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Verdict: 
Rock-solid battery attachment and connections, let down by a poorly designed app and lens
Weight: 
55g
Magicshine MJ-902B Smart Light
5 10

The Magicshine MJ-902B Bluetooth Smart USB Bike Light APP version – to use the full name – builds on the previous model of the 902 light by adding a smartphone app, while subtracting 400 lumens, the red rear light and the Bluetooth remote (which is now an optional extra for £7.99). And it's £5 more expensive. Magicshine might offer a compelling smorgasbord of accessories and lights at attractive prices, but misses the mark with the MJ-902B when it comes to long-term customer satisfaction.

  • Pros: Customisation, hardware connectivity, useful as general external battery pack
  • Cons: Wasted lumens, no included remote, unintuitive app, no ability to change mode without using your phone, hard to make quick mode changes in gloves

In February 2017 Dave gave the non-app version of the 902 three and a half stars, noting that the beam didn't deliver the promised output, and switching modes between high and low outputs required cycling through the disco strobe settings. The 902B reduces the output and removes the remote along with the ability to change mode without using a smartphone, while not addressing the main complaint of a mostly wasted, unfocused output.

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In the box you get the head unit, battery with straps, and the 38cm battery-light connecting cable. It all feels premium – the connectors snap home firmly, and the body of the battery and light look and feel well made.

The head unit fixes to your handlebar using a simple rubber ladder strap. There's no left-right tweakability in the mount, and on my handlebar positioning the head to be easily reachable for button presses meant putting it right next to the stem.

The battery pack has a rubber backing and mounts on your frame using wide Velcro straps, with enough spare to wrap securely around the largest of box-girder frames. There's a rubber seal around the inside, and the connector to the light is a robust circular push-fit – both survived several pressure-washings with zero ingress. I found the 38cm cable a perfect length for getting from the frame up to the bar via three or four wraps around a brake or gear cable outer.

The 5200mAh battery pack is charged via micro-USB, accessed under a robust double-sealed rubber cover. Alongside the charge port is a full-sized USB port you can use to charge other USB devices while running the light as well. You can also charge the battery while using the light – for example via a dynamo hub – but you can't charge and run the USB output at the same time.

Application required

The major update of the MJ-902B over the MJ-902 is the addition of a smartphone app, connected to the light via Bluetooth (once you've given Magicshine your email address so it can send you a code to activate the app). A generous summary of the app functionality would be 'Could do better'.

The app is confusing – I kept getting lost as to exactly where the setting I wanted resided. The app lets you set up 'scenes', and to scenes you add modes – constant/flash/strobe – with customisable intensities, that you can then cycle through by pressing the button on the head unit. So you could possibly create a scene where you had a 100% blast, a 20% flash, a 10% constant beam, and so on. I went with a simple constant 100%-20% high-low beam scene for night rides, plus a 100%-50%-20% flash scene for daytime road riding.

To change scene you need to use your phone's app – unless you constructed a mode that included all possible options you can click through. But then you'll have lost a likely most-useful high/low beam setup. If you go for the Bluetooth remote, you can change between modes – high/medium/low – but you can't change between 'scenes' – that still requires connecting the app. This is most annoying, as there's a redundant button on the remote previously assigned to switching the rear light on or off. Hopefully a future firmware update will add this functionality and greatly improve the user experience.

Sometimes the light didn't automatically connect to the app even when visible in the 'Bluetooth devices' list. In comparison to other Bluetooth-enabled bike lights I own such as the excellent See.Sense Icon, the experience was not consistent. I applied a firmware upgrade to the light via the app which seemed to improve things, so time will tell if Magicshine uses that functionality to improve app-light connection stability or the overall user experience.

On the road

All the technology, accessorisation and features in the world won't amount to a hill of beans if a light doesn't perform on the road. Here, yes there was light – but probably 50 per cent of it is wasted. The Magicshine's broad beam loses photons horizontally and vertically, with no spot in the target riding zone – the bit you actually need to focus on lest you come a cropper. Indeed, the amount of peripheral light de-sensitises perception in the focus zone where you need it most.

