Exposure Flare rear light  £40.00

9/10

Well made, compact, confidence-inspiringly bright, impervious to weather, and easily swapped between bikes

Weight 46g   Contact  www.exposurelights.com

by VecchioJo   October 21, 2011  

Exposure Flare - mounted

The Flare is the self-sufficient rear light from Exposure, a development from their Red-Eye rear light that sucks power via a lead out the back of one of Exposure's powerful Joystick off-road lights. The tidy little Flare runs off a single CR123A battery - a squat camera battery to you and me. It pushes out a bright 75 lumens of red light via a Seoul P4 LED. Exposure say there's 9hrs of constant light to be had with a disposable battery and 3hrs with rechargeables, or 22hrs and 8hrs respectively in flashing mode.

The Flare is pretty much moulded in to its moulded bracket so it's never going to bounce out and the whole combo is so small and neat that they really don't need to come apart anyway. The seatpost bracket is also angled so the light points horizontally when mounted, although it can be flipped so the Flare points slightly down, which handy if you ride in a group and don't want to blind the rider behind. The bracket's silicone band will stretch to fit seatposts from 25.0-34.9mm and, because of the shape of the bracket and flexibility of the band, will also wrap round odd-shaped aero seatposts and seatmasts too. This stretchy attachment makes it easy to swap the light between bikes or to remove it for security when commuting.

This Flare has been switched between road, cyclo-cross and mountain bikes with a variety of seat-tube sizes, without recourse to screwdrivers or faffy shims, and that silicone band has kept it securely attached to every seatpost it's been on. The little light's been vibrated along stuttery tarmac and bounced off-road and it hasn't wobbled or made a launch for freedom into the verge.

Turning the Flare on and off is a matter of simply twisting the lens clockwise or anti-clockwise. To change the mode from constant to flashing, or vice-versa, is just as easily done by turning the Flare off and on again within three seconds. Otherwise, it turns on in the same mode as when it was turned off. The one-handed on/off operation, turning the whole lens, means there's no fumbling about trying to press fiddly power buttons with thick winter gloves on. With a bit of practice, the light can be operated on the move, should stopping ruin your PB. Indeed the fact that bracket and light are effectively one-piece is another advantage when it comes to on the move operation because the light doesn't swivelin it's bracket when you are trying to twist the lens something it's front light equivalent, the Flash, does.

The flashing mode isn't an on/off flash. The light is on constantly with the flash pulsing over the top. It makes the Flare a powerful visibility aid, even in daylight, and is great for peace of mind in the city or riding the lanes into the sun. The lens is diffused and about 1cm deep so there's a certain amount of traffic-useful side visibility there as well.

The Flare's PR trick is to be dropped into a pint of beer and to stay working until people get bored, or someone wants their beer back. It's a stunt that works in the real world too. All very entertaining of course a more real world test would be to fire beer at it in all directions in the way rain and spray is forced against a bike light on a stormy day. You might get asked to leave the pub though.

So how does its weather sealing stand up to real world conditions? I kept the Flare on the back of my bikes all winter, even when it wasn't dark, just to get it covered in as much road grime and puddle splash as possible. It's refused to roll over and die. .

With no on/off buttons to press, a traditional weak point with lights for moisture to enter, and an O-ring seal between the lens and the CNC aluminium body, water and anything else that might be flung up by the rear wheel or fall from the skies has a hard time getting in. As a result, the Flare hasn't faltered due to internal dampness and hasn't had to be put in the airing cupboard to dry out. Dave and Tony have also put a winter and more's commuting time in to the Flare with no problems on that score either

Battery life has been hard to gauge against Exposure's claimed figures as it's been used in a real-world random configuration of flashing and constant modes. But the supplied battery is lasting well, definitely on a par with other proper battery lights, and markedly better than those that use dinky watch-style batteries.

On the road, the Flare is an impressively bright 75 lumens, so bright that the spotlight burst of red actually casts a wide pool of light over the rear wheel and onto the road, further contributing to visibility. Its first ride out was on pitch black country roads and it was instantly apparent that cars were showing more respect, hanging back and taking a wide overtaking arc rather than the usual forcing past without hesitation. It inspires a plucky confidence to shadowy riding. Riding behind a pair of night time cyclists, one with an Exposure Flare and one with what was once considered a decent enough blinky light, revealed how much brighter, more visible and road owning the Exposure is.

