The Exposure Strada MKII RS AKTiv is part of the company's road range and with 1,300 lumens on offer it'll light up any road, from main routes to the narrowest of pitch-black country lanes. With a larger selection of output settings than almost any other range of lights on the market, battery life is impressive for an all-in-one unit, while the light's AKTiv technology allows the Strada to respond to oncoming light sources. It's a big investment, but if much of your time is spent riding in the dark, it's one you won't regret. That said, if your budget doesn't stretch this far, you'll find some cheaper options in our guide to the best bike lights, front and rear.
Exposure offers two models in its Strada line-up: the SB, which stands for Super Bright, with a maximum measured output of 1,600 lumens and for which a review is coming soon; and this cheaper, slightly less powerful RS version. Both models come with the option of AKTiv, giving four lights in total – more about that in a bit, though.
For 2023 the Strada RS has had some updates over the previous iteration.
The Strada uses two LEDs arranged one on top of the other and which are sat behind a lens. Exposure says that this is designed to deliver an optimum beam for road riding, with a flat beam for the periphery and a central spot.
And in my experience, it works very well indeed, giving excellent illumination where you want it, with the bright white 'colour' picking out every road imperfection in front of you. On all but the very widest of main roads it will easily light up the tarmac in front of you from verge to verge.
The RS uses both LEDs all of the time, which differs from the likes of the Ravemen PR1600. This has its two LEDs side by side, with a different lens design in front of each.
One LED is used for 'dipped', giving a wide beam with a flattened top, and a press of the button turns on the second LED for a spot 'full beam', just like you get in a car.
It's a better setup if you ride in a lot of traffic, as with the dipped setting the light isn't directed into the eyes of oncoming drivers.
With both of the Strada's LEDs on all of the time there is no cut off, so there is some light 'bleed' upwards. It never seemed to cause a problem with oncoming traffic, though. I spend a lot of time riding on main roads and provided you're courteous in terms of how many lumens you are pumping out, it shouldn't be an issue.
Modes & programs
Exposure supplies a wired remote with the Strada, which allows you to scroll through whichever modes you have available in whichever of the seven programs you have selected.
For general road riding I preferred program 4, which uses full power for high and about a third of that for the low setting – but there are loads of options, as you can see from the photo above. The numbers next to each program relate to the burn-times in hours.
This means you'll get around two hours at full power to around 36 hours at the lowest setting. A full recharge from flat takes around six hours.
We have the AKTiv model, which means you don't need to worry about dimming the light for oncoming traffic.
AKTiv allows the Strada to respond to oncoming light sources and to lower the output accordingly. I was originally expecting it to automatically switch modes like the system on my car does, effectively switching between dipped and full, but the AKTiv mode smoothly dims the output as cars get closer to you and then returns to full brightness quickly after they pass. It works equally well when cars are overtaking you, responding to a car's red rear lights just as well as it does to oncoming front lights.
When the AKTiv mode is on it doesn't allow you to scroll through the modes, which means if you're using a program to extend battery life, you'll need to leave the AKTiv switched off.
There's no denying that at £285 this is a pricey light, though you could go for the non-AKTiv model for 20 quid less.
But while expensive, the light is impressively well engineered, with no plastic in its main construction. The CNC-machined aluminium body is a piece of art, and even the bracket is aluminium.
Exposure has changed the bracket slightly since I owned a previous model. This featured a hinge that could potentially rust and fail after years of riding in wet and salty conditions, and it has been replaced by top and bottom sections that have a jigsaw piece-like join.
You slide a light into a V-shaped locating plate, and it sits very securely in place, even riding on rough roads, with the release pin allowing you to quickly review the light should you need to.
The light has a rear display panel that tells you what mode you're in when you turn the light on, and it always displays battery life depending on what mode you are in.
In addition to this, small LEDs display which power setting you're in: green for high, orange for medium, red for low etc.