I found I needed to angle the head unit slightly above horizontal to reduce the light shone immediately in front, which was desensitising my eyes to the middle-distance where you need to detect upcoming hazards. Of course this then makes you an annoying hazard to other road users.

> Buyer's Guide: The best 2017/2018 front lights for cycling

As a result, I wasn't comfy riding faster than about 15mph. Augmenting the MJ-902B with a 400-lumen helmet-mounted light increased my rideable speed by maybe 5mph through adding an aimable spot. I ended up using both the MJ-902B and the headlight, just so I wasn't left behind by riding mates on the way to the pub.

The definition at the centre of the beam is woefully lacking. On the road I couldn't pick out detail at speeds/distances any better than with my ageing 475-lumen Lezyne Powerdrive XL, a five-year-old handlebar-mounted all-in-one light.

Battery management

The MJ-902B has an indicated maximum-power run-time of 2 hours 36 minutes. I found it would run on 100% for 3:09 before a sudden switchoff. Kudos to Magicshine for taking a conservative line on battery capacity, not so much for giving no useful warning of shutdown.

The light button glows orange when the battery level hits 30%, but this seems dependent on the battery drain at the time, and is hard to pick out against a high-beam output. Switching to low beam from high, the low-level warning on the button went out – therefore fooling me that I had more than 30% remaining.

There's no in-your-face, while-riding warning of really low battery charge apart from pressing the button on the back of the battery where there are three green LEDs (when battery level is critically low, the last green LED flashes). Having no warning or graceful degradation of light level – a simple software implementation – is a let-down and something I hope Magicshine will remedy as soon as possible.

On the levels

The indicated battery levels between the app and the battery LEDs don't seem to bear much similarity. With the app indicating a 'Middle' charge, the battery shows a single green LED. So you'd think there was a fair bit of juice left before setting off, going by either display. However, in one admittedly poorly prepared pre-ride instance using the MJ-902B's 3,200-lumen sibling (which shares the same app and battery), it lasted just 30 seconds on High before turning off. Cue a frantic swapping of lights to make the 8pm Pub Run depart. If I pick a battery up off a shelf and click a button or check an app that says 'about 33% remaining', I don't expect it to die before reaching the end of our road.

The MJ-902B battery charging algorithm/display leaves a good deal to be desired. When charging from flat, the first green LED comes on flashing, and after just a few minutes the second starts flashing – to me indicating that it's at least a third charged and progressing towards two-thirds. If you then connect to the app, it shows charge as 'Middle' – but as above, there's only a few seconds' run-time possible.

Years ago we expected this sort of user experience from cheap-as-chips CreeBay Special lights of dubious lineage, but this is a modern light from a major industry brand costing £105.

Charging time is totally dependent on the output of your charger, but based on a conservative 400mAh you can expect it to take 13 hours – or two and a half if you have a 2-amp charger.

Accessorise yourself

For around £6 each you can buy a helmet or headband mount and 1m extension cable, which would enable the MJ-902B (or most of the Magicshine light range) to be used as a helmet or head light. There's also a Bluetooth remote option that costs £7.99; given how people use lights like these, a remote is a highly desirable item and it's a pity it's not included in the package, as it was previously. For £114.99 you can get a package with the 902B light, remote, extension cable and a helmet mount included, saving you 10 quid.

In summary, as with its higher-output sibling, the Magicshine MJ-902B is a fair amount of headline lumen for your pound, but suffers from a poor physical lens design and various app/usability flaws. While the latter might be addressed by updates, the issue of no focused spot permanently restricts your potential speed.

Verdict

Rock-solid battery attachment and connections, let down by a poorly designed app and lens

road.cc test report

Make and model: Magicshine MJ-902B Smart Light

Size tested: Light Head Size 45,33,38mm, 1600 lumens

Tell us what the light is for

It's for people wanting to ride for a long time at night, or for many days in the daytime between charges. Or, to charge other things.

Magicshine says: "The MJ-902B bluetooth APP version is a brand new, innovative, USB rechargeable bike light from Magicshine with an actual lumen output of 1600 lumens from 2 CREE XM-L2 LED and fully customisable settings. Just download the free Magishine APP and you have the power to customise the perfect light for your own needs. Once the APP is downloaded, plug the lighthead into the battery, add your light to the via bluetooth APP and connect. It's as simple as that.

