Supernova M99 DY PRO Review: Shine Brighter
Launched in the spring, the Supernova M99 DY PRO is a unique dynamo-powered headlight with a turbo-charged “high beam” mode and high-end build quality. Kyle Ponce has been testing one on roads and trails around Germany throughout the fall to find out how its innovative design holds up to the rigors of bikepacking. Find his review here…
Here in Northern Germany, we now find ourselves plunging into the darkness of another winter. It’s the time of year when the sun starts setting before you’ve had your afternoon coffee. Staying out all day in the saddle not only requires multiple wool layers but a competent lighting system as well. Fortunately, Supernova recently sent me the newest member to their already stellar lineup of dynamo lights, the M99 DY PRO, which is their most powerful dynamo light yet. After plenty of time testing it out, I’m happy to share my thoughts and impressions of their top-of-the-line light.
Out of the box
Like any other Supernova product, the build quality of the M99 is precise and reassuring. At 120 grams, it feels a little hefty in the hand, but in a way that signals durability. The light’s body is made of aluminum with a sleek matte anodized finish. The glass lens, which is specifically designed for impact resistance, appears thick and strong. Behind that is a polished array of faceted mirrors that reflect and redirect powerful overhead LEDs out and down range. This technology is something that Supernova proudly advertises as being borrowed from the Automotive industry—perhaps something that, at least among my group of car-loathing friends, might be better left unmentioned. But it’s nonetheless dazzling to look at. Finally, three well-insulated wires trail away from the main body: one to connect a rear light, one for the dynamo, and one to connect the high beam switch. More on that later.
Setting it up
I used Supernova’s universal mount to affix the M99 DY PRO squarely at the center of my handlebars. Of course, there are myriad ways to run a front light, including on the fork crown or bolted onto a mini rack. All of these positions will affect the light’s beam pattern, but for the sake of this review, I’ve chosen to set up mine as prescribed on Supernova’s website.
The last step is to connect the light to its power source, the dynamo hub. Thanks to Supernova’s clear labeling, set up of the light is straightforward. Of course, it takes some finesse to achieve a super professional look with dynamo cabling, but that’s a topic for a future post. In the case of the M99 DY PRO, set up means shortening the dynamo cable to the proper length and then adding, crimping, and heat-shrinking spade connectors. And, in my case, pressing them onto the male connectors of my SON dynamo hub. Voilà! A quick spin of the wheel turning on the light signals success. If you’re wanting to mount a rear light, simply connect both poles of coaxial cable together and then solder or quick-connect them. Then, heat shrink, zip-tie, and affix to your bike, and you’re all set.
In the field
Depending on the type of riding you’re setting out for, a powerful light can be worth its weight in gold. Unlike Battery-powered lights, the M99 DY PRO—paired with a dynamo hub—is set up to take you far from home without ever having to worry about running out of power again. However, that type of reliability comes with a hefty price tag. At 325 euros (€273/$282 outside of the EU), this light certainly won’t fit into everyone’s budget, and it’s not something I’d advise buying without confirming it suits your unique needs. With that in mind, let’s take a closer look at a couple of key elements to help determine if it’s right for your stable.
To say the M99 DY PRO is bright would be an understatement. On my first evening out with the light, I was blown by its power. With 700 lumens of light, everything is illuminated. Not just the road ahead of you, but also features off to the periphery.
The light’s powerful beam makes it easy to see branches, roots, potholes, and other obstacles well into the distance. Unlike less powerful lights, it allows your eyes to relax, and cycling at night can feel almost as effortless as doing so in daylight.
Ride a bit faster—around 20 or more kilometers an hour—and the little handlebar-mounted switch starts glowing white to indicate that high beam is ready. Pressing the button changes its color from white to blue and bathes everything in its path with 1,000 lumens of unadulterated dynamo power.
