- by John Hawkins
- Published: 21 December 2012
“Good evening, officer. What can I do for you?”
“What’s going on?” the policeman demanded.
“I’m taking beam shots of mountain bike trail lights for a magazine article … has there been a complaint?” I replied.
“They’re the brightest lights we’ve ever seen. No, we thought you were a car or motorbike. I’m amazed. Who makes them?”
“It’s a German brand, ‘My Tiny Sun’.”
“They certainly are.”
After a bit of casual chitchat about whether I was going for a ride later, they seemed satisfied and turned back the way they came. “We look forward to seeing the review” the constable intoned ominously on leaving.
I had to laugh. The powerful high-beam of the MyTinySun Sport 2700x’s spilled into the National Park and completely illuminated an unlit road late on a Sunday night; this had obviously piqued their professional curiosity. The constable is right: this light is very powerful. The 2700 in the light’s name refers to 2700 measured lumens, and not the inflated theoretical lumens of the emitter that other manufacturers use to boost the marketing value of their lights.
MyTinySun Sport 2700x light beam (on high)
For comparison, Ay-Up V4 Adventure Helmet + Handlebar kit
(Photos: Canon EOS 600D, set at F9 and ISO400 with a 21mm focal length for 15 seconds)
MyTinySun in the spotlight
The MyTinySun 2700x offers a very satisfying throw and, while the beam is slightly centre weighted, it offers a very even spread across a wide angle. This resolves the majority of the issues I’ve previously encountered with other brands of lights, such as losing the foreground when the bar-mounted lights point out into empty space on fast descending switchbacks, as well as fatiguing tunnel vision during technical trail sections.
The MyTinySun’s head is equipped with 3 Cree XM-L U2 LEDs in a finned black anodised alloy housing which also incorporates the main power and mode selection switch. The tempered glass lenses provide a wide 19 degree beam angle. It does get hot, but it is also German made, so it has to pass strict German safety regulations. The light head circuitry includes temperature overload protection to ensure the emitters stay within safe operating temperatures, automatically reducing power output to prevent damage to componentry in hot conditions. This unit comes in at a satisfyingly light 110 grams (excl. battery pack).
The Sport 2700x head uses the common ‘tool-free’ o-ring style of mount, but incorporates a nice toggle lever to enable easy release when required. While convenient, I did find the head moved around a little on my smooth carbon bars when trying to operate the switch with my thumb. Due to the heat generated on high beam after standing stationary for 10 minutes, bracing against the front of the head unit with bare forefingers to press the button was uncomfortably hot. However, I suspect this will be much less of an issue while riding as the motion of the bike provides cooling airflow, and most mountain bikers use full-finger gloves anyway.
An easy fix that improves mounting stability and reduces the risk of trail vibration (causing the light head to shift) is to use Velcro, 3M Dual Lock or the self-adhesive rubber strip that is provided with the MyTinySun unit.
The head unit is IP 67 waterproof, and the connector plugs are shielded by rubber covers to protect water from entering. It means you don’t have to worry about the light even if you hit a tropical storm. I personally would have preferred the leads on the battery and head unit to be each a couple of centimetres longer. I found it necessary to use the extension cable, which made the cable a bit too long, and wrapping it around the bars and stem got messy. There were some neat red Velcro cable tidies included in the kit, so I should probably just use these and suck it up instead of complaining.
The large 5.8Ah battery pack, supplied with the systems sold in Australia, provides for almost 3 hours of operation on high beam. Even with this larger battery, the total system weight comes to a very modest 550g. This is within 50g of the Ferei BL200s we reviewed a few weeks ago, for almost twice the runtime and almost twice the real output. Judicious use of mid beam on the climbs could extend a full battery to 4 or 5 hours duration easily.
Operating the MyTinySun Sport 2700x
I particularly liked the mode switch operation of this light. In Simple mode, there are three light levels and a simple bump of the button toggles between mid and full power. More importantly, you don’t have to pass through an “off” phase to get high beam back when starting a fast or tricky descent; bump the button and you’ve got it back immediately.
To get the third light level, low beam, say when you need to stop to fix a puncture, it is simply a matter of holding the button down for a second and releasing as soon as low is triggered. Bump it once to return to mid-beam again. To turn off, simply hold the button for one and half seconds until the button turns red. Simple to use, it shows the manufacturers have invested considerable thought into their products usability in the field.
The illuminated button doubles as fuel gauge by passing through a range of colours on its journey from green to red.
Engage an Expert
Expert mode gives you a choice of six setups, each providing a range of light power levels in either Power or Eco programs. These setups give you the choice of going from 330 lumens to 2700 lumens in 3 steps, 330 lumens to 1800 lumens in 5 steps, or 330 lumens to 2700 in six steps, and using either the colour of the button LED or a main light flash sequence to indicate the amount of charge left in the battery.
Engaging Expert mode is as simple turning off the head unit completely (i.e. no status light) with the power connected and holding down the button for 20 seconds. You then get to enjoy a light show while it cycles through all of the programs. The instructions cover the setup choices available and how to select the program you want.
When you next turn the light on, it remembers the mode and program you previously selected so you don’t have to go through the process again. Tapping the button steps you up and then back down the range of available light levels in the program. In a competitive mountain bike race this could get a bit awkward with so many light levels, but cruising around at night far away from civilisation, this allows you to better match the light output to your needs so that you can squeeze the most life possible from the battery. These setups would be suited to back country touring and camping. If you get into trouble, there is an SOS flash option that can only be disengaged by disconnecting the power.
Returning back to Simple mode is a matter of holding down the button for 20 seconds again and enjoying another light show. For racing and training though, Simple mode is brain-fade proof, and on that count is just about perfect for my particular brand of insanity: 24 hour mountain bike team relay racing.
Let there be Light
To find out what I think of these lights in action and to read my conclusions, you’ll have to wait for Part II of this review. The MyTinySun is due to see some serious action this summer, so if you see bright lights streaming from Manly Dam in Sydney at night, you will know who it is. Hopefully there’ll be no red and blue flashing lights following close behind.
Until then, you can see more of the MyTinySun Sport 2700x on the MyTinySun website where they’re available for $629 with the larger capacity 5.8Ah battery pack.