Tag Archives: Magic Shine

No matter your level of bicycle riding skills, bike lights are essential to make sure you have a safe ride, day or night. Bike lights aren't only needed when the sun goes down.

Bike lights will help to keep you safe day and night!

by John Brown, HaveFunBiking.com

No matter your level of bicycle riding skills, bike lights are essential to make sure you have a safe ride, day or night. Lights aren’t only needed when the sun goes down. In fact, lights are super helpful when riding in conditions where traffic may be present or their is limited visibility. That’s where proper lighting comes in. Plus many states, like Minnesota require you to have lights on your bike. The two types of bike lights on the market are lights that allow you to see and lights that allow others to see you.

Bike lights that Help You See

Lights that help you see are usually high output LEDs that cast a focused beam of light in front of you. These lights start at 600 lumens and increase in output from there. Their size and run time depend on the battery. As an example, rechargeable and battery-operated lights are usually larger, while lights run by a generator are smaller.

So, how do you know which one is best for you? It all depends on how often you plan on using it. The battery-operated kind work well as backups in the rare chance you get caught in the dark. The rechargeable kind are best if you plan to use them on a regular basis, and want to save on the cost of buying batteries. If you ride long periods of time in the dark, then it’s hard to beat a generator-powered light. Any of these lights will be great for unlit roads, trails, or paths.

When you look to buy a light, they are all compared by the lumens they produce. What’s a lumen, you ask? Well, lumens are the most popular description of brightness. In the past, lights were measured by the amount of energy they consumed (watts), but with the creation of LEDs that get more light output with less power consumption, measuring brightness with watts has become impossible. Simple rule, more lumens equal brighter light. As a comparison, the iPhone flashlight is less than 10 lumens.

Bike lights to Help People See You

The lights designed to be seen use an LED to flash intermittently when turned on. surprisingly they can be as small as a few coins stacked on top of one another, and have run times in the hundreds of hours. Additionally, they are usually easy to move from bike to bike if needed and are great for city streets and well-lit paths. Some riders are now finding added security in running these lights during the daytime.

Reflectivity

Another great way to ride safe in the dark is to use reflective products. Thanks to advancements in reflective technology you can find clothing that is completely reflective, looks like normal fabric, and glows when hit by light. There are reflective stickers you can adhere to your bike, and reflective bags you can mount behind the saddle or on your handlebars.

How to be Seen

Visibility is about safety so it’s best to use a belt and suspenders approach. A headlight will allow you to see and be seen from the front. Match that with a reflective jersey and you become visible from the sides as well. Mount a rear blinker and you become visible from 360 degrees.

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No matter your level of bicycle riding skills, bike lights are essential to make sure you have a safe ride, day or night. Bike lights aren't only needed when the sun goes down.

With more darkness then daylight the zen and the art of night biking

by John Brown, HaveFunBiking.com

Seasons change and eventually we are left with more darkness than daylight, thus night biking. day. This annual march to the darkest day of the year was the inspiration Robert Frost needed to write Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening.  On occasion my “Little Horse” asks if “there is some mistake”, but of course Frost was talking about the animal and I the machine. The draw of the dark and cold is the same though, snow muffles sound and darkness can be beautiful. If you haven’t tried night mountain biking, I encourage it!

mountain biking at night

Snow, dark, and silence make mountain biking at night great.

Night biking, who turned off the lights?

You will need a good light to mountain bike at night. I recommend to start with something around 1000 lumens, but more if you can get it. Be aware of the beam pattern when you buy a light because while a wide and dim beam would be great to alert passing motorists of your presence. When mountain biking, you need all the light in front of you, so for that reason try to find a light with a rather narrow beam. Another consideration when buying a light is if it can be mounted on your helmet. Many riders prefer to sync their light with their sight line, so they can look around corners and up the trail if needed, while pointing the bike where it needs to go. By contrast, bar mounted lights only point toward where you are going at that moment.

Buddy system is best for night biking

Night riding is not a time to go it alone. It’s not as if the actual riding is any more dangerous or difficult, but if there is an issue, you are far less likely to run into a helpful passerby at night. Therefore, bring your helpful passerby along with you. The only issue I have had riding with others at night is the shadows that more than one light will produce. This issues is easily remedied by spreading out a bit further than you would in the daytime.

