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Verdict: 
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...
Weight: 
156g

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.

  • Pros: Bright enough for most, functionality, build quality
  • Cons: Prohibitively expensive, fixed bracket

Mat reviewed the Strada 600 last year, but in 2019 the SL is now the lowest-powered Strada front light, behind the 1200-lumen RS and 1500-lumen SB models.

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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.

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

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.

Exposure Strada SL - mount.jpg

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.

Verdict

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?

Features:

- 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]

Rate the light for quality of construction:
 
9/10

Almost faultless, a really nice product.

Rate the light for design and ease of use. How simple was the light to use?
 
9/10

Very easy to use.

Rate the light for the design and usability of the clamping system/s
 
8/10

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.

Rate the light for waterproofing. How did it stand up to the elements?
 
9/10

The rubber cap fits well too.

Rate the light for battery life. How long did it last? How long did it take to recharge?
 
9/10

Charging is fast via a supplied mains adaptor – it's a shame it's not USB rechargeable though.

Rate the light for performance:
 
9/10

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.

Rate the light for durability:
 
9/10

Black alloy can scratch, but that won't stop it working.

Rate the light for weight:
 
8/10
Rate the light for value:
 
5/10

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.

Overall rating: 8/10

About the tester

Age: 29  Height: 188cm  Weight: 80kg

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

2 comments

Avatar
postrestant [7 posts] 1 month ago
0 likes

'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.'  The SB beam is no more focused than the SL according to your charts.  And looking at run times and battery capacity, the difference between models would seem to be the amount of power delivered to the LED.

Avatar
postrestant [7 posts] 1 month ago
0 likes

ps when are you going to review the new season focused-beam lights from Exposure?