Questions about purchasing bicycles and parts
It's a difficult comparison. In basic numbers, the MS demolishes it - lumens, beam width, penetration, price, weight is similar, ability to stop cars in their tracks, even beam spread. And I ran two of them.
But the MagicShine has its downsides - the plugs are painfully tight, and after daily replugging the cords eventually fail. Cord replacement is cheap though - I used to unplug between the extension and a y splitter so they died first. But then my battery cables died too... That was a major motivation for going to something with inbuilt batteries.
The other massive downside is the amount of light they spill upwards at oncoming traffic. As a road (and bike path) user, this is just antisocial, and (without going into too much discussion about visual acuity and psychology) potentially has downsides such as glare/dazzle, and being seen as a nuisance.
In my opinion you don't need something that can be seen from the moon and zaps mosquitos from the trees. What you need from a light is enough to be seen, by people who need to know (ie, within a certain distance range and approach angle), without being offensive, and also an even illumination of your path, both near and far. The Saferide manages to achieve this pretty effectively.
I bought mine from Bike24. It cost just over $100 (love a high AUD and weak Euro, and don't forget their list prices include VAT that will be subtracted at checkout) and took just over 4 weeks to arrive. I would have liked the black model but they weren't in stock, so I have a silver one. An industrial designer (and fellow rider) at my work said its design was "very Philips" - in other words, clean, functional and well designed for the task at hand. The front lens is plastic but it so far (just a few weeks admittedly) isn't showing any scratches. The oval shape is unusual, but I believe it's a deliberate design choice - a small round light is hard to judge the movement and distance of; a larger shape will give traffic more clues about your size, distance and speed - exactly what you want to stay safe. The button switch is on top, directly above the bar mount, so clicking it won't change the beam position (unlike the rear button on the o-ring mounted magicshine, which causes it to tip down). Very clever.
Shining the light on a wall, you'll probably be underwhelmed by what you see. But on the road it's a different story. The 4W/270lm (real, tested lumens, not theoretical fairyland lumens) high output sounds (and is) weak in modern terms, but it is put exactly where it is needed to evenly light the road at a distance, with enough spill in other directions to be seen. This even illumination (bright in the distance and weaker closer to you), whilst you might measure it at lower lux than some MTB lights, gives a really good perceived brightness. I believe this is because you don't have close objects/ground brightly lit, which would affect your eyes/brain and make distant objects seem (relatively) darker. So the distant objects (below the cutoff) are (very) adequately illuminated.
The beam cutoff (in line with German StVZO requirements) is the main feature. It means the oncoming view is not at all irritating, which is exactly what I wanted. You can hold this light at arms length and illuminate your nose without it being the least bit dazzling in your eyes. Tilt it up a fraction and - wow, holy sh..... hey kids! - um, it's really bright. I aim mine almost horizontal for maximum reach - useful along the dark bike trails, but still cut off enough to not affect drivers or riders. Above the cutoff, there is a small amount of spill, most of which is some random scatter patterns. This provides just enough illumination to see overhead branches etc, but it probably wouldn't be adequate for MTB use.
The beam pattern isn't flawless - at near field there is a dark gap between the reflected main beam and the spill straight off the emitters, which is noticeable and annoying. Focus your attention higher (in the main beam) and this isn't so bad, but it could be better (interesting to see how the new B&M Luxos will fare here with its additional lens). Unlike swhs I don't find the illuminated rim at all irritating, and it is good for being seen from any direction. If I were to do anything though it would be to make the total beam wider. The beam is wide enough for bike paths, but on road I think lighting up the side of the road/gutter/footpath would be a benefit (even if it was a gradual taper off to the sides).
The run time is perfectly adequate for me. The electronics are designed with a timer that you can't circumvent without pulling the batteries out, which is a tricky process. So on high you get 90 minutes from full charge, before it switches to low (1W) and give you another 2 hours before shutting off. This is regardless of the cells you use (eg 2100mAh vs 2450 mAh). That's enough for 3 commutes for me. Apparently it will do 8 hours on low, which is heaps, but I would only use that mode for city riding where you only need to be seen, not see in the dark. There is no blinking mode, which is fine by me. It's not that sort of light. There are 3 blue LEDs on the top that indicate remaining run time and they work very well at this - they're linked to the timer circuit so are very consistent. Again I don't find the brightness of these LEDs an issue. They are also a quasi-power-indicator - they glow brighter in low mode and dimmer in high mode.
