hand. This isn’t really a problem, but you do need to wear gloves as the unit gets too hot to touch after a while. Even with the cooling fins. Just goes to show how much heat the new LEDs give off!
The most impressive thing about the MJ880 is the price. I remember not too long ago being somewhat chastened to see a rival light in a bike shop selling for over £500. That’s more than my bike is worth! Well Magicshine have priced themselves at the other end of the spectrum, the MJ880 coming in at £144.99. Amazing value.
If you do buy one I’d recommend going with the official UK distributors. That way you know that you are good with the 12 month warranty that comes with the light. That's http://www.magicshineuk.co.uk/
Here's a little video of the light in operation.
Oh, and here's a nice pic I took at the weekend with the MJ880 used to illuminate some Scots Pines: