Situational awareness is one of the most important aspects of cycling as you should always be riding defensively. Rear radar systems are a passive way to detect vehicles behind you but have been an expensive option as the Garmin Varia has been the only mainstream option. That’s all changed now with the introduction of the Magene L508 and the co-developed Magicshine SEEMEE 508 we’ll be looking at in this review. The SEEMEE 508 has a $139.99 retail price and utilizes standard radar communication protocols. Not only is the SEEMEE 508 more affordable, but it also features a built-in brake sensor and supports customization via the Magene Utility app. The radar can see objects upto 140m away and supports a 40 degree beam angle to see vehicles even as you turn.
The Magicshine x Magene SEEMEE 508 rear radar is not only an affordable option to the Garmin Varia but also features a brake sensor.
|Rating||9.3 / 10|
|Measured Weight (in g)||62 (radar), 20 (seatpost mount)|
|Likes||+ Affordable price |
+ Wide beam angle detects cars while turning
+ Accurate detection with minimal false positives
|Dislikes||– Average taillight especially compared to other Magicshine SEEMEE taillights|
– Brake sensor cannot be disabled
– Magene Utility app doesn’t offer much customization
|Where to Buy (US)||Magicshine |
15% OFF coupon code: “TheSweetCyclists”
The Magicshine x Magene SEEMEE 508 comes packed in a sleek black/orange cardboard box. Inside the box you’ll find:
- Seemee 508 radar
- Multiple o-rings
- Handlebar mount
- USB-C charging cable
- User manual
The packaging design matches other Magicshine products but also features the Magene logo on the front.
Similar to the other Magicshine SEEMEE products, the SEEMEE 508 includes a simple but clever plastic seatpost mount that can work with nearly any seatpost profile. The inner rubber pad has several cutouts: a deep narrow cutout for aero seatposts, a squared off cutout for square seatposts and a standard round profile for round seatposts. It’s a smart design that eliminates the need for separate rubber pads or additional pieces. The mount itself uses a simple rubber o-ring to wrap around the seatpost and into inset hooks on the mount. The SEEMEE 508 has a Garmin style mount that uses a standard quarter-turn to attach to the seatpost mount. It’s a common design which means nearly any aftermarket radar or Garmin mount should work with the SEEMEE 508. Magicshine also includes multiple o-rings to accommodate different seatpost diameters.
FIT & FINISH
Visually, the SEEMEE 508 radar looks quite similar to the Garmin Varia with a top mounted LED and a flat bottom radar region. The SEEMEE 508 has a glossy black plastic exterior with a rounded rectangular profile. In contrast to the Garmin Varia, the taillight uses a ring of individual LEDs with the power button placed in the center. The entire body of the radar has a rounded profile which improves the side visibility and allows the SEEMEE 508 have 220 degrees of visibility. The Magicshine SEEMEE 508 and the Magene 508 are visually identical except for the Magicshine branding on the bottom of the light. Magicshine has incorporated a tether loop into the top of the radar while the USB-C port is underneath the rubber gasket on the back of the SEEMEE 508. Due to the large radar surface, the SEEMEE 508 doesn’t really hide behind seatposts but has nearly the same overall dimensions as the Garmin Varia.
The power button is well sized and has an easy to use one-level user menu. A long press turns the light on and off while a quick press cycles through the six available modes. There is mode memory which ensures the SEEMEE 508 always turns back on in the same mode it was turned off in. Unlike other smart lights which have multiple long hold features, the SEEMEE 508 has no additional options. Even the brake sensor functionality can not be toggled off, which is a feature most of the SEEMEE taillights offer. There is also a small indicator light near the bottom of the light that flashes to indicate that the radar functionality is on or to indicate a lower battery status. A more detailed battery status is available through the Magene app or your bike computer sensor screen. Also note that the SEEMEE 508 uses standard communication protocols which means it works with the Bryton Rider computers, Garmin or any other device that supports radars.
