The Bike List

Exposure Diablo Mk.2 front light £200

Tested by Ped Baker, tester for The Bike List

To the uninitiated, spending £200 on a bike light is absolute madness. There can be no logical reason to shell out such a ludicrous sum of money when perfectly good bike lights can be had for less than £50. Even cycling fashionistas who gladly open their wallets for the latest titainium widget would probably baulk at such outlandish expense.

But where the quest for ultimate lightness might be an expensive folly, the quest for ultimate brightness is a worthwhile one. Not just because it extends your off-road riding season to a whole twelve months, but it also has the ability to turn a slow, miserable drudge into a heart-thumping adventure ride.

This isn't my first experience with an Exposure light. I've owned the excellent Enduro model (now replaced by the Toro) for three years and I've been as pleased as punch with it, using it both on-road and off, with frequent late night hacks down singletracks. When I received the Diablo Mk2 I saw it as an addition, rather than a replacement, for the Enduro, as I couldn't possibly conceive how a light half the size of my Enduro could be any better. How wrong I was.

Predominantly intended as a helmet-mounted light, the Diablo follows Exposures CFD (cable free design) system that combines both lamp and battery in one neat unit. Weighing in at just 110 grams the light comes with a simple helmet mount (122g total) that slots through a vent hole and is secured with a plastic Allen key. The Diablo then simply clips into a ball and socket holder allowing the beam angle to be adjusted on the fly. No Velcro straps or wires to route, just clip it in and off you go. There's also a safety lanyard if you're worried about losing the light to a low flying tree branch.

The Diablo features three levels of brightness and a flashing mode, all selected by pressing and holding down a single rubberised button on the rear. The button lights up to indicate both level selected and power remaining.

The brightness of the Diablo is not to be underestimated. Yes, there are brighter lights available (including other models from Exposure) but for such a small, lightweight and neat package the Diablo's performance is nothing short of breathtaking. Full power provides a very long and wide beam that illuminates the trail far enough to pedal flat out down open fireroads and tracks, and has enough spread to give a good sense of your surroundings. On more technical rides, shadows cast by the strong beam create some inevitable dark patches that occasionally hide what's coming, but short of installing overhead floodlights on the trail it's difficult to see any light overcoming that. Compared to the old Enduro model, I had to put my hand over the Diablo's lens occasionally to check that the Enduro was still working, it really is that impressive.

At full power the one-hour ten minute run time is perhaps a little disappointing but the good news is that the middle setting is more than bright enough for even the most technical of rides, and on that setting the power will last for three hours. The lowest setting provides up to ten hours of light and still gives enough illumination for road riding. Exposure sell piggy back batteries (from £40) that simply plug into the charging port to extend running times, but they also increase the weight (78g for the smallest single cell model), so they're probably best used when the light is bar rather helmet mounted.

There are numerous other accessories available for the Diablo but perhaps the most useful is the Red Eye rear light that simply clips onto the side of the Diablo and plugs into the rear 'Smart Port' socket. The Red Eye's single LED produces a very strong beam that's more than adequate as your only rear light. The only criticism of the Red Eye is that the cable seems a little on the short side, putting an unnecessary strain on the wire as you connect it up to the Diablo.

As the light is helmet mounted you can't keep a check on the power indicator, so if you intend to ride close to the run times it's safer to switch to a lower power setting. When the battery runs out the light instantly switches off; there's no obvious dimming of the beam or other warning. Luckily, when it happened to me down a dark Lincolnshire lane, I had a secondary light on the bars to get me home. Reassuringly, even though the front light went out, the Red Eye rear continued to work, albeit only for a further five minutes. Charging the Diablo is by mains or USB cable and all Exposure lights come with a two-year warranty.

The build quality of both Diablo and Red Eye are exceptional, with beautifully machine-turned alloy bodies and a hard wearing anodised finish that will survive many trail knocks and spills. The £200 price tag is a difficult hurdle to leap but taking into account the performance, build quality and design, plus the fact that it's expandable and upgradable there's no doubt the Diablo is a stunning package.

Buy from www.evanscycles.com or www.chainreactioncycles.com

Exposure says:

Simply Evil output from the Mk.2 Diablo. It does not get better, brighter or lighter than this for helmet mounted lighting. 1hrs 10min (900 Lumens) burn time can be extended with Piggyback battery or run on High for same output as Mk.5 Joystick.Cable free heaven, born out of the fires of hell - that's the Diablo.

  • Three Cree XPG LEDs combine to produce 900 lumens of light.
  • Protected from the elements in a sealed unit, without the hassle of extra cables and batteries in this Cable Free Design.
  • Free 2 year warranty.
  • Fuel gauge. Mode indicator.
  • 1 hr 10 / 3 hr / 10 hr / Flash
  • Ultra light at 110g makes it a great helmet mounted light for cycling or any other activity.
  • Smart Port Technology means that you can run a range of accessories from your Exposure Light, from extra batteries to a remote switch.

Find out more www.exposurelights.com

At a glance

Verdict Superbly built, lightweight and compact helmet light that is fuss free and as bright as you’re ever going to need. One hour run time can be extended with extra ‘piggy back’ battery.
Value
Performance