Bike lights are pretty important to cyclists and we're being more and more demanding about just what exactly we need out of our equipment. We want lights to make us seen, to be seen and not to blind the drivers, that last a long time and can get us around a decent night's riding. I thought I'd buy some USE Exposure lights for the reasons above and put them to the test.
USE Exposure are a British manufacturer based in West Sussex that make an assortment of different lights for cycling and marine activities. Their lights are designed for on the road and off-road use and range in price from £50 all the way up to a whopping £399 depending on the size and power of the light you're buying. I have bought three different Exposure lights and used them throughout winter on a variety of training rides and commutes across a multitude of terrains. Below is a bit of a closer look at the lights I've been using and my thoughts on each.
Exposure Blaze Mk1
Front or Back: Back.
Run Time: 6hrs on maximum output, up to 48hrs.
This is Exposure's bright and most expensive rear light but certainly packs a punch. Whilst it's not the brightest light on the market it's more than bright enough to cut through any city street lights and keep you seen; I've even had fellow cyclists comment that it's so bright they couldn't follow my wheel. It's a USB charged light with a long life battery that doesn't seem to have shortened in lifespan despite being used for 2 hours every day for at least a year.
The light is mounted using a rubber seat-post band that allows you to take it on and off really easily. Again, despite constantly swapping between bikes the band hasn't stretched excessively and still holds the light firmly in place. In terms of value for money or value per mile this light is holding it's own so far and hasn't showed any signs of letting up. It's bright, versatile and continues to be my rear light of choice for riding.
Front or Back: Front.
Run Time: 1.5hrs on maximum output, up to 36hrs.
The Joystick isn't technically sold as a purely road going light due to it's quite concentrated beam pattern but that's not stopped me, or many others using this light as my sole front light in the past. I'm a firm believer that the minimum lumens you need to see through the night are 800lm so this light just ticks the box. It's bright enough to illuminate the road ahead but not blind any drivers, although not quite bright enough to see every pothole. That said, it more than does the job of a "to see" light.
The Joystick uses a similar rubber strap and plastic mount to the Blaze light which once again has maintained it's strength over a full years usage. It's compact design, about the size of a large lipstick tube, weights around 90g and is made of machined metal so pretty strong if you drop it. Again, like the Blaze the Joystick hasn't lost any power or life so far despite having a USB charged internal battery.
Front or Back: Front.
Run Time: 2hrs on maximum output, up to 36hrs.
Quite possibly the most bonkers light I have put my hard earned cash into over the years, the MAXX-D is sold as a mountain bike light rather than a road light, again owing to the fact the beam pattern is quite focussed and not dipped. However, I've found it to be epic for road use when coupled with the remote control they sell which meant I could dip the power of the light when I need to on the unlit roads. 3,200lm is a bit light looking into the sun on a dark night so if you're going to use it on the road you need the remote.
It has so many modes I don't think I've quite used them all yet. The flashing mode is great for city use and the lowest setting is still more than plenty enough to be seen. The other cool thing that this light does is use something called "reflex" technology whereby the light changes brightness according to speed or gradient to help extend battery life; it's fair to say it works pretty well.
The light is once again bar mounted but this time using a mental mount and cleat to keep 300g of light firmly in place. Unfortunately, the mount I have used on mine rattled and eroded over the last four months so that the light came loose. However, this is where despite its cost, the light still justifies itself- I contacted Exposure who agreed to send me a new bracket for the light within 10 minutes of me getting in touch. That's customer service and helped reassure me that whilst it wasn't great, these things happen and they are cool about resolving things appropriately. I promise to update this in a month or two of using the new bracket.
Overall I've been really impressed with the lights I've bought. Whilst they're not the cheapest on the market, they show signs of top quality and longevity in their continued performance after over a year's use. Things do go wrong and the customer service team clearly appreciate this and resolve things which also justifies the cost.
You can check out their website here.