The new Exposure Joystick once again ups the game in the contest for best helmet/bar light, and once again it's up there at the top of the pile. There are cheaper options – check out rivals in our best bike lights buyer's guide – but in my opinion it justifies it; it's well worth the money.
Few things in life are as certain as death, taxes, and Exposure Joystick reviews. Here at road.cc Towers we've been reviewing Joysticks since at least 2012, when the Mk6 got 4.5/5 stars for its 325 lumens, £165 cost and three-hour run-time.
I've been using a Joystick Mk10 (£140, 800 lumens) since 2015, and it's still going strong thousands of rides later. I did have to send it in for a service a year ago as the modes had started playing up – and it cost me the princely sum of £14 including postage. For the repair of a six-year-old light. That's why I'd say investing in a quality UK-made light is well worth it, even if it's a not-inexpensive purchase.
In 2019, Ash gave 4.5/5 to the Mk13, back up to £165, but now with 1,000 lumens.
Looks like we've skipped a few editions, because what we have here is the Mk16 Joystick with 1,150 lumens (50 more than the Mk15). Price-wise it's £155 for the 'lanyard' version without helmet/bar mounts which you may already have (£22/£14 respectively as an aftermarket purchase). Or you can get both mounts included with the light for £170.
At 98g the Mk16 is still as light as its older siblings, even though it's packing over 40% more output for the same run-time as seven years ago. This sort of inflation I like.
My only gripe with either kit is that you get a wall charger, capable of 4.2A/18W output, to charge the light in under four hours. Yes, this means it's faster than using the USB-A cable that Exposure sells as an aftermarket accessory – but come on, Exposure, it's 2023. We don't need more wall chargers. Where's a USB-C cable capable of utilising the 18W PD spec output of most USB-C wall chargers, battery banks and laptops?
But that's indeed my only gripe – that you get a fast charger. And what a gripe to have, given manufacturers usually include the slowest, cheapest charger and offer fast ones as an upgrade.
Otherwise, yes, it's Groundhog Day folks. The Mk16 Joystick is solid, rugged, beautifully made and performs brilliantly out on the trail or road, day or night.
The focus of the beam is still Goldilock's porridge-perfect – equally good at illuminating a wet road from the bars without excess wastage to either side as it is on your helmet, seeing around corners and shortening shadows on a twisty mountain bike descent.
The helmet and bar brackets are still super-easy to fit and swap between bikes/lids, and hold the light rock-solid. The seven selectable modes plus the daytime constant + flash mode are identical to the previous versions, and again are handily laser-etched on the outside for reference if you want to change.
If there was ever One Light To Rule Them All, it would be the Exposure Joystick. If my bikeshed was on fire and I had to rescue one luminary accessory, it would be the Joystick.
Yes, it's £170 for the full kit. As per all the previous reviews, that's the only criteria where we can't award full marks, because it is a premium or at least on a par with other similarly-performing products. If there were an extra star awardable for reliability, repairabily and corporate responsibility in maintaining products/reducing landfill, the Joystick would get five-and-a half stars out of six.
But anyone arguing that the Joystick is overpriced is utterly missing the point of making an investment in future happiness. That's what purchase of an Exposure product is – an investment in long-term reliability and repairability. My anecdote above of a £14 repair after six years of battering that would have been impossible with any other brand of light out of warranty proves the value of that investment in spades. 'Buy cheap, buy twice' was an adage invented to justify Exposure light sales.
Not every cyclist can afford a Joystick. But every cyclist deserves one in their lives.
The best helmet/bar light is still the best – just now 50 lumens besterer
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
Make and model: Exposure Joystick Mk16
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?
It's for handlebar (road) or helmet (mountain bike) use.
Exposure says: "Here from our beginning the Joystick remains the lightest, and most award-winning helmet light in the range; with a more focused beam, and now with 1150 lumens the Joystick enables you to spot the terrain changes in the distance and the tight corners at your wheel."
In the box: Joystick MK16 GMB, Handlebar Bracket, Helmet Mount, Lanyard, Fast Charger, QS Guide.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the light?
The Nitty Gritty:
LEDs 1 x White XPL2(W3)
IP Rating IP65
Max Lumens 1150
Battery 3,500 mAh Li-Ion
Runtime 1.5 - 36 Hours
Charging Time 4 Hours
Material Anodised 6063 Aluminium
Head Diameter 30mm
In The Box Joystick MK16 GMB, Helmet Mount, QR Handlebar Mount, Lanyard, Smart Charger, QS Guide
Output 1150 lumens
Burntime Min 1.5 hrs Max 36 hrs
Battery Capacity 3500 mAh Li ion
Dimensions (mm) Length - 112, Head - 30, Back – 27
LEDs 1x XPL2(W3)
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?
It would be nice to see a USB-C PD-spec charging cable included.
Rate the light for performance:
Rate the light for durability:
Rate the light for weight:
Keeping the weight and run-time constant while increasing output by 40% is some achievement.
Rate the light for value:
Tell us how the light performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Can't fault it.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the light
The beam – it's perfect. Just right.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the light
Only the lack of a USB-C cable.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
It's premium, but Exposure really is in a class of its own regarding performance, repairability and quality.
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
The only thing to rate the Joystick down on is relative value – it's a premium product, but there's no criteria for long-term repairability and longevity; if there were, it'd get six out of five stars.
Age: 47 Height: 183cm Weight: 77kg
I usually ride: Sonder Camino Gravelaxe My best bike is: Nah bro that's it
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: A few times a week I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: cyclo cross, general fitness riding, mtb, G-R-A-V-E-L
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