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Exposure Lights' Trace and TraceR light set is a pricy but solidly made and extremely handy pair of LED lights.
Up front, The Trace pumps out a claimed 110 lumens. It's more than enough to be seen with and at a pinch it puts out enough light to see on unlit paths, as long as you don't try and take any Strava segment records on the way.
The lens is clear all the way round, so there's plenty of light coming from the sides for visibility at junctions. In properly dark conditions, that's a bit annoying as it puts a bright light at the bottom of your vision. Easily fixed with a bit of tape, but you feel like you shouldn't have to.
On full power I got over four hours light from the Trace.
Out back, the TraceR is like a USB-rechargeable version of Exposure's classic Flare rear light and puts out bucketloads of light. It's a light for the back-marker on an evening group ride because following a rider with a TraceR (or a Flare) is almost painful. I gave up trying to find out the maximum distance it's visible from when I couldn't find a straight road long enough and they wouldn't let me on the local airport runway.
In throbbing mode I got eight hours use from the TraceR. I have to say I am a huge fan of throbbing mode and not just because it gives me an excuse to write 'throbbing'. Driving on unlit roads I find it tricky to judge closing speed and location when I'm behind a standard on/off blinker. It's much easier with a throbber because the light never goes off and vanishes from view.
Both lights come with quick-release mounts, held on your seatpost or handlebar with silicone rubber bands. They're very convenient to pop on and off the bars or seatpost so you really only need to take the lights out of the mounts to charge them.
That convenience has made them the whole family's go-to lights for those moments when you realise it's going to be dark when you get home, or the morning fog means you need a bit more visibility on the school run.
Both Trace and TraceR charge via micro-USB ports covered by tight rubber seals. From flat to full takes under 2.5 hours from a standard USB charger, so you can charge them from your office desktop if you get to work and realise they're flat. The package includes a USB cable, but no charger. Exposure presumably reasons we're all up to our ankles in USB chargers and if my charger collection is typical, they're not wrong.
In theory there are lower-power settings for the Trace and TraceR, but I didn't bother to use them. When a light is this powerful and this convenient, with a run-time long enough for a week's commuting, why bother emasculating it?
Both Trace and TraceR have machined aluminium housings and have shrugged off being dropped and otherwise mishandled. As with other Exposure lights a double click turns them on and a long press turns them off.
I've used the TraceR for an application that's well outside Exposure's intentions. It turns out the mount fits securely on Flash the husky's harness, so the TraceR has been helping me keep track of him during mountain bike night rides. It's withstood being shaken vigorously, dunked in a stream and scraped against undergrowth. It's stayed put and carried on working.
£95 is a lot of money for a pair of USB-rechargeable lights. The quality, convenience, brightness and toughness of the Trace and TraceR just about justifies the price, but they're definitely at the luxury end of the price range.
Superb front and rear light set but undeniably not cheap.
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Make and model: Exposure Lights Trace TraceR front and rear light set
Size tested: Front and Rear
Tell us what the light is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
The Trace and TraceR are super bright USB rechargeable front and rear lights. New to the range its compact design, high power and ultra reliability make this a winning product.
The Trace and TraceR features Optimum Mode Selector, offering 3 brightness modes and the choice of solid or pulsing beams. The Trace also has Fuel Gauge displaying the remaining battery life using a traffic light system to make it clear when it's time to recharge. Excellent side visibility will make sure you're safe and seen out on the ride.
Exposure Lights have always been designed to get the maximum light from minimum sized unit and Cable Free Design ensures this is maintained. Utilising superb brackets Exposure Lights attach quickly, safely and securely for hassle free riding.
The TraceR can also be mounted under the saddle using the Saddle Rail Bracket(Sold separately).
Optimised Mode Selector (OMS)
The Optimised Mode Selector allows you to easily select from a concise number of programs to optimise the burntime of your light.
3 colour Fuel Gauge indicator in side the lens operates as light is switched off.
CNC machined aerospace grade aluminium body with efficient heat transfer design. Fully manufactured in the UK.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the light?
Power: Lithium Ion internal battery
Emitter: 1 XPG LED / 1 Red XPE LRD
Maximum lumen output: Trace 110 / TraceR 75
Minimum burn time (hours): 3
Maximum burn time (hours): 24
Bar mounted: yes
Helmet mounted: no
Seat post Mount: yes for TraceR
Reflex technology: no
Fuel gauge: yes
USB charging: yes
Very easy to use.
Fits all the bars and seatposts in my fleet - and the husky's harness
No problems in the wet.
Pretty much faultless for the size as long as you don't need to go full gas.
Lack of explosives in the toolkit means I can't say they're bomb-proof, but they're definitely husky-proof.
They're not going to slow you down.
There are now so many USB-rechargeable lights on the market that it's impossible to avoid price comparisons. The Trace and TraceR set is expensive.
Tell us how the light performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Brilliantly (sorry). The Trace and TraceR put out loads of light for their tiny size, are easy to fit to a bike, recharge quickly and give a decent run time.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the light
Convenience, plenty of light from a tiny package, very robust, dead easy to use.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the light
Did you enjoy using the light? Yes.
Would you consider buying the light? Yes.
Would you recommend the light to a friend? Yes.
Anything further to say about the light in conclusion?
The Rolls Royce of commuting lights. Close to perfect in quality and function, but the price tag of almost £100 pulls the score down.
Age: 48 Height: 5ft 11in Weight: 85kg
I usually ride: Scapin Style My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, touring, club rides, general fitness riding,
John has been writing about bikes and cycling for over 30 years since discovering that people were mug enough to pay him for it rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work.
He was heavily involved in the mountain bike boom of the late 1980s as a racer, team manager and race promoter, and that led to writing for Mountain Biking UK magazine shortly after its inception. He got the gig by phoning up the editor and telling him the magazine was rubbish and he could do better. Rather than telling him to get lost, MBUK editor Tym Manley called John’s bluff and the rest is history.
Since then he has worked on MTB Pro magazine and was editor of Maximum Mountain Bike and Australian Mountain Bike magazines, before switching to the web in 2000 to work for CyclingNews.com. Along with road.cc founder Tony Farrelly, John was on the launch team for BikeRadar.com and subsequently became editor in chief of Future Publishing’s group of cycling magazines and websites, including Cycling Plus, MBUK, What Mountain Bike and Procycling.
John has also written for Cyclist magazine, edited the BikeMagic website and was founding editor of TotalWomensCycling.com before handing over to someone far more representative of the site's main audience.
He joined road.cc in 2013. He lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.