Canopus isn’t just the latest big power light from Moon, it’s also the first light we’ve ever tested with switchable light ‘warmth’ for different weather conditions and on-the-fly mode-dimming. The heavily armored design adds some bulk and potential frame mount issues but if you want visibility-tuneable, flat-out attack-friendly lighting with the toughness to match then it’s well worth a look. A spectacularly impenetrable ‘manual’ means you’ll have to work most of this out for yourself, though.
Design and performance
While more and more high power MTB lights are using self-contained designs it’s a lot easier to package big capacity batteries and heat management into a separate head and battery set up. The Canopus lamp unit sits in the center of a large alloy heat sink case which reduces the risk of overheating or burnt fingers when running all 4 LEDs at the ‘4000’ lumen ‘Boost’ max. This means the automatic thermal cut-in rarely damps things down unless it’s a hot summer night.
Even though that’s a claimed rather than verified figure, and it seems lower than that on the trail, Boost is still overkill for most trail conditions anyway, so we generally ran it in the ‘2500’ and ‘1600’ lumen modes which are easily enough for pushing reasonable speed safely on most trails.
The Canopus also has the unique ability to switch between the two ‘Cool white' (ferocious 6500K icy blue-white of LED/Halide lamps) LEDs and the 2 ‘Warm white’ (softer, more yellowy 3000K) emitters. That drops power to ‘2200’ or ‘1700’ lumens respectively, but most importantly the ‘Warm’ mode creates much less glare and bounces back in rainy/misty/foggy/wet woods conditions. It also slightly changes the beam pattern but there are no nasty holes or edges to disturb perception in any of the modes. You can also alter the lumen output of any mode just by holding down the function button as it dims or brightens and there’s a separate menu of three flash modes and even an SOS setting for traffic and emergency safety.
While run times are typically 25 per cent less than claimed in temperate/colder conditions they’re still pretty epic as long as you avoid Boost and you get basic traffic light run time communication of remaining life. The same traffic light also displays recharge levels and being able to use any USB C output rather than a dedicated charger makes things much more convenient. Recharge times will vary significantly though depending on what voltage/ampage you’re using. The battery also works as a USB-C power bank for other devices if you’ve got spare charge.
While the big hard-case battery gets twin straps and guide loops to keep it stable, the sheer length may cause fit issues on some curvy frames. It also adds a lot of weight to the system, but it’s very crashproof and the connectors and leads are all heavy-duty too. The ‘out front’ style handlebar mount that centers the lamp in front of the stem is chunky and works with 31.8 or 35mm bars. Be careful not to lose either of the tiny clamping bolts that hold it together if you’re fitting the light in a dark trailhead car park before a ride, as we did. Thankfully it also comes with an extension cable and a strap-on helmet mount if that happens but head unit weight, size and tall mount mean it’s very obvious on your lid and potentially branch catching as well. The remote is a plug-in rather than wireless too, so you can only use that on the handlebar. The helmet mount also includes a GoPro tab mount to sync with action camera fixtures.
The biggest complaint we have is that the minimalist manual is extremely hard to decipher and we couldn’t even find some of the functions when we first wrote it up for a buyer's guide. Once we found out how the functions worked just by pressing and holding buttons and seeing what happened, it all became pretty intuitive and the excellent capability and adjustability of the Canopus becomes clear and easy to use on the trail.
Take the time to work out what the Canopus can do and if you can handle the weight and bulk it’s a really versatile, adjustable, tough and powerful light that can even be tuned to the weather while you’re riding. It’s well priced too.
Tech specs: Moon Canopus
- Price: $243 / £295
- Weight: 620g (headlamp, bar mount and battery)
- Power: 3600Lm
- Full power run time: 1hr 45mins
- Recharge time: 3:15 - 9 hours depending on charger