Exposure Race Mk17 2600 Lumens Front Light
Gun Metal Black, 215g (inc. bracket), £285
The Exposure Race Mk17 Front Light from Ultimate Sports Engineering first appeared to me as a trail orientated, bar-mounted light that will also serve excellently for gravel and road duties, especially for faster and Enduro riders, and mixed surface commuters. In fact, it is a real all-rounder. With great run times it may also impress light-weight tourers and bikepackers – especially if combined with one of Exposures compatible support cells. Combining a variety of technologies and upgraded for 2024, the question one might ask is not, “Is it up to what I want to do?” Instead ask, “Am I up to what it offers?” Of course, we are!
Pros: beautifully built and engineered with numerous ingenious but practical touches, great run times, clear OLED displays.
Cons: not possible to toggle between programmes without turning light off, no wireless remote control.
Spec and materials 4.75/5
Inside the zipped soft-box you’ll find the light itself – with bracket attached, the mains charger, and a set of instructions. Read them before you start fiddling – it is seriously worthwhile.
Made from anodised 6063 aluminium the light and bracket a both beautifully manufactured. The ribbed body should act as a heat sink, but the clever circuitry hidden inside has the capability to lower the power of the light to maximise run times and ensure efficiency. It has an IP65 rating.
There’s more to the internal gubbins than that, too. Three programmes – more of those later – have Reflex Plus. This will calibrate itself to your riding style – after some twenty minutes or so – and adjust the output to your speed and style. More of that later, too.
The two LEDs are powered by a powerful 6,800 mAh Li-Ion battery and give out a regular max of 1700lumens and a Reflex max of 2600lumens – outdoing even the top end of the Ravemen 2400.
At the back of the light is a charging port – which can be used as a port to charge other devices in the Smart Port function (USB Mini B Boost Cable enables you to charge mini USB devices and can be bought as an upgrade) – covered with a rubber storm cap. There’s also a single
power and function button and a clear OLED screen that gives you all the information you need about the light. This is supplemented by two coloured LEDs that indicate power level and flash to help you shift between programmes etc. The programmes are etched on the light barrel as an aide memoire.
A wired remote is available as an after-market upgrade – although there’s a lot to be said for avoiding clutter on a light this programmable. There’s also a Smart Port Extension Cable, giving you an extra 65cm of range. In fact, there’s an impressive range of spares and accessories all round – just check the compatibility list.
The bracket shares the build standards of the light, which slips on and off with ease when required, being secured with a pin that is pulled down to release. Aesthetically pleasing in my opinion, it is equally functional. Rumbling over setts or hitting corrugated trails, there’s been no hint of ejection or movement.
It should fit bars from 31.8 to 35 and there are two shims to aid this. The bracket hinges open to fit around the bars and here is one minor grouse; on thicker bars it is a very tight fit and you might scuff the finish if you are not gentle persuasion personified. Having had a little moan, the hex-head bolt that secures the bracket is very conveniently positioned on top of the bracket at an angle that makes tightening up easy: no faffing about as is pretty common on many light brackets.
That’s especially handy as getting the angle correct is pretty important. This is a powerful light and will cause problems for oncoming cyclists and vehicles, especially on the road, if you get things wrong – depending on the programme and power level. There’s no horizontal adjustment.
Switch and modes and programmes 4.5/5
The light is operated courtesy of a small press button switch. Easy to operate on the fly and in full-finger gloves, it is cunningly simple. Sitting just above display screen and charge/mode indicator lights, you do need to get into the habit of just waiting for the light to flash and the colour to change before pressing again. Read the instructions and it is all quite straightforward.
The programmes are outlined on the barrel of the light. There are ten. A memory function opens the last set programme when the light is turned on. The first three modes have the Reflex function to maximise battery life according to your riding style. The light needs to calibrate itself to this, so expect to be into your ride for twenty minutes or so before this kicks in. In those programmes there are high low and flash modes. The same is true for programmes 7,8, and 9. For programmes 4,5, and 6, there are high, medium, low, and flash. Just toggle down – the display and lights will indicate which is which as well as remaining run times Programme 10 offers a high, low, and a genuine dit-dit-dit da-da-da dit-dit-dit SOS flash, could be a life-saver if disaster strikes when out in the wilds.
All this makes the light highly tuneable, but pretty complex. You’ll work out what suits you best with a bit of experimentation.
Charge and run times 5/5
Officially, the charge time is six hours on the mains. I was a bit surprised to find that ours went from zero to max charge in just under three hours. Closer reading – it’s really worth reading in detail before you commence intuitive activity - of the instructions enlightened me that leaving for a further hour was necessary to ensure the last of the trickle charge fed in. Even so, this was well within the expected charge time.
Some might be disappointed not to find a USB charging cable in the box. Those who like and have the opportunity to charge up via the company computers should not be too disappointed: a suitable cable can be bought from USE for £5. Needless to say, you can expect a longer charging time.