More on high beam
Activating high beam not only adds more brightness to your visual field, but it also opens up the top portion as well. You can imagine this working exactly the same as the high beam function in a car. Sigh. According to Supernova, the M99 DY is the first dynamo-powered light to offer such a function. Previously, this was deemed impossible due to strict beam pattern standards in Germany. Such regulation (known as StVZO) exists to ensure that bicycle lights don’t blind unsuspecting pedestrians or motorists.
High beam is only safe beyond city limits, and it’s a welcome function when out in the backcountry. This feature really shines when blasting down forest roads and dirt trails at high speed. However, high beam automatically switches off the moment you dip below 20ish kilometers an hour. Since I’m no professional, this meant my high beam was effectively rendered useless while twisting along tight trails and singletrack. I used the high beam as much as much as possible during my testing, but, admittedly, it was mostly just a party trick to impress my friends. For my style of riding, which consists mostly of casual on and off-road touring, 700 lumens is plenty.
To me, a light’s beam pattern (sometimes referred to as “modeling”) is just as important as its brightness. In my opinion, the SON Edelux II, one of the best lights on the market, excels in this category. The light is modeled to lay only on the road without being wasted by shining into the abyss. In this respect, I’m happy to report that Supernova nailed it. The M99 throws light exactly where you need it and nowhere you don’t. Contrast that with another very powerful light, the Sinewave Beacon (stay tuned for our review soon), which more or less shoots light straight out rather than asymmetrically shaping it with individual, angled mirrors. Of course, part of the M99’s design is a byproduct of those aforementioned StVZO standards, but there’s more to the story than constraints alone. This light pattern also means you can ride or commute responsibly through the city without blinding anyone. A nice feature indeed.
Anyone who’s had experience with dynamo lighting knows that light flicker at low speed is an inevitable part of such lighting systems. Light flicker is simply an engineering constraint when it comes to dynamo lighting. Unlike battery-powered lights, dynamo lights experience some latency before their capacitors are fully charged. Getting rolling, this delay can be observed as a flicker. Since smaller, less luminous lights take less power to run, they will generally experience very little flicker. In some cases with smaller lights, such as some Busch + Müller models, the flicker is virtually indetectable. However, high-powered dynamo lights such as the Sinewave Beacon and M99 DY PRO have more apparent flickering.
In my testing, the M99 flickered when riding below around eight kilometers an hour. Beyond this speed, a solid light took over. Generally speaking, flicker was never a problem since I’d usually get spinning up to that speed in just a few seconds. Once the light’s capacitor is fully charged, you can come to a full stop and a safety standlight will remain on. Start again, and you won’t notice any flicker at all since power is also being drawn from the capacitor.
- 700 lumens of dynamo-powered light, 1,000 with high-beam
- Excellent light beam pattern yet still stable
- High-end build quality backed by five-year warranty
- Top-end price point isn’t for every budget
- Automotive terminology and imagery for bike parts (e.g. high beam and its corresponding switch icon)
- Lumens: 700/1,000
- Material: Aluminum
- Weight: 120 grams without mount
- Price: €325 (€273/$282 without VAT)
- Place of Manufacture: Germany
- Manufacturer’s details: Supernova-Lights.com
If what you’re after is one of the brightest and best-performing dynamo lights on the market, I don’t believe you can do much better than Supernova’s M99 DY PRO. In my testing, I found that it outperformed my Sinewave Beacon in a number of ways—most notably its light patterning and brightness with the inclusion of high beam.
In my opinion, this light is best suited for ultra cyclists and enthusiasts whose style of riding calls for the brightest light possible. It’s worth noting that Sofianne Sehilli recently won the Silk Road Mountain Race using this light, and there’s no doubt he’d have made good use of his high beam. Of course, hardcore commuters might also find the M99 equally useful during the darkest depths of winter. But based on my experience, for casual riding or uncompetitive bikepacking, this light may likely be overkill. For those types of activities, any number of less expensive dynamo-powered lights would certainly keep you out safely well into the night.
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