Being seen is rad. Even the meekest rider benefits a whole lot when approaching drivers can see them from a distance and plan accordingly. While dressing in visible colors and riding predictably go a long way, there’s nothing that will make a cyclist stand out- day or night- like a bright freakin’ tail light.
One of the new generation of self-contained, high-powered tail lights, Exposure Lights’ 75 lumen Flare certainly qualifies. Made in Britain of CNC’d aluminum and a single Seoul P4 LED, the Flare wrings 22 hours (on flash- 9 hours on solid) out of one CR123A battery. Since its arrival in February, I have used my Flare nearly daily and its pulse has helped to keep me visible and confident night, dusk, and day.
How much light, exactly, is 75 Lumen? While the Flare’s output wouldn’t hold a candle to modern front lights, it is double the output of Light & Motion’s Vis 180 and nineteen times the output of Planet Bike’s Superflash, my benchmark AAA-powered tail light. That’s a lot of light- especially in such a compact package. So much light, in fact that the Flare is easily visible in broad daylight. Though I don’t fire it up on every ride, I frequent some sketchy stretches of road and experience weather conditions that absolutely justify daytime lighting.
Little bigger than the battery it houses, the Flare snaps (with some effort) into a nylon bracket, which is held in place by a surprisingly stretchy silicone strap. The red band easily handled my road bike’s 31.6mm seatpost and is grippy enough that the light doesn’t move in normal use. The translucent cap serves not only as the light’s diffuser, but also the battery cover and switch. 1/4 turn is enough to turn the light on or off and a quick on-off-on sequence switches the Flare between solid and flash mode. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the Flare ‘remembers’ its last mode and always (in my case) fires up in flash mode.
Though the majority of the Flare’s output id directed rearward, because of the Exposure’s axisymmetric design, light is emitted from the end cap/diffuser in all directions. Seeing as there’s plenty to go around (so to speak), sending light skyward and illuminating the bike’s drivetrain is less of a negative than with lower-powered lights. Less OK is the bracket’s downward tilt (better than past Exposure lights, but still…), which has the effect of reducing the Flare’s visible range to some extent. I wrapped a zip tie around my seatpost, using it to prop the bracket up a bit- but it’s still not quite level. And there’s my only complaint.
Given the distance Exposure have put between the Flare and $30-$40 blinkies and the fact that the light is made in England, the $70 retail price is fantastic. Used for regular commuting, the CR123A battery should last 2-3 months. For another $50, a rechargeable kit (including 2 batteries and a charger) will keep your riding environmentally friendly and can support the matching Flash white light ($70 separately). All three are also available as a package for $150, saving about $40. It’s early to say yet, but the Flare is looking like the tail light to beat.