Magicshine MJ-816 LED front light  £105.95

9/10

Amazing lights, at £100, probably the most exciting money you can spend on a bike this winter

Weight 535g   Contact  www.magicshineuk.co.uk

by Andy Howe   December 2, 2010  

You’re going to like these Magicshine lights, I did. I’m getting this test report out as quick as I can because, you might need to strike something off the Christmas list and convince yourself or your significant other, that you need a present just like this.

I discovered the Magicshine brand on a US forum when searching for the best bang for your buck. I’ve been riding with Light and Motion Solo Logic front light for 3 years and the huge cost of a battery replacement was starting to concern me as the life span on full beam had dropped to 10 minutes from the original hour plus. The forum carried lots of talk of geeky types sourcing the best LEDs, HIDs etc, building batteries, reflectors and lenses, and spending fortunes on near nuclear fission type lighting; a common theme however was Magicshine. Googling Magicshine UK revealed a UK distributor which for some reason brought huge relief.

A set of MJ-816 lights were sent through to the road.CC office and the test began to see if a mere 100 pound spend could deliver what we usually hear claimed about lights costing four times that or more. Immediate impressions:- both the lamp unit and the battery were very much smaller than I imagined having only seen the web site, an encouraging start. The battery is housed in an aluminium cylinder 9cm by 5cm and somewhat lighter than my existing battery.

There are 3 lights making up the lamp unit, I understand that across the pond this is known as the Micky Mouse light by virtue of the larger central light and the two smaller lights reminiscent of Mickeys ears. The bar fitting bracket looked a bit basic, a shaped and ribbed half circle secured in position with a thick rubber O ring. The battery fits in a neoprene fabric drawstring bag with a broad Velcro strap attached for securing to your down tube, bottle cage or wherever else you want to stow it, long enough for any preference and an extension cable available as an extra if required.

Battery placed on charge with the charging unit supplied ready for tomorrow. My daily commute of 32 miles includes 4 miles of unlit rural lanes, an unlit dual carriageway and the usual heavy traffic and congestion in Bristol. The lanes are as black as…. so much so that the local astronomical society do their stuff in the fields around here. The road surface is poor, grit patches, mud from tractor tyres, the leaves are down and that’s before we start talking badgers and deer. A perfect testing ground for just what can be seen when heading down the lane at 30 mph. If this is as bright as some I’ve seen, then motorists might be dazzled, I understand that in Germany there are new laws relating to high output bike lights. Having once put a Range Rover into a bank with an old pair of double 10watt Smart lights, I can see some logic here. Still, hasn’t happened here yet, so enjoy! Waiting for charging to complete I quickly checked on replacement battery price e-bay 35 quid, can’t complain. If you want a 12 month guarantee on batteries and a full range of replacement parts and extras look at www.magicshineuk.co.uk

The technical stuff:

P7 led outputting a whopping 900 lumens as well as two 250 lumen leds (Cree XP-E) which can be operated independently or with the P7. The Cree leds give a wide spread of light, the P7 led a focus of light and operating together a huge 1400 lumens.

· 4 Lighting modes; Short Mode, Far Mode, High (all), and Step-less dimming.

· Stepless dimming allows you to choose from 5% to 100% power output using the remotely mounted Command Control Button

· Lighted Command Control Button has a 4 level LED battery fuel guage: Green = 100% charge, Blue = 75% charge, Yellow = 50% charge, Red = 25% charge

· The light has a highly efficient Digital constant current control circuit that uses Pulse Width Modulation to control the light output.

· 250 hour run-time on lowest setting, between 2 and 3 hours on highest setting

· 1 SSCP7 and 2 Cree XP-E LED's - all with a 50,000+ hour lifespan.

· T6 aircraft aluminum enclosure - type II anodized

· Battery - 4 protected 18650 Li-ion cells in a highly durable water tight enclosure!

· A Magicshine branded neoprene battery case with an elastic Velcro attachment strap.

· Cable: Approximately .75 meter in length - perfect for stowing the battery on the top bar, behind the seat, or in your jersey pocket or Camelback

Charge complete, turned on and, flippin’eck, all I can see now is green splodges having frazzled my rods and cones. Looking forward to finishing work and heading home.

