Magicshine has long been associated with affordable and bright bike lights for commuting and mountain biking with the Monteer 6500 being one of their brightest offerings with an impressive 6500 lumen output and wired battery design. In this review, we’ll be looking at the new Magicshine 6500S that utilizes upgraded LEDs, improved optics, and an updated battery pack. Although the 6500S may look similar to the previous model, the updates bring higher output in the lower modes while also extending the run-time. Unlike many cheap bike lights on the market with falsely claimed high outputs, the Monteer 6500S has a measured 6500 lumen max output and a generous 2 hour run-time at the max setting.
With a retail price of $349, the Monteer 6500S isn’t a cheap bike light, but at less than $19 per lumen it is one of the best values on the market. One of the more notable updates to the light is Magicshine’s updated MJ-6118 battery pack which consists of four 21700 Lithium ion batteries for an improved 7.2V / 10,000 mAh capacity. The 6500S is part of the updated Magicshine Monteer line that includes lower models such as the Monteer 3500S and 5000S as well as an even brighter Monteer 8000S. Note the 6500S and 8000S are actually quite similar (same housing and battery pack) although the 8000S offers the higher 8000 lumen output (and a $50 higher retail price) and a corresponding further beam reach which is why many of our takeaways are quite similar.
The Magicshine Monteer 6500S is an impressively bright light with a modern USB Type-C battery pack
|Category||Bicycle Head Light|
|Measured Weight (in g)||144 (headlamp)/422 (battery)/34 (mount)|
|Likes||+ Ridiculously bright|
+ USB Type-C charging and discharging
+ Better wiring design
|Dislikes||– Have to cycle through flash mode|
– Lack of DRL
– Retail price is close to the Monteer 8000S
|Where to Buy (US)||Magicshine|
15% OFF coupon code: “TheSweetCyclists”
Magicshine packs the Monteer 6500S in a sleek black cardboard box with crisp graphics. In the box there is a foam cutout with:
- Monteer 6500S headlamp
- MJ-6118 7.2V 10.0Ah battery pack w/ Velcro straps
- Out front mount w/ handlebar rubber pads
- USB-C to USB charging cable
Although the box is well designed and can be used to travel with the light, we would have preferred the zippered travel bag Magicshine that came with the previous high powered models.
Consistent with Magicshine’s other lights, the Monteer 6500S uses the Garmin style quarter turn mount directly molded into the bottom of the headlamp. This is one of our favorite features of Magicshine lights as the Garmin style mount makes the Monteer light compatible with most mounts on the market. The included aluminum out front mount is visually similar to the Magicshine TTA mount but shorter with the same satisfying click when attaching the Monteer 6500S or other devices. It’s a single sided mount, but appears to have the screw holes on the bottom side which means you could likely turn it into a dual sided mount with a compatible puck and hardware. While the Monteer 6500S can be mounted upside down as there is no beam cutoff with the lens design, it is difficult to monitor the battery level or change output modes without a remote power switch. At 144g, the light head can also be mounted on a helmet but again without a remote power button it would be tricky operating the light.
FIT & FINISH
At first glance, the new Monteer 6500S looks a lot like the existing Monteer 6500. The compact aluminium headlamp design has in fact been carried over from the existing Monteer light. That isn’t a bad thing, as it’s a compact and sleek design with built-in fins for heat dissipation. Thanks to the wired battery pack design, the head lamp is surprisingly small but on the taller side to accommodate the five LEDs. To achieve the higher 6500 lumen output, the Cree LEDs have been upgraded to three Cree XHP 50.2 and two XM-L2. Also carried over from the previous model is the single illuminated power button mounted on top of the housing. The wires exit the housing at a sharp right angle which makes it easy to route under your handlebars.
One thing that isn’t compact is the updated MJ-6118 battery pack. It’s a large battery pack even though the battery pack uses four 21700 Li-ion batteries that offer high-capacity and slightly more compact design than the traditional 18650 batteries. However, with the wired design, it’s easy to hide the battery pack on a top tube or downtube and out of the way. The battery pack also features USB Type-C charging and discharging, allowing it to double as a powerbank for other devices when you aren’t riding.
In our experience, the weak point of wired bike lights has typically been the wire connection points between the battery and headlamp. With the updated MJ-6118, the wire connectors feel more durable and even offer a latching design that allows it to fully disconnect from the battery pack. Note, the battery pack alone retails for $139.99 which is a fraction of the Monteer 6500S price. Compared to the battery packs included with the Magicshine MJ-906 and MJ-908 lights, the updated battery pack is sleeker and offers easier mounting. We found the included velcro straps and thick rubber pad kept the battery pack in place even while riding on rough terrain.
