At road.cc 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.
Good scores are more common than bad, because fortunately good products are more common than bad.
The Exposure Strada SL front light is certainly expensive for a 900-lumen unit, but its functionality, excellent choice of modes and established build quality means that it's a premium front light worth considering.
It packs in seven programmes, with varying brightness/power modes within that. Exposure calls it 'Optimised Mode Selector', but the bottom line is that it gives high and low modes for all seven settings, and four settings also feature a medium mode too.
Effectively, this allows you to select the burn-time you need from a given beam pattern so that you can always get yourself home. You select the programme before you switch the light on, by pressing and holding the silver function button on the back of the unit, then cycling through with repeated clicks until you arrive at the setting you want.
This can take a bit of playing to arrive at the setting you prefer, but once you've found the one or two you like for differing purposes, you're golden. Plus, say you have the light on the fourth programme as I did a lot (a static 'on' mode that gives a max of two hours of burn-time in the high mode), you can simply press and hold the function button to shunt it directly over to a dimmed static mode overlaid with a daytime flash.
The OLED display on the back shows the remaining burn-time for the mode you're in, and Exposure seems to have got this down to a fairly accurate art, while there are additional traffic light LED indicators too. These first indicate the mode you've just chosen, but after a few seconds switch over to indicate battery life. I'm guessing that you don't need me to tell you what red, amber and green demarcate.
The beam itself (which you can check out in our beam test module above) is said to be road-specific, but what you can see if you compare it to the Giant Recon 900 (full review to come) is just how much more 'floodlit' it is. This means less squinting to see peripheral objects, while the brightness in the centre is enough to see clearly.
If you have any doubts about that, then you might want to look at the higher powered Strada models, but there's no denying the elephant in the room here. The Strada SL is over 2.5x more expensive than the Recon, and if a focused beam is what you're after, you need to spend a whopping £300 on the Strada SB to match up to it. Gulp.
Still, that doesn't tell the whole story. That floodlit beam offers a bucketload of useful visibility, while the modes offer much more range than the Recon.
The build is superb, with a body that's machined from 6063-grade aluminium and with a high quality bracket that can be fitted to accommodate the light on or under the handlebar (though you can't adjust it on the move). The red release pin is secure and sprung-loaded but means that attaching and removing the light is a doddle.
The charge port, with a protective rubber cap, doubles as a connector for the supplied remote control button, which can take over from the silver function button. I like this, especially if you're riding a touring bike or dedicated winter bike where you want your premium front light as a permanent fixture. It also helps to add a morsel of value to the £210 cost too.
Despite SL standing for Super Light, at 156g it's not the lightest unit (though it's 100g less than the SB), but for the quality of the unit it's hardly a point to go on about.
Like Mat said of the Strada 600, you might feel that the high quality and the made-in-Britain tag justify the price; you are certainly buying a really good product, but you're also paying a lot for it.
There's no doubt that the Strada SL is a top performer, but it comes at a cost. The thing is, it's not unjustified...
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Exposure Strada SL
Size tested: Length: 100mm Head Diameter: 44mm
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: "Super Light with a road specific beam and a greatly increased output for 2019 season."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the light?
- Road Specific beam
- OLED Status Display
- Remote Switch
- Smart Port +
- Cable Free Design
- Intelligent Thermal Management
- Optimum Mode Selector
- Fuel Gauge
- QR Bracket
- 2 Year Warranty
- Made in the UK
- Battery: 3,400 mAh Lithium-Ion
- Runtime: 2hrs - 36hrs [claimed]
- Rechargeable: Mains and USB
- Charge Time: 3hrs [claimed]
Almost faultless, a really nice product.
Very easy to use.
You don't get any adjustment on the move aside from forcing it around on the bar, but get it right and you're set.
The rubber cap fits well too.
Charging is fast via a supplied mains adaptor – it's a shame it's not USB rechargeable though.
It may be at the bottom of the Strada pile, but 900 lumens is just about enough for any road user in my opinion, even on unlit roads.
Black alloy can scratch, but that won't stop it working.
Given that you can have the likes of Giant's Recon 900 for £79.99, you have to say that value is not the Strada SL's strong suit. But it's still a brilliant light.
Tell us how the light performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Plenty of modes and beam width make it a real performer.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the light
It's bright enough, functional, and the build quality.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the light
The price, and the fixed bracket.
Did you enjoy using the light? Yes
Would you consider buying the light? I would, but I'd probably baulk at the price when push came to shove.
Would you recommend the light to a friend? Yes, if they had the budget.
Use this box to explain your overall score
If you could have this light for around £150, you'd probably be looking at a 9 overall score. The non-adjustable bracket is a niggle, but not the end of the world.
About the tester
I usually ride: Canyon Ultimate CF SL 9.0 SL (2016) My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Under 5 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding