MOON CANOPUS LIGHT REVIEW
Words by Robert Johnston
Photography by Adam Lievesley
Integration tends to make the end user experience more pleasant and streamlined, but it often restricts the performance compared with the separation of a system into its constituents. In the case of a bike light, removing the potential mess of wires by consolidating separate battery and lamp units into one can be very welcome, but the size of both the battery and LED’s are then restricted so that the unit is not too bulky or heavy, limiting the maximum power and battery life that can be achieved. It then makes sense to utilize a separate battery pack and lamp for riders looking for the ultimate in brightness and longevity in their night-riding lights, which is where the Canopus by Moon comes in. Offering a whopping 4000 lumens and with a humongous battery, it certainly looks to pack a punch, so how would this translate to the riding experience?
Canopus is the name of the brightest star in the Southern constellation of Carina. A fitting name then for the brightest light in Moon Sports range. When talking about the Moon Canopus, there is two separate components that combine to produce the monstrous quantity of light output: the 4 LED head-unit; and the BS-S4 external battery pack that powers it.
The head unit comprises a CNC aluminum heat sink casing that houses 2 Cree XM-L2 and 2 Luminus SST-40 LEDs. This housing allows air to travel closely past the LEDs in order to reduce heat buildup that may lead to fried electronics, letting the Canopus shine bright and long. There are temperature sensors built in to protect the light, dimming the output in this eventuality to prevent overheating damage. There are many modes available to control the output of the Canopus, with a maximum output of an eye-burning 4000 Lumens in the Boost mode. There are then 3 lower powered steady light modes available, in addition to 2 flashing modes, a “day” mode and an SOS function. Thanks to the Variable Lumen System (VLS), the output can be individually varied anywhere from 50 to 3000 Lumens in these various Modes (including the flashing modes), which the Canopus will save for future use of the light, letting you tailor each mode to your particular preference. A remote control can be plugged into the USB-C port on the head unit to allow for easy mode-changing without removing your hands from the grips, or the button on the top can be used to avoid extra wires. The LEDs are split into a pair of “warm white” 3000K and a pair of “cool white” 6500K, which can be individually selected in order to obtain the desired light characteristics or used together to produce the full brightness “natural white” output. The light spreads over a 105-degree area, with a 17-degree focused spot light produced by the cool white LEDs, and a 23 degree flood by the warm LEDs. Two lights on the top of the head unit indicate the position of the buttons for easy location in use, and serve the dual purpose of indicating the rough battery life remaining. The Canopus head unit is IPX7 rated for resilience to the elements; complies with the FL-1 standard for flashlights; and tips the scales at 185g.
Powering the Canopus head-unit is Moon’s BS-S4 external battery pack, with a large 6700 mAh capacity. This battery pack is designed to mount onto the top tube of a bike with the Velcro straps provided, which feature grippy rubberized portions to ensure they stay firmly put in use. Alternatively, the streamlined shape makes the battery ideal for stowing in a backpack or hip pack when using the Canopus light mounted to the helmet. There is capability to use the BS-S4 unit as a USB-C power bank, allowing for your phone or other devices to be charged when on the go, adding to the versatility and usefulness of the system. The pack is charged through the singular USB-C source, negating the need for a proprietary charger, and takes approximately 6 hours from empty. The inbuilt sensors will cut off the power supply when the battery is fully charged, protecting the unit from damage due to overcharging. Pressing the lightning button on the rear of the BS-S4 indicates the charge level of the battery. As with the head unit, there is a rubberized cover over the USB-C port, allowing the battery pack to meet the same IPX7 rating. Weighing in at 400g, the BS-S4 is no featherweight, but packs the punch to match.
Included in the box are options for mounting to either the helmet or using a sturdy mount for the bar center section, with rubber adaptors for 35mm and 31.8mm included to suit every common mounting possibility. To make using the helmet mount as free moving as possible, Moon includes an extension cable to allow for the battery pack to sit in the depths of a bag or even hip pack when the light is mounted on a helmet. The Canopus is supplied with a high-quality padded case, allowing for safe and organized storage of the light in between uses, helping to keep it safe and organized in transit and prolong its life. At £295 RRP, the Moon Canopus is no small amount of money, but may prove a worthwhile investment for those looking to add some serious nightriding to their schedule for many years ahead.
Pulling the Canopus out of the padded case for the first time, it is clear that this is no cheap piece of kit, with a high-quality finish all round. The instructions included in the box are rather hard to decipher, so thankfully the general assembly and operation of the basic functions is quite self-explanatory. The majority of my time was spent flicking between the Boost mode when ultimate clarity was required; and one of the lower power modes to save battery on slower or simpler, pedally portions of trail. Operation is actually quite simple, with the majority of functions accessed by hitting the forwardmost button to cycle through them, and a quick double tap engaging the full-tilt boost mode. The secondary VLS button on the top accesses the remainder of the functions and settings, such as the selection of the LED pairs for different color temperatures; and modification of the brightness level within each mode (the VLS system).
Having 4000 lumens mounted to your head comfortably is really quite novel and impressive, and it’s truly hard to wish for anymore. The cable can be a little bit annoying even still, but careful cable management using the attached tie eases this to an acceptable level. My preference was to keep the Canopus on the bar however, with the battery pack tucked out of the way on the underside of the top tube. This is a similar location to where you will occasionally see downhill teams experimenting with adding weight to their downhill sleds, and although you can feel the additional weight as you tip the bike over, otherwise it feels to add a touch of stability through rough terrain. Adding the previously reviewed Meteor Vortex Pro to the helmet in combination with the Canopus on the bar led to a comfortable level and quality of light, giving impressive levels of depth and visibility. There is no real need to ride trails you know off-by-heart with the Canopus lighting the path ahead, offering as close to a daytime riding experience as I could hope for. The warmer light can be particularly useful in hazy conditions, offering increased contrast to help pick out trail features, though it does limit the ultimate output of the light – it is not like you would expect to ride at full gas in the fog anyway though, right?
As I began to experiment more with the individual functions, I realized that for my typical night riding winch-and-plummet style, the wide range of functions were perhaps not quite so useful. I did however give the Canopus an extended pedal of just over 4 hours, during which time I wanted to really test the battery life. Flicking between the Boost mode and the standard 1500 lumen output of Mode 2 throughout the ride, which involved plenty of technical terrain that begged for the full 4000 lumen output, I ended with the battery level indicator just beginning to flash to say it was down to its final 10%. In the name of science, I then left the Canopus running in Mode 2 until it completely exhausted itself of juice, which took another 70 minutes. Given that even the Mode 2 output is still a perfectly usable level of light for general biking duties, this had me close to blown away. Sure, the weight is not insignificant, and the battery pack is quite a large and ungainly item to attach to your bike, but once these are forgotten about the performance of the Canopus really is stellar.
In terms of longevity, after a spring of putting the Canopus to work, there seems to be very little drop in performance of both peak brightness and battery life. The connections still pop together as new; the mounts still click into place reassuringly; and other than a few scratches from moments of clumsiness, there is little to suggest the Canopus has seen a great amount of use. $300+ is a good chunk of money, but to boost the potential hours in the week during which you can ride in anger may justify the investment to those without the luxury of regular day time riding throughout the winter months.
The Wolf’s Last Word
Moon Sports should consider a sister brand called “Sun” to better prepare their prospective customers for the sheer illuminating power of the Canopus. Much akin to strapping a floodlight to your bars or helmet, the 4000-lumen output does a truly impressive job of lighting the way ahead, and it does so in an effective and usable manner. Battery life is impressive thanks to the bulky battery pack, whose additional weight and size should not be ignored, but for riders looking for the ultimate night riding experience the Moon Canopus should certainly be considered in their list of lights to buy.
Price: – £295 /$339 /€340