Sunday, 12 February 2012

Andy Tennant reviews Exposure Lights

Rapha Condor Sharp rider Andy Tennant has recently done a road test of Exposure lights.  I thought it would be really interesting to hear what an pro-rider thinks of kit which you can buy straight from a shop or on-line, so he's agreed for me to publish his review.  Read more about Andy Tennant on his website  

Note from the Editor.  For the record, I use the "Flash and Flare" lights Andy had reviewed below and they've proved to be a great set of lights, highly visible, yet very small + re-chargeable.  Read on for Andy's comments: -

Andy Tennant
Andy Tennant tests Exposure lights

Being visible is absolutely vital when riding in low light conditions. Unfortunately, in these conditions, my presence on the road is not highlighted by my stylish Rapha-Condor-Sharp kit - black just doesn’t cut it.  Even when wearing high-vis attire, I still remain invisible to many road users. 

I am lucky enough to have been sent a variety of Exposure lights, thanks to Ultimate Sports Engineering, to test out. I was sent two types of lights- wired and battery operated. The wired take the power off the mains with a small cable from the rear light into the port where you would normally charge the lights; the battery operated ones can be used with rechargeable or disposable batteries.

Before I even placed the lights on my bike their sleek advanced design and power is obvious. Whilst playing with the lights in broad daylight, I installed temporary blindness into a fellow team mate as I powered up the MaXx-D which can run for up to 3 hours. On it brightest setting it’s duration it extended if you turn to a lower power setting. Even the lowest power setting is easily good enough at night.

Instantaneously, I could see these compact, lightweight lights had huge amounts of light power. On closer inspection, I found each of the individual lights display their power settings and estimated running time- a neat little feature great for long rides and differing lighting condition. The lights look well crafted, it’s clear a lot of thought has gone into conceiving these products, including sealed units to protect from the elements.

Placing the lights onto my bike and helmet was a simple procedure, completed by bolting the bracket to the handlebars and click the light onto the bracket. The dovetail design mounting makes the light totally secure on the handlebars, To work, double click to switch on, one click to cycle through the modes, and to switch off a hold of the button (confirmed by the light giving you a little flash). The rear light was easily attached; a rubber clip around the seat pin allowed for quick attachment and release.

 Test rides

Conditions: Foggy;  Location: The Peaks;  Lights: ‘Red Eye’ and ‘Toro’

My greatest fear is people running up behind me and not seeing me. The 80 lumens beaming from the ‘Red Eye’, even if the main beam is on low, put these concerns to rest.  The front light in foggy conditions is all you need to be visible, and is easily powerful enough on the lowest setting, which gives you 24 hours.  The lights are small enough not to affect your ride. All I can say is, I am so impressed with the test run, that the lights have left my bike only to be charged. A trusty companion alongside my frame, pump and saddle bag for winter rides. They have become essential and for Winter rides, I believe these are the ultimate combination to be fully road detectable!

Exposure 'Toro' Light
 Conditions: Foggy;  Location: The Peaks;  Lights: ‘Flash and Flare’

The battery powered ‘Flash and Flare’ lights, are extremely petite, have no impact on the aesthetics of my race bike and are guaranteed to stay on my bike for the rest of the year. Attaching, and detaching, takes a matter of seconds and they easily offer enough light - even in dim to no light conditions. I would say these are the perfect emergency lights! The rear on its own is a must for any riders competing in time trials. Small, aerodynamic and add that extra visibility - perfect for early morning and late TTs. My ‘Flash and Flare’ lights are already in there rightful place aboard my TT bike!

Exposure 'Flash and Flare' lights
Conditions: Foggy;  Location: The Peaks;  Lights: ‘MaXx-D Mk.4A’ and ‘Diablo’

The ‘MaXx-D Mk.4A’ is definitely the ‘daddy’ of all bike lights and  I can safely say that during night rides, both these lights are faultless. The ‘MaXx-D Mk.4A’ is a refined, high quality light pumping out a blinding 1285 lumans, and you could be mislead to believe that it is in fact the middle of the day. This light gives me great confidence when riding in the dark. Perfect for the commute home or night time MTB riding. Both these lights have the ability for a rear light to be plugged in. Personally I feel the ‘Diablo’ has a great feature allowing for a rear light on the helmet, so you would not be missed by motorists behind you. 

Exposure 'MaXx-D Mk.4A' light
The Verdicts

Generally, I am always dubious in terms of how bike lights perform. There is a common theme whereby they begin their lives well but quickly falter as water gets into them and plays havoc with the electrics. 'Exposure’ lights do not have this problem. They performance is next to nothing, and I feel like they are now an essential part of my life.

Simple conclusion, I think they are an essential piece of kit every bike rider should possess.  Simple, yet extremely bike chic; all parts and accessories are included, even a USB lead so you can charge off a laptop or phone charger, perfect if you are a commuter or travelling - one less charger to travel with.

Below are my personal recommendations:


Perfect for summer evening riding and dark mornings – dawn and dusk lights. These are great all rounders. Easily attached and removed. Web link here, SRP £85.00 for the pair.

Diablo / Red Eye.

Helmet and bike light great for short night rides or alongside a stronger (MaXx-D Mk.4A) for longer rides. Look great on the bike and slightly stronger than the ‘Flash’ but still cosmetically sleek. The red eye attachment on your helmet is ideal for commuting.  Diablo Web link here, SRP £199.00.  Red Eye Web Link here, SRP from £40.00.


My new Winter light - perfect in all conditions. Simply paramount as a front light for road users.  Web link here, SRP £274.99.

MaXx-D Mk.4A .

For me personally, this is quite strong and is not quite the right light for my needs, but absolutely ideal if you ride in the dark, or outside residential areas e.g. MTB rides.  Web link here, SRP £324.99

1 comment:

  1. I'd totally agree with the Exposure Maxx D which I'm currently using and testing. I got it primarily for 24 hour solo racing which with eight hours of darkness in it meant either getting a light with extra battery packs or this one which on even medium mode gives 10 hours of bright light.

    The light truely is as bright on full power as mentioned. But on the mid power you will still be totallly impressed with its power output and the fact that you will see all you need for a good distance with good light spread. The best part in my eyes is the fact you havent got to strap on a battery pack.

    On a negative (and I'm being picky) the on off switch on the back could be a bit bigger. With winter gloves on it can be hard to find and press, hence I ended up blinding some poor dog walker.

    Oh and on flashing mode, cars certainly notice you more!

    I shopped around and picked mine up for £260 which is a bargin compared to other lights.