Review: Exposure’s self-adjusting Reflex Mk. 1 light
Recent advancements in electronic components–and the reduction in their size and cost–are quickly making themselves felt in the bicycle industry. Tiny and inexpensive GPS receivers, temperature sensors, radio transceivers, accelerometers, and the processors to back them up are improving bicycle components and accessories in ways that few would have thought possible and even creating entirely new product categories.
A prime example of this trend is Exposure’s first (Mk. 1) Reflex trail light. Using a battery of accelerometers and temperature sensors, the Reflex actually adjusts its output in response to rider speed and to meet a rider-set run time target. In theory, this means that light can be saved on poky climbs and slow sections for flat-out descents and high-speed stretches. Are we seeing the future- or just (a varying distance) down the trail? Hit the jump to find out!
As neat as it sounded, Exposure’s Reflex Technology also had the very real potential to be intrusive and annoying- like those early car stereos that would adjust their volume based on vehicle speed. The reality is that the Reflex is far more subtle. No one who rode the light could actually sense any output variation: Exposure simply deliver the right amount of light for the conditions. 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 warp-speed (or 25mph) descents
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 solid, rattle-free aluminum bar mount. The light’s self-contained design houses the batteries, emitters, and electronics. It may sound like a small thing, but once used to the simplicity of self-contained lights, it really is awfully hard to go back to routing cables and finding appropriate battery mounting points. Accessory external batteries are available for riders with truly extreme run time needs.
The eleven (!) 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. On its highest setting (moving fast while set to the 3hr run time), the Reflex pumps out 2,200 lumen- a lot lof light for anything in this size/weight category. The light’s lower 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.
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 a run mode, 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. As nice as a real-time readout is, it is extremely difficult to read while riding- bringing back the green/yellow/red indicating switch would give the rider an idea of the charge left without requiring a stop.
Exposure are famous for updating their lights on an annual basis- and given its performance we expect their Reflex technology to spread across the line in pretty short order. Any requests for the next product cycle? In addition to the indicating button, the Reflex’s business end could be a bit more recessed to prevent self-blinding when standing or lifting the front wheel up steps. As the light really isn’t optimized for road use the beam is easy to outrun on pavement- a road-optimized light would make a lot of commuters happy.
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.