Exposure's Strada RS is a road-specific light, and with excellent build quality, brilliant beam pattern, loads of modes to choose from and great battery life, it really is all the light you'll ever need, whether you're out for a full-speed quick blast or an all-night epic. If you are willing to pay for it, you won't be disappointed.
For 2018/19 the Exposure Strada has been split into three models: the 1,500-lumen SB, this 1,200-lumen RS, and the 'entry-level' (£210!) SL, which packs 900 lumens. As each one grows in power, it grows in size too, with a larger battery to maintain burn-times across the range.
The RS is based around two XPL2 Cree LEDs positioned vertically, although each has a slightly different lens in front of it. The upper offers a punchy spotlight which delivers crisp white light down the road, picking up every sign, white line, pothole and imperfection, while the lower LED diffuses the beam wide for added peripheral vision; it also has a slightly yellow hue to it, which reduces glare to the sides and right in front of your wheel.
At full power it is literally like riding in daylight.
The beam, as you can see from our comparison engine above, isn't completely cut off like a car's dipped beam, and angled at a few degrees below horizontal it caused no issues with disgruntled drivers, and that is over hundreds of miles of riding on main routes and country lanes. Obviously this all comes down to common sense, too, by keeping the output minimal for oncoming traffic.
You can control the output by selecting one of the seven various programs available (they are etched on the bottom of the light), which offer two or three different modes/brightness settings (H, M and L, or just H and per program.
When the Strada first came out a fair few years ago (I had the MKI and MKII), you only had the choice of High, Low and Strobe modes.
With the Strada RS, Program 4 was the one I found the best for weekly commuting and general fast road riding. Within this program, high puts out 1,200 lumen for 2hrs, and about 400 lumen on low with battery life lasting for 10hrs. You can toggle between the two by the on/off button or, even better, the included handlebar button which plugs into the Smart Port charge socket.
Depending on the width of your bar, the cable is long enough to fit the button at the rear of your shifter hood, allowing you to dip the light when oncoming traffic approaches without having to move anything other than your thumb.
When I was a full-time commuter I used to run the cable under the bar tape for a clean look.
No matter which mode you are using, pressing and holding the button for a couple of seconds will see you enter the flashing/strobe mode, which is where Exposure keeps the LEDs permanently on at a low output while they also flash brightly.
Exposure has also incorporated its new DayBright flash pattern, which sees a single strobe and then a double to get you noticed on sunny days or filtering through traffic. There is also an SOS flash pattern, too, should you need it.
Battery life is quoted under high, medium and low for each mode, and depending on the output you can get burn-times anywhere between 2 and 24 hours. Thankfully, you don't have to ride along doing mental arithmetic in your head: like most brands, Exposure uses a traffic light system to show battery life. Above 50% and it'll be green, 50-25% is amber, below that down to 5% it'll be red, and when it starts flashing, well, you'll need to get home pretty sharpish.
Going one better than that, though, Exposure has included a digital display that tells you what mode you are in and how much battery you have left as you swap between them. It can fluctuate a little bit as you ride along, especially if the temperature starts to drop below freezing (the cold can decrease battery life) but only by a few minutes over the course of a full charge. It's a neat addition and takes a lot of the guesswork out if you want to stick a little bit extra on your route home.
The overall quality of the Strada is backed up by an excellent two-year warranty and the whole light is just a joy to use whatever the weather.
The storms have been rolling through and the RS has seen some seriously heavy rain and road spray from passing lorries without missing a beat. The only thing you need to do is make sure the rubber cap is in place covering the Smart Port. On older editions of this light the Smart Port always carried a small amount of charge so that it could be used to power accessories like the plug in Red-eye light, so if water gets in it can turn the light out until it dries.
No such issues here with everything in place, and it has stood up to its IPX6 weather rating with ease.
When it comes to the cost, yeah, you can get similar outputs and burn-times for a lot less money. The very good Cateye Volt 1300 is one at just £129.99. The Blackburn DayBlazer 1100 is another good value offering, with a price tag of £84.99.
Narrowing things down to just lumens and batteries kind of misses the point, though, when talking about the Strada. I've already mentioned the beam pattern and I'll reiterate that for road use it is literally the best one out there in my mind. The light spread is spot on and lets you see everything you need to rather than just chucking a heap of unregulated lumens out there. It's not that heavy compared to some, and things like the full CNC'd body all go to justify its price. The top quality, sturdy and simple to use bracket is another plus.
Overall, the Strada RS is a truly exceptional light for those who want to ride fast whatever the conditions.
An excellent road-specific light that shows it's not how many lumens you've got, it's how you use them
If you're thinking of buying this product using a cashback deal why not use the road.cc Top Cashback page and get some top cashback while helping to support your favourite independent cycling website
road.cc test report
Make and model: Exposure Strada RS
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?
Exposure says, "Sleek unit for Road Sport and commuting with a punchy output for both rural and urban cycling. Side illumination for 180° visibility and safety at junctions. DayBright flash pattern for daylight use to be safe, be seen.
"New Fast Charging has decreased charge time by up to 35%"
For pure road use it's hard to fault.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the light?
LED Configuration: 2 x White XPL2 Cree LED
Lumens: Max 1200
Battery: 5,200 mAh Lithium-Ion
Runtime: 2hrs - 36hrs
Rechargeable: Mains and USB
Charge Time: 6hrs
Anodised 6063 Aluminium
Water Resistance IPX6
Head Diameter: 54mm
Burn-times were easily achieved and it has a pretty decent recharge time of just six hours from flat.
Expensive, but a worthwhile investment.
Tell us how the light performed overall when used for its designed purpose
For fast road use there is little else out there to challenge its beam.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the light
Awesome beam pattern and delivery.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the light
That I have to give it back...
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
Exposure lights may look like they have a huge premium, being up to double the price of others with similar outputs, but the quality and performance make them arguably worth the extra outlay.
Did you enjoy using the light? It's awesome.
Would you consider buying the light? Without a doubt.
Would you recommend the light to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
Pretty much faultless in both design and use, as long as you are happy to pay for it.
About the tester
I usually ride: This month's test bike My best bike is: B'Twin Ultra CF draped in the latest bling test components
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, club rides, sportives, fixed/singlespeed
With 20 years of road cycling and over 150,000 miles in his legs it's safe to say Stu is happiest when on the bike whatever the weather. Since writing his first review for road.cc back in 2009 he has also had a career in engineering including 3D-CAD design and product development, so has a real passion for all of the latest technology coming through in the industry but is also a sucker for a classic steel frame, skinny tyres, rim brakes and a damn good paintjob.
His fascination with gravel bikes is getting out of control too!