The cycling world, as much of the world at large does, seems to have a bit of a "love-hate" relationship with high tech-but low cost-goods made in Asia. Most often, it seems that the "hate" part of the equation is most often directed at the Alibaba.com-esque mass-produced goods without anyone really serving as an accountable party when things go wrong. In the world of lights, a company called MagicShine made huge waves in the "love" department when they burst onto the scene with a reportedly 900lm LED light for less than $100. The "love" quickly transitioned into equivocation, and then to hate, as battery problems plagued the lightset. Independent testing also measured the MagicShine output at slightly more than half of the reported output, seeming to put another stake in the heart of the low-cost, high-output LED light.
The story of MagicShine is worth noting because the Cyclops Adventure Sport LED Adventure Light (ADV), the light covered in this review, will draw inevitable comparisons. It's an Asian-made light with a single LED putting out a claimed 900lm. Many companies list only the reported light output in lumens because the specific measuring device for lumens-called an integrating sphere-is a very precise, but very expensive, piece of equipment. Only a few of the very high-end brands actually measure the exact output of their lights. Most rely on the LED manufactures reported specs for lumens at a given amperage. Cyclops Adventure Sport, however, is one of the few companies that notes this distinction publicly. They explicitly say that 900lm is what the Seoul P7 LED should output at the amperage provided by the battery pack. Furthermore, the Cyclops ADV was made for Cyclops, to their specifications, and they are the ones that stand behind it, answer (and provide) for warranty claims, etc. When you rely on a light to keep you safe on the trails, peace of mind that someone is standing behind your light is important. And while, from a technical standpoint, it is *similar* to the MagicShine, it is certainly not the same. The biggest difference comes in the emitter, the technical term for the LED used. The MagicShine uses a Seoul Semiconductors SSC P7 emitter. So does the Cyclops ADV. However, the MagicShine uses the C-class emitter. The Cyclops uses the D-class emitter. Think of it like a car. The BMW 528i sedan has a 240hp engine strapped into a 5-series chassis. The BMW 535i sedan has a 300hp engine strapped into the exact same chassis. While there are some obvious shortcomings to the analogy, the C-class P7 is like the 528i and the D-class P7 is like the 535i. While both LEDs are *supposed* to put out 900lm, the overall reliability, variance, and output of the D-class emitter is quite a bit better. In writing this though, I will caution that this is based off my own reading and not-overly scientific analysis of the situation. I've done my best to interpret the readily available material. I did not buy 500 of each emitter and test them. I wish I had. I wish I could. But I haven't. And can't. So I'm trying to do my best to rely on the available information, much of which is notably lacking on the manufacturers side, so it often comes down to looking for thoughts from folks that actually work with the LEDs off of a bike, have experience with the LEDs in bike lights, and so on. So, in the interest of full disclosure, please accept those limitations and try not to skewer me too much.
Now, onto the light. It's a very simple single-LED design with a very large reflector to shape and direct the beam in an efficient and usable manner. Regardless of the exact output of the light, I will simply say that it is stunningly bright. It is, perhaps, the first light where I'd be seriously concerned about running it full time during the day. The light has three modes - high, low, and flashing, with a simple push button on the back to switch between the three modes. The flashing mode will certainly get you noticed. The question is whether or not it might be so bright that it might be a bit of a distraction to drivers. In my opinion, this light is best used as a light for low-light commuting or night-riding on a MTB or some other off-road recreational activity. If you are looking primarily for a light for use during the daytime, I think this would not be my first choice. But if you need a light for low-light or night-activities, the Cyclops ADV is a fantastic choice. It has an integrated contoured section that fits on bars. And it comes with two heavy duty O-rings, one small diameter for 26.2 or 25.4 bars, and one larger one for 31.8 bars. It also comes with a dual-purpose helmet or waist mount. It has very long velcro straps, to allow to you wear it as a waist-mounted light, which is awesome for trail running, as you can use a much heavier and high-powered light without having to put it on your head. If you want to mount it on your helmet, you cut the straps down. In either case, you use the small diameter O-ring to mount it to the rounded center piece. It's very nice and very simple. If you want both a helmet and a waist mount, you can buy an additional mount for $11.95. If that seems cheap, it's because it is. Many lights use similar mounting systems, and even if the lights are made in Europe or the US, the mounts are not. Yet the mounts offer carry a price-tag similar to the lights themselves. The Cyclops ADV mount continues this trend, only it matches the ADV's low price.
And it's really price that jumps out when you start talking about dollars per lumen. The ADV with charger, battery pack, battery case, waist/helmet mount, extension cord, and two O-rings comes in a very nice cardboard package with pre-cut foam sections for storage for $139.95, stunningly low for this sort of brightness. While this is ever so slightly more expensive than the MagicShine, you get the peace of mind of dealing with a company where you know that folks answering the emails and phone are the folks who spec'ed the ADV. And those folks have a background in providing lights to motocross and other off-road enthusiasts. Cyclops Adventure Sport primarily serves the gasoline-powered off-road community. But the ADV light is aimed at serving those folks who prefer to power themselves. But it's worth noting that this is a company that does lights. And it does a lot of lights. And it does them for folks who are just as demanding as cyclists about their lights. And I think that shows. The waist-mount especially is a very nice, and very unique, accessory. It's easy to wear the light around your waist, and the battery pack easily attaches to the long velcro straps. It's quite comfortable as well, and for folks that don't want to deal with something on their head, it's also a very nice alternative. You might get some funny looks with what does, admittedly, look a bit humorous to those of us without the purest of thoughts and intentions, but that certainly doesn't detract from it's usability. It lights the trail ahead you plenty brightly, while keeping your hands free and your head unencumbered.
The one area of weakness is the battery charge indicator. The on/off/change switch on the back is green when the battery charge is 61-100%. It changes to blue at 60%. But those are the only two indicators. This is one area where the MagicShine outshines the ADV; it goes Green to Blue to Yellow to Red to Flashing-Red. The ADV does somewhat make up for it by offering massive battery life. The included 5200mAh cell is enough to power the light on high for over four hours. It also has the distinct advantage of never have been recalled. But you do need to keep an eye on your watch, because when the battery does die, it dies. The light doesn't go into "reserve" mode or anything like that. When you run out of juice, the light goes out. As with the status indicator, I think that the circuitry is the one area of the ADV that really could be improved.
Yet again, most of what I've written here is largely redundant to actually seeing the light in action. I put this light to the test in what I consider to be the single most risky riding situation I can imagine - having the sun at your back. Despite looking essentially directly into the sun, the light still is quite visible, and I think that should hopefully serve as a testament to the efficacy of these bright lights as valuable safety tools. There's also a bit of a demo of the light in it's waist mounted configuration. I'll hope you'll forgive my indulgence of my admittedly low-brow sense of humor.
For more information or to purchase the Cyclops ADV, you can visit their website at CyclopsAdventureSports.com. If you have any questions on the light, the folks at CAS are extremely helpful. Darryl in particular is the man to ask about the light, and he's a great resource for any and all questions.