Now here is something for almost everyone who wants to mountain bike at night: the MagicShine GMG Special 900 PLUS light set. Now read the next sentence carefully: At $89 you get an LED lamp advertised at 900 Lumens with a lithum-ion battery and charger. Basically you get a high powered lighting system that can be taken off road and will not take you to the poor house!
Admittedly I was shocked at the low price and had to investigate these lights for myself. The neatly packed box includes the light, battery, charger, and extension cable. The light itself features a sturdy aluminum construction with a single LED emitter and reflector with the mount integrated and held in place with a strong rubber o-ring. In fact the box includes a total of four o-rings (two larger, two small) for multiple bike mounting options. The lamp is adequately sealed for MTB-type riding, though I would think twice about submerging this unit completely under water.
The battery sports a 12-inch cable and GeoManGear also includes a 1-meter extension cord. The lithium ion battery pack is a 4-cell 18650 battery sealed in an aluminum shell. All of this is contained in a neoprene bag that can be attached to your bike (seatpost or toptube) or to your person (hydration pack or jersey pocket) using the extension cable.
The Magic Shine features 5 modes of operation: three power levels (high @ 900 lumens*, medium @ 500 lumens*, and low @ 200 lumens*) plus a fast strobe flash and an SOS mode (blinks SOS in Morse code). Plugging in the light to the battery illuminates the power switch at the back of the light which is good and bad. In total darkness it’s nice that you can see the power switch. But in the back of your mind you can’t help but think about the fact that it’s consuming precious battery life Speaking of battery life you should get about 3 hours** of run time with the MagicShine GMG Special 900 on high power. Charging the unit takes about 4 hours.
After using the Magic Shine GMG Special 900 I have to say I don’t think it fires a full 900 lumens (my guess is closer to 550 or so). Just remember this unit only costs $89 and includes just a single LED emitter and not an array like pricier light sets (some of which can cost up to six-times as much).
Despite only having a single LED, the beam pattern is actually pretty decent and useful. Essentially the reflector produces a mixed pattern with a strong central beam and a mediocre outer pattern. Looking at the photo above you can see a series of blocks set at 10 foot intervals and the last two block are 9 inches wide to represent a thin trail. You can see at about 25 feet the pattern is around 6 feet wide which is fine for most riders. What you don’t see is the secondary fill light (hard to take a photo of) which is decent but not as pronounced as other units on the market. This is the main difference between the MagicShine light and more fully-featured lights – after all, there is only so much you can do with a single LED. Still, even hardcore 24-hour racers should be mostly happy with the performance of this light.
Overall I have to say if you keep in mind the cost of this unit and assume the advertised light strength isn’t as high as claimed, you will still be very happy to operate one of these GMG Special 900 Plus lights. You get everything you need to mount this on your bar and for an extra $10 you can get a helmet mount, adding to the flexibility of this unit. Although some of the details aren’t as refined as other brands out there (example: light cable configuration is slightly awkward) it’s still a super value. With a 90-day warranty, if anything does go wrong GeoMan will take good care of you (though nothing went wrong while I was testing).
I would like to thank GeoMan for supplying the light for review. Visit GeoManGear and take a look for yourself.
* Advertized light output and not confirmed.
** Maximum advertized burn time.