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Exposure Axis Mk10 1300 Lumens Light

 

Light 105g Helmet Mount 10g Bar Mount 11g Gun Metal Black £215

The Exposure Axis Mk10 1300 Lumens Front Light is a torch-type single LED light to be mounted on bars or helmet, but also feels comfortable in the hand, too. As you’d expect, it is beautifully made, but it is also very practical with numerous features to enhance your ride. With obvious trail riding uses, it also functions nicely as a road light on its own, or as a very bright general purpose torch.

 

Pros: build quality, TAP technology, adaptable.

 

Cons: shorter run times than some Exposure lights, price

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test eview exposure axis cycling bike light mtb road

Spec/materials 4.75/5

The zipped soft-case includes contains instructions, a wrist strap, two mounts, an additional plastic bolt for the helmet mount, an o-ring for the bar mount, charging cable with plug for the mains, a USB charging cable, and, of course, the light, with a lanyard, too, for security when carrying away from the bike – handy for those overnighters at a bothy.

 

As is usual with Exposure, the build quality is excellent as well as highly functional. Very reassuring for your £250. The case is anodised 6063 aluminium. Although unlikely to get too hot, the ribbed sections will disperse heat – they also help when adjusting the light when it is on your head. The IP65 rating is not the highest, but functionally I is pretty much all you need, unless you are planning on a bit of spontaneous bog-snorkelling. Just remember to keep the pressure hose at a safe distance.

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Inside the case is a lot of clever electronical engineering that comes down to a single LED powered by a 3,500 mAh Li-Ion battery. The charging point is covered by a rubber plug. Above it is the control button – you’ll soon get used to process of changing programmes and modes and the varying flashing lights that indicate powering on and off and charge levels. Read the instructions, and remember that you may have to wait a second or two before the indicator light changes.

 

Perhaps the most intriguing element of the design is the TAP technology, more of which below.

 

The programmes are outlined on the barrel as a handy reminder when out and about. 

Mounts and mounting 4/5

There are two brackets, neither of which are the usual Exposure ‘things of beauty’. However, they are plastic, practical, and effective. After all, who wants a beautiful metal bracket sitting on their head?

 

The bar mount is a simple affair held onto the bars by a rubber o-ring. The helmet mount has two plastic plates to sandwich the helmet through a vent. They’re held in place by a plastic bolt which can be tightened with the fingers, but can take a hex-head/Allen key, as well. Two bolts of different lengths are provided – I needed the longer for the Kali Lunati Helmet used for testing. The helmet mount also has a ball joint, allowing easy adjustment around the arc of vision. I have needed to tighten the bolt regularly, but then I’m have not gone for a drop of something sticky as I don’t usually keep these things in situ when not needed.

hemlmet light mount bracket test review cycling mtb

Both will hold firm, as you’d hope. The bar mount can be adjusted easily by hand, but, I was pleased to find, did not shift of its own accord when rumbling over rough surfaces. Even better, when you forget that you have it mounted on your helmet, the bracket holds the light in place when you hang your helmet on the bars.

test light bike bicycle review helmet

Switch, programmes, and modes 4.5/5

The switch is easy to use, even in full-finger gloves, although things took a bit of concentration in thicker winter gloves on the fly. I’ve found it best to keep the button at the top of the light when putting it into the bracket on the bars, just to make it easy to find when switching modes when underway.

 

There are pre-set programmes. The first three have high, medium and low modes. Four to six have high and medium modes. This almost provoked the pedant, but it is surprisingly correct. High and medium run times in 4-6 are equivalent to those in 1-3, but there’s no ability to go down to low if charge starts petering out and the 10% red LED of approaching darkness appears. I’d suggest that, much as the simplicity of the two mode programmes pleased my tiny mind, they’d be most appropriate for off-road spot helmet-mounted duties where run times might be off less importance as a supplementary light. In addition, when in TAP mode – Programme 9 – it is easier to remember which mode you are in with just two options and it is easier to get to high output if there is no middle mode to go through.

 

Programme 7 offers low output in high and medium and an SOS mode in low for when you really need to eke things out. Programme 8 is interesting. Effectively, it encompasses in its three modes, high from Programme 1 and low from Programme 3, via a hybrid medium mode. Probably best when doing longer journeys around lit town streets.

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Remote wiring or by Bluetooth is usually needed to control a helmet mounted light. Exposure eschew such complications and the Axis has TAP tech in Programme 9. What be that, you ask? Well just tapping the light toggles between modes. You can even adjust sensitivity. So, you can control the light by doing little more than patting yourself on the head. This worked a treat on the trails. On the road, Exposure recommend that you do not use the TAP programme. Certainly, I’ve found that, bar-mounted, the TAP tech easily leads to clumsy inadvertent changes of output: not good. On the helmet, I have found TAP pretty reliable, although not 100% reliable – especially with full-fingered gloves.