"You can add up to 20 levels of personalised modes or stick to just one or two. Flash, blink and SOS modes are available and run times can be extended by reducing the output to your optimum needs - a definite plus for Audax riders. The choices are yours. Full power when on a country lane or a full on flash at 20% when you're in the city, or if you prefer a gentle blink during the day, that's possible too!"

Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the light

From Magicshine:

Dimensions

Newly designed with advanced cooling through the new thermally managed fins and some very techy insides, the Magicshine MJ-902B weighs just 51.5g and is diminutive in size at 45x33x38mm. The super new style smart battery, with power indicator and USB port measures 188mmx42.5mmx30mm and weighs in at 287g making a total weight of 338.5g.

Mounting

The new D shaped ring makes mounting simple. The battery uses a velcro strap, perfect for attaching such a small ergonomic battery. It is designed to fit snuggly onto your frame, cushioned by the large rubber mat on the rear of the battery.

Battery

The MJ-902B comes with a 5.2Ah 7.4V battery as standard, using 4 x 18650 Li-ion LG cells. This brand new redesigned 'smart' battery is chargeable with a USB, meaning you can also use it as a power bank for your phone. A power indicator positioned below the rubber stopper uses three small green LED's to provide a simple way to check your battery status before you've connected it to your bike. Micro USB charge 5V/2A charging time 8 - 9 hours

Please note: No wall charger is supplied.

In Use

The MJ-902B Is really simple to use and you'll be astounded at what you can achieve. You just need to download the free Magicshine APP from either the App store, Google play, or alternatively use the QR code found in the manual. Plug your lighthead into its battery and then you'll get the option to connect the light with the APP via bluetooth. Then it's happy customising. You have 20 levels to play with. Choose a setting and then move the dial on the App to the light intensity you require. You'll see the light immediately change intensity as you move the dial. Once you're happy with each level move onto the next. When you've decided that you have the ultimate output and modes for you the APP will save your settings until your next ride. However, if you want to change or delete or add modes then of course you can.

Run Time

The standard 5.2Ah 4.4V battery will give a maximum run time of 2.6 hours on full power, but with this light you are the master of your own destiny as you can decide how low to go with output so you can get maximum run time up to an amazing 176 hours on the lowest setting. The perfect light for Auduax riders and anyone who needs a long running battery.

Beam

The Magicshine MJ-902B has a beam angle of 20 degrees, brilliant for on the road at a lower setting but suitable for off road in most situations. A thoroughly decent beam throw that much higher priced lights would be envious of. A great little light that's as versatile as they come.

1600 actual lumens

power settings customised by APP

1% to 100% output you choose

customised flash modes

2.6 hours run time at 100% output

Battery can be used as a power bank

USB rechargeable

5.2Ah 7.4V newly designed smart battery

Rate the light for quality of construction:
 
8/10

It looks and feels quality/solid.

Rate the light for design and ease of use. How simple was the light to use?
 
4/10

The app is a let-down, and you have no choice but to use it, including out on the trail if you need to change modes.

Rate the light for the design and usability of the clamping system
 
6/10

It's a simple ladder strap.

Rate the light for waterproofing. How did it stand up to the elements?
 
10/10

No issues at all – very well sealed.

Rate the light for battery life. How long did it last? How long did it take to recharge?
 
8/10

Outlasting the stated time is great, but a graceful rundown would be much appreciated.

Rate the light for performance:
 
5/10

The Achilles heel – it just doesn't enable you to ride fast.

Rate the light for durability:
 
7/10

Looks and feels like new after a month or so of testing; quality materials should make for a long-lasting device.

Rate the light for weight:
 
5/10
For road illumination at this brightness there are lighter, smaller solutions.
Rate the light for value:
 
5/10

If Magicshine improved on the app/usability issues it would be better value, but you're still left with a wide-angle shotgun of a light that falls short at speed.