Boyish excitement as I fired up the Magicshine MJ-816, absolutely no worries about anyone with eyesight saying they didn’t see you. The dual carriageway was disappointingly busy and spoilt my fun. Got to the lanes turned up the power to max and wow! what can I say. Near the performance of car headlights, I felt hugely confident in the bends, grit and mud, 3 cars coming towards me pulled over and stopped, probably thinking what on earth it was coming at them. The beam from the 3 separate lamp units gives excellent spread and spot at the same time something I particularly liked.

To carry out a bit more of a test I made myself put a hose pipe on the lamp and battery to simulate the very worst of weather. Not something I wanted to do just in case I broke them. This was a bit like having a new top spec Range Rover and taking it into a sloping woodland after a days rain. Technically possible but you just wouldn’t. Anyway everything survived, phew! I would happily use these in torrential rain.

Battery life was claimed to be 2-3 hours on max. More than enough for me, my test indoors gave me 2 hours 17 minutes on max. Temperature will inevitably be a factor effecting battery performance.

I have to look at the negative side also and to be critical, the O ring mount isn’t wonderful and can permit wobble. If this bothers you I’m sure that you can unscrew the mount and find one fixed with a single screw from another lamp that might fit. Both my old Cateye and Light and Motion clamps looked like they would be in with a chance of fitting. The controls need practice in order to learn how many presses of the button does what. The button is illuminated and a bit distracting so I turned it to point at the ground. Lastly the cable connector fits in line just above the battery it is not that tight a fit and if you don’t think enough about where your cable is running and what to do with the slack you might disconnect yourself with your knee. All these things are a small price to pay and some of these points are no different with far more expensive lights.

Verdict

Amazing lights, at £100, probably the most exciting money you can spend on a bike this winter.

road.cc test report

Make and model: Magicshine MJ-816 LED front light

Size tested: n/a

Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?

A light that seems to live up to the claims, aimed at the club man or Audax rider but at one hundred pounds much wider appeal

Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?

Massive lighting capability from a three seperate light units 1% to 100% variable output.

Rate the product for quality of construction:
 
9/10

The wobble from the handlebar mount might upset the off roader, but it didn't put me off.

Rate the product for performance:
 
10/10

Take care with your cable runs, will need securing in place.

Rate the product for durability:
 
9/10

I haven't had the chance to thrash this through the winter, but stood up to the hose even when hot.

Rate the product for weight, if applicable:
 
10/10

Very competitive.

Rate the product for value:
 
10/10

I can't find more output, more longevity and lighter weight at anything even near this price.

Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose

Outstandingly bright.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

Bright,choice of output and price.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

Cable connector a bit slack and handlebar mount a bit basic, both of which can be overcome or easily lived with.

Did you enjoy using the product? Very much

Would you consider buying the product? Definite yes

Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes

Anything further to say about the product in conclusion?

If your looking for the most bang for your buck, I think you've just found it.

Overall rating: 9/10

About the tester

Age: 46  Height: 6\\\' 2\\  Weight: 80 kg

I usually ride: Cinelli Super Corsa Ultegra  My best bike is: Pinarello Paris Dura Ace

I've been riding for: Over 20 years  I ride: Most days  I would class myself as: Expert

I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, commuting, Tandem

21 user comments

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Quote:
Near the performance of car headlights, I felt hugely confident in the bends, grit and mud, 3 cars coming towards me pulled over and stopped, probably thinking what on earth it was coming at them.

Only a cretin rides on the roads with three massively powerful off-road lights, so loosely attached to their bars that they cannot control where they are pointed. The output may be near the performance of car headlights, but car headlights have a cut-off to direct most of that light on the road, below the horizon. This sort of bike light is intended for singletrack off-road riding, where you need to illuminate low-hanging tree branches and the like. You boast of forcing cars to pull over. I think most cyclists who ride at night have experienced encountering jerks who drive at your with their full beams on, not knowing or caring that cyclists can be dazzled by their lights, making it impossible to see where you are in relation to the verge. Several times, on narrow roads, I have had to stop, blocking the road until the moron realised they had to dip their lights. These bike lights have no dip-switch. Even at half their maximum brightness they are probably still extremely annoying. Starting a arms-race with the more irresponsible section of the motoring public is not the solution. For on-road-riding on dark country lanes you do not need anything more powerful than the excellent Niterider Minewt Mini USB, which I bought a year ago on a recommendation from this web site, and use it pointing down with a newly purchased Cateye EL-340 (previosuly an EL-500) pointed slightly higher but still below the horizon. I can still ride 20 mph with that set up, and have done so for years on similarly long and rural commutes to yours. Advocating the sort of "I'm all right Jack" attitude that this article contains is irresponsible.

posted by handlebarcam [527 posts]
3rd December 2010 - 8:12

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Golly the nasty lights might "annoy" some poor motorist and make them pull over and give me some room on an unlit country road, and the harm there would be?

Put me down for a set Santa!

Denzil Dexter's picture

posted by Denzil Dexter [140 posts]
3rd December 2010 - 9:30

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there have been some issues lately with the Magic Shine batteries. have these already been sorted out?

"RECALL: Geoman Gear / MAGIC SHINE Battery, STOP USING THIS BATTERY"
http://www.nycc.org/node/48439

posted by funnytanlines [4 posts]
3rd December 2010 - 10:33

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okay they're bright lights hbc, but let's not pretend that they're the equivalent of car headlights on full beam because they ain't. okay you might get an eyeful of direct beam every now and then if you're in a car, i bet it's no worse than those new prismatic headlights that seem to be everywhere these days and are *much* brighter than normal halogen ones.

I use a big light at night (not this one). Cars stop at junctions, rather than pulling out into me, because they're not sure what I am. that, as far as I'm concerned, is A Good Thing.

purplecup's picture

posted by purplecup [232 posts]
3rd December 2010 - 10:43

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funnytanlines wrote:
there have been some issues lately with the Magic Shine batteries. have these already been sorted out?

"RECALL: Geoman Gear / MAGIC SHINE Battery, STOP USING THIS BATTERY"
http://www.nycc.org/node/48439

We did ask them about that during the course of our review, and this was their reply:

We are aware of Geoman's actions but are not aware of any safety issues concerning any Magicshine batteries. The manufacturer repeatedly confirms to us the batteries are safe and as Geoman do not provide any specific information and we have no other evidence ourselves, we will continue to supply all equipment.

We are constantly reviewing the situation and will take any appropriate action if we feel it's necessary.

Dave Atkinson's picture

posted by Dave Atkinson [7252 posts]
3rd December 2010 - 10:47

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Handlebar cam is talking rot. I run 2x Dinotte and a fenix collectively putting out 600 lumens albeit not as effective as a single unit. And that only just provides enough light on the roads, you need more light for riding on the road than when off-road, as your light is consumed by dark country lanes no bounce back. Plus you are moving faster on road and when you fall it hurts a lot. I need to be able to see every pebble, leaf, branch, I need to know if the black patch is ice, mud, a pothole or water and what depth. To get that information you need a light that will illuminate as far up the road as possible. A wrong decision on the road could cost you your life, imagaine moving down a country lane at 25 or 30 mph with a car driver only a few meteres behind, get that pothole wrong and that car will drive right over you and probably not stop. My research shows that the average car beam is around 1500 lumens, so even the best lights are only matching that. It is just that bike lights are more focused. Sorry if I offend car drivers and when possible I will dim my beam, but getting home alive is first priority.

posted by surreyxc [44 posts]
3rd December 2010 - 11:07

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And urban environments having a really bright light is just as important. If you have a low powered light no one notices you, your lost amongst a sea of other lights. I would rather a motorists think who is that a'hole with the bright light than not see me at all. It is akin to having your lights on when on the motorway if your the only car doing that, then you attract attention.

posted by surreyxc [44 posts]
3rd December 2010 - 11:14

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These lights have been heavilly discussed over on STW, general consensus is the betteries are not waterproof and moisture will work its way in over time, frying the battery. The light itself is ok to use on the road in low mode but your no better than all those car drivers everyone complains about if your riding around with it on High, its just plain selfish and irresponsible.

I have a high powered dynamo light (about 400lumen) on my commute bike, like cars it has a reflector and i happilly whizz along at 20mph+ and see what is on the road. You are very visable with it too, even in the day light you can see the light very clearly.

On my cross/mtb's i use an exposure MaxxD (1000lumen on High) which fires light everywhere, even on high its not as good as the dynamo light for the road as light is just wasted. If there is traffic around i make sure it is on low as you can seriously dazzle a driver and lets face it, do you want a driver coming towards you that cant see?

Those of you complaining you need 4,000,000 lumen to see where you are going, get a grip! Buy a proper road light and you will be fine, ask all the audax crowd (who have been riding through the night since you were in daipers) what they use, using an offroad light on the road is a waste of time as the majority of the light is wasted.

