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.