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Exposure's own opinion of the Joystick Mk10 is that it's only 50 per cent recommended for 'road' use. I'd agree – had I purchased the Joystick hoping it would solve all my road cycling night-time needs I'd be disappointed. That doesn't make the Joystick a 'bad' product – far from it.
As a light just for cycling quickly on unlit roads there are better options for the money. Although 800 lumens help to make up for a wide beam angle, you're not going to be getting more than 12-14mph out of the Joystick without risking running into things unless you have the eyes of Clark Kent.
It's great for mountain biking, where helmet-mounted wide-angle lights are very handy for peering around corners, but for road riding it's wasted power outside of your speed-narrowed field of vision. It's too bright when angled down close, and when angled up the whole picture is reduced, with half the photons sneaking off to annoy owls, HGV drivers and pilots alike.
For overall comparison the 475-lumen Lezyne Powerdrive XL delivers more light where you need it, with similar build quality, for a lot less money. Based on pure useful-light-on-tarmac the comparison is valid, but the Joystick is much more than a bright torch, and for some road cycling use cases it excels.
The Joystick is 28mm wide and only 87g. The handlebar mount is a simple affair: a rubber ladder strap securing it, and the Joystick clicking into the top. You can't pivot the light, which does leave it wanting on tightish right-hand corners at speed.
Another drawback is that the Joystick can be very easily knocked out of vertical alignment when pressing the button or riding over rough roads. The optional £24.95 alloy mount addresses the vibration/button-pressing issues. There are aftermarket options that allow you to mount a Joystick onto GoPro or Garmin mounts.
The included helmet mount is ball-jointed, and firm enough to stay put once you set your angle. There's a thin lanyard to wrap around the Joystick and through your helmet vent or handlebar.
Charging the Joystick is via the Smart Port, and there's a mains charger as well as a USB cable. The Smart Port can also push power out, with the main light on or off – Exposure does a range of matching accessories to further lighten your already thinner wallet.
The on/off button works both as function switch and mode/battery indicator. It can be tricky to get to with thick gloves on, and the very-well-sealed Smart Port is raised considerably higher and can get in the way.
When on, the button glows green – after 50 minutes on 800 lumens, green became amber, signifying 50 per cent battery. After 66 minutes amber changed to red, 25 per cent left. Flashing red and 5 per cent arrived at 101 minutes – 11 minutes over the 90-minute run time for the highest 800-lumen output. Over the next 30 minutes the brightness ramped down, until after 140 minutes it was not really useful for riding.
The gradual, intelligent run-down is a very useful get-you-home feature. I've tested premium lights that go from full power to off without warning – if it's your sole light source that could be dangerous on or off-road.
If the Joystick overheats then its Intelligent Thermal Management feature kicks in. It preserves the LED's lifespan (and battery life) by reducing power wastage trying to push the LED harder than is efficient or sensible.
Exposure lights combine different settings within 'programs' – Optimum Mode Selector – so you can choose the one that best suits your needs for a particular ride. There are no fewer than seven programs here, each with a number of power levels to choose from. Program 4, for example, is a Hi-Lo option of the full 800 lumens (run time 90 minutes) paired with what looks like around 400 lumens and a 4-hour run time. Other programs include triple options of 3-10-24 hours, 4-12-36, and 10-24 plus SOS flashing.
A Flashing mode is available in all but one program – a constantly-on low light overlaid with a bright 1.5Hz flash; in other words, perfect for an efficient be-seen solution during the day. In tests this mode managed to last a frankly ludicrous 24 hours at least.
Ultimately, the Joystick's value will come down to what you want to do. If you want to ride fast on the road, in the dark, this probably isn't the light you're looking for.
If you want a light to do helmet duty off-road, yet also act as a many-weeks-long handlebar be-seen flasher light for commuting, it's a serious contender. If you add in the occasional late-night trip along dark lanes, this too could be compelling.
If you want a light that can have multiple accessories added to it as you swap between mountain biking, adventure racing, road riding, commuting and maybe just dog walking, the Joystick must be one of the most able devices around – even more so when you consider that if you do buy into the Exposure lighting ecosystem, everything works with everything else.
So to revisit Exposure's self-assessment that the Joystick is only 50 per cent suited to road cycling: correct. It's not the best primary light for fast, dark rides, but for slower rides, daytime rides, or as a helmet light, it excels.
A premium bit of kit for a premium price – just be careful to understand your use case
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Exposure Joystick Mk10
Size tested: n/a
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?
USE says: "The Joystick is the original cable free helmet light and still remains a kit bag essential. With an improved 800 lumen beam it's better than ever at showing the way whether you're on or off-road. Cable free and packed with technology including Smart Port +, ITM and Fuel Gauge it'll be a key part in global adventures for years to come."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the light?
Available in black, red and blue.
- Smart Port Technology +
- Cable Free Design
- Intelligent Thermal Management
- Optimum Mode Selector
- Fuel Gauge
- Hand Made in the UK
In the box: Joystick MK10, QR handlebar mount, Helmet mount, Smart charger, USB charge cable, Quick start guide, Lanyard
Optimised Mode Selector
The Optimised Mode Selector allows you to easily select from a concise number of programs to provide the optimum lighting for your ride.
Cable Free Design
The primary design feature of Exposure Lights, Cable Free Design removes the hassle of cables and straps utilising the superb range of brackets for speedy, rock solid attachment.
Smart Port +
SPT+ enabled lights automatically recognise accessories allowing you to power additional front and rear lights, use the Remote Switch and charge USB devices on the move. Patented
Intelligent Thermal Management
Controlling the temperature of the LEDs is important in ensuring that the lights remain as efficient as possible. Patented technology in the circuitry of Exposure Lights stop the light from heating up to a point where the light loses power due to the elevated temperature.
RunTime: High - 1.5hr Low - 36hrs
Charge Time: 3 hrs
Dimensions: L - 109mm x D - 41mm
Recommended use: Road - 50%
Can't fault it.
Once you understand the modes, it's fine.
Tricky to pigeonhole this – I'd prefer a fixed clamp, and one is available for £25.
This has to be the most waterproof charging port I've ever seen.
Battery life is excellent – be it at max power or on the lower modes.
As a helmet light, or a commuter/day-ride flasher, it's a cracker. As a single light for going fast, not so much.
Very light for what it does.
Tricky – I'd say it's pricey for what it does, but that's based on my personal use cases. And how do you value the apparently excellent customer support?
Tell us how the light performed overall when used for its designed purpose
If the designed purpose is helmet/be-seen, brilliant. If for riding fast in the dark, not so well.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the light
The 24-hour-plus flashing mode. Wow.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the light
Inability to pivot it or lock firm to bars without the £25 clamp mount. At this price a clamp one should be included, even if just plastic.
Did you enjoy using the light? Yes
Would you consider buying the light? Yes
Would you recommend the light to a friend? Yes, if they understood the use cases.
Use this box to explain your score
This is tricky – the Joystick is best-in-class for a few uses, not so much in others, and it's not cheap. But if you understand the applications, and buy into the accessory ecosystem, it's a very good bit of kit.
About the tester
I usually ride: Charge Juicer My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: A few times a week I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: club rides, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mountain biking, and Dutch bike pootling