With the Monteer 6500S as well as the other Monteer lights in the series, Magicshine has opted for the same simple one-button interface on top of the headlamp. The button is rubberized and is illuminated to show three levels of battery status: green (21-100%), red (6-20%) and flashing red (0-5%). A short press turns the light on while a long hold powers the light off which is consistent with most bike lights. There are three primary output modes that a double press cycles through: flood mode (top 3 LEDs), spot mode (bottom two LEDs) and a hybrid mode (all 5). Within each mode, a single press cycles through four intensities (10 / 25 / 50 / 100%) and a flash mode.
The brightness of the flash modes (who really needs a 2000 lumen flashing mode!) and the fact you have to cycle through them is both an annoyance and something that can be dangerous on the road. WIth a total of 15 different modes, it’s also easy to get lost as it’s difficult to tell the modes apart on the road. We often found ourselves peeking over the handlebars to confirm which LEDs were active. Given the price of the light, we would have preferred an OLED screen (e.g. Magicshine MJ-908) or at least a secondary button/indicator (e.g. Magicshine Eagle F3) to show what mode was active. The lack of a remote with the Monteer lights also means that helmet mounting the light would require fumbling with the top button to switch between modes.
Obviously with the impressive 6500 lumen output of the Monteer 6500S, we were excited to get the light out on the road. Thanks to the five Cree LED design and multiple output modes you don’t have to run the light at the full lumen output all the time. There are three main output modes that either utilize the top three LEDs, bottom 2, or a hybrid mode with all LEDs active. The top three act as a flood light and have a 32° beam spread to disperse the light. Conversely, the bottom two LEDs are spot lights as they have a more narrow 21° beam spread. Comparing the beam shots, the spot and flood modes aren’t as distinct as we had expected. We had to often peek over the headlamp to verify which LEDs were active.
Regardless of which mode you choose, the beam spread is quite impressive. There are no hot spots in the output and the beam spread and reach is more than enough for any type of riding. Unlike a road cycling light with a beam cutoff (e.g. Lupine SL) the Monteer lights up the road and trees around you. Within the spot mode you can select 300-2600 lumen constant modes (40hr to 5.5hr run-times) as well as a 0-650 flash mode (18hr run-time). In flood mode, the light offers 500-4000 lumen constant modes (27.5hr to 3.5 hr run-time) and a 0-1100 lumen flash mode (11.5hr run-time). Full hybrid mode with all the LEDs active offers 900-6500 lumen constants modes (16-2 hrs) and a 0-2000lm flash mode (8hr). Even in the low powered eco modes, the Monteer 6500S provides long run-times and daytime visibility if needed. We found that the low/medium modes were more than sufficient enough for most riding situations, while the high modes were simply an overkill. Even though the light is tailored for mountain biking it’s also great on the road. We found it worked great to light up low traffic canyon roads on our early morning rides. The bulkiness of the battery and the glare it produces for oncoming traffic do mean the Monteer is best suited for rural roads or mountain biking.
Although the full 6500 lumen mode has a claimed 2 hour run-time, we found that due to the heat generated by the LEDs the lumen output will drop overtime to protect the light from overheating. Speaking of heat, the Monteer 6500S puts out a lot of it at the higher lumen modes. On cold days, you can actually warm your fingers by simply placing them in front of the lens thanks to the heat radiated from it. The headlamp does get warm but we found that as long as the bike is moving, the thermal cooling design works well. It’s only when standing still did we find the headlamp to become excessively hot.
Overall, we found the Magicshine Monteer 6500S to be an impressively bright and well designed bike light. Thanks to the updated battery pack, the run-times are improved compared to the previous Monteer 6500 while still increasing the lumen output in the lower settings. Noteworthy is the USB Type-C charging and discharging with a detachable wire design that makes it easy to use the battery pack as a power bank for other devices. We also appreciate the simple wired design which results in a compact and light headlamp for easy mounting and the durable wire connections that are easy to route to the battery pack.
We wish Magicshine had updated the user interface though, as the single button design and available 15 modes mean it is easy to get lost and requires you to cycle through flash modes if you pass your desired power setting. Additionally we think the $50 price gap between the Monteer 6500S and 8000S means that we would personally pick the 8000S over the 6500S as the $50 difference is easy to justify for an additional 1500 lumens although the 6500 lumens is really impressive in person and far brighter than anyone needs in real world riding. All in all, we’re happy to see Magicshine continue to improve their lights and incorporate modern features. The Monteer 6500S has excellent optics for a mountain bike light and with the updated USB Type-C battery pack it’s even a better value than before.
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.