11 November 2009

bikefix Overview: Exposure lights 2010

Back in the early '90s, mountain bike racing was big in New England. There was a well-attended race series sponsored by Pedro's, where I got my first real taste of racing. At that time, the owner of importer/distributor Ibex Sports was also traveling the circuit, promoting USE components from England. We crossed paths at one or two of those races and I ended up picking up one of the company's ShokPosts- which were about as far as rear suspension went for me for nearly ten years. Awesome. Fast forward about fifteen years and a chance encounter had James and I talking again- this time about Exposure Lights.

Exposure Lights are a spin off of USE (Ultimate Sports Engineering) and have made quite an impact at home in the UK. The company build the lights themselves and have an approach that's clearly different from almost every other light we've seen. The biggest difference from everyone else is the company's aversion to cables. Possibly the product of a wet environment, or of valuing simplicity and minimizing the number of things to go wrong, but the packaging of the lightset and battery in one enclosure visually sets Exposure apart. They've also done a good deal of work on the multi-function port (Smart Port Technology) at the back of each light, which not only enables charging but the use of accessories such as tail lights, additional head lights, remote switches and auxiliary batteries. Every model in the Exposure range uses Seoul LED emitters and their claimed outputs, weights and run times are certainly impressive.

In an effort to keep prices reasonable, Exposure lights are only available in the US directly through Ibex Sports. Just after the time change, Ibex offered to send out the full-range Exposure Demo Kit. We jumped at the opportunity and have been doing as much night riding (as if we needed an excuse) and commuting as possible to get our heads around the range. When the kit showed up, the amount of attention to detail that had gone into the range was immediately apparent. Every light, from the $110 Spark to the $400 MaXx-D, is nicely CNC machined from aluminum and laser etched with all sorts of useful information (output, run times, instructions). Each light feels reassuringly solid and even their mounting brackets beautifully machined. All lights have max, high, low and flash settings. Over the coming weeks, look for detailed reviews of several of Exposure's lights- most likely the Joystick/Diablo, Strada and Toro. Until then, here's a quick rundown of the range:

spark $110

The Spark is USE's price point commuting light. With a single Seoul P4 emitter and two disposable ($7/pair) CR123A batteries, this is the only Exposure model that needs an upgrade to be rechargeable (worth it at $30). It puts out 220 Lumens and lasts 2.5-20 hours depending on the mode.

joystick $200

The Joystick is a self-contained helmet-oriented light for mountain biking or commuting. At only 98g with its bracket, it's impressively small but can kick out 240 Lumens for 3 hours (or days when flashing). We've seen quite a few of these out on the trail and been amazed by just how small they are for their light output.

diablo $250

The Diablo (top photo) is a grown-up Joystick. Using the same helmet mount and battery but a more powerful P7 emitter, it'll crank out 700 Lumens on the Max setting- though only for 1 hour. On High, it's comparable to the Joystick (3 hours). A bit bigger but still stinky light at ~100g (plus bracket).

strada $280

The Strada is a road-oriented light that puts out a moderate 480 lumens for 3 hours. The beam is noticeably wider and shorter (height-wise) than most, providing enough light to see by (the light is focused where it will be most useful) and more than enough to be seen with. With the included remote switch and mount, the Strada weights only 228g.

toro $350

New for 2010, the Toro uses a single Seoul P7 emitter to put out 700 Lumens (Max) for 3 hours. It's impressively compact and with a High setting that gives up very little light but lasts 10 hours this is a pretty cool light. Compared to earlier Exposure models, the beam features a bit more of a spot at its center, allowing for higher speeds on more open trails.

maXx-d $400

Slightly stocky in appearance, the MaXx-D is a powerhouse of a light. It uses 4 Seoul P4 emitters to put out 960 Lumens worth of wide, even beam. For 3 hours. As with the Toro, High is rated for 10 hours. The wide beam seems best suited to tighter trails The heaviest Exposure light, it's still only 320g with a handlebar bracket.


But wait- there's more! Exposure's RedEye (2 versions) and WhiteEye lights are intended to clip on to Joystick or Diablo lights. The WhiteEye doubles the Joystick's output to 480 Lumens (while halving its run time)- not bad for $50. More interesting to commuters will be the RedEye (remote mount) and RedEye Helmet (clip-on) tail lights, which run $50 and are rated to 80 Lumens. That's a lot of red light.

Because it's possible to be out for longer than expected (sometimes it's just too much fun to stop), Exposure also sell external battery packs for their lights. The Single ($50) doubles the Joystick and Diablo's run times or increases larger lights' run times by a third. The Triple ($100) quadruples the Joystick and Diablo's run times while doubling that of the larger lights.



1 comment:

Paul T said...

Great to see the lineup for exposure expanding. I have had my Joystick now for just over a year, used it mainly for commuting and a little trail riding. The biggest selling point for me, was the lack of cables. Snap the light on and ride. Couldn't be happier with it.