The Flare is lightweight and unobtrusive enough to appease the most image conscious of fashionistas worried about a bike light spoiling the exquisite lines of their pride and joy. But if even this makes you tut when you're looking at yourself in mirrored office-windows, then it's diminutive enough to be lost in a pocket until it's dark enough for no one to see your faux pas.

It's not all sweetness and light, though. A little care has to be taken when changing batteries: gentle finesse is required to screw the plastic lens unit into the metal body as it can cross-thread if you're genetically blessed with fists of ham. If you're on a really muddy and gritty commute, or pop them on an off-road bike for dusky muddy fun, then the thread in the gap between the light and the body can fill with gunk, which makes it hard to tighten the lamp to turn it on and off. And as the light lens is knurled and recessed it traps and holds onto dirt too, effectively reducing its light output. Dirt isn't a big problem, however, because the waterproof Flare can be chucked in with the washing-up whenever it gets a bit grubby and needs a clean.

Crap can also get caught behind the silicone band, scratching the seatpost when the light gets knocked around in random nudgage. This is especially obvious on carbon seatposts, where the lacquer is easier scarred. I had a heart-stopping 'cracked carbon seatpost?!' moment until I realised what had caused the hairline scratches.

If you use a rechargeable battery, you'll need to pay attention to how long the light has been on, because when the battery fades it fades fast. (That's a general problem with rechargeable batteries not the light per se.) A spare battery in your pocket or bag is a prudent precaution. Exposure can help here by selling you a charger set that consists of a mains charger and two re-chargeable Li-ion batteries.

The final caveat is that it's pretty much a seatpost-only mounted light, so if you're keen on fixing a light to a seatstay or pannier rack, or even yourself, then you'll have to look elsewhere.

On the whole, though, it's a light fantastic (that's enough light puns - ed). The initial cost might seem high but it's significantly brighter than four of those fashionable but mostly feeble hipster-cyst silicone £10 lights put together, and it should last longer considerably longer too. The Flare is hard to beat if you want the maximum visibility and maximum versatility for taking off when you nip in to the shops/pub/gym on your ride home, or for swapping between bikes. So the Flare suddenly seems like good value. More importantly, it really is a bright and effective rear light, the sharp pinpoint of red and the flood of light on the tarmac giving you a real presence on the road that transfers into a feeling of security and road safety.

Oh, and it's also available as part of a light set with it's Flash front light sibling with either disposable or rechargeable set ups, the disposable costs £75 and about a tenner more for the rechargeables.

Verdict

Well made, compact, confidence-inspiringly bright, impervious to weather, and easily swapped between bikes

road.cc test report

Make and model: Exposure Flare

Type tested: rear

Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the light?

75 lumens coming from a single Seoul P4 LED, producing 9 hrs of continuous light or 22hrs flashing on a disposable battery and a continuous 3 hrs or flashing 8 hrs on re-chargeables. Weighing a slim 44g it's supplied with one bracket and silicon band and a disposable Li-ion battery.

Tell us how the light performed overall when used for its designed purpose

As an easy to fit seatpost mounted bright rear light it did really rather well. The best I've used.

Did you enjoy using the light? Yes

Would you consider buying the light? Yes

Would you recommend the light to a friend? Yes

Overall rating: 9/10

About the tester

Age: 42  Height: 180cm  Weight: 73kg

I usually ride: It varies as to the season.  My best bike is: The one I\'m on at the time

I've been riding for: Over 20 years  I ride: Most days  I would class myself as: Experienced

I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, cyclo cross, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mtb, Fun

 

25 user comments

Oldest firstNewest firstBest rated

this is one of my best bike purchases ever! if you want to wear it on your helmet, you can also buy a new bracket for the front version and attached that via the helmet vents, this stops it getting mucky on the mountain bike.

while people say its bright, i have noticed that cars and other traffic pass at a safer distance when using this light, day or night and as such it does not come off my bike, and I even use it on boris rented bikes it is so easy.

one thing to wathc out for is that it can easily turn itself on in your jacket pocket... and you then have no light for going home! better to stick it in a bag, earphone case, etc. or carry a spare camera battery in case

roadie come mountain biker come single speeder and back again

posted by cborrman [84 posts]
21st October 2011 - 10:18

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Had this and the Flash front light for a year now and can agree wholeheartedly with the review.

