Review: Exposure’s compact, refined, and powerful Diablo Mk.4 light
It’ no secret that we’ve long been fans of Exposure’s high-end lighting systems. An offshoot of British CNC-masters USE, Exposure build a wide range of self-contained LED bike lights- a range that is continually evolving with added features, increased outputs, and improved run times.
Itself an evolution of the Snickers-sized Joystick light, the Diablo is now in its fourth generation. The latest Diablo is up 10% to 1,100 lumens’ output and includes Exposure’s Optimized Mode Selector so now can be programmed to cycle through one of eight sets of 2-3 settings, which can be chosen depending on lighting and battery life needs. Hit the jump for our review of a light that has been along for every night ride, morning commute, and epic adventure since October.
First and foremost, the Diablo is a helmet light. The 108g weight–including an on-board battery–has to be one of the lowest available. Exposure’s versatile ball and socket helmet mount is included and works well with almost every helmet we’ve tried and allows for easy but secure positioning. So too is a lanyard for tethering the light to your lid: the light is designed to pop free from harm’s way in the event of a crash (something we’ve demonstrated to our satisfaction).
The Diablo can also mount to the bars with a slick but minimal mounting bracket ($25). Even with the bracket attached, the Diablo can slip into a sunglasses bag. This makes it a great emergency light- its long run times (up to 24 hours on the lowest setting) and SOS mode more than welcome if things go horribly wrong.
Despite the potential for a hideously complicated programming routine, the single-button interface is easy to use (and a quick start card is provided in the nice padded carrying case) and the different settings and their run times are laser etched onto the base of the unit. Worried about the 1hr run time on high (keep in mind that this is a 108g light)? Choose a program that tops out at a lower setting. Going full-tilt for a short ride or packing an external battery? Choose a program without a low setting. (1- and 3- cell batteries are available, doubling or quadrupling run times.) The Optimized Mode Selector isn’t something that everyone will use- but easy and useful enough that everyone could.
With a good balance between breadth and punch, the Diablo makes for an excellent trail light. During the week, the pulse mode and helmet mounting make it easy to get drivers’ attention while commuting and doesn’t need to be removed from the bike during the day.
The included USB charger isn’t terribly fast, but will allow for easy charging at work or at events from increasingly common car USB ports- just be sure to keep track of the proprietary cable (needed to mate with the weatherproof SPT connector). At $300, the Diablo is positioned directly against Light & Motion’s Taz 1200- both are self-contained, first-world-made lights from reputable manufacturers with similar outputs. Where the Exposure sets itself apart from competitors is with its more versatile form factor, light weight, expandability, and programmability. Over the past six months, the Diablo has presented zero problems despite constant use and twice-weekly charging. The entire Exposure range is available in the US with US-specific chargers through local bike shops or distributor Ibex Sports.