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

Not that great, if the purpose is going fast in the dark.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the light

The connectors and cables – they're solid. And the ability to charge other things too.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the light

The lack of focus – everything else can be upgraded or redesigned, but the physical lens is just not good enough.

Did you enjoy using the light? Yes, apart from the times it was annoying.

Would you consider buying the light? Not in its current state of development.

Would you recommend the light to a friend? Not without some serious caveating of the drawbacks.

Use this box to explain your overall score

If MagicShine focused the beam a bit more, and tidied up a few aspects of the app/Bluetooth remote, this would be a cracking system worthy of 8 or more. As it is, the issues with the app, control, no-warning shutdown and, critically, lack of focus, make it an average product.

Overall rating: 5/10

About the tester

Age: 44  Height: 183cm  Weight: 72kg

I usually ride: Merida Ride 5000 Disc  My best bike is:

I've been riding for: Over 20 years  I ride: A few times a week  I would class myself as: Expert

I regularly do the following types of riding: cyclo-cross, club rides, general fitness riding, mountain biking, Dutch bike pootling

4 comments

Avatar
RoubaixCube [79 posts] 8 months ago
0 likes

I am disliking the direction ybat Magicshine are taking with their lights as of late. I have an MJ-858 and an MJ-872, both are solid as a rock and crafted out of aluminum but it seems that all the lights made out of aluminum have been discontinued in favour of making them out of plastic. All aluminum made magicshine lights are listed as out of stock. Its just too much of a coincidence that all of them are listed as OoS at the same time while there are plenty of the plastic made ones such as the 902 for sale.

Avatar
handlebarcam [1131 posts] 8 months ago
1 like
Quote:

I found I needed to angle the head unit slightly above horizontal to reduce the light shone immediately in front, which was desensitising my eyes to the middle-distance where you need to detect upcoming hazards. Of course this then makes you an annoying hazard to other road users.

As a result, I wasn't comfy riding faster than about 15mph. Augmenting the MJ-902B with a 400-lumen helmet-mounted light increased my rideable speed by maybe 5mph through adding an aimable spot.

That's like buying a colander to carry liquids, being shocked to find it leaks fluid all over other people's shoes, so "augmenting" it with a water pistol which you squirt at people randomly as you pass by.

Avatar
BehindTheBikesheds [2138 posts] 8 months ago
1 like

How do you manage togive such an overly expensive pile of sbite 2.5stars is anyone's guess.
Poor lens/beam that is hazardous to others and shuts off unexpectly should relegate this to a one star rating and the bin.
Seriously how did you give this crap such a 'high' rating??

Avatar
Bonita [5 posts] 7 months ago
0 likes

In response to some of the negative comments above, I would add that the MJ-902B has the exact same output and beam pattern as the MJ-902 reviewed by Road CC last year. The light was given four stars by the reviewer  http://road.cc/content/review/216951-magicshine-mj-902-2000-lumen-bike-l...

These two lights are in essence exactly the same except, the newer model the MJ-902B has the ability to change the factory settings to the users requirements using an APP.  ie getting rid of the factory settings and giving the user the freedom of choosing the output they require for their ride.  If you wish you can still stick to the factory setting and of course you can switch between modes without using your phone whilst riding, by pressing the button on top of the light just as before, or you now have the option of adding a remote button if you prefer. 

The confusion with lumen output us probably because for years publications have slated Magicshine for claiming theoretical lumens on their packaging.  Having listened to this the manufacturer has now decided to quote actual lumens instead.  This in turn has obviously confused customers including the reviewer who think the output has reduced.  It has not. The actual lumen output is now stated rather than theoretical lumens. 

The light is not deisgned to turn off without warning, the button on top of the light will glow red when the battery has less than 25% power in it.

Magicshine have not discontinued the MJ-858,  MJ-880 or MJ-872 it is just very difficult to predict how many of the older models will sell each year as the trend seems to be that customers 'go' for the newest light rather than looking at older models.  We still sell all three of the models you mention but the stock can only be ordered in certain quantities and when it's gone, it has a longer lead time than other lights.  The only model out of stock now is the MJ-872, it will be available again later in the year.

Bonita,  Magichsine UK