 

To summarise, although not personally tuneable, I’d be surprised if there is something here to suit a very wide-range of cycling styles and disciplines.

test review bike cycle light

Charge and run times 4/5

Charge time on the Smart Charger via the mains is stated to be four hours. The first charge was within this by some ten minutes. It is worth noting that Exposure point out that the last 5% of charge is a “trickle” before the lights turn green on the Smart Charger. Fundamentally, you’ve got a good charge of 95% when the LED on the light turns solid green (it flashes during charging), so your good to go.

 

There’s a USB cable for charging, too. Seven hours is the stated time, so I’d regard it as a top up option (as do Exposure) rather than a default setting. I found ours went a little over the seven hours, but we are talking minutes.

 

Run times and outputs are fundamentally linked. 1300 lumens max is on offer at 1.5 hours run time. Exposure put it like this, when considering which programme to go for: double the run time, half the lumens. Even so, output is enhanced by the quality of lens and reflectors, as you’d expect from this quality of build. 

 

Overall, I’d say run times are pretty good, although you will find longer. Certainly, they are more than adequate for most activities.

Care and durability 4/5

Fundamentally, there is nothing to do other than give it a wipe with a cloth for a clean and shine. Avoid dropping in the river, pressure hoses, and accidental feeding it to crocodiles, and you should have many years of use.

 

Replacement brackets and cables are readily available.

Performance 4.5/5

With the different mounting options, it makes a good companion or can operate on its own when you want a more focussed light than your main off-roading beam, say for the road ride back to base after your trail or gravel frolics. I’ve found it as effective in Programme 1 medium (c.650 lumens at three hours) to offer similar clarity to the Sinewave Beacon dynamo light, but with a narrower beam.

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Selecting Programme 6 for the mixed surface commute to work, I found the two-mode set up perfect. Low for the lit streets and city centre and high for the unlit canal towpath and unlit country lanes. Programme 3 sufficed just as well with the advantage of longer run times in low mode on quiet, lit urban roads. All fine, but, of course, familiar. I’d be a bit more cautious on unfamiliar tracks or less-travelled unlit roads. I’d go for a similar programme with shorter run times and higher output. Even so, Programmes 6 and 3 did not seem to offend any on-comers but did illuminate pedestrians and other pre-dawn wayfarers. Equally, motorists did not dip headlights before rounding the bend as they did with the Exposure Race Mk17 on high mode in some programmes.

Now, I’d not usually use a £215 as a day-time blinkie. However, Programme 6 flash with a clear presence at 100 metres this did a great job as a misty day-time runner on lanes along the Trent valley.

 

Helmet mounted and heading for some local trails, the Axis Mk10 provided a really clear light on some twisty switchback as well as longer sweeping curves. I’ll admit to being for from the most intrepid off-roader, but I felt might reassured with the quality of the illumination. I’d even go so far as to say that it gave a definite confidence boost.  It also got me back to the railway station when the charge on the main light decreased more rapidly than expected.

Value 4/5

Although the blurb points the prime function as a helmet light for focussing on that narrow, twisting, technical single-track, there’s more to the Axis Mk10 than that. As a general torch or a road light, it will not let you down. Moreover, the programmes offer a wide range of run times and output. So, think, all-round light as opposed to wild-eyed MTB lamp. Even so, £215 is a good deal to lay-out. Exposure, themselves, offer the Sirius Mk10, lighter, cheaper, with similar run times, but lacking some of the technical sophistication. And that is not the only rival in their range.

 

There are helmet specific lights, such as the Lezyne Helmet Lite Drive, which offer 1200 lumens max and long run times at a cheaper price, but these generally lack the sophistication and the flexibility that the Axis Mk10 has. Likewise, there are bar-mounted lights, such as the Ravemen PR2000 that outdo, but those do not fit on your helmet.

 

Exposure have tried to eliminate the need for wires. If you are not bothered by them, the Sigma HL 2000 has a separated battery pack and can be bar or helmet mounted. It is a little cheaper.

Summary

You could describe the Exposure Axis Mk10 as a jack of all trades, but that would be unfair. It is an excellent helmet light, and a very handy bar-mounted one, too. It fits nicely in the hand, if necessary. Then there’s plenty of tunability. A very, very good off-road light, and very effective on the road, too. A great light for the multi-discipline rider, either as back up or go to.

Verdict: 4.25/5 very well-made, highly functional and adaptable, at a price.

 

Steve Dyster

 

https://www.exposure-use.com

 

PUBLISHED DECEMBER 2023

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