Night Riding in groups is fun and safe.

What to expect when night biking

The greatest part of night riding is it’s ability to surprise you. As an example, I find that trails I know by heart take on new dimensions when my light is focused but limited. This change of visual often directs me to take new lines and approach areas differently. Also, you see totally different wildlife in the woods at night. Coyote, owl, and bats are some of my more favorite night time friends. Finally, mountain biking at night gives you the feeling that you are going faster. I don’t exactly know the psychological reasons, but when you can only see 20-30 feet in front of you, those feet seem to accelerate faster than if your vision was unlimited.

Quiet

Riding a mountain bike at night is also a chance to enjoy the quiet. Fewer riders and less commotion helps me eliminate one more distraction and just enjoy the trail. Add in snow to muffle any sound that is there, and you have the recipe for a Zen like mountain biking experience.

mountain biking at night

Surroundings melt away leaving only the trail ahead.

“But I have promises to keep and miles to go before I sleep”

We all have a life outside of our bike, and far too little time to live it. Riding your mountain bike at night is a way to find hours you might not normally have to ride. After the kids are asleep, the dishes are done, lunches are packed and laundry folded, consider mountain biking an alternative to turning in for the night. You might just love what you find!

 

First look at an amazing new bike light, the MagicShine MJ-900B

by John Brown, HaveFunBiking.com

MagicShine might not be the first name you think of when going out to buy a bike light, but maybe it should? The company’s beginnings were humble. In 1999, Minjun Electronic (Magic Shine’s parent company), opened for business in Shenzhen, China with the intent to produce LED light components. As a result of the need for a high quality/low cost light, in 2008 MagicShine was created, bursting onto the scene with the MJ-808 light. In fact, that light produced a startling 2000 lumens at a cost less than ½, of its competitors. Now, almost 10 years later they continue to produce cutting edge lights at approachable prices, like the MagicShine MJ-900B.

What makes this Magicshine Light so unique?

The MJ-900B is a 1000 lumen, single beam, rechargeable LED light. This Smart Light mounts to your handlebar and it recharges with a USB cable. At maximum brightness, the MJ-900B has a runtime of over 2 hours. Overall, these stats aren’t unique to the MagicShine, what is exciting is that this light can connect via Bluetooth with an app on your phone to manage light power and mode. On top of that, it retails on MagicShine’s website for $79.99 (well below any of its competitors).

MagicShine

Out of the Box for the first time

Out of The Box

The MJ-900B comes in a sturdy box, with a clean, die-cut foam packaging so you shouldn’t expect any damage from shipping. In the box you will find the lamp, lamp strap, battery, battery strap, USB cable, and instructions. The lamp is exquisite in design, and uses what appears to be only super durable materials. The lamp in held in place via a rubber strap that hooks the lamp’s steel baseplate. Whereas the rubber strap isn’t unique, the fact that they use steel rather than plastic for the base is special. Additionally, the Lamp has large cooling fins cast into the back of the light which are both elegant and robust.

Lamp details front and side

The battery is well sealed and sports a large, soft, rubber base that should hold well against any type of surface. The 18” battery cord is removable for storage and watertight once installed. There is a rubber cap on the backside that can be opened to expose the charging port. Next to the charging port is a USB port you can plug into to charge other devices and a power button that displays the batteries current charge.

Detail of the USB charging doc, power indicator, and removable battery cable

Bluetooth app functions for MagicShine

I downloaded the MagicShine App to see just how well it worked. The first thing I noticed was that the App started without asking for access to any of my phone’s files (it’s a major pet peeve of mine when apps need access to unrelated parts of your phone). Once the app opened, you add your email address and receive an activation code through e-mail quickly. With the code in, the app connected to my light automatically. From there, it was super easy to navigate. Changing light settings or functions is as easy as tapping the icon and if you find settings you like, they can be saved for later use.

The Bluetooth app is really easy to navigate and expands the amount of control you normally have over your light

Moving forward

I am excited to see how long the light runs and how quickly the battery takes to recharge. As a point of reference, the light came out of the package with a full charge. Considering that package was most likely sealed months ago, it’s a good indication the batteries are pretty stable. Keep an eye out for the extended review coming up soon.