Magicshine’s Monteer series of wired mountain biking headlights are a popular option among cyclists looking for high output lights at budget friendly prices. The series currently consists of five options: the Monteer 3500S, 5000S, 6500S, and the absurdly bright 8000S where each of the model names match the max lumen output. In this review we’ll be taking a closer look at the most affordable headlight in the series, the Magicshine Monteer 3500S. Although the $199.99 retail price may sound high to new cyclists, the Magicshine Monteer 3500S offers an impressive value with 3500 FL-1 verified lumen output. To achieve the high output, Magicshine has incorporated five Luminus SST-20 LEDs and powers them with the 5200 mAh MJ-6116 battery pack. As with the other Monteer lights, the 3500S features a durable aluminum body and Garmin style quarter turn mount directly molded into the base of the headlight.
The Magicshine Monteer 3500S is a compact yet impressively bright wired headlight setup that boasts 3500 lumen output and a 350m throw.
|Measured Weight (in g)||108 (lighthead), 290 (MJ-6116), 14 (mount)|
|Likes||+ Compact form factor|
+ Universal Garmin style quarter turn mount
+ Bright output with focused center beam
|Dislikes||– No DRLS|
– Lacks remote for easier helmet mounting
– 15 output modes can be confusing
|Where to Buy (US)||Magicshine |
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Consistent with Magicshine’s newer lights, the Monteer 3500 is packed in a sleek black cardboard box with foam cutouts to hold the light and battery in place. Inside the box you’ll find:
- Monteer 3500S Headlamp
- MJ-6116 7.2V 5200mAh battery pack w/ Velcro straps
- Micro USB to USB charging cable
- Handlebar mount w/ different straps
- Allen key for mount
- Instruction manual
As with other Magicshine lights, the Monteer 3500S has a Garmin style quarter-turn mount built directly into the base of the headlight. By incorporating this generic mount design, the Monteer 3500S can be used with a variety of third party mounts or adapters which is a big plus. Magicshine includes a simple handlebar mount with the Monteer 3500S that is shared with many of their other headlight models. The mount uses a rubber strap and an Allen bolt to secure it against the handlebar. Multiple strap lengths are included with the light to accommodate different diameter bars as well as aerobars. Although the included mount works well, it’s cumbersome to install with the bolt design. We’d highly recommend purchasing an out-front style mount for a cleaner installation.
The 3500S uses a wired battery setup which means the headlight has to be connected to an external battery pack. With this light, Magicshine uses the MJ-6116 battery pack (shared with the MJ-902S headlight) which is a 5.2Ah pack that consists of four 18650 Li-ion cells. It’s a large battery pack but well built with a fully sealed design and slots built into the base for mounting. Two velcro straps are included with the light to mount the battery pack on down tubes or top tubes with more than enough cable length to even accommodate mounting the light onto a helmet. The simple mount design works well and with a thick rubber padding on the battery pack and silicone non-slip strips on the straps which help keep the battery pack in place securely even over rough terrain.
FIT & FINISH
The Monteer 3500S visually shares the same design as the other lights in the Monteer lineup with a rectangular design and a five LED setup. The LEDs are arranged in two rows: three on top which act as a flood light and two on the bottom row which have a more narrow spot beam. Even with the simple flat front lens, the setup gives the Monteer 3500S an aggressive appearance. The lens body is primarily CNC aluminum with heat dissipation fins cut directly onto the sides which looks and feels premium. Even though the 3500S looks identical to the higher output Monteer 6500S or Monteer 8000S, it’s actually about two-thirds of the size. In terms of size, it’s closer to the MJ-906S headlight size, but wider due to the larger number of LEDs used.
On top of the 3500S you’ll find a single large rubber button that is used to turn the headlight on/off as well as cycle through options. It’s oversized so it works well even with gloves on and is also backlit to indicate the battery status level (i.e. green / red or flashing red). The Garmin style mount is molded directly into the base of the headlight while the wire exits to the rear and downward. It’s clear from the design that the Monteer series of lights is optimized for trail riding as there are no side cutouts or indicators which is common on commuter lights like the Allty 400 / 600 / 800. That said, we’re hopeful Magicshine will eventually incorporate daytime running lights (DRLs) into the Monteer series as DRLs are ideal for extra visibility during the day without draining the battery.
As with the other Monteer headlights, the Monteer 3500S has a simple one-button interface. Although we appreciate the ‘keep-it-simple’ approach, it doesn’t work well for this light as there are 15 mode options and having a single button to cycle through makes it hard to keep track of. The interface is divided into three modes with five sub options in each mode: flood mode, spot mode or hybrid mode. Within each of the modes there are four brightness options (i.e. eco / low / med / high) and a flash option. A long press turns the light on or off, a single press cycles through each of the five intensity options while a double press cycles through the three modes.
This design means you have to always cycle through the flash mode to ramp the intensity up or down which can be very distracting on dark trails. Clearly more isn’t better here, and we wish Magicshine would either reduce the 15 options down to a more reasonable 5 or so options or add a mode indicator / second button to improve the user experience. The backlit button also helps indicate the battery status, but we found the battery checker on the battery pack to be easier to read with its three LED setup. Also, the MJ-6116 battery pack features a removable battery cable which makes it easy to disconnect and use as a power bank for other devices. It’s a clever solution that uses simple clips that feel robust and durable.
The Magicshine Monteer 3500S features three primary output modes: spot, flood, and hybrid. Spot mode utilizes the bottom 2 LEDs with 21° spread to achieve a maximum of 1400 lumen output. Flood mode is capable of 1800 lumen from the top 3 LEDs which have a wider 32° spread. Hybrid mode achieves the maximum 3500 lumen output by utilizing all five LEDs concurrently. The beam shapes are slightly different between the modes, but unless you’re comparing side-by-side photos they are quite difficult to tell apart on the road. Each mode offers varying intensities from eco to high as well as a flash mode for extra visibility. We found eco mode to be too dim to ride with (i.e. it’s better for daytime riding) and instead found ourselves favoring the medium / high modes.
While the Monteer 6500S or Monteer 8000S have a much wider and even beam shape, the Monteer 3500S has a more distinct bright spot down the center and dim spread along the sides. The artifacts in the beam can be a bit distracting but otherwise works well. We’d describe the 3500S as more of a spot style headlight. It’s more than bright enough to work on its own and thanks to the lightweight design can also be helmet mounted. Although we wish Magicshine would offer a remote switch to make helmet mounting easier, the long throw makes it well suited for helmet mounting as you can direct the beam down corners for extra visibility.
Overall, we found the Magicshine 3500S to be an impressively bright and affordable headlight. The wired design means the five LED headlight is compact and lightweight. Although there is no wireless button for helmet mounting, the 3500S works very well as a helmet light with it’s long beam throw and focused center beam shape. At $199.99 the Monteer 3500S is also a great value with its 3500 verified lumen output. We found the combination of the spot and flood LEDs provided an bright and wide beam that works equally well on slow technical or high speed trails. The 3500S isn’t perfect though as it shares the same downsides of the other Monteer headlights such as having a confusing 15 output modes, simple one button interface, and a lack of wired or wireless remote. Those shortcomings are easy to forgive as the Monteer 3500S is hard to beat in terms of value and design.
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.