A Tail of Two Lights pt. 2: Exposure Flare review

Since Light & Motion’s Vis 180 was released last fall and the subsequent arrival of Exposure’s Flare, I have been swapping between the two lights, which each represent a different take a new breed of self-contained, high-powered, rechargeable bicycle tail lights.  Bright enough to be seen in all conditions (but no, not bright enough to “blind” anyone except those foolish enough to put it against their eye) and convenient to use, mount, and unmount, both lights have proved themselves- though for different riders.  Here’s my take on the Exposure Flare:

CNC machined in England and boasting a massive 75 lumen output from either rechargeable or disposable CR123A batteries, Exposure’s Flare is an amazing little package.  With its electronics located in the rotating bezel/switch/diffuser, Exposure have prioritized simplicity and weather resistance in the $70 Flare’s design.  Read on for our impression after spending a spring and fall with the little guy…

Using a Seoul P4 LED, Exposure have managed to get 22 hours of flashing light out of a light that’s hardly larger than my thumb.  The light’s bezel, which can be unscrewed for battery replacement or charging, also acts as its diffuser, splitting the output between a strong rearward beam and a 360° halo for side visibility.  Rotating the bezel 45° or so turns it on, 45° back turns it off, and a quick (sub-3 second) on-off-on cycle switches between a solid and pulsing beam.  Happily, the Flare remembers its last setting and fires back up however it was left.  The Exposure snaps securely into a nylon bracket, which is held in turn to the seatpost by a remarkably stretchy silicone strap.  The low profile makes it easy to squeeze the Flare in on smaller frames, too, making it ideal for shorter riders.  When locking a bike, it’s easier to remove the bracket from the bike than the light from its bracket- not a big deal given the easy-to-use strap and small size.

Though the silicone band is plenty grippy and holds my 31.6 and 27.2 seatposts equally well, it’s obvious when mounted that the Flare is pointed down, squandering some of its precious output.  Running a zip tie around the seatpost and mounting the light so that it is propped up at the problem helps- but does not correct- the light’s alignment.  If there’s anything that Exposure need to correct, it’s this.  Pointing the light down reduces the light’s effective range and impact, diluting the light’s impressive output somewhat.

The diffuser bezel, while a slick design, doesn’t make any distinction between left, right, up, or down.  As a result, a good deal of light is sent skyward or spent illuminating the bike’s drivetrain.  Still, given the 75 lumen that Exposure have to play with, this may well be an appropriate tradeoff for a compact, elegant, and weatherproof package.  On my bike throughout this summer’s violent monsoon season, the Flare has held up great, without any protection in the form of mudguards.  The 4hr run time on flash (on rechargeables- 10hr on disposables) has also allowed me to “fit and forget” the Flare only rarely worrying about recharging.  That two batteries are provided in the rechargeable package means that one charged battery can live in a commuting bag for easy exchange when the time comes- and no down time while a flat battery is recharging.

While the light directed rearward looks to be less than that of Light & Motion’s Vis 180, side visibility is arguably better.  In terms of ultimate visibility, I would put the Exposure somewhat behind the Light & Motion- but the Flare is much better for riders who aren’t great about keeping their electronics topped off.  For $70 with a disposable battery or $105 with a charger and two rechargeable batteries, the Flare is ideally suited for riders with long commutes or who can’t be bothered (or tend to forget) to plug their lights in every week.  A bracket redesign would take the Flare to near-perfect and re-balancing the rear/side output balance would make it the light to beat.

marc

www.exposurelightsusa.com (USA)

www.exposurelights.com (International)

Comments

Mr Bojangles - 10/27/11 - 10:35am

I just picked up the Planet Bike Superflash Turbo for under $30. Whether its in flashing or steady mode it lasts up to about 100 hours of run time on two AAA batteries. I guess I am failing to see the advantage of these super expensive lights over the PB? I mean do you really need 75 Lumens in a tail light?

Steve M - 10/27/11 - 10:41am

I have one and it’s terrible. The switch is stupid and works some of the time. I went back to my $15 Balckburn that works all of the time.

Robin - 10/27/11 - 7:38pm

I don’t get the thinking on the part of the Exposure people. How can they not build angle adjustment into the flare? There has to be a significant decrease in intensity for drivers seeing the light. It would have taken was a simple design mod/addition to add angular adjustability.

RED - 10/28/11 - 8:43am

I have Flares on two bikes – they are terrific, never any problems.

RE: the angle adjustment
- what works best is the rubber angle shim from an old Garmin Edge 305 mount, it’s shape precisely fits the surface area of the mount and it has little rubber flanges at the edges so it won’t work itself downwards. Look in your parts bin, you may have something suitable… if not heck you can still buy that mount kit for like $10-15 if you are that bothered.

Another great thing about the Flare – it fits on Aero seatposts quite well whereas the Vis 180 did not work in that application…

The Flare is very light (46g for light/mount/battery) and very compact, plus changing batteries is a cinch if you need to ride all night. It’s practically waterproof, and even torrential driving rain hasn’t affected mine. Part of the appeal for me is its wide visible angle on the Flare, back, sides, etc. It is easy to remove from the bike, and yet doesn’t rattle around either.

While some of those AA lights might start to approach the light output of it, many seem let down by their hard plastic mount clamps… or are fiddly to get AA batteries in and out of (more important if you use rechargeables). Knog tackled the mount issue, but are worse on the battery side (shrug).

Overall, I would not trade my Flares for a Vis 180 or anything else.

Post a comment:

Comment sections can be a beautiful source of knowledge, conversation and comedy. They can also get pretty ugly, which is why we've updated our Comments Policy. If your comment isn't showing up or suddenly disappears, you might want to check it out.