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Exposure Strada Mk12 SB

8
£345.00

VERDICT:

8
10
One of the best lights on the market, though this level of excellence will cost you
Impressive run times
Stunning build quality
Huge array of programs and modes
A big investment for casual users
Weight: 
281g

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.

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The Exposure Strada Mk12 SB is one of the brightest in the company's road range, and with 1,700 lumens on tap you'll never find yourself wishing for more light. With a larger selection of output modes than almost any other lights on the market, and an impressive battery life for an all-in-one unit, the Strada is complex yet simple to use.

There are two models in the Strada lineup: the 1,450 lumen RS and this 1,700 lumen SB (which stands for Super Bright). There's a version of each one with AKTiv as well, which is Exposure's auto-dimming sensor which detects oncoming headlights.

The Strada SB uses two LEDs behind a lens which, according to Exposure, delivers an optimum beam for road riding: a flat beam for the peripheries and a central spot. And it does work very well, giving excellent illumination where you want it, with the bright, cold white picking out all of the road imperfections. On all but the widest of main roads it will easily light up the road from verge to verge.

The SB uses both LEDs all of the time, unlike some, and that can cause issues with oncoming traffic. The Ravemen PR1600, for instance, lights one LED (lensed into a wide beam with a flattened top) for a 'dipped' setting, and only switches on the second spotlamp-lensed LED when you want 'full beam'.

It's a great setup if you ride in a lot of traffic, as you can avoid directing light 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 a small amount of light bleed upwards. It never seemed to cause a problem with traffic, though. I spend a lot of time riding on main roads and, provided you're courteous with the light power you're pumping out, it shouldn't be an issue. I also had the light angled ever so slightly downwards.

2023 Exposure Strada Mk12 Super Bright - side.jpg

Even then, the amount of illumination thrown up the road allows you to descend at pretty much daylight speeds when on full power.

Modes & programs

Exposure supplies a wired remote with the SB, which allows you to scroll through the modes of whichever of the seven programs you've selected. It's a handy addition, as you don't need to move your hands from the hoods to change mode.

In the past I've run the cable under the bar tape and used cable ties/a rubber o-ring to attach the remote to the shift lever.

For general road riding I favoured program four, which gives full power for high and about a third of it for the low setting. There are loads of options, however, and details of each program are laser-etched onto the underneath of the light body. It even includes the run-times in hours.

Despite this model gaining 100 lumens over the old one, battery life remains around two hours on full power, and stretches to around 36 hours at the lowest setting. A full recharge from flat takes around six hours when using the mains powered charger.

AKTiv – is it worth it?

The version with AKTiv is £30 more at £375, but then you shouldn't need to worry about dimming the light for oncoming traffic. Does it work? I was originally expecting it to switch modes like a car, flicking between dipped and full, but it's actually more subtle; it smoothly dims as cars get closer, then rapidly returns to full brightness after they pass. It works equally well when cars are overtaking, responding to red rear lights just as well as oncoming white ones.

It's a clever design and I'm a big fan (I've used it on other models), and if you ride on busy roads at rush hour it's definitely worth the extra outlay. If you tend to ride on quieter lanes, then maybe not.

Pulse

Pulse mode keeps the LEDs on at low power and layers a brighter flash over the top. To activate it you press and hold the button (though not too long or you'll turn the light off), and to get rid of it you give another quick press. That's right – no scrolling through disco flash when out in the wilderness, just to get back to full beam. Other manufacturers, take note!

The Pulse mode is bright enough for daytime use, and it'll get you noticed at night amongs all the other lights. For very bright and sunny days there's a Daylight Pulse mode in program 1.

Program 5 swaps the pulse mode with a pattern that spells out SOS in Morse code, just in case you crash into that one hedge crammed with telegraph operators, Boy Scouts and US Naval Intelligence officers.

On display

The rear display gives loads of information, such as which program you are in and the remaining battery life in hours and minutes. It's accompanied by small coloured lights that double as mode indicators (green for high, orange for medium, red for low) and a battery life visualiser.

2023 Exposure Strada Mk12 Super Bright - rear.jpg

If you run the light upside down under your handlebar, the display rotates so the text is always the right way up.

Quality build

While the Strada SB is anything but cheap, it is impressively well-engineered, and there's no plastic involved in its main construction (though to be fair, today's plastics mean that's less of a slam-dunk plus point than it used to be). The CNC machined 6063 aluminium alloy body is a piece of art, and even the bracket is aluminium.

The bracket has changed slightly since earlier versions, which had a hinge that could rust and fail, if only after many years of wet and salty winter conditions. The new design has top and bottom sections that jigsaw cleverly together instead.

2023 Exposure Strada Mk12 Super Bright - mount 2.jpg

The light slides into a v-shaped locating plate and sits very securely, even on rough roads, with the release pin allowing you to quickly remove the light should you need to.

Longevity is a big plus with Exposure lights, and they offer a two-year warranty. I personally own some older Exposure lights and they're still running after a decade or so, with no noticeable issues, and their batteries still hold charge well.

I really rate the waterproofing, too. I've ridden in very heavy rain for around an hour with the Strada, and it carried on unscathed. Just make sure the rubber cover is always properly plugging the charge port.

