Friday, June 28, 2013

Exposure Lights Review

Cannondale Sugoi Factory Racing is pleased to welcome Exposure Lights as an official team sponsor!

Even though USE has just officially come on board, team riders have been using the 2013 Exposure Lights all year, and have logged up plenty of race and training hours using these great lights.

We thought it time to share our experiences and thoughts on these lights with you ...

Lets start with the mountain bike helmet light, the Diablo Mk4.  This light also doubles as a great light for the roadie when you are out doing hill repeats in the dark and need to dodge the odd kangaroo!

Diablo Mk4 - 106 grams

The Diablo Mk4 puts out a solid 1100 lumens at it's max level, and this will last for an hour.Weighing in at under the advertised weight, the lights is easily under 110 grams - making it ideal for either a helmet mount or bar mount.

The Diablo uses the USE "Optimised Mode Selector" (OMS) technology - which is a fancy way of saying you can easily change between both the output level, as well as select from a range of 8 pre-configured hi-medium-lo configurations.

For instance, in the 1st mode, you will be 1hr / 3hr / 6hr out of the hi, medium and low settings. An alternate mode will give you 3hr / 10hr / 24hr burn times!

Selecting a mode is simple via pressing a led colored button on the rear of the light. The button is big enough that even with winter gloves you can easily change modes. Each mode is colored coded, so it is easy to see which mode you have gone into.

As the battery runs down the same light changes color to indicate run time remaining. Green means > 50%, orange 25-50%, red 5-25% and below 5% the button will flash and the light will go into the lowest setting.

Having used this light in a bunch of night races - including the Mont 24hr, Australian Solo Nationals, and the night stage of the ICME Alice Springs Stage Race - I can say that the 1100 lumens is more then you need to race with on your helmet. Where you have the luxury of knowing you will be only out on track for under an hour, crank it up to full output and enjoy all those lumens.

The light is bright and focused. It is a white light, but does not wash out the ground contrast. Take note that the burn time on the Diablo is quick - unlike all the other USE lights, if anything this light may be slightly under the advertised time. So, err on the side of caution when estimating burn time!

When out on the roadie, I usually just run the light in the middle mode (3 hr). This is still brighter then many other lights on the market and all you need on the road.

For racing in longer night events, such as a 24hr Solo or a 12 hr I would suggest plugging in the "Piggyback triple cell" and stashing this in your jersey pocket. This should extend the burn time at max output to 4 hours. Keep in mind as well that these piggy back battery packs are quite cheap,so you can easily stock up on a few of these to get you through the night.

Piggyback triple cell - 204 grams
I've also run the "Piggyback single cell" on the rear of the helmet. These only weight round 76 grams and can easily be mounted with a bit of velcro. This will bump your burn time to 2 hours at full, or 6 hours at half. This too is a good option for a night race.

Piggyback single cell - 76 grams
If you are super diligent, you could also plug in one of the Remote Switches - basically a big button that plugs into the light making it even easier to change modes. Stick this on your helmet too and you can easily switch between modes - turn down for climbing and crank it up for descents. Doing this sort of battery saving will buy you even more time between light and battery swaps.

Keep in mind as well that when you come into the pits and need to swap lights the Diablo is simple to pull off the helmet mount and stick in a new one. There are no cables, velcro, rubber straps etc to get in the way of the mount. Just clip out and clip in.

The other awesome thing to note about the helmet mount is that it is on a ball pivot joint. So, it is trivial to adjust the light direction on the fly. Move the light up when you hit the fireroad, and move it down when you get into the singletrack. Easy and efficient.

Diablo mounted - ready for action

On the bars we have been running the Reflex MX1 - with a whooping 2200 lumens, and with heaps of awesome technologies this really is an industry leading light.

The Reflex MX1 comes in around 290 grams, and makes for the perfect MTB bar light.

Like the Diablo, the Reflex uses the OMS system - and in this case there are 11 pre-canned configurations to choose from. In the default configuration, you will get at least 2 hours at 2200 lumens. I say at least because the first few configurations use the new "Reflex" technology which automatically adjusts the lumen output based on the terrain!

When you are climbing the light turns down, and when you speed up the light turns up! And yes, this does work just as it sounds!

So, then how do you know how much burn time you have left? Well, on the back of the Reflex is a big LED display which shows you exactly how many minutes you have left! How sweet is that!!

Burn time remaining - over 3 hours!
No more gambling on whether or not you can squeeze in one more lap or not.

This has become my go-to light for any mid-week MTB riding. I don't even bother with a helmet light, as the Reflex is so bright and puts out such a good light spread that it is all you need for training night rides. Even in single track, this bar light alone is great.

On race day in the longer races I'd probably run the triple cell piggy back strapped to the top tube. This will double the Reflex's burn time - so at full burn you will get 4 hours - which matches up nicely with the Diablo.

Like the Diablo, the Reflex is easy to get on/off the bar mount. It uses a little pull-pin to release the light from the mount, and then you just slide the new light in.  Just remember to keep this little pull-pin clean of dirt and stick a little chain lube on the pin to keep it moving easily.

It is also worth noting that with a supplied adapter you can also run the Diablo and Joystick lights on these mounts, so this is how I run the Diablo or Joysticks on the roadie.

Bar mount - 20 grams
When you are just commuting on the road bike, or hitting up an early morning bunch ride, then check out the little Joystick MK7 - just 86 grams.

Like the Diablo and Reflex, the Joystick also has OMS - and at full burn you get 400 lumens for 2 hours.At the lowest mode you can squeeze out 36 hours!

I have left this light on at full burn for over 5 hours and it still produces light! This is the < 5% kicking in and the light reverting to the lowest mode. Pretty impressive.

Stick this light on the roadie and you get more lumens then many other lights on the market, and at only 86 grams you have not sacrificed anything in weight.

I run the bar mount upside down, so it is under the bars on the roadie - so in doing this the light is out of the way and you hardly even know it is there.

Joystick mounted under the bars

So, all up these lights are really impressive - packed with great technologies, easy to use and produce great quality light.  It goes without saying, that when you run these lights without any piggybacks the lack of cables is fantastic. I really hate cables, and it makes it so simple to clip in a light and head out for a ride - no need for strapping in extra batteries and weight.

For the commuters and roadies out there - I'd suggest going for either the Joystick or Diablo on your bars.

For the serious mtb racer - Go for the Diablo + Reflex combo. If you are just racing team based night laps, or XCO night races you can get away without any extra batteries / piggybacks.  For the enduro / solo riders stock up on the piggybacks and probably run 2 sets of lights.

There are heaps of other great features and technologies in these lights - which you should check out the Exposure Lights web site for - such as powering your Garmin off the light, or re-charging your light off your PC/Laptops USB port, or the smart chargers that show an indicator light on whether the battery is charged or not ... very cool stuff!

1 comment:

  1. Great write-up Andrew. I've always used Exposure lights and have just invested in new ones for the upcoming 24 hour in October. They are superb lights and, like you, I love the fact there are no cables and batteries to always contend with.