Exposure's Strada SB represents the company's latest and greatest front light for road riding. It boasts a good range of settings along with a focused beam shape, low-bulk mount, great build quality and good run-times. The price is pretty steep, though.
- Pros: Concentrated beam shape, good range of modes, bright
- Cons: Much cheaper alternatives
If you're a fan of riding after work then the winter can be a challenging time, especially for those of us in the countryside. The narrow lanes are littered with debris from hedge cutting, tractors and the back end of animals. These lanes are tricky enough in the daylight, but riding them at night is even harder with no sunlight to illuminate the hazards. Personally, I love it, but it certainly requires a decent light to make the ride safer and enjoyable.
Give £300 to Exposure and you'll get your own little collapsed sun. It has easily made the most difference to my willingness to ride during the week now that the daylight hours are taken by work.
Out of the box, you don't get much. The light is chunky and at 230g, just for the light body, it's not for the minimalist. The mounting bracket, however, is very neat. This compact clamp weighs just 26g and sat on my narrow 40cm bar without interfering with my hand when on the tops. It attaches with a 4mm Allen bolt, much like the K-Edge out-front mount on the other side of the stem. I was more than happy to leave it in place when not using the light.
That mounting bracket will only fit round bars, though. You need to buy a mount for the stem face plate if you've got flat section bars.
Everything is controlled via the one aluminium button at the back. A quick press gives you a status update with the mode selected and the remaining charge. Hold that button and you'll enter the program selection mode. I chose program one as I knew I'd need the full brightness for those dark lanes. Double tap that button and the light comes on. You can cycle through the brightness levels within your chosen program by pressing the button once. Or press twice quickly to enter the flashing mode.
The button is firm and easy to operate in heavy winter gloves and the OLED Status Display (OSD) shows the remaining battery life in the current mode. You can also use the included remote switch. I preferred this to the aluminium button as you can mount it closer to the shifter for quick mode changes.
Taking this out onto the road, I started out in a lit area and chose the low power mode of program one, which is more than adequate for town riding. It has a 12-hour burn-time from full. As soon as I left the illuminated streets, I switched to the medium setting. For larger roads with no potholes, this mode was perfect, but I switched again to the light's brightest setting as soon as I turned onto the lanes.
Here, you can see the benefit of the 'road specific' beam. The main point of light is directed towards the road ahead without too much spill out to the hedges. It provides perfect illumination of the road ahead and I felt comfortable descending at speeds approaching 30mph.
The only setting that I was able to run close to empty was the full beam. The claimed 2 hours is accurate, with my 1hr 48min ride draining the light to 30%, although I did start out on the low power mode to do 10 minutes through town.
Charging is done via the Smart Port +. Exposure has reduced the charge time by up to 40 per cent with this light, but to recharge from flat still takes 9 hours. For me, that's a simple overnight job but you can also use one of Exposure's Support Cells. These can be used to recharge the light, or run the light for longer. You can also use the light itself to charge another device, though you'll need the special connector cable.
The build quality of the Strada SB is one of its highlights, and Exposure has a reputation for being long-lasting. I've used this in the rain, washed my bike with it attached and left it out in the cold. Nothing has fazed it and there are no signs of any water ingress.
You do pay for it, though, and the competition that this light faces from cheaper opponents is fierce. Cateye's Volt 1700 is a very good option for £169.99 and also offers a bit more depth from its 1700 lumens.
For the purpose of riding unlit roads in the dark, you've got a choice: external or internal battery. Being a single unit without an external battery pack, the Strada SB isn't as powerful as a battery pack light offering the same stated output, but you do get the convenience of no extra wires. A quick look at the beam comparison engine shows the difference. The Gemini Duo 1500 offers greater depth for the same lumens. It's also £164.99, though you've got to find somewhere for the battery pack.
Overall, the performance from the Strada SB is great and it's solidly built. Exposure has a good record on durability, but you have to pay for it.
Bright, with good battery life, and the remote switch is really useful, but the price is high compared to rivals
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Exposure Strada SB front light
Size tested: Length: 106mm Head Diameter: 46mm
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?
"Super Bright output with a road specific beam to illuminate the darkest of rural roads. Side illumination for 180° visibility and safety at junctions. DayBright flash pattern for daylight use to be safe, be seen. High capacity battery for touring adventures."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the light?
Road Specific beam
OLED Status Display
Smart Port +
Cable Free Design
Intelligent Thermal Management
Optimum Mode Selector
2 Year Warranty
Made in the UK
Really good and what you're really paying for. The whole thing feels incredibly solid and well thought out. There's nothing that I can see going wrong with this.
It is very easy to use and the now common single button operation keeps things simple. I like the use that's been made of the back of the light to show you the program and remaining charge.
The low profile of this is good but you'll need to buy another clamp for non-round bars.
Solid. I've seen no signs of ingress even after lots of water contact.
Recharging is an overnight job. The battery depends on how you use it. I could go through the charge in one post-work ride or it could last a whole week of day-time commuting with no problems.
It is very good but there are cheaper lights that throw light further. The run-times are good, too.
This is where it shines. The aluminium body and clever clamp feel as though they'll last for years. This certainly had no issues fending off the rain and cold that I subjected it to.
It's chunky but what I'd expect from a light with this power and internal battery.
The build quality is very high, and Exposure has a very good reputation in this respect, but it's almost twice the price of some very good competitors.
Tell us how the light performed overall when used for its designed purpose
It lit the way when I headed onto the back lanes in the pitch black. You can see more than enough to allow you to bomb along. Very good.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the light
It is very easy to set up and the range of modes are easy to navigate. It's just very intuitive to use. The remote switch really increased the ease of use in my opinion.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the light
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
It's high. Very high. You're paying for great build quality, but Cateye's Volt 1700 also gets an aluminium casing and it is much cheaper.
Did you enjoy using the light? Yes
Would you consider buying the light? No, there are too many decent and cheaper alternatives.
Would you recommend the light to a friend? Yes, if that friend had very deep pockets.
Use this box to explain your overall score
This only loses points on the price, really. Yes, Exposure is well known for making products that last and this is a very good light, but it is nearly double the price of some rivals that outshine it. Literally.
About the tester
I usually ride: Cannondale Supersix Di2 My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 5-10 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo-cross, commuting, club rides, general fitness riding, I specialise in the Cafe Ride!
Son of a Marathon runner, Nephew of a National 24hr Champion, the racing genetics have completely passed him by. Liam spends his time plodding his way through cyclocross races, very busy not winning. As an advocate for perfectly clean chains, he can be found cleaning his bike instead of training. A shop mechanic, Liam has many helpful skills, such as being able to identify 'cross tubs by the tread pattern alone. If you bump into him, he'll probably be eating.