http://road.cc/content/review/143954-magicshine-mj-858-front-light

Magicshine MJ-858 front light  £59.95

9/10

Excellent update to established high performance light; lots of light from a smaller, cheaper package

Weight 215g   Contact  www.magicshineuk.co.uk

by Nick Hodges   March 2, 2015  

The MJ-858 is styled as the replacement for Magicshine's stalwart MJ-808 unit, with Magicshine highlighting the compact design and excellent cooling compared to the predecessor. It certainly is small, a tiny gem of cast, black anodised aluminium with a small light aperture and base. It is barely longer than the base itself, which has two hooks for the now common rubber O-ring bar fixing. At the back of the head unit is a single power control button.

The light comes packaged with the head unit, battery, charger and O-rings. The battery included in mine was a 2.9Ah two-cell battery, although Magicshine offer a 4.4Ah four-cell battery pack as standard for the £60 price tag. I really think this is a great addition, as I found the 2-cell unit wasn't really up to daily winter commuting. The draw from the head unit and MJ-818 rear light resulted in almost daily recharging, with the battery lasting little more than two hours on full power. It didn't take me long to come to the same conclusion as Magicshine and switch in the four-cell battery from my MJ-808.

That said, the small two-cell battery was impressively compact, with an excellent wide, stretch-Velcro, strap. It has quickly found a home in my jersey pocket as a back-up battery for those days I forget to charge the main one. Both the two-cell and four-cell battery packs fit easily on the stem of my bike.

There are three beam settings, full, low and blink. The power settings are accessed by pressing the power button, which doubles as the battery life indicator. Pressing the button switches the unit on and cycles the beam settings and blink mode through to off. This does mean that moving from a lower beam setting to a higher one means cycling down through power off, which is a bit disconcerting on an unlit road.

Luckily, the button is reliable and easy to use even with winter gloves on. I never experienced any issues with control of the unit during a ride. The power button is back lit and the colour changes as the battery discharges, displaying green, blue, red and finally blinking red when the battery is close to empty. In a small change to previous Magicshine units I've used, the display only shows lit when the head unit is switched on, so if you are running a rear light from the same battery (as I do with the MJ-818) then the affect it is having on the battery life isn't obvious.

A change from the MJ-808 is the battery life indicator no longer shows amber between blue and red, with the unit having a bit more run time on the red indicator than it previously did. On the emergency red-flash mode there is still a decent 20 to 25 minutes of riding time which is enough to be practically useful.

In use the light is as impressive as it is discrete. It packs out a very decent beam with a good spread and a surprising throw for such a small reflector. I had no issues descending at speed on full beam, and even at the lower settings the output is more than enough for most riding. For a light as small as it is, and as well made, it really is striking how good the output is.

The price is another plus, with the new model being substantially cheaper than its predecessor. If the £60 price was with the two-cell battery I might caveat how good that price looks against the need to get a 'proper' four-cell battery, but as it includes the larger power pack it is superb value. There are plenty of imitators to Magicshine units available, but when the UK supplier is offering this model for the price they are it's hard to see what the benefits would be. Having the warranty and support makes it more than worthwhile to me.

Verdict

Excellent update to established high performance light; lots of light from a smaller, cheaper package