Magicshine MJ-818 rear light  £31.94

8/10

Very good rear light, let down only by slightly fiddly control system and the likely need to install long cables to the bike.

Contact  www.magicshineuk.co.uk

by Nick Hodges   November 1, 2013  

MagicShine's MJ 818 rear light gets its power from the front light's battery pack and puts out lots of light for almost-unmissable night time visibility.

Bike light technology moves at a staggering pace. As a youth the height of super-bright output was a feeble dynamo or perhaps some immensely heavy Ever Ready Night Riders which could drain a pair of hefty D-cell batteries in under a week. Today, it is lithium battery packs and USB rechargeables that are bright enough to be used as a spotlight by a stadium rock band.

MagicShine are one of these recent lighting brands, initially finding favour as an import special before a dedicated UK retail division came to the market. Their front lights, and the MJ-808E have become a favourite of commuters, powered by a lithium-ion battery pack usually Velcro-strapped to the stem.

The matching MJ 818 rear light doesn't initially look like much – a simple, even small, dome of clear plastic, with a silver control ring surrounding it. The frame mount is the same as the front light, using a rubber O-ring and plastic clips moulded to the light body. The O-rings come in a variety of sizes to suit different frames and seat pins.

MagicShine certainly see the MJ 818 as an addition to a lighting set up, rather than a standalone unit. Along with the light are a Y-splitter and extender cable to allow a single battery pack to serve both front and rear lights. The MJ 818 doesn't have a visible means of displaying battery status and also seems to draw little power compared to a front light, so it makes most sense to connect it up in this way.

A drawback with this arrangement is that it involves running cables, most likely from the stem, to the back of the bike. It makes the set up more a fixture and far less likely to be easily swapped between bikes if or when required. It also means a little care for frames and fixtures if using zip-ties or Velcro straps to secure the cables. An advantage is that there's only one battery to remember to charge.

When in place and in use the light looks quite small, which is deceptive for the output. At the centre of the unit is a single 3W red LED, surrounded by 9 smaller SMD red LEDs. MagicShine claim an 85 lumen output. There are three output options, which are accessed by rotating the silver magnetic control ring. The principal option is a constant, with two blink modes, the most useful of which is an alternating flash of the central and surrounding LEDs.

The only issue I found with the control ring is that it didn't feel intuitive as to how far to turn it to switch to the next setting, or which way was off. More than once I found myself rotating it back and forth like a dumb safe-breaker and never quite sure how I would replicate the successful combination to get what I wanted.

It is the performance of the light in making me clear and visible that is the real measure of success, and the 3W central LED in particular is very striking and clear from a distance. One part that is perhaps lacking is more lateral light for when passing junctions. The alternating blink setting is also very effective, and I received positive feedback from friends who had driven past me on winter evening commutes that I was clearly visible from a good distance. The main LED has a strong (if a little narrow) 'throw' that makes it very similar to a torch beam and highly valuable in misty of foggy conditions.

Verdict

Very good rear light, let down only by slightly fiddly control system and the likely need to install long cables to the bike.

road.cc test report

Make and model: Magicshine MJ-818 rear 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?

Winter commuting, touring, perhaps mountain biking (although I wouldn't want to be behind it if riding in a group!)

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

Straightforward and easy to use rubber O-ring fitting. MagicShine cables and connectors seem to be robust and haven't failed over a number of years of winter commuting.

Rate the product for quality of construction:
 
7/10

Appears well made – it is probably a bit smaller than you would expect and weighs very little.

Rate the product for performance:
 
8/10

The output of light from what appears to be a fairly discrete unit is impressive.

Rate the product for durability:
 
8/10

It survived a long and relatively harsh UK winter; getting soaked and frozen daily.

Rate the product for weight, if applicable:
 
9/10

The light itself weighs next to nothing. If you ran a dedicated battery pack for it then that would add some tiny grammes. MagicShine claim 270g with a battery pack but supply no information for the unit itself.

Rate the product for value:
 
8/10

If you already own a Magicshine front light then the MJ 818 is a fairly cheap and effective addition for the output.

