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Exposure Strada 1200



Tough light that offers excellent road-specific illumination, although it's expensive

At every product is thoroughly tested for as long as it takes to get a proper insight into how well it works. Our reviewers are experienced cyclists that we trust to be objective. While we strive to ensure that opinions expressed are backed up by facts, reviews are by their nature an informed opinion, not a definitive verdict. We don't intentionally try to break anything (except locks) but we do try to look for weak points in any design. The overall score is not just an average of the other scores: it reflects both a product's function and value – with value determined by how a product compares with items of similar spec, quality, and price.

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Good scores are more common than bad, because fortunately good products are more common than bad.

  • Exceptional
  • Excellent
  • Very Good
  • Good
  • Quite good
  • Average
  • Not so good
  • Poor
  • Bad
  • Appalling

The Exposure Strada 1200 is a well-made and durable light that offers all the illumination you could need on the road and very good battery life, although it is an expensive option.

I can't imagine that you'll ever need any more light than the Strada 1200 provides. It's more powerful than ever. On one of my recent rides I headed up onto Salisbury Plain on a moonless evening to try it out in complete blackness and I was always perfectly happy with the amount of road I could see ahead. Even on fast descents I was riding in the same way as I would in daylight rather than backing off and taking things tentatively because of a lack of vision.

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The Strada 1200 (we're up to the mark eight version now) offers up to three different modes: high, medium and – you'll never guess this – low. Those modes vary according to which of the five different programs you decide to use.

If you go for Program 1, for example, you get approximately 3 hours of battery life in high mode, 10 hours in medium mode and 24 hours in low mode. Switch to Program 2 and you get about 4 hours in high mode, 12 hours in medium mode and 36 hours in low mode. Obviously, you get a little less light in each of the modes with Program 2. You can also choose a flashing mode for daytime visibility.

You select the setup that best suits the riding you are doing. Chances are that you won't need the high mode most of the time. I just put it on for those quick descents in the back of beyond that I mentioned and times when the surface was particularly iffy – you might have a bit of potholed towpath on your commute, for example. I did most of my riding in medium mode, even when I was on unlit roads. You could go with one of Exposure's lower power – and cheaper – Strada lights, the 600 or the 900, if you're not too fussed about having a super-bright option.

> Buyer's Guide: The best front lights for cycling

All of the Stradas have two different lenses: a spot and a wide, flat flood. The LEDs are driven individually on the circuit board so that when you change between the modes the wide flood beam remains, but the spot beam is reduced to avoid dazzling oncoming road users. Leave the Strada 1200 in high mode when motorists are coming the other way and they're likely to flash their lights at you.

Switching modes is a simple matter of pushing a raised metal button on the back of the light unit (which is much easier to use with gloved hands than the capacitive switch on the last Exposure Strada that we reviewed) or using Exposure's handlebar-mounted remote switch, a button connected by cable to the light unit.

Bear in mind that the results shown here in our Beam Engine (see below) relate to the high mode with a focused spot beam that allows you to see into the distance. Dip the light down and the Strada 1200 looks less like a spotlight! You get a broad beam that allows you to see the full width of the road, including the verges (unless you're on a dual carriageway or something).

A small display on the back of the light tells you which program and mode you're using, the percentage of charge in the battery and the approximate run-time remaining. Although run-times vary a little according to temperature, I found this to be pretty accurate and it's a useful feature. If your ride home is going to take about 1:30hrs and the display is reading 'M 1:18' you know that it would be a good idea to switch down from medium to low mode.

That display reads the right way up even if you position the light upside down underneath your handlebar, thanks to an accelerometer that detects the orientation. Exposure calls this 'flip flop graphics' and it's a cool feature.

Build quality

A machined aluminium casing protects the internals. Drop the Strada 1200 and you might scratch the surface but you're unlikely to dent it and the light will probably carry on functioning, in my experience. You wouldn't want to drop it too often, mind, but I have a Strada from a few years ago that has taken more than its fair share of punishment and it's still going strong. It's starting to look a bit old and battle weary, but aren't we all?

The Strada 1200's casing is cut away slightly at the sides of the lens to provide extra visibility when you're passing junctions or riding in traffic. The top of the lens, on the other hand, is slightly recessed so you don't get any glare coming up into your eyes as you ride.

Exposure has been using the same hinged aluminium mounting bracket for years and it works just fine. The light itself is held securely in place on that bracket by a sprung pin. Putting it on and taking it off takes a couple of seconds and could hardly be easier.

