Modern day MTB lords of darkness have never had it so good. Bike lights these days are for the most part super bright, super efficient, compact and lightweight. Exposure Lights designed and manufactured in the UK by USE Ltd are a great example of where things are at. Thanks to BikeBox (the Australian distributor for Exposure Lights) I’ve been running dual 2013 Exposure Diablo Mk4’s on my helmet, complemented by a handlebar mounted MaxX-D and a Flare rear light. Suffice to say with 3000+ Lumens in total to burn night rides have never been so much fun!
Here’s a short night MTB video I made along the way showing the Exposure lights in action. Auxiliary lighting was provided by an Exposure Six Pack.
2013 Exposure Diablo Mk4 Bike Light
USE Ltd, designers and manufacturers of Exposure lights, pitch the Diablo Mk4 as:
The super bright King of helmet lights. Our best-selling light is primarily a helmet mounted light but is equally effective on the bars. An ultimate combination of lightness and brightness, 1100 Lumens from just 108g.
Crudely speaking, the Diablo is essentially 3 Cree XPG R5 LEDs and 3100mAh Lithium Ion battery neatly packaged in a diminutive CNC machined aluminium body. Coming in at just over 100g it’s one slick piece of industrial design.
Diablo Mk4 Mounting Options
Ask anyone who owns a GoPro – a great gadget can be let down by a crappy mounting system. Fortunately this isn’t the case with the Diablo. There are no adhesive velcro dots, velcro straps or zip ties to be seen. USE have come up with a very clever and versatile low profile mounting system that makes use of helmet vents, and takes less than a minute to install or remove.
The mount moulds itself to fit flush inside the helmet. You don’t know it’s there.
A ball and socket fitting allows the lights to be angled as required.
My uber clean dual Diablo Mk4 setup thanks to Exposure’s ‘Cable Free Design’.
While the Diablo is primarily a helmet light it can also be mounted on Exposure’s quick release handlebar bracket using a Quick Release Clip.
At the rear of the Diablo is a Function button and Smart Port.
- A double click on the Function button turns the light on
- A single clicks cycle through High, Medium, Low and Pulse modes of the default Program mode 1
- A click and hold turns the light off.
The Function button also changes color to indicate mode and power levels. That’s pretty much all you need to know to operate all Exposure Lights!
Like other 2013 Exposure Lights, the Diablo Mk4 features additional program modes (coined Optimised Mode Selector or OMS) for those riders wanting to fine tune burn times e.g. endurance events. TBH I haven’t spent the time figuring out how to access the additional modes via the Function button, primarily because the default High-Medium-Low meets my needs as is. You can see from the table below (etched on the light) that burn times of up to 24 hours are possible.
An accessory that might be of special interest to commuters and competitive riders is the Remote Switch which plugs into the Smart Port on the rear of all Exposure lights. It makes it easier to change modes while riding and can be placed wherever needed. e.g. near grips on you handlebar.
More Power Options
For those riders wanting longer burn times at a desired level of brightness Exposure offer Single and Triple Piggyback battery cells. Piggybacks connect to the light via the Smart Port. A Single Piggyback doubles the burn times of a Diablo, a Triple Piggyback quadruples the burn times. The Piggybacks work by recharging the primary battery in the light as it is used.
A very cool and handy alternative use of both Piggyback units and the lights themselves is that they can be used to power devices such as smartphones and GPS units using Exposure’s Boost Cable. Nice!
Custom Two into One Connector
It didn’t take me long to realize that a) I was addicted to the quality of light pumped out by the dual Diablo’s and b) I wanted longer burn times at maximum brightness. I could have connected each light to its own Piggyback stored in my hydration pack which would have been OK. The guys at BikeBox however had a cooler solution – a custom two into one lead that connects both Diablo’s to a single Piggyback of choice – in my case a Triple Cell. The lead can also be used with other Exposure accessories such as the Remote Switch. AFAIK it’s one of only two such custom leads in the world!
Out on the Trail
OK how about practical stuff? The Diablo is easy to operate on the trail, thanks to the one squidgy Function button that is easy to find and feel on the back of the light. The High, Med and Low settings are easy to differentiate visually too. The mounting system works a treat in practice with just the right amount of friction to hold the light firmly in place along the trail while still allowing adjustment. Managing heat is critical to LED efficiency and performance and unlike other LED light units I’ve come across that you could fry an egg on, the Diablo remains impressively cool thanks not only to its machined cooling fins but also its Intelligent Thermal Management (ITM) system.
So you might be saying with this much light how is night riding scarey fun anymore? Here’s the thing – it’s even more scarey fun! Assuming you’re familiar with trails and conditions the limiting factor at night is how well you can see. More light allows you ride faster with more confidence but it doesn’t make the experience anything close to daylight. The thrill that comes from the diminished ability to interpret terrain at night is still there. As the cycling saying goes, it doesn’t get easier just faster
Hippie’s Bottom Line:
As a stand alone unit the 2013 Diablo Mk4 is impressively small, lightweight, super bright and easy to operate. It’s complemented by a clever mounting system, and the ability to connect to additional external power (and other accessories) when required completes the picture. It may not be the cheapest light out there but it is _quality_ stuff. Night riding has never been so much fun!
Thanks to BikeBox, the Australian distributor of Exposure Lights for their support and assistance.