STATO's picture

posted by STATO [410 posts]
3rd December 2010 - 12:23

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handlebarcam wrote:
Only a cretin rides on the roads with three massively powerful off-road lights, so loosely attached to their bars that they cannot control where they are pointed.

To be honest in the midst of the hyperbole you make a good point. I regularly run off road lights on road, three pairs of AyUps, two pairs bar mounted and one pair on helmet. (and it still ain't enough for my 11 miles of unlit rural lanes from 13 miles total) but they are well mounted and well aimed. This wasn't always the case; on one memorable non-commute night right I encountered a stretch of washboard-type road surface, at speed, the mount wasn't up to it, the lamps shifted and, well, I got very very lucky and didn't come off. I thought I was smarter than AyUp and had not followed their mounting instructions properly. Once I refitted them they've been fine.

Floppy lamps are a liability imo.

Really, though?

posted by workhard [354 posts]
3rd December 2010 - 12:33

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STATO wrote:
Those of you complaining you need 4,000,000 lumen to see where you are going, get a grip! Buy a proper road light and you will be fine, ask all the audax crowd (who have been riding through the night since you were in daipers) what they use, using an offroad light on the road is a waste of time as the majority of the light is wasted.

Audaxers are generally a conservative lot, and I've had a few quite happy to ride alongside me and really see where they are going!

Really, though?

posted by workhard [354 posts]
3rd December 2010 - 12:38

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Similar arguments rage on motorcycle forums about the fitting of after-market HID conversions to headlights......as an individual people have to assess what lighting requirements suit their particular needs be it city riding or dark country lanes......commonsense dictates that you want to see and be seen but not go out of your way to p*ss off other road users.

If the lights are bright enough to dazzle motorists bear in mind that you could encounter a cyclist coming the other way and given the slower closing speed they could be staring at you headlight for a lot longer than an on-coming motorist.

posted by BikerBob [115 posts]
3rd December 2010 - 21:29

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I'm lucky enough to not pay for my lighting so perhaps skews my few. Basically I am of the opinion that the risk you take with lights from a cheap or non bike specific set up in terms of failure when out is not worth it.

The output will be great but the quality of manufacture at key points like the wire entrance and exits and quality of the sealing makes me nervous. As well as the quality of the battery and design of the driver

When the P7 generation of lights launched Planet X started shipping out P7 driven kits super cheap. At the time I was working for a reputable lighting brand. At a 24hr mtb race on the light charge stand one of the guys from planet X walks in during the darkest hours. He had a sainsburys bag full of batteries, cables, chargers and lights and says "can you sort this out none of it seems to work"

Cheeky at best I thought given he was under cutting the brand I was working for with clearly crap products which couldn't last one race. I dont think the team finished the race........

£300 investment for 2-3 seasons of winter training and summer racing seems pretty good to me.

The guy who rides this Pugsley though seems to want 3,900 lumens - bonkers.

andy lumens.jpg
Trev Allen's picture

posted by Trev Allen [163 posts]
3rd December 2010 - 22:15

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As the owner of Magicshine UK who supplied these lights it's interesting to read all these comments. Please remember that the command switch allows you to dim the lights, in whatever mode you've set them to, steplessly. This means you can easily dim them if you think they're too bright and turn them up when you need more light. This option gives you the best of both worlds! Smile

Bonita

posted by Bonita [3 posts]
4th December 2010 - 11:57

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handlebarcam wrote:
For on-road-riding on dark country lanes you do not need anything more powerful than the excellent Niterider Minewt Mini USB, which I bought a year ago on a recommendation from this web site, and use it pointing down with a newly purchased Cateye EL-340 (previosuly an EL-500) pointed slightly higher but still below the horizon. I can still ride 20 mph with that set up, and have done so for years on similarly long and rural commutes to yours. Advocating the sort of "I'm all right Jack" attitude that this article contains is irresponsible.

You are wrong, the lights you are using are borderline adequate

Perhaps the Magicshine doesn't have as good a beam as a road specific light. Perhaps it does "splash light" but it would be better at seeing the road, seeing corners, making you visible and seeing unexpected hazards than your lights.

Anyone can ride at 20mph on familiar roads with lights that aren't so great. Anyone can do this. But I would not recommend it.