You can't alter the angle of the light on the fly – that's a hex key job – so the focus will be a set distance in front of you whatever speed you're riding (as with many other lights out there). In truth, the amount of light the Strada offers means this is rarely an issue.

The Exposure 1200 came in at 249g on the scales which is a little more than some plastic lights of similar power (the Cygolite Metro Pro 1100 USB is 154g, for comparison) but that doesn't bother me, to be honest. It's hardly heavy.

What I would say, though, is that whereas the Exposure Strada used to stand out in terms of the technology and power it offered, other brands such as Cygolite, with its Metro Pro 1100 mentioned above, are now offering similar levels of lighting at lower prices. Check out our beam comparison for more. That said, the Strada still has a lot going for it, particularly in terms of durability, and you won't be disappointed by the performance.


Tough light that offers excellent road-specific illumination, although it's expensive

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Make and model: Exposure Strada 1200

Size tested: Max Lumens 1200

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?

Exposure says, "The 1200 remains the premium road light, now with improved side illumination, flip flop graphics and the stem fit bracket set as standard means the Strada 1200 still delivers superlative performance without compromising the precious space on your bars. The 1200 lumen flat, road specific beam pattern is perfectly suited for rural roads and remote switching allows for ease of use meaning you stay in control without taking your eye off the road."

In the box: Strada 1200, Quick release stem bracket, Smart charger, USB charge cable, Quick start guide.

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

You get a whole lot of light here! The beam engine results we show relate to the highest power setting which really punches a hole into the darkness. The Strada 1200 looks a lot less of a spotlight in other modes.

Exposure lists these features:

*Road Specific beam

*OLED Status Display (the panel gives program and mode information before switching to a burntime countdown)

*Remote Switch

*Smart Port + (it automatically recognises accessories allowing you to power additional front and rear lights, use the Remote Switch and charge USB devices on the move)

*Cable Free Design

*Intelligent Thermal Management (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)

*Optimum Mode Selector (allows you to easily select from a concise number of programs to provide the optimum lighting for your ride)

*Fuel Gauge (accurately displays battery power and burntime information so you can see how long you have left to ride)

*QR Bracket

2 Year Warranty

*Made in the UK

The light is 106mm long with a 44mm diameter.

The rechargeable battery is Li Ion 7,800mAh

Rate the light for quality of construction:

The aluminium shell is tough and protective.

Rate the light for design and ease of use. How simple was the light to use?

You just pick the program you want (the details are printed on the aluminium shell so you don't need to remember them). Once you've chosen the program, you just switch to the mode (high, medium or low) that you want.

Rate the light for the design and usability of the clamping system/s

You need a hex key to alter the angle of the light – there's no quick release on the clamp. That can occasionally be annoying but it is super-secure.

Rate the light for waterproofing. How did it stand up to the elements?
Rate the light for battery life. How long did it last? How long did it take to recharge?

The battery last about 36hrs on the dimmest mode and about 3hrs on the highest. Recharging takes 9hrs – so overnight, in most cases.

Rate the light for performance:
Rate the light for durability:

You might scratch the aluminium shell but you're going to have to go some to damage the internals.

Rate the light for weight:
Rate the light for value:

Other brands are now offering similar levels of lighting at cheaper prices.

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

It's a very good unit that provides all the illumination you're likely to need on the road in a tough package.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the light

The amount of light on offer and a display that gives you accurate remaining run-time.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the light

It's not cheap. The only more expensive lights included in our beam engine this year are a couple of Exposure's off-road lights.

Did you enjoy using the light? Yes

Would you consider buying the light? Yes

Would you recommend the light to a friend? Yes

Use this box to explain your score

Exposure Stradas have always scored highly on over the years. This year's model is a little more powerful than the last version that we reviewed and in terms of performance it is a definite 9, but the fact that the competition has improved – meaning that you can get something almost as good far cheaper – brings the overall score down to 8.

Overall rating: 8/10

About the tester

Age: 43  Height: 190cm  Weight: 75kg

I usually ride:   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, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding

Mat has been in cycling media since 1996, on titles including BikeRadar, Total Bike, Total Mountain Bike, What Mountain Bike and Mountain Biking UK, and he has been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. Mat has been technical editor for over a decade, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer. Now over 50, he's riding road and gravel bikes most days for fun and fitness rather than training for competitions.

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