When you do the majority of your riding at night, there is nothing more important than good lighting, except perhaps a decent coﬀee supply, but that’s a whole other story! For now, let’s focus on the light in this review.
I have, over the past several years of ultra racing, ridden around being a father (and not wanting to miss out on family time, hence a lot of 4:30am alarm calls to ride and be home in time for breakfast) which includes training outdoors through winter. Give me cold, dark mornings over sweaty Zwift sessions any day of the week. I’ve had plenty of time to ponder what makes for a great light.
Photos in this article by Gavin Kaps of Osprey Imagery, please consider following his Instagram account.
When I was oﬀered the chance to try out a new light that claimed to be the best in the world, a big claim I know, I was intrigued to see what it was all about. The light I am talking about is the Supernova M99 Mini Pro B54, or quite simply ‘The Beast’ as I have aﬀectionately come to know it.
What better way to put it to the test than with a couple of Everesting rides, one on the road, and one on an old gravel track deep in the darkest corner of Wales.
For those not familiar with Everesting, it’s as simple as it comes; you ride up and down any hill, anywhere in the world in one continuous ride, until you have accumulated 8,848m of ascent, the same height as the world’s tallest mountain. Unless you’re a pro-level rider, chances are some of, if not a lot of, your ride will take place in the dark.
Given I am on the wrong side of 90kg and built for track sprints, I climb at a rather steady pace. That’s being polite, so I knew both of my Everesting rides would need to start at around midnight, which would mean I needed a top-quality light that could last many hours.
Let’s deal with the elephant in the room before we go any further. The light comes with a separate battery that you need to attach on top of, or better still, under the top tube. I will admit that at first, this put me oﬀ a little, as every light I had used until this point had a battery built-in. But, as I quickly came to realise, when the light can do so much, it needs a little extra battery and it is well worth this minor inconvenience.
So what does the extra battery do? For starters, it powers a light that has 1,600 lumens and 280 lux, which combined with the diamond polished mirror surface of the light, creates a beam more powerful than any other I have used on a bike light before. Additionally, this beam is wide. Many lights provide a high and powerful beam but not directed to where you want it, whereas this light is akin to riding with five of your normal lights lined up side-by-side.
Switched to high beam, the M99, in simple terms, as bright as driving down the road in my car. There wasn’t a single bit of the track that I couldn’t see, which was particularly important during my gravel Everesting, descending a rough and rocky road at high speeds. Every pothole, every odd-sized rock, every potential hazard to my descending whilst fatigued and longing for sleep was illuminated in all of its glory, allowing me to make my way safely down the mountain time and again. At its brightest setting, which is brighter than any light I’ve used before, you are looking at around two hours burn time. Burn time increased to three and a half for standard high beam, still super bright, and up to fifty hours on eco low beam, still bright enough for any uphill, and the mode I used on all of the ascents. I switched to the standard high beam for each descent.
You might be thinking that such a powerful light would generate a ton of heat? Not so, and not just because I was riding in five degrees Celcius (41 degrees Fahrenheit). The light is housed inside an aluminium casing, which combined with sensor-controlled LED dimming, ensures the light stays cool and highly eﬃcient.
What really impressed me is the phone app that accompanies the light, allowing you to easily see exactly how many minutes of burn time you have with each of the diﬀerent settings, thus allowing you to be in full control and never having to worry about running down the battery. There are competing lights which I feel are very good, but their estimated burn time is just that, an estimation. I found the Supernova M99 Mini Pro B54 to be accurate right down to the last minute. Additionally, there is no need to worry about being stranded even if you lose track of how much power reminds in the battery as the light has a two-hour, yes you read that right, two-hour Emergency Reserve. Obviously, this reserve mode will not be on the most powerful setting, but powerful enough to ride at a decent pace to arrive home safely.
Another feature that would be useful during my longer ultra races, although not something that I used during the Everesting rides, is the light’s automatic mode. For example, if I am racing in Taiwan, where there are a lot of tunnels through mountains, I don’t have to worry about switching the light on and oﬀ every time I get to a tunnel. It uses a light sensor and takes care of that for me, most useful when you’ve been riding for 30 hours straight and chasing a podium in a big race, or simply riding home from work through the city.
The clever and thoughtful features of the Supernova M99 Mini Pro B54 really impressed me, along with its ease of use. For example, switching between high beam and low beam, there’s no need to worry about fiddling with the back of the light to change the setting. The M99 arrives complete with a really simple and handy high beam switch that attaches to your handlebar close to where you grip, allowing a quick flick of the thumb to switch between modes. This allows a rider to keep their attention focused on the road or trail, which is vitally important. Visually, you know you’re on high beam because of the bright and dazzling light, but also because the little button lights up blue.
To top it all oﬀ, as if you needed anything else to possibly convince you of this product’s merits, there is a five-year warranty on the battery. That goes above and beyond any competing product I can think of, and the battery cell technology is the same as the Tesla Model 3 car. In other words, temperature management and charging technology ensures each cell is operating at optimum temperature when recharging. This feature provides peace of mind, knowing that I’m using a high-quality product that is going to last over the long-haul.
The bottom line: the Supernova Lights M99 Mini Pro B54 is pretty much a vehicle light inside a bike light casing, which is no mean feat and a sign of the design experience that Supernova brings to the table. I may be done with Everesting rides forever, but I will not be without this light for the many long and dark hours that lay on the road ahead.
Supernova Lights M99 Mini Pro B54 and battery is priced at € 453 / $US 555 which includes free shipping for the USA.
Guest Review by Marcus Leach, please consider following Marcus’ Instagram account.