Post by JeffJ -
There are certain times of the year here in SoCal when riding at night just makes sense. The winter season is the major night riding season, and then again in the summer the intense heat drives us back into the dark a fair amount of the time. If you ride a lot at night, it makes sense to invest in a decent light system, and we appreciate the difference a good setup can make.
We are currently testing a Magicshine MJ-880, and this will be our ‘Out of the Box’ introduction for this offering from the good folks at Magicshine.
The MJ-880 kit comes with the MJ-880 light, a six cell 6.6AH battery pack, a charger, and a rubber mount used to connect the light to the handlebar, or to the helmet mount (which we also received for testing).
I know many of you are familiar with the original Magicshine lights because they have sold a grip of them and we see them all the time out on the trail. They are probably the single most popular light system I see in our area. Well, as you can see from the pictures, this particular offering is quite different in appearance, and in the way it functions.
Since inquiring minds always want to know how much everything they attach to their bicycle weighs, the weight of the light head, including the rubber mount, is: 122g, and the battery weighs: 400g. The helmet mount weighs so little, it isn’t worth worrying about. And, you’re not mounting the charger to your bike, so it won’t be making its way onto the scale either.
The first thing you’ll notice when mounting the light is that the familiar, and not so much loved, o-rings have been replaced by a v-shaped rubber mount that serves the same purpose, but is easier to work with. Of course, the bigger question for those that ride rougher trails is, will it hold the light steady when things get rocking and rolling? More on that later. . .
The next thing that is a departure are the light controls on the light head itself, which looks to be of higher quality both in design and execution than you might expect from a company most famous for modestly priced light systems. The light is controlled by the two white colored buttons on the top of the unit. Interestingly, they are both labeled the same with the universal ‘power on’ symbol. Either one will turn the light on (simply push the button once) or off (by holding the button until the light goes off). The light features five levels of brightness, and it begins at one extreme or the other whenever it is turned on. If you push the left button (looking at the light head from behind it as you would be when seated on your bicycle) to turn the light on, it will be at the dimmest setting, and if you push the right button to turn it on, it will start at the brightest setting. Then, to cycle through the levels, you simply push the left button to go dimmer, or the right button to go brighter. And, once again, to turn it off, you simply push either button until the light goes off (which takes about a full second). As shown below, the controls also show batt strength.
A light that uses two Cree XM-L LED’s and puts out a claimed 2000 lumens is bound to have a larger than average appetite for power and this light would no doubt make Tim “The Tool Man” Taylor grunt with glee. Of course there is no such thing as a free lunch, and in this case, that cost is the size and weight of the battery pack needed to fuel this bad boy. It is built with six, instead of four, 18650 lithium-ion cells, so the size and weight reflect the added capacity. The included battery is adorned with a dual rubber strap mounting system, that is pretty quick and easy to use for traditional top tube, or down tube mounting applications, and depending on stem length, you might be able to mount it to your stem as well.
If you are going to use the MJ-880 as a helmet light, you will either have to pack it high in your hydration pack, or you will need the available (and nominally priced) extension cable to mount it lower in your pack, or a rear jersey pack. I am a tall, sexy-beast (well I’m definitely tall, and a beast), so if you’re not on the tall side, it may be possible that you could get by without the extension cable and still get it lower in your pack. Or if really on the shorter side of the spectrum, you may be able to get it into a jersey pocket without the extension cable. But that is why they make the cable, so it’s available should you need it.
I tried mounting it all directly to my helmet for one ride, and I can safely say that I won’t do that again. It was simply too heavy to comfortably perch the 6.6AH pack on my helmet and not finish my ride with my head agonizingly tilted to one side. To be fair, I don’t think it was ever designed to be used as such, but it is not unusual to see other lights mounted on helmets in this fashion (including previous Magicshine offerings), so I thought I would give it a go in the interest of answering that question for our ever-curious readership.
The battery cable is about 13” long, and comes with a nifty hook-n-loop strap for securing the cable to your bike , keeping it from finding it’s way to places a cable should never be. The cable on the light head measured 30” in length, and although it doesn’t have it’s own nifty hook-n-loop strap, I think it would be a good idea if it did.
As for mounting the light head to your handlebar, the single one-size-fits-all rubber snubber was e-z-peezy to get the light head mounted to any size handlebar, and I will say (in advance of the next ‘On Trail’ installment on this light) that it did not produce a strobe effect like the previous o-ring systems did from bouncing up and down in rocky or rough sections of trail. More to come!
NOTE: Magicshine sent the MJ-880 at no charge to Twenty Nine Inches for test/review. We were not bribed nor paid for this review and we strive to give our honest opinions throughout.