Very bright, easy to use, nice design.

I would recommend getting the charger and rechargeable batteries as they actually put out more light than the disposable batteries (it said so on the packaging, that's not me just imagining it!), and are much better value in the long run.

Just don't forget to chuck them on charge once a week and you will be fine.

I dropped the front light and cracked the plastic housing which caused it to no longer stay screwed in tight to the metal body of the light. Exposure just sent me a replacement plastic lens part for free so you cant fault their customer service.

posted by dandan [34 posts]
21st October 2011 - 10:19

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Also spotted a new saddle rail bracket for the flare - http://www.evanscycles.com/products/exposure/flare-saddle-rail-mount-ec0......

matt_fantastic's picture

posted by matt_fantastic [74 posts]
21st October 2011 - 10:36

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spotted in a review on crc that because these turn on and off by tightening and loosening the lens this allows water ingress when light is off. This then means, apparently, that the light couldn't be turned on. I take it no one here has had that experience?

posted by fred22 [207 posts]
21st October 2011 - 12:43

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fred22 wrote:
spotted in a review on crc that because these turn on and off by tightening and loosening the lens this allows water ingress when light is off. This then means, apparently, that the light couldn't be turned on. I take it no one here has had that experience?

I guess if you unscrewed it a long way that could happen. But you only need to turn it about 10° to turn it off, and no, I've never had any problems

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posted by Dave Atkinson [7282 posts]
21st October 2011 - 12:48

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There's an O-ring at the base of the thread that sits flush against the inside of the barrel when the lens is screwed in. the light deosn't need to be on for it to be in the right position to keep things watertight. But it is possible to unscrew the lens enough for it not to engage. It's one and a half full turns though.

Dave Atkinson's picture

posted by Dave Atkinson [7282 posts]
21st October 2011 - 12:51

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just had a look at my flare and there is a rubber gasket that seals out the water, this is on the plastic head of the unit not on the metal body.

You would have to unscrew the head quite a lot to get the rubber gasket to the point that water could get into the body - to the point that the head would fall out.

From what I can work out from the light being on to being off is about a 1/4 turn. To expose the gasket to a point where water could get in is just over 1.5 turns and to totally remove the head is 2 full turns.

I usually give it about a 1/2 turn just to make sure it doesn't accidentally get turned back on when in a bag.

Mine have been through a year of weather, switched on and off, and had no problem with water getting into them.

posted by dandan [34 posts]
21st October 2011 - 12:58

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beaten to it!

posted by dandan [34 posts]
21st October 2011 - 12:59

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at least we agree, eh Smile

Dave Atkinson's picture

posted by Dave Atkinson [7282 posts]
21st October 2011 - 13:22

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cheers both, reassurance welcome. Think i'll have a set of these this winter

posted by fred22 [207 posts]
21st October 2011 - 15:18

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Have one, and it's great. Only two criticisms to level at it:

(1) easily nicked if you leave it on (conversely, repeatedly taking it on and off raises questions over the silicone bracket longevity)

(2) It's a real shame Exposure don't make a body to take the larger 18650 battery meaning you'd easily get a week of longer commutes without worrying about the battery going flat

posted by carl j [23 posts]
21st October 2011 - 19:45

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carl j wrote:
Have one, and it's great. Only two criticisms to level at it:

(1) easily nicked if you leave it on (conversely, repeatedly taking it on and off raises questions over the silicone bracket longevity)

(2) It's a real shame Exposure don't make a body to take the larger 18650 battery meaning you'd easily get a week of longer commutes without worrying about the battery going flat

Good point on no: 2,that would be good. As for the silicone bracket I take mine on and off all the time and it still seems as good as ever after a year's use.

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posted by Tony Farrelly [4132 posts]
21st October 2011 - 21:47

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Excellent light – the best!