Incorrectly angled lights of any power, (even yours) could be a nuisance to other road users. But this isn't a reason to not use good powerful lights

vorsprung's picture

posted by vorsprung [285 posts]
4th December 2010 - 12:22

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I ride 40 miles a day, every working day and use an Exposure Joystick.

I'd like a little more light but I will wait until I can afford another Exposure light - the reliability and convenience of the single light/battery unit is not something I am willing to give up purely for more bang per buck.

posted by Mountainboy [70 posts]
5th December 2010 - 10:26

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I have this light, and have been using it for about 2 months, bought it via dealextreme.com

The problems I've had so far are the following:

1. The charger made a loud click and stopped working the second time it was used. On further inspection something in side of it had burned. - had to buy another charger.

2. The battery does not have the 2.5 hours burntime on max, probably closer to 1.45 hrs.

3. The unit leaks water in very wet conditions - I found two leaking spots, one where the "ears" are connected (wiring) to the main module, the other spot was where the glass is fastened, it was not tight enough. fixed both with some silicone.

4. There is a screw in the mount (where it connects to the light) that got loose, and my light popped of the handlebar. I managed to fix that also.

Still... I really enjoy this light, it's really bright and useful, and good in the winter nights here in Iceland. The alternative is the Light and motion Seca1400, which is more than 4 times the price. I'm just hoping I'll not have any more issues.

posted by reynir [6 posts]
6th December 2010 - 10:29

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IME modern LED lights make night riding a safe proposition - most of my riding is on narrow unlit roads and knowing that at least approaching traffic will slow down rather than attempt to smear me against any tree / wall / hedge - it also stops approaching cars putting their lights on fullbeam - a big bonus IMO.

Make mine an Italian with Campagnolo on the side

posted by monty dog [358 posts]
6th December 2010 - 22:57

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I bought an SSC P7 front light (claimed 900 lumens) via Ebay from Hong Kong and took it on its first ride last night. I have to say it was incredible.

It's dimmable for when there are oncoming traffic issues but the full beam allowed me to ride on dark (and snowy) roads with far more confidence and I genuinely believe improved safety. I could see every pothole and icy patch and could be sure traffic could see me. Every oncoming vehicle on the 10 mile ride last night dipped their full beams which is almost unheard of.

I have a little back up light in my camelbak in case of problems, and based on the price I paid if this P7 unit only lasts one winter it was around 10% of the cost of a fancy UK made unit and that included the charger, handlebar bracket, Li-ion battery and postage. I'll buy another and still be quids in. In fact I might buy another anyway - 1800 lumens?!! Bonkers!!

posted by falls offlots [83 posts]
7th December 2010 - 13:41

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the visibility of the light - or over visibility - is really dependent on lighting in the surrounding environment, I think you just have to have some sensitivity and adjust light accordingly. I've met cyclists on a poorly lit path section of my commute with their lamps blazing and had to ask them to dip them, I think they just hadn't thought about it but it could actually be quite intimidating for pedestrians. The same lights passed on a lit road wouldn't be an issue.

I've been using the single lamp magicshine for a few weeks now and have found that medium and low settings are more than adequate for most of my commute, just turning it up to full blast on some pitch black shortcuts. The flash mode is pretty useless ...---... but I switch it on to strobe 'rave' mode on a couple of dodgy junctions, just to maximise visibility, then back down once past.

I've also got the rear magicshine light which is bright enough to compete with car brake lights and has reasonable rear / side visibility. It's only really let down by the flash modes which have long pauses between groups of flashes, I'd rather it flashed slower but more regularly

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posted by joemmo [773 posts]
5th January 2011 - 14:46

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Hi, I was thinking of getting one of these.

Looking to start biking into work on a decent old MTB I bought about 10 years ago second hand but never used yet in darkness. Part of my route will be on road, part on unlit cycle path (old railway). Any ideas if this is suitable for this job or any suggestions of something else suitable?
Thanks
Smile

posted by colshandy [1 posts]
24th January 2012 - 22:42

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Very BRIGHT! That's what best describes this front bike light. Mounting it on the handlebar is so easy that even a kid can do it. It's as powerful as a car headlight and I ain't kidding! Just wish it had an additional feature - blinking mode when I'm cycling at dawn or dusk.

posted by bikelightsuk (not verified) [123 posts]
9th July 2013 - 7:56

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