Think Chinese lights and you may be mistaken for thinking about the cheap 25 quid eBay specials you will have seen a lot of, usually knocking about your local trails, among the more expensive European versions with a much larger price tag. These cheap lights sell for a pretty much throw away price, sporting shabby open wire batteries, long single piercing narrow beams, power source and bulbs which tend to go pop without any warning! Leaving you wondering, is it really worth the saving, when you’re upside down in the dark?
Well the Magicshine MJ-880 may be made in China, but that is definitely where the similarity stops, with a price tag around the region of the Hope R4, this is a light which really took me by surprise. Firstly lets start with the battery, now this is a real beast, matching the size of the Hope R8, with decent sturdy, buckle-type rubber strap mounts for your precious frame or an extra long lead for use in your pack when mounting upon a helmet, plus it comes with a proper self sealing plug. This Lithion ion battery with a charge time of 3.5 hrs produces a fantastic 8.4V/6.6ah of power, keeping the light running flat out on full brightness mode for 2.3 hours.
The light unit itself comes with 2 CreeXM-L LED bulbs, giving out an incredible 2000 lumens of power. The beam is unbelievably bright and has a real good spread, enough in my opinion, to match the Hope R8. It has a great Euro looking stealthy finned design, with back-lit selector buttons on top, so (if bar mounted) you can see which of the many modes you are currently in. Plus the life expectancy of this unit is a whopping 50,000 hours. The power selection buttons are nice and easy to find if you have it helmet mounted, and it’s not too weighty to be on top of your precious helmet. Bar mounting comes in the form (like the cheaper ones) of a rubber band, but this is far more substantial and once you have set where you want it, it stays in place. The only thing I would knock it for, is that it doesn’t come with a helmet mount, so you have to buy as an extra. Plus when it arrived it was the type that straps right around your helmet, these do not stay in place. But out came the snips, keeping the main base attachment, cut off the straps and cable tie to the helmet and we were in business. The light unit itself also has an overheat and overcharge protection and low battery warning.
I have now put many a ride in over the wet winter with this light, I do turn it onto low power up the long hills and it has never once ran out of battery, with some rides up to 3 hours, it has never once failed and in my very recent Llandegla night race, matched with the handlebar mounted (also fantastic) Hope R8 I felt smug in the knowledge I probably lit up the trail more than any other rider that night!
It may not come with a proper helmet strap or engineered bar mount, like the Hope R8, but it really does match the power, and at less than half the price!
Words and pics: Jim Buchanan