About the batteries - it takes four AAs, which is double edged. Heavier than modern Li-ions (per mAh), but if they fail you can replace them conveniently. Sadly I had to do this out of the box - the supplied Philips cells didn't work for me (probably a shelf life issue), nor did my first replacement set. Third time lucky though. The other cells have been relegated to other less critical use (toys, wireless mouse etc). They contribute to making the light heavier and bulkier than it could be, but I suppose it keeps the cost down. On the bike the weight (~350g) isn't notable, but the bulk on the bars is a visual distraction (especially in the silver finish), and probably a physical one if you have a computer etc.
The charging is quite slow via USB - about 7 hours. Certainly nothing like my rapid AA charger (about 1 hour). But the charging progress is again well indicated by the blue LEDs. It's tricky to remove the batteries. The cover is held on by one hex key screw, which is difficult to engage, as is the cover. A hex key is supplied, but its fit is poor. The battery compartment is sealed with a very thin gasket (like 1mm cord) that I don't fully trust to be really watertight. Fortunately it doesn't need to be accessed regularly.
The mounting bracket is good, I've had no problem with it (I've read others have it slip). There are various pads to get the right fit on different bar sizes (oddly the listed fits are for 21-25mm, then a step to 26-28mm when you take the first pad out. Not sure what you're meant to do with the usual MTB bar size of 25.4mm - it definitely won't fit with the pad in, and the clamp does all the way up with the pad out, but it has stayed put like that). It will move with a good hand alignment, and laterally it has some click positions, between which there is enough flex in the rubber to get it pointed exactly where you want. It vibrates a slight amount (notable in distant reflectors at the cutoff height, but not excessively. The 2013 version comes with a new balljoint bracket design I see... Removing it from the bracket is a cinch, and reinserting on the bracket is very positive, with no looseness.
In all, for road riding I'd say it's the best thing currently on the market. It's not flawless, principally the near field beam pattern black hole, and the size is cumbersome, but bang for buck (and that includes reliability) it performs very well, and certainly none of the symmetrical beam lights on the market can offer its great beam cutoff (and none of the other cutoff lights currently on the market are as bright, with rare and expensive exception (B&M Big Bang)). The upcoming B&M Luxos should be a good competitor - similar brightness and possibly a much wider and maybe more even beam - though with an external battery. I would wait for next winter before putting my money down.
OK, that turned out longer than expected. Hope you find it useful.
Thanks for good the review, my ms has broken its plugs too.I cut open the wire re-solder and taped up with self vulcanizing tape seems ok.
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Last edited by Marty Moose on Sun Oct 07, 2012 5:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Thanks very much for the review Matt. At that price they sound worth a go, the quality sounds a lot better than the MS.
I'm not sure how they'll go on part of my commute that is a heavily treed descent with corners and plenty of Roos. The extra spill from the single MS I've been using has let me spot a few Roos over the winter.
I need the reliability they offer though. The run time reduction won't matter as I'll be able to charge at work. Next n+1 sorted and rationalised , thanks.
I am on my second Cygolite Expilion - this the 350 I think and year before the 250 that I gave to my Dad when I intended to use one on helmet, but found it was only distracting for the commute. I love the easy swivel left/right if you care like MattyK about wanting to have a strobe or full power option to use when terrain/branches require it, or for daylight strobe.
I was pointed here for MattyK's thorough review of the Philips SafeRide as landed. I'm after one but without the 4 week wait from Bike24 after getting used to service from the rest... but a DE legislated product I suppose must do as DE do I'll check out their tail light now too... but I have the stupidly over bright ones pointed down on solid for the 99% shared paths route I take, and am fine with the cheap old weak LED's, as riders passing would be relatively at walking pace closing speed.
I got a 2013 saferide 80 based on the review Andrew linked and MattyK's awesome write up. I got it from bike 24 also and it was about $120- and took 3 weeks to get here.
Very happy so far, I'm mainly using it on low, and swap to high for a few of the trickier sections on my commute. It's not the depths of winter yet though.
There is not the really bright central hot spot of the MS but the broad well controlled beam does a good job of lighting the road and the sides, where the roo's are lurking in kamikaze wait.
The beam width seems at least as wide or wider than I remember the MS and it is nice to be rid of the external battery and wiring issues.
I have had it tilt down on the bars on a bumpy fast descent on the commute, I've just tightened it a bit firmer for now. I'm yet to try some grip tape or an old tube as suggested by Nobody.
It hasn't rained much here so I cant comment on it's weather resistance, but the build quality is miles ahead of the MS.
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