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

It works very well, offering a bright and clear light with a small, but effective, range of flashing and fixed light modes.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

Fantastically bright output with excellent variations, particularly in the flashing modes. The quality of the light 'throw' gave me confidence I'd be seen even in more challenging conditions.

The rear light seemed to draw very little power from the battery pack. I appreciate that red LEDs drawn very little power, but I noticed very little difference in the frequency I was charging the battery pack when I added the MJ 818, and I was using it on the more power-hungry settings.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

Reliance on cabling to get the light set up, the dial to switch the unit on and change between modes seems be a little inconsistent – turning it off seemed to be a trial and error of rotating the dial in random sequences.

Did you enjoy using the product? Yes.

Would you consider buying the product? Yes – I own a Magicshine MJ 808E front light, and the MJ 818 rear seems like a sensible partner for it.

Would you recommend the product to a friend? If they already owned compatible lights, definitely. For someone looking to buy a family of lights then the MJ 808E and MJ 818 are a good combination.

Overall rating: 8/10

About the tester

Age: 35  Height: 182cm  Weight: 69kg

I usually ride: Specialized Allez Sport 2008  My best bike is: Moda Tempo 2010

I've been riding for: 5-10 years  I ride: Every day  I would class myself as: Experienced

I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, touring, sportives, general fitness riding, Triathlon

 

12 user comments

Oldest firstNewest firstBest rated

The angle on the seat post is all wrong - light points down.

Looks nice though.

Marky

Marky Legs's picture

posted by Marky Legs [113 posts]
1st November 2013 - 8:09

72 Likes

I have one of these. Angle is fine on my seatpost. In any case the light is fantastically bright, so even if it does point down factionally it'll prevent glare for other road users heading towards you.

I use this light every evening for my commute. This includes a 2 mile stretch of unlit single carriageway that is often used by foreign lorry drivers with a trailer full of Nissan cars bound for mainland Europe. Without fail every one of these drivers to date has given me an extremely wide berth when overtaking, usually by taking the whole of the opposite lane.

Can't say fairer than that!

posted by woollee23 [92 posts]
1st November 2013 - 8:47

73 Likes

I've got one, and use it as a fog light or on busy roads in daytime. It's too bright for use as a general light in darkness, particularly if you're aiming it straight back.

Any number of decent rear lights will get you seen. This just pisses people off.

posted by Darkerside [63 posts]
1st November 2013 - 9:32

79 Likes

Bought one of these when they first came out, but after 6 months it began playing up and was very temperamental switching it on and then by 8 months it fell apart internally and the lens assembly detached. The internals, now I could examine them, had a coating of road salt and grime on them, so obviously sealing wasn't up to much and, having worked in lighting for many years, the internal design of this light is crazy - it looks like a nice idea when your just thinking in a idea way, but it is a design that will fail by design because you have to turn the whole light mechanism in order to switch the light on and off.

I had to fall back on using my small Smart rear light for a few days and then I bought a Cateye TL-LD1100 and so far am very happy with it

posted by leqin [130 posts]
1st November 2013 - 10:20

78 Likes

I've had a couple of these, and like lequin and the reviewer, found the switching to be a bit odd at first (and two of them disintegrated internally but were replaced by Magicshine UK), but the brightness and battery life is fantastic, and the red puddle of light on the road behind is superb.

The issue is that the bezel moves a magnet set within it past a magnetic switch; if the bezel gets dirty (which it does, because it's over the back wheel...), it sticks and eventually turning it ends up turning the insides, which sooner or later rips all the wiring to bits.http://road.cc/sites/all/modules/smileys/packs/Yahoo!/frustrated.gif

The solution I found was just to use a magnet (I use one off a Cat Eye SL-LD100R, but any will work) to swipe past the side of the light to turn it on (I don't bother switching it off, just unplug the set as I keep my battery in my bag). Doing that my current one is coming up for 3 years old and still going strong.