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posted by Large_Pista [48 posts]
22nd October 2011 - 7:48

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Spot on review. Love my lights. Bought the flash/flare combo rechargable option a year ago. Best buy ever, and easily brightest rear light so far. No problems with daily removal, and swapping between bikes. Does go from full bright to no light v. quickly if you forget to recharge.

posted by richardvaltos [18 posts]
22nd October 2011 - 10:34

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cborrman wrote:
this is one of my best bike purchases ever! if you want to wear it on your helmet, you can also buy a new bracket for the front version and attached that via the helmet vents, this stops it getting mucky on the mountain bike.

Hya,
i have found the saddle bracket at Evans but cannot find the Helmet bracket. Do you have a link?
ta

bobinski

posted by bobinski [111 posts]
23rd October 2011 - 9:49

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The flash and flare combo are great and good review, thank you.

One question though. Has anyone had issues with the charger and batteries? I have had to return them twice as either the charger is not charging or the batteries are not taking the charge.

posted by Zav [33 posts]
24th October 2011 - 13:02

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Great lights, I have two. Only thing I find is that the bracket points the light slightly downwards and not horizontally, even when it is the right way up. My seat-angle is not all that slack. Maybe they have changed the bracket recently? I'm thinking of sticking something under the bracket to lift the light upwards a bit.

posted by don_don [149 posts]
30th October 2011 - 15:53

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i think the light pointing slightly down has two bonuses - it lights the road behind you which is a definite visibility benefit and it doesn't point straight into the eyes of any slipstreaming cyclists if you're riding in a dusky group

posted by VecchioJo [744 posts]
30th October 2011 - 20:51

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I thought I would post another comment after about a year of ownership. I have two rear flares (used daily all autumn/winter and weekly in summer) and a front flash, bought 3 months ago, which only gets used a couple of times a week on another bike.

The design is very simple, using the aluminium body of the light to transmit the battery current to a small alu ring inside the LED housing, which then presses on a copper or gold strip on the LED circuit board.

As you switch the lights on and off, the two bits of alu rub against each other. Over time, these oxidise and leave a coating which seems to interfere with the current. On more than one occasion the lights have failed while riding, apparently due to this oxidisation. Cleaning it off works for a while.

I gave both my flares a good clean last night but the problem returns in short order. I originally bought a second light because they were so good (I run one on flashing mode and one on steady), however I am now using both because I can't trust one or the other not to fail on me. I don't know if there is anything I can put on the contacts to prevent this.

The front flash, used only occasionally, is working fine.

I am losing faith in these lights, which is a shame, since they are otherwise cracking bits of kit.

posted by don_don [149 posts]
24th January 2012 - 11:00

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don_don, I get this too:
Initially these lights seem great. With rechargable batteries there are very bright. However, here is my short summary of problems encountered after a year of commuting with them:

1) The rear light points at the floor, so I superglued some bits of rubber onto the bottom of the holder to make it level.

2) Front light rotates in its holder so you can't turn it on&off with one hand easily. Need to hold it still with one hand and rotate with the other.

3) The front light fell out of its holder when I went over a bump, and it smashed on the ground and I lost a bit of the insides
At Wits End
... so I brought another Flare, and this time used epoxy resin to glue the light in the holder to stop (1) and (2) happening again. This also makes it much easer to put on and off the bike.

4) The thread on the plastic housing of the Flare got crossed and made it very difficult to screw on when changing the battery. So I donated the plastic bit which I kept from the broken one.

5) The Flare switches itself from flashing mode to constant when you hit small bumps in the road. I guess because it loses connection for a short time, and the designer assumes you wanted to change mode to constant. So it drains the batteries quicker, and isn't as bright. This happens every ½ mile or so. Very annoying.
At Wits End
6) The Flare went from doing that to just turning off completely at random times. (HIGHLY DANGEROUS). Investigating, and like don_don above, I found black marks on the part that connects to the centre of the battery. Every time you turn it on and off it rotates on the battery and hence rubs metal off and becomes dirty or oxidised or something, hence causing (5) and (6)
At Wits End
7) The Flash started doing the same as the Flare and goes out or changes mode to constant while riding.
At Wits End
8) Now have to regularly clear the central contact to stop the buildup of black dirt and keep them working.

9) Glue for (2) has now come away, so Flare is difficult to turn on&off again.
At Wits End

Simple conclusion for the design guys at Exposure:
a) Add a proper reliable switch on the side
b) Seal the unit and add a micro USB port for charging (~98% of people have USB cables),
c) Fix the Flare in the holder !