Exposure lights have a pulse mode, in which the light stays on a low power with a brighter flash over the top. To activate this, you press and hold the button (don't press it too long as you'll turn the light off) and then a quick press will put you back to the solid modes. That means there's no scrolling through a disco flash when you're out in the wilderness just to get back to the brightest level. Other manufacturers, take note!
The pulse mode is bright enough for daytime use and in an urban environment at night it will get you noticed among all the other illumination.
If you want to run the light upside down under your handlebar, the display mimics that, spinning so that the text is always the right way up.
One of the major bonuses of Exposure's lights is their longevity. After only a few months use it's a bit too early to comment on this specific light, but other Exposure lights I own are still running after a decade or so, with no noticeable issues with batteries holding their charge.
I have used this light in all kinds of conditions including heavy rain and even snow, and it has carried on uncomplainingly, so I really rate the waterproofing. Just make sure the rubber cover is fully in on the charging port on the back of the light.
The Ravemen PR1600 I mentioned earlier is a light that I rate very highly, I still use it on most of my road rides as I just love the way it works. It comes with a wireless remote, a 1,600-lumen output and a pretty good 1.4-hour run-time at full power. And it only costs £139.99.
Cateye's most powerful light, the Volt 1700 USB, is just £179.99 and Iwein was impressed with the beam shape. But though you are getting a fair bit more light output for the £100 plus saving, the bracket is more basic than the Exposure's, and you don't have the Strada's program choice. And I don't think its looks are in the same class as the Exposure either, though this is subjective.
Light & Motion's Seca Comp 2000 front light is £254.99. It puts out 2,000 lumens, and according to Mike has a traffic-friendly beam. At full power it gives you a decent 90 minutes too. However, for the money we'd have preferred a less basic bracket.
There's no getting around the fact that the Strada RS is pricey, but Exposure backs that up with a very good overall package when you take everything into account. The beam output is great, the run-times are excellent for an integrated light with no external battery, and the construction quality is up there with the best lights you can buy. If you want a light to rely on for years to come, then it is definitely worth the investment.
Great light output and burn-times for its size, and it's exceptionally well made
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Make and model: Exposure Strada RS Mk11 with AKTiv
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 RS, Road Sport, AKTiv is the latest technology in the Exposure Lights Road range combined with the Road Specific Beam Pattern and an upgraded 1300; once AKTiv is selected the light will sense on coming light sources and auto dim when a vehicle is approaching, no button or thinking required. Also with the spaecific bevels to allow side illumination, and reversible graphics to remind you that the Strada can be mounted either way up. There is also a remote switch included which allows the rider to take control if required."
It's a clever road light, that is well engineered.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the light?
LEDs 2 x White XPL2(W3)
IP Rating IP65
Max Lumens 1300
Battery 6,800 mAh Li-Ion
Runtime 2-36 Hours
Charging Time 6 Hours
Material Anodised 6063 Aluminium
Head Diameter 49mm
In The Box: Strada MK11 RS AKTIV, QR Handlebar Bracket, Fast Charger, QS Guide
Rate the light for quality of construction:
Rate the light for design and ease of use. How simple was the light to use?
Rate the light for the design and usability of the clamping system/s
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?
Rate the light for performance:
Rate the light for durability:
Rate the light for weight:
Rate the light for value:
Tell us how the light performed overall when used for its designed purpose
A great product in terms of performance and it comes with Exposure's usual excellent construction quality.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the light
The Exposure's AKTiv mode is clever.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the light
A lot of lights offer a wireless remote rather than the wired setup of the Exposure.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
It's more expensive than a lot of the lights on the market, but when comparing it to something like the Light & Motion mentioned in the review, you are getting a lot more technology for the extra 30 quid, if not the overall light output.
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 overall score
This is definitely at the upper end of what you'd expect to pay for a light with this sort of power output, but it has a great design and the performance is equally impressive, which I feel make it a worthwhile investment for those of us who ride with a light a lot of the time.
Age: 44 Height: 180cm Weight: 76kg
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,
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