The Bike List

Exposure MAXX-D Mk5 Front Light £345

Tested by Ped Baker, tester for The Bike List

Yes, you did read that right. £345 for a bicycle light. And yes, you're right again, that is an astronomically huge amount of cash. With it you could buy a second-hand winter bike, a new washing machine or even a used car!

If you're not thinking any of those things, you must be either the Sultan of Brunei* or work for one of the other bike review sites - incomprehensibly, the other reviews of the MAXX-D I've read don't make anything of the price or even judge the light in value-for-money terms.

However, if you are the Sultan of Brunei I suggest you slide into your 24k gold-plated Rolls Royce (or any one of your other 6,999 cars) and pop down to your local bike shop because the Mk5 MAXX-D is bloody brilliant.

I've previously tested two other lights in the Exposure range, using them for both off-road riding and daily commuting. My first taste was an early Enduro model and then the mk2 Diablo in 2011. Both were absolutely faultless in both performance and finish. If the McLaren Formula One team decided to go into making bike lights, then I'm sure they could do no better than the boys from Petworth, West Sussex.

The UK-made aluminium body of the MAXX-D is faultlessly machined, etched and anodised to an extremely high standard of finish. There's nothing to snap or break off and the unit is rugged enough to ensure that if it was to take a tumble it would survive well. The finned edging around the reflector dissipates heat away from the four Cree XPG R5 LEDs helping to keep them at their optimum operating temperature. The six notches around the rim are for fitting the optional beacon diffuser (£7.95) so you could use the unit as a tent light.

The Exposure Cable Free Design that features across the range is a masterpiece of understated engineering. No bags of batteries to Velcro on, no wires to tangle up or accidentally be pulled out, and the brilliantly simple quick-release clamp ensures the light will be in the perfect pre-set position every time it is attached.

New features on the Mk5 include an OMS (optimised mode selector) that allows the user to balance battery life with output. OMS is a useful feature for endurance racing but the majority of users will be fine with mode number one that provides two, six and twelve hours operation in the respective high, medium and low power outputs. A flash function is also available.

Once the OMS programme is set, the five red LEDs on the back panel indicate battery level and the three blue LEDs, light level modes. Also found on the back panel is the on/off switch and the gold-plated recharge port. Re-charging is by the included mains adaptor or USB lead.

With 1600 Lumens on tap (up from 1285 on the Mk4 MAXX-D) it's obvious that the unit is going to pack some punch down your local single track, but if you're used to struggling along with low-end sub £100 lights, you'll be simply blown away by just how good the MAXX-D is.

At full power the beam cuts deep down trails for at least 25 metres allowing you to pick out obstacles even at top speed but penetration isn't everything, you also need a good spread of light for peripheral illumination, essential for spotting low hanging branches and cornering hard. The MAXX-D doesn't disappoint there either. The four LEDs are focussed to ensure a deep but wide enough beam that enables you to avoid being smacked in the face and follow the trail a couple of corners ahead. Simply put, it's as close as you're realistically going to get to riding in daylight. Even on the medium (six hour) setting the light is still powerful enough to illuminate even the most technical and fast sections of the trail.

So far, so good. The MAXX-D is a brilliantly designed, supremely engineered, faultlessly performing bike light... but is it worth £345?

As I mentioned before, the answer to that question depends so much on who's doing the asking. Professional racers, the world's rich and cycle journalists don't need to worry about such things but to the rest of us, it's not that easy to justify.

I ride off-road at least twice a week on my commute to work and during my nine mile route at least five of those are on unpaved and unlit farm tracks. When the weather is better I can detour down a mile or so of excellent single track too. From October to March the MAXX-D allows me to continue to ride the same route at the same speed (mud permitting) I would in the summer.

The other Exposure lights I've used have been equally superb and the performance of the Diablo deserves a special mention as it's ability to be helmet mounted not only means the beam is directional but the increased height goes some way to shortening the shadows that are inevitably cast by such a powerful beam. (The 2013 Mk4 Diablo now packs a 1100 lumen punch over the 900 lumen Mk2 model I tested) .

If you're an endurance racer that will use the OMS feature to fine tune the output for each race and make use of the MAXX-D's ability to floodlight a light a trail for six hours, then I'd stump up the cash - you won't be disappointed. But for the rest of us I'd save £145 and go for the Mk4 Diablo. It's combined versatility, size and performance add up to much better value.

*Hassanal Bolkiah is one of the last remaining absolute monarchs with a personal fortune of $40bn. His garage includes 600 Rolls Royce cars, 300 Ferraris, 134 Koenigeggs, 11 McLaren F1s, and over 100 BMW's.

Buy from

At a glance

Verdict The Formula One of bike lights. For committed endurance racers only.

Exposure says:

The 5th generation Maxx-D sees the night riding benchmark raised again with 25% more power and increased functionality. The MaXx-D is the racers' choice for the ultimate power to weight ratio bar mounted light. Twinned with a helmet mounted Diablo you have a winning combination.

The 2013 MaxxD also benefits from the new Optimised Mode Selector technology. OMS, Optimised Mode Selector is a new feature for 2013 and allows you to easily select from a concise number of programs to provide the optimum lighting for your ride. OMS programs enable you to obtain the lights full potential and optimise the output whether it's a two hour trail burn or a week's commuting.

Technical Information:

Weight: 292g

Output: 1600 lumens

Power: 11600mAh Lithium Ion battery

Burn time: 2 - 36hrs (depending on OMS selection)

Emitter: 4 Cree XPG R5 LEDs.

Cable Free Design (CFD): A primary feature unique to Exposure Lights removes the hassle of cables and straps utilising the superb QR Bracket for speedy, rock solid attachment.

LED Info display: The all new info display gives a 5 step fuel gauge and a 3 level mode indicator. It also doubles up as the OMS display.

Intelligent Thermal Management (ITM): Patented technology that combats the loss in efficiency of LEDs at elevated temperatures, maintaining optimum output keeping you shining 'Brighter for Longer'.

Smart Port Technology Plus (SPT+): Patented technology that enables a wide range of accessories to be used; Additional rear lights, back-up power supplies, remote switches and even charging other USB devices direct from your light.

Collimated Lens Technology: Exposure Lights use these high-tech resin lenses which have been extensively researched. These lenses are specifically designed to maximise light collection from the LEDs and efficiently produce an optimum beam pattern for cycling ensuring no light is wasted.

Weatherproof Body: CNC machined aerospace grade aluminium body with efficient heat transfer design. Fully manufactured in the UK.
Gold plated charge port: The charge port is gold plated for corrosion resistance, more efficient conductivity and it is sealed to a greater level adding protection to you light.

Storm Cap: The Smart Port in protected by a silicone cover to stop muddy gloves pushing dirt into the port.
Includes: Quick Release handlebar bracket and 2.8A Smart Charger.

Supplier: Exposure Lights, +44 (0)1798 344477,