Value

Like a lot of things, the Strada has increased in price since last year with this non-AKTiv version costing a tenner more than the AKTiv one did last year. There aren't many lights from other brands on the market at a higher price.

The Ravemen PR1600 I mentioned earlier is one I rate very highly; I still use it on the majority of my road rides as I just love the way it works. It comes with a wireless remote and a great beam pattern, though the burn-times are shorter at 1.4hrs on the full 1,600 lumen. It's a lot cheaper, though, at £139.99.

Ravemen also does a 2,400-lumen version, the PR2400, which I tested in 2021; that's not much more at £199.99, but it's more complicated as it has a slew of modes for both road and off-road use.

If you want even more punch, NiteRider's Lumina Max puts out 2,500 lumens. It too costs £199.99, and it's bodied with a mix of aluminium and plastic. Our reviewer thought the twin buttons worked really well, too – you don't have to scroll through every setting to get back to the one before.

The beam pattern is very much a spotlight kind of thing though, and battery life is much shorter; just 1.5hrs at 1,800 lumens. The full 2,500 lumens will hammer the battery in just 45 minutes.

Conclusion

The Strada Mk12 SB is priced very much at the upper end of what is available, but there's no doubt that it's a very good package. The beam output is great – as are the burn-times for an integrated light with no external battery – and the build quality is phenomenal. You get a huge variety of programs and modes too, which makes it one of the most flexible lights available.

If you want a headlight to rely on for years to come, it's absolutely worth the investment.

Verdict

One of the best lights on the market, though this level of excellence will cost you

road.cc test report

Make and model: Exposure Strada Mk12 SB

Size tested: 1700 lumens

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 SB, Super Bright, with the Road Specific Beam Pattern and with an increased 1700 lumens; with the specific cut outs to allow side illumination, and reversible graphics to remind that the Strada can be mounted either way up without a change to beam pattern or technology. The included remote switch allows the rider to dim when an oncoming vehicle to reduce dazzling and keeping the rider in total control without taking hands off the bars."

I think it's a stunning light from every aspect.

Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the light?

LEDs 2 x White XPL2(W3)

IP Rating IP65

Max Lumens 1700

Battery 10,200 mAh Li-Ion

Runtime 2-36 Hours

Charging Time 6 Hours

Weight 230g

Material Anodised 6063 Aluminium

Length 107mm

Head Diameter 50mm

In The Box Strada MK12 SB, QR Handlebar Bracket, Wired Remote, Fast Charger, QS Guide

Rate the light for quality of construction:
 
10/10
Rate the light for design and ease of use. How simple was the light to use?
 
9/10
Rate the light for the design and usability of the clamping system/s
 
9/10
Rate the light for waterproofing. How did it stand up to the elements?
 
10/10
Rate the light for battery life. How long did it last? How long did it take to recharge?
 
9/10
Rate the light for performance:
 
9/10
Rate the light for durability:
 
9/10
Rate the light for weight:
 
8/10
Rate the light for value:
 
5/10

Tell us how the light performed overall when used for its designed purpose

A great light for road use from main routes to twisty, technical back lanes.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the light

Stunning beam pattern and brightness.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the light

Nothing.

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 the majority of lights that we have tested on road.cc. You can get similar outputs and battery life for a lot less, as mentioned in the review, but those lights aren't offering the same levels of engineering and the options you get with the Strada.

Did you enjoy using the light? Yes

Would you consider buying the light? Yes, absolutely

Would you recommend the light to a friend? Yes

Use this box to explain your overall score

In terms of build quality, performance and ease of use I absolutely can't find a single thing to criticise. It is simply stunning. This level of quality needs to be paid for though, and if you don't spend a huge amount fo time riding in the dark, the price will be hard to swallow.

Overall rating: 8/10

About the tester

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,

As part of the tech team here at F-At Digital, senior product reviewer Stu spends the majority of his time writing in-depth reviews for road.cc, off-road.cc and ebiketips using the knowledge gained from testing over 1,500 pieces of kit (plus 100's of bikes) since starting out as a freelancer back in 2009. After first throwing his leg over a race bike back in 2000, Stu's ridden more than 170,000 miles on road, time-trial, track, and gravel bikes, and while he's put his racing days behind him, he still likes to smash the pedals rather than take things easy. With a background in design and engineering, he has an obsession with how things are developed and manufactured, has a borderline fetish for handbuilt metal frames and finds a rim braked road bike very aesthetically pleasing!

Add new comment

17 comments

Avatar
Fursty Ferret | 5 months ago
0 likes

Pro: Exposure customer service is excellent.

Con: A lot of people, including myself, have needed to use it. My Strada went back once, and my Diablo twice (both for problems with the power button). No quibble and a quick turnaround from Exposure though.

There is no way to mount a Strada on a bike with aero bars. You can, technically, get a K-Edge mount with in-line fixings and a GoPro adapter, but they specifically caution against hanging a light on it.

Avatar
quiff replied to Fursty Ferret | 5 months ago
0 likes
Fursty Ferret wrote:

Pro: Exposure customer service is excellent.