MAGENE UTILITY APP
As with the Magene 508, the SEEMEE 508 supports output mode customization via the Magene Utility App. There was a lot of controversy around this feature as the initial Magene press releases indicated that there would be a $5 cost or require account creation to access the feature. We are happy to report that the app is free, and there is no account registration required. You can even skip the login page and go directly to the device sync screen. Once you’re in the app there are only a few basic options: changing the flash mode speed, disabling radar per mode or disable the auto sleep option. The ability to disable the radar per mode is a nice feature, but something we don’t see a lot of value in as the radar taillight combination is so large that it would make more sense to use a standard taillight if you did not want the radar functionality. Note, the rotate mode is not listed on the app currently which we expect may just be a bug in the current software release.
Compared to other apps like the Sharen Raz Pro or the Smart Bike Lights Cliq the options are a bit disappointing. Those apps allow for color selection, LED intensity and even the ability to re-arrange modes. We would have liked to see more customization options such as individual control over LEDs, colors or at least the option to disable the brake sensor. Although the flash mode intervals can be adjusted between a pre-populated list of timing values per mode we found the default settings to be more than adequate. That’s why we think the Magene Utility App isn’t really worth downloading until more functionality is added to it.
Magicshine has incorporated six output modes into the SEEMEE 508. There are two constant modes, three flash modes and a radar only mode (i.e. taillight off but radar on). The two constant modes are a full 20 lumen constant mode or a lower 6 lumen “peleton” mode with a claimed 6 and 8 hour runtimes respectively. The three flash modes are: low/high flash (i.e. a nighttime style flash), pulse (i.e. gradual up/down ramping) and a fun rotate mode that gives the illusion of rotation. Runtimes for the flash modes vary from 10 to 12 hours with pulse mode being the most economic. We were a bit surprised to see no daytime flash or standard on/off style flash mode which can be more useful for daytime riding. Unlike the other Magicshine SEEMEE lights which have ambient light sensors and an associated “smart” mode that automatically switches between a daytime / night time mode, the SEEMEE 508 would need to be manually changed if desired.
The radar only option that turns the taillight off but retains the radar functionality which extends the runtime up to 16 hours. To distinguish the radar only mode from the taillight being off, the small indicator light flashes while the mode is active. The SEEMEE 508 has three output states: selected mode, brake sensing (solid mode) and car approaching warning (fast flash). When deceleration is detected via an internal sensor the taillight switches to a solid mode from the current mode. As with other brake sensing lights like the Magicshine SEEMEE 200 or Moon Sport Helix Sense taillights, the brake sensor can product a lot of false positives. We found the SEEMEE 508 would trigger when actually coming to stop as well as slight decelerations which can reduce the overall runtime. The fast flash mode is similar to the Garmin Varia radars, and is triggered the first time a vehicle is seen to help drivers see you. While we wish the SEEMEE 508 had inherited more design features from the other Magicshine SEEMEE taillights, it’s effective for day or nighttime riding.
Overall, we found the Magicshine SEEMEE 508 to be an impressive budget friendly alternative to the Garmin Varia rear radar taillight. Co-developed with Magene, the Magicshine SEEMEE 508 and Magene 508 share the same features and well calibrated detection algorithm. The wide 40 degree beam of the radar produces accurate detection of approaching cars, motorcycles or even bicycles to help you stay safe and have situational awareness while riding. We were impressed with the accuracy of the radar as it produced minimal false positives and could even detect cars approaching on windy roads. Although the 20 lumen taillight isn’t as impressive as Magicshine’s other SEEMEE products, there are plenty of modes to choose from and good visibility. The main negatives we found with the radar is that the Magene Utility app offers minimal customization and that the brake sensor cannot be disabled. That said, if you’re looking for a safer way to ride without breaking the bank, the SEEMEE 508 radar is an excellent option.
Disclaimer: The product for this review was provided by Magicshine. The views expressed on this website are solely those of the authors and are here to help people make an informed choice before a purchase. The authors or the blog itself does not get any monetary compensation from the product manufacturer or third-party websites/vendor links that are posted here.