Category: commuting

MJ-880 2000 lumen light

Last April I had the chance to ride around the Mazda Racetrack in Monterey at dusk testing out Magicshine’s 2000 lumen MJ-880 light.  It was… impressive, though that impressiveness comes at a cost, both monetarily (it’s around $200) and engineering.

The unboxing is a little underwhelming – everything is fairly well packed but once you get past the nice finish on the box it definitely looks like it came from a generic factory in China. That didn’t really bother me, I don’t have an altar of product boxes dedicated to the god of consumerism, but it could be a little offputting. Even though I feel I’d rather pay for the product than landfill, having bought a number of Apple products I have come to expect a certain “style” from premium electronic devices, and this falls into that category.


The first major compromise comes from the fact that the light has an external battery pack.  It’s pretty easy to attach once you get used to it (at least on a standard steel tube, angular aluminum ones work fine but  require a little more attention to positioning), but it’s another step. Assuming you aren’t just riding to and from places where you can safely keep a $200 accessory on your bike, this is the process:

Battery Pack Straps
  1. align battery to frame
  2. run the two straps into their hooks
  3. place extra loops in the bracket holders (optional)
  4. either wrap the power line around your stem, or attach with velcro
  5. mount the front light via the “talon like basement
  6. connect the power lines

Then do that all over again in reverse, and again. And again. It’s not a big deal, but I’m not sure it’d be my go to light for riding around town.

The connections seem very solid while being easily adaptable to different frames, and you get faster as you get used to it, but it’s definitely not slipping on a planet bike light onto a mount and hopping out for a quick grocery run and popping it into your pocket once you get there. There’s also an issue of placement, if you strap it near the front or back of your tube and it will make pulling out a water bottle an issue, but in the middle it tends to get knocked by your knees. Generally if you need a 2000 lumen light, you’re probably not going to be guzzling water, but it’s something to be aware of.

Then again, after using this my 76 lumen Planet Bike Blaze 1W light, which lights up street signs blocks away felt like it was a dying candle illuminating the ground in front of me.  I went to an unlit area and ran a quick comparison test (video) between the two. The difference is very striking, and if you were commuting through an unlit area, felt like drivers around you needed to feel like a motorcycle was coming at them to give you room, you like riding extremely fast at night (or mountain bike, etc), or just like the attention you’ll get a local bike party (video), this light will perform.  This light doesn’t blink, which I’m pretty sure will save lives.

The light, with talon-like basement.

The metallic portion of the light gets… warm. Uncomfortable to the touch. I haven’t been burned from it, but you’ll want to handle with caution.  There are heat sink fins on the device, and considering I can warm my hands by placing them in the beam of light this is probably just an unavoidable consequence of the raw energy being put out.  There have been jokes about mounting a dish on top and cooking eggs on top. Not a lifebreaking issue, but it’s something to be aware of.

If you want the full blaze of glory 2000 lumens all those Li-Ion batteries last around two hours, though you can step things down and get more hours. But that’s not why you’re using this light, right?! If you can easily charge the battery pack at work and/or at home every commute that’s not an issue, but that’s a lot more to think about than a standard AA light as well.

At the end of the day I’d highly recommend it if you feel you truly need the lumens – but keep in mind it’ll require a little more time and attention.  This is a piece of extreme gear, and the compromises in the experience are due because it is extreme… it’s up to you to analyze your needs and see whether the truly impressive output is worth the effort.

The MJ-880 and other models of lights from Magicshine are available for purchase from Magicshine USA.

All aboard the Los Angeles Bike Train

Bicycle trains offer bike commuters a fun, safer ride to work with regularly scheduled group rides. Ride leaders commit to a regular departure time and route, allowing other commuters to join in.

Bike trains are usually used in the context of biking to school along with walking school buses. Such group riding and walking programs are used by alternative transportation advocates as a way to address parental “stranger danger” fears.

Bike trains are also used in the context of adult commuters. Well-run bike trains are a proven method of encouraging others to ride to school and work by providing a “safety in numbers” benefit. The group activity helps newcomers overcome anxiety on the road.

L.A. Bike Trains in Los Angeles extends the train metaphor by assigning route numbers on regularly schedule rides. “Conductors” lead the rides to various destinations around Los Angeles.

Los Angeles Bike Train routes


A different kind of commuter challenge

I love this challenge from Lady Fluer: The “Take the Anything Goes Commute Challenge.”

What about you? How many commute options have you tried? Two, perhaps three? Have you tried everything? Maybe you should take the Anything Goes Commute Challenge with me. I’d love to hear all about your varied commutes. I know some of you have some interesting commutes involving trail rides, bikes on ferries, running and roller skates. (Those were all from Californians, but I know there are creative people everywhere)

To join the challenge: Try two or more commute options during April. Think out of the box. There’s probably an option you haven’t tried yet, like the bus or multi-modal trips like bike + car. Record the distances, time spent in each mode and cost of the trip for each. If your work or school commute offers only one reasonable option, feel free to substitute another frequent destination such as a store or friend’s house.

Since posting that challenge, she’s posted her own experiences with various commute modes – driving solo, biking, and taking light rail — and listing the trip times, costs, advantages and disadvantages for each mode.

Busy light rail

Regular Cyclelicious readers know that I’m a multimodal commute fiend. On a typical day I ride a bike, a bus, a train, and then the bike again. I’ve walked, ran, scootered and skated to work. I’ve even considered ways to incorporate a sailboat, kayak, surfboard or paddleboard into my commute. During the summer months I’ll bike the entire distance to the office and then take the bus home in the evening.

Lady Fleur will post the rules of her challenge on Monday, but in the meantime, check out what she’s tried so far.

Good Enough Just Got Better

For over a year now I have been eying a wheelset upgrade for the roadie commuter, but could never justify the expense while the existing wheelset was rolling just fine (stock Alex R500’s). Performance has always had a great price on their well-reviewed and popular Forte Titan wheels, but I always miss a sale or have another expense to attend to. Last weekend Performance was letting these babies go for $140 a pair, with $25 off for orders over $150, and I needed a chain tool. Perfect. The shop trued them for me and I went home and mounted them immediately. (more…)