A vital aspect of any 24 hour solo race, especially the Strathpuffer, is lighting. The ability to see where you’re going in the dark when riding a bike at speed is a basic necessity, but not only do your lights need to be bright, they’ve got to be reliable and ideally compact and lightweight.
I’m incredibly fortunate to be supported by Exposure Lights. Not only are their products, in my opinion, the best that money can buy but their seemingly unwavering support of the racing scene in this country puts them head and shoulders above the competition.
The now-familiar cable-free design of all the Exposure Lights units means that things are neat and tidy without yards of cables flapping around and swapping lights mid-race is as fast as swapping a water bottle. Just unclip the quick-release handlebar bracket or pull the helmet light out of its (award-winning) ball-and-socket mount, chuck another one on there and off you go.
…that is, if you actually need to swap a light. The burn times of all lights in the range are also very impressive. I can easily complete a 24 hour race in the summer without any light swapping as long as I use full power on my bar-mounted light only when needed and I keep the helmet-mounted Joystick set to medium.
The latest batch of lights, handed to me just in time at the start of the Strathpuffer (thanks John) consists of a helmet-mounted Diablo and bar mounted Six Pack and Reflex lights. I thought the Exposure lights I already had were impressive, but these are a whole new level in terms of output, weight, size features and burn times.
The Reflex is without doubt the best light I’ve ever used. On full power the output is a quite incredible 2200 lumens and the beam quality ensures that you’re able to see far enough down the trail to ride at daylight speeds at all times. The readout on the back of the light tells you how much burn time you’re got left in hours and minutes and adjusts immediately when you switch between high, medium and low.
There’s almost a dozen programmable ‘modes’ that allow you to pre-define the output levels available. Some programs cut the available output options down to low and full power, which I find particularly handy.
The light also weighs next to nothing (292 grams) and doesn’t take up much room. Oh, and you can set the light to automatically adjust its output based on whether you’re slowly grinding uphill or hooning back down again. How cool is that?
Slightly bigger and without the some of the clever technology is the Six Pack – still with loads of programmable modes and an amazing punchy output, the battery lasts for ages and it’s as super-reliable as all the Exposure lights I’ve used in the past.
Finally (and I’ve got to mention this one because it’s about as trick as it gets) – I actually received this light as a prize for winning the solo at the Strathpuffer – the Exposure Equinox is an amazing piece of kit. Basically a helmet light with a maximum output the same as a Six Pack (2000 lumens). That amount of light on your head is probably only needed in a handful of situations in the average mountain biker’s lifetime, but it’s there if you need it.
At lower output settings the burn times are really good and output-wise things are still pretty bonkers and more than bright enough for most situations. The best bit though is the wireless switch. Mounted on your bars, the switch allows you to toggle between the output settings, maximising the battery life. The switch itself is also illuminated in green, amber or red depending on the amount of juice left in the battery and it’s only 124g. It’s just superb.
I’d honestly not consider riding with any other brand of lights.
Click here to see the full range of lights, specifications and accessories (such as extended batteries and extra mounting hardware).