With light outputs running from more-than-adequeate to completely absurd, lighting companies are (correctly) finding other ways to move the trail illumination game forward. With their new Reflex technology, Exposure use a combination of accelerometers and temperature sensors to actively manage their lights’ output. In theory, this means more light for flat-out descents and reduced battery drain on slow singletrack or long climbs. Could this be the future of bike lights- or is it an evolutionary dead end? Hit the jump to find out!
Long a Bikerumor favorite, Exposure have built a reputation for impressively-constructed cable-free lights- and the Reflex is no exception. CNC machined in England, the 250g light attaches to the company’s excellent aluminum bar mount. The self-contained design houses the batteries, emitters, and electronics- once used to the simplicity of self-contained lights, it really is hard to go back to routing cables and finding appropriate battery mounting points.
In a departure from previous lights’ one port, one button design, the Reflex adds a pair of LED readouts to the back of the light. The readout is an aid for the (remarkably simple) process of selecting one of eleven (!) run modes, reports the charge level when charging, and displays the remaining runtime when the light is in use. Interestingly, the accelerometers know when the light’s inverted, flipping the readout accordingly.
The run modes provided include 3 automatic settings (good for 3, 6, 0r 12 hours) paired with a low beam and eight combinations of either 2 or 3 outputs. Many of these settings are especially useful for commuters or 24-hour racers who don’t want to accidentally burn through a night’s (or week’s) worth of charge on a high setting. With only one button controlling the action, the interface was refreshingly easy to learn with help from the included quick-start card.
As neat as I thought the speed-based output adjustment idea was, I worried that it would be like the annoying speed-based volume adjustment on car stereos: good in theory, but distractingly obvious in use. On the trail, I’m happy to report that the Reflex adjusts light output almost unnoticeably. The continuous adjustment generally yields the promised run times- though temperatures on the wrong side of freezing seem to reduce battery life. In keeping with Exposure’s singletrack-oriented (as opposed to fire road-oriented) design, the beam is a broad, even flood. This means plenty of illumination for twisty trail, but the light lacks the punch for wide-open (25mph+) descents.
Any requests? The business end could do with a bit of a shroud to prevent self-blinding when standing or lifting the front wheel up steps and the LED runtime readout isn’t as easy to read while riding as the previous green/amber/red charge indicator. The light really isn’t optimized for road use and the beam is easy to outrun on pavement- but that’s not its intended use. Nits all.
At $600, the Reflex is not an inexpensive proposition- but the price is in line with many 1st-world made lights of similar output (and higher tech than most). In exchange, Exposure deliver on the promise of a light that provides the amount of light that trail conditions demand. For anyone shopping the high end of the market, it would be a great place to start- and everyone else should be excited for when the technology trickles down a price point or two. The Exposure range is available to shops and customers in the US (including US support and chargers) through Ibex Sports.