Then they'd be perfect - until then, buy something else!
cheers, Jij

posted by jij [1 posts]
14th February 2013 - 19:20

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Don-don is spot on I will never buy an exposure flare again. It always stayed in the bracket - so that was one problem I did not have. However, I have had:

Switching from flashing to constant, when I go over a bump. That started after a few months - I should have sent it back at that point.

I then got the switching itself off when not expected. At this point I bought a different rear light.

It does not keep the water out - and once it's been in it becomes even more unreliable. I have read reviews that have suggested that water might get in if the cap is not lens is not screwed in enough. I know that is bull, because the day water got in, a very wet day, the light was turned on at the start of the ride, so it was still tight shut when I got back and noticed the light was no longer operating. I thought the battery must have gone flat, so opened it to change it, and found that it was all slightly damp inside. After that it was as good as useless, totally unreliable,despite being left to dry out for a few weeks.

I decided to use it as a spare, so put it on the bike last week to see if it worked. When I got to work it was gone . No great loss. however, I then found it at the side of the road on the way home. The rubber clamp had snapped, which made me think that what's the point of selling these rubber clamps as spares, when you realise you need one the flare is ten miles down the road. And whoever finds it is welcome to it!

Mind you it had been run over by a truck when I picked it, the perfect end!

Do not buy one!

You will really like this light when it works, you will wish you never bought it after about a year.

posted by Fatoldman [2 posts]
22nd August 2013 - 20:59

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same issues starting here after only a few uses - every time you hit a bump it changes modes. I bought it for the very bright pulsing flash mode on my TT bike, but that only lasts a very short distance before the slightest bump switches it to constant mode. For some reason the rest of the bumps dont swap it back to pulsing mode though...

Think I'll probably return mine and look for a better alternative. Shame as its potentially a great little light that should deliver exactly what we need - high visibility in a tiny package.

posted by Bigpikle [66 posts]
30th September 2013 - 12:48

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I have had one of these for a couple of years and 3 weeks ago it just stopped working. Contacted USE Exposure and sent back for a repair. I had no proof of purchase and could not even remember when or where I bought it. The repair was FREE! All I paid for was delivery to them.
Brilliant service if you ask me. Party

posted by jayme [114 posts]
28th January 2014 - 21:09

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Yes same here. Bought the flare this Autumn & loved it. It does point downwards slightly, but in turn does light up the road, which in itself is a novelty Party It really catches your attention in pulse mode & fitted nicely (with a bit of bluetack) onto the aero seat post on my other bike BUT...

Commuting home one day & I notice the light has failed Sick I did have a backup but nothing compared to the flare. I felt sick the whole commute home thinking something was going to hit me. I get home & check the light & the battery is totally dead. No warning or anything & I had only used it a handful of times. Returned the light to Wiggle & they dutifully replaced the battery for me, HOWEVER...

As good as the flare was I have lost faith. I have since bought an Exposure Sirus, with a rear LED light, for my helmet as my extra light & I now have a Lezyne Zecto Drive which has a USB port & lets you know when its running low.

I still keep the flare in my bag as a back up, back up Big Grin but would not rely on it anymore Wave Shame really.

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posted by fancynancy [58 posts]
4th February 2014 - 11:05

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Funny to see this thread pop up again. I have a Flare which was becoming more and more unreliable. It would randomly change mode and then quite often just switch off (or go into a weird mode where it would just occasionally flash dimly, despite having a newly charged battery).

I couldn't see much wrong with the electrical contacts, but there was quite a bit of dirt in the threads (where the plastic end screws onto the metal body). I couldn't see why this should really affect the connections, as it would still screw right down to the stop (where the connection should be made), but I gave the threads a thorough clean and it improved matters considerably.

I still tend to use two lights at the back to be on the safe side (with the other being the Cateye Rapid X (http://road.cc/content/review/105646-cateye-rapid-x-rear-light), which is still working flawlessly and lasts for ages on flash. I don't think the design of the Flare is great - leaving it a bit unscrewed when it's not on is just inviting road grime into the threads, but it does offer great visibility when it works!

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posted by Jez Ash [96 posts]
4th February 2014 - 11:15

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