Exposure Diablo and Blaze
Written by: Greg KopeckyThis is our review of two lights from UK-based Exposure. They are known for very bright LED bicycle lights. What makes them different from the rest? They’re bright - and they do not have external battery packs. Exposure says that their proprietary LED technology allows them to achieve run times and brightness comparable to the competition’s brightest external battery systems.
Added: Tue Mar 12 2013
Added: Tue Mar 12 2013
At first, I was skeptical. I love the completely self-contained lights, as they’re very convenient to swap between bikes and helmets – but they’ve never lived up to my hopes in terms of brightness or run time. We reviewed the compact and light weight Blackburn Scorch, which is similar in size and weight to the Exposure Diablo. It’s convenient, and fairly bright at 140 lumens, but is limited to only one hour of burn time (at max output). It also does not have a helmet mount option.
Would Exposure live up to the hype? Let’s find out.
Diablo Mk4 - $299
The Diablo Mk4 is the top-of-the-heap in helmet lights from Exposure. It weighs only 104 grams, and is 4.5” (11.5cm) long.
Exposure quotes a maximum output of 1,100 lumens. No, that is not a typo. Eleven hundred.
Keep in mind that the 1,100 lumen setting is ‘full blast’, and only lasts for one hour. The real beauty of the Diablo is what they call the OMS, or Optimum Mode Selector:
Each of the rows is a different setting, with 8 options total. Within that setting, there are two or three levels of brightness, and sometimes an additional flashing mode. The numbers listed within each row represent the approximate burn time for each particular setting.
For example, the top row is setting 1. This is the default mode (i.e. if you take the light out of the package and double click to turn it on, it will be in this mode). The first mode is H, and lasts for one hour. If you click the button again, it goes in to M – good for three hours. One more click brings you to L, which is good for 6 hours.
There is only one button to move through all of the settings, located on the back of the light (next to the charger input):
To activate the different modes, you must start with the light off. Hold the main button until the lamp flashes several times. Next, you will see the button begin to flash slowly. Each flash represents a new mode. For example, if you want to select mode 3, hold the button, wait until the button flashes three times, and immediately release the button. You’ve selected mode 3. Then, simply double click the light to turn it on.
When you turn the light off, it remembers your last setting. While that may all seem complicated, I got the hang of it in about a day.
Exposure provided this handy chart, which shows the lumen rating for each setting:
The chart does not show the run times for flash modes, but the Exposure staff explained to me that this would be about 1 hour less than the Low setting (so, five hours for mode 1 flashing). The light remains in low brightness, and flashes to the medium brightness (380 lumens steady, 540 lumens peak at flash – for setting 1 flash).
Must you use the Diablo as a helmet light? What if you want to put it on your handlebars? While the Diablo does come with a very easy-to-use helmet mount (pictured here on my Bell Gage):
Similar to our review of the Blackburn Scorch, we wanted to show you the approximate real-world brightness of the Diablo. There photos were done in similar conditions to the Scorch – indoors, and in the same location.
First up, we have the Scorch on the left and the Diablo on the right:
In the following photo, the Blackburn Scorch (140 lumens) is on the left, and the Diablo is on the right – in setting 1 Low (180 lumens):
Next, I put the Diablo up against my very bright and very heavy Light and Motion Arc:
Compared to the Diablo in setting 1 Medium (540 lumens for three hours), the brightness looked very similar. Both the center beam and overall spread were quite even between the two.
Just for kicks, I put the Diablo up to full blast (1,100 lumens) against the Light and Motion:
Blaze - $159
The Blaze is the newest rear light option from Exposure.
Exposure quotes a maximum output of 80 lumens. Similar to the Diablo, the light has a chart with all of the different OMS settings:
The top of the Blaze has a simple clear cover for the on/off button and the charger port:
In this photo, I compare the DiNotte 300R (on ‘high’) with the Blaze. Comparing rear lights is generally more difficult than fronts, as the beam spread tends to be much wider (we want to ‘be seen’ from the rear, rather than see a specific path on the road):
My favorite attributes of the Blaze are the size, simplicity, and mounting system. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – the most important thing about any light is that you use it. If you’re in a hurry to get out the door, the Blaze takes no time to grab and install. It has become my go-to for any race or business trip that involves cycling.