The longer the run time, the lower the lumens; roughly a 50% decrease, according to Exposure. As I said above, a bit of experimentation will get you to what suits you best. However, what is clear, is that there’s plenty of punch and sufficient run times for all-nighters, in most circumstances; and a comfortable mid-winter week or more of commuting for me.
With excellent build quality using great materials you’d expect a light like this to last for many, many years. An IP65 rating is lower than some all-round lights I have used. It’ll easily deal with heavy rain and the vagaries of the weather, but take care when crossing rivers on those wild trail rides or wilderness bike-packing ventures. That should not be too much of a drawback and certainly would not be a deal-breaker for me, but avoid submersion.
Remove the light when cleaning your bike. Best just to give it a wipe with a damp cloth to keep that gun metal ship-shape and Bristol fashion.
My current commute is roughly two miles of city road, five miles of mixed surface canal towpath, two miles of lit suburban road, and two miles of unlit country lane – each way. Of course, it is all familiar, so I’ve headed for some forest trails, less familiar unlit roads, and even some singletrack. That’s the context.
So, first up was programme six for a pre-dawn commute. Although didn’t seem as bright on medium as they are with the regular Sinewave Beacon (with its one mode) or the B&M IQX, at high mode there was more than enough light for the canal towpath. In fact, medium offered enough for all but the ropiest sections. Likewise, I found medium sufficient for 14-18mph along the unlit road sections (nice new smooth asphalt helps). Low mode felt quite comfortable where street lighting was good enough. Clearly enough to be seen, I tended to opt for medium where I knew road surfaces to be rougher. With the rain coming down at home time (still daylight here at that time), flash mode seemed a good idea. In all modes I was noticed at a good distance; motorists dipped headlights, etc.
Next came programme 4. This offers greater output, with shorter run times in each mode. By comparison to Programme 6, the high mode illuminated brightly some fifty metres ahead and gave presence well beyond that. Perfect for really fast rides, but the medium was enough for picking out stealth joggers at my 12-16 touring pace, including on canal towpaths. Even low gave enough for slower paced rides on unlit roads, although it did not get oncoming card to dip their lights before they came around the bend; high certainly did.
In that context, you do need to take care to adjust your light carefully to avoid perplexing oncoming cyclists, drivers, and pedestrians. I’ve found no problem finding the switch to dip the output when on the fly, but it does take a bit of thought which you may need to keep yourself safe and sound on the road. Maybe a wireless remote would suit some folk better.
The Reflex programmes are ideal for off-roading. The ability to conserve charge, but at the same time have that juice boost just when you need it is ideal. To be frank, I’m not so speedy on the trails these days, so whilst there was a clear difference between climbing slowly and descending at speed, I’m probably not the guy to making the most of Reflex. Having said that, it is impressive, if a bit eerie until one gets used to it.
Programmes 7,8, and 9 are probably best for gravel or trail riding, too, as they lack that additional subtlety that helps on the road when transitioning from city to suburb to country roads.
The point is that there are programmes and modes for every situation the cyclist is likely to find themselves in. Enjoy playing with the options and see what you like best.
For those with crowded cockpits, the Race Mk17 takes up little space and sits above the bars.
Well, what is a great light with charge and run times to envy and a range of programmes and modes to suit all disciplines as well as a life-saving SOS mode worth? You might look on this as an investment, and £285 is a lot of cash to splash.
I have come to like Ravemen lights a lot. Their PR2400 is a similar all-round light, but with a dual lens and higher IP rating. It can give out a ferocious 2400 lumens blast, and it is much cheaper. However, whilst it can be charged on the go with a power pack, the same applies to other lights, and it does not have the lengthy run times of the Exposure Race Mk17.
The Magicshine Ray 2600 is another powerful light – again cheaper than the Exposure Race Mk17. It has some clever engineering, too, although some of this requires access to your smartphone to work.
With a mighty max of 3600 lumens, the Gloworm XSV (not available in the UK) is very tuneable and can operate via a smartphone app. It is more expensive and comes with power pack. Its smaller siblings may be of intertest, too.
Of course, even long runtimes can’t compete with some dynamo lights, such as the K-Lite Bikepacker (highly regarded by Michael) or the less powerful, but admirable Sinewave Beacon (which I use). Mind you, we have the added weight of the hub dynamo and those pesky wheel-rebuilds when things wear out.
Trail specialists will find weightier, battery-pack, wired models tempting, for example, the Sigma Buster HL 2000. Yet, there’s the point: Exposure wanted to avoid wires.
The Exposure Race Mk17 with Reflex is a top-notch piece of kit. It’s beautifully built and well-engineered to boot. The mount is sturdy, simple and effective. Ideal for all kinds of riding, it copes with both the ordinary cyclists, such as me, and those performing endurance heroics and dare-devil night time trail exploits. If your pockets are deep enough you will not do much better.