Con: A lot of people, including myself, have needed to use it.

That seems to be the John Lewis model - I've had to return / complain to them quite a lot, but it's generally no quibble when I do. 

Avatar
peted76 | 5 months ago
2 likes

I've never known a gripe about from anyone I know about an Exposure light. I've got one of their rear lights and it's brilliant. I would have a big front light in a heartbeat if I could justify it. 

Avatar
ktache replied to peted76 | 5 months ago
0 likes

7 years of trouble free use of my Axis.

My little spare battery (which I've not really needed) broke, sent back and repaired very quickly)

Yes, expensive, but the quality is worth the investment.

The helmet mount is a bit weak, but fair enough.

I wish they'd released the STVZO compliant range. I would have brought the big one in an instant.

Avatar
mark1a replied to peted76 | 5 months ago
0 likes

I'm hoping the good experiences of performance, reliability and service from Exposure I've read about hold up. I've just bought a Joystick mk17 based on various reviews here and elsewhere. Had it a few weeks now, so far so good. 

Avatar
Xenophon2 | 5 months ago
1 like

Well, I spend a huge amount of time riding in the dark (essentially mornings from September until April) but even so, I couldn't possibly justify this type of outlay, not with lights that come very close in performance but at a third of the cost.  

I'm sure the build quality is superb, but it doesn't use a USB-C charge port and you can't charge it from most powerbanks. If you get a StVzO-compliant light, no need to use the automatic dipper.

Also, I don't really see the target audience for this.  You pay a lot for a peak output that's frankly too high for any type of urban riding.  For off-road riding you'd typically use an external power pack and for trekking, a light that can recharge from a power bank.

Avatar
Secret_squirrel replied to Xenophon2 | 5 months ago
0 likes

Gravel.

Avatar
philhubbard replied to Xenophon2 | 5 months ago
1 like
Xenophon2 wrote:

Well, I spend a huge amount of time riding in the dark (essentially mornings from September until April) but even so, I couldn't possibly justify this type of outlay, not with lights that come very close in performance but at a third of the cost.  

I'm sure the build quality is superb, but it doesn't use a USB-C charge port and you can't charge it from most powerbanks. If you get a StVzO-compliant light, no need to use the automatic dipper.

Also, I don't really see the target audience for this.  You pay a lot for a peak output that's frankly too high for any type of urban riding.  For off-road riding you'd typically use an external power pack and for trekking, a light that can recharge from a power bank.

I have an older version which I've been very happy with. Having the extra power for occasional mountain biking and more frequent gravel riding really helps. Also I use the high setting a lot for evening group rides, I don't know what we're classing as "urban riding" but where I live we leave the town in 3-5 miles and then you can often go 5miles with no street lights meaning the higher output is required.

Just a note for Exposure support as well, my casing cracked around 5 years after purchasing the light, sent it back to Exposure and I got a new CPU, battery and casing and return postage for £50 essentially renewing the light and it has been fine for the last 6 years

 

 

Avatar
OnYerBike replied to Xenophon2 | 5 months ago
2 likes

Not all riding is either "urban" or "off-road". As you yourself allude to, anyone who wants to cycle outside in the morning or evening will be doing so in the dark at this time of year. I know plenty of people who avoid retreating to the turbo and continue to train outside on unlit country roads. And some people's commute will similarly take them on unlit roads.

Avatar
brooksby replied to OnYerBike | 5 months ago
2 likes

And even on lit roads, you do need to be able to light up the roadway or shared-use path so you don't go over glass or down a pothole...

Avatar
Hirsute replied to OnYerBike | 5 months ago
2 likes

Which ever way I go home the last 1.5 to 2 miles is NSL, no streetlights or pavement, so I have had an exposure light with high lumens for a very long time.

Avatar
cyclisto replied to Xenophon2 | 5 months ago
0 likes

There is always an audience for the highest price. I have ridden for years for chinese unbranded xml-T6 lights powered by 18650 batteries, and as they started to flicker, this year I treated myself with an integrated semi-branded chinese 1200lumens light, which has marvelous lifetime and it is easy to charge. I could buy more than a dozen of them for the price of the above reviewed light, but yet there is still an audience.

Avatar
Rapha Nadal replied to cyclisto | 5 months ago
0 likes

Where do you fit those 18650 batteries though? Is a barbag big enough for them all?

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cyclisto replied to Rapha Nadal | 5 months ago
0 likes

Used for commuting a single was enough for me. But there were solutions with 4packs mounted somewhere around stem.

But the latest integrated one has really good running times.

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Rapha Nadal replied to cyclisto | 4 months ago
0 likes

That went over your head didn't it 

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wtjs replied to Rapha Nadal | 4 months ago
0 likes

That went over your head didn't it 

It went over mine as well.

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Destroyer666 | 5 months ago
0 likes

Dear reviewer, the Campa Super Record set is not a big investment "for the casual rider"? That's what you are trying to say and that's the reason why you put price as negative here but not in your Campa review? Makes great sense. Also good work skipping the fact that these lights are made in the UK and Exposure's repair service, which surely do not affect price or are relevant for the casual rider.

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