But yes, like the review says - great light for the money!

posted by EH14 [2 posts]
1st November 2013 - 11:10

72 Likes

Yup, I've got one too, in the southern hemisphere. I put the battery under the seat, so run a short lead to the back light and a longer one to the front.

The magnetic switch is fiddly, so I keep turning it in the same direction to get the different flashes (& till it turns off).

The angle is slightly down, so I put a small folded over piece of inner tube under the lower edge to bring it up to horizontal.

Good light which I run during commuting hours, even if it's not dark.

Gerard the Kiwi

GerardR's picture

posted by GerardR [86 posts]
2nd November 2013 - 1:50

57 Likes

A 10 quid Smart 2x 0.5W light is even more than you need in terms of light output - and at least it has an easy-to-use button as a mode switch and an adjustable mount made of solid plastic, not some funny rubber fitting. It's perfectly visible from the sides too.

This whole arms race in lights department is just silly. Such a high light output only makes drivers more distracted and nervous instead of making cyclists safer. The same goes for most front lights nowadays - manufacturers only care to sqeeze more lumens out of them instead of focusing and shaping the beam properly. Idiotic.

blog rowerowy - my blog about bicycles (written in Polish, but feel free to visit me! Smile )

mikroos's picture

posted by mikroos [197 posts]
2nd November 2013 - 6:25

53 Likes

I've had this light with a Magicshine 872 for the last two years now - excellent set of lights that I feel protect me when I commute in the dark.

I agree with article and other commentators that the light 'faces' down when mounted. Considering how bright this thing is, I actually prefer it as I don't want to blind the motorists behind me. In my case, I also angle/rotate it so that it's sorta facing toward the road so it lights up.

My bugbear with it, is the fiddly switch which I no longer use as I just disconnect the battery from the Y-Cable when I don't need to power them both down. Cabling is a major pain on the bike with the bulky battery which is not a problem on my MTB but it just annoys me on my road bike.

Having said that, I am now looking for both integrated USB rechargeable lights for the Road Bike if only to get away from the cabling mess/annoyance so if there was a magic shine light with this output - I would buy it.

posted by CycleLuddite [10 posts]
2nd November 2013 - 13:37

46 Likes

Darkerside wrote:
I've got one, and use it as a fog light or on busy roads in daytime. It's too bright for use as a general light in darkness, particularly if you're aiming it straight back.

Any number of decent rear lights will get you seen. This just pisses people off.

I totally agree with this, one of my riding buddies has this light and we cannot ride behind him as it just blinds us (good incentive to push harder to be in front Smile ), sometimes being too bright isn't good ! strange as it seems.

posted by mikeprytherch [219 posts]
2nd November 2013 - 15:46

51 Likes

I've been using this with the 808 front light for nearly 3 years with no reliability issues despite some real soakings - though it's usually on my guard equipped utility bike. It is undeniably bright (think car fog light) which makes it great as a daytime / dusk/ dawn light and necessitates the downward angle but it does have flaws : the fiddly switch, the untidy cabling but for me the main ones are the flash patterns which are too slow and seem like an afterthought. It's worth getting as an addition if you already have a magicshine front light but not as a light on its own.

joemmo's picture

posted by joemmo [914 posts]
2nd November 2013 - 22:20

55 Likes

I think I pulled up behind one of these this morning. Couldn't see a thing for a few seconds, the same time it took to go through the flashing cycle.

There is bright and there's sunglasses time, sorry but aiming bright lights at car drivers eyes ain't going to increase your safety. SMICSFYBL "Sorry mate I could not see for your blinding light." Or maybe YBM, "Your light blinded me!"

posted by Yorkshie Whippet [344 posts]
6th November 2013 - 16:17

53 Likes

Here's an experiment to make better use of all that light output. I used some silicone to stick a plastic ring round the outside of the light, the light is diffused through the ring and you get much more side visibility. The end is open so the LED is still in plain sight from a decent angle behind.

I'll get a picture in the dark so you can see how the light is scattered, it looks pretty good actually.

818.jpg
joemmo's picture

posted by joemmo [914 posts]
14th February 2014 - 13:14

44 Likes

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