by Wil Barrett
January 30, 2017
The Diablo & Toro MK8 are the newest iterations of Exposure's popular helmet and handlebar lights. Made in the UK with a neat cable-free design.
Read the Exposure Diablo MK8 & Toro MK8 light review as part of our Combo Lights Group Test.
When it came time to decide on what lighting brands we’d be including in our four-way Combo Lights Group Test, there was one brand that was a non-negotiable: Exposure Lights. Coming under the USE umbrella, Exposure Lights is a British-based lighting brand that manufactures high powered riding lights down in West Sussex.
Exposure produces a broad range of lights to service the needs of mountain bikers, commuters and road riders, with various options for helmet and handlebar mounting, along with rear seatpost lights too. A quick look at an Exposure light will show you that places it’s emphasis on top-notch CNC machined construction, along with a distinctive all-in-one housing that Exposure calls Cable Free Design (CFD).
For our Combo Lights Group Test, we’ve selected the Exposure Diablo for the helmet, and the Exposure Toro for the handlebar.
Exposure Diablo Mk8
- RRP: £199
- Claimed power: 1400 Lumens
- 3 x LEDs
- Weight: 131 grams (including helmet mount)
- Mounting: Handlebar & helmet
- Actual run time: 1 hour on High
- Charge time: 3 hours
- Includes: Light, helmet mount, handlebar mount, USB charger, AC wall charger & lanyard
- Pros: Lightweight, compact, no cables, smooth but concentrated beam pattern
- Cons: Short burn time at full power, some helmets may not work with mount
Weighing in under 150 grams, the Diablo is a compact and lightweight helmet light. You can mount it on the handlebar (a bracket is included in the box), but this is a light that is ultimately destined for helmet use. Using a robust alloy housing, the Diablo packs in three LED’s, a single battery cell, and all of the electronics into the single light body. There are no cables or separate battery packs, and the light body clips into the helmet mount by hand. All up, it’s a low-faff light to deal with when you’re getting ready to head out for a night ride.
The helmet mount itself is brilliantly simple, and is identical to what Exposure has been using for years (like on the Diablo MK5 we tested back in 2013). A 5mm hex key is all you need to install the plastic bracket through a vent on your helmet, though we did have difficulty fitting this bracket to certain helmets that lack sufficiently sized vents. However, those helmets struggled to fit most other lights too, so it’s not a problem exclusive to the Diablo.
The Diablo we’ve been testing is the 8th iteration of the popular helmet light. Over the years, Exposure has updated the LEDs, battery cells and firmware that drive the Diablo’s power. Claimed Lumen output sits at 1400, making this a darn bright light on the trail. New for the Diablo MK8 is a change to a metal button for the switch on the back of the light head rather than the soft button on the MK7 Diablo. The result is a much more positive feel when turning the light on and off, and scrolling through the different power modes while on the trail.
Because of the smaller battery cell, the Diablo can’t give you all of those Lumens forever though. You’ll get one hour out of the Diablo on full power, and that was a figure that we achieved regularly throughout the test period. By being smart and only using the High mode for more technical sections of trail, you can easily eek out two hours of run time by making use of the Medium and Low power modes, but it’s something that you’ll have to be conscious of when using the Diablo.
If you want more juice, Exposure offer separate battery packs called ‘Support Cells’. You can get 1.7mAh (£29.95), 3.1mAh (£44.95), or 8.7mAh (£89.95) Support Cells, though it does mean you’ll have a cable poking out the back of the light unit, and you’ll have to stow the battery in your jersey pocket or backpack.
Alternatively, you can change the preset modes on the Diablo. A small guide on the underside of the light body shows you what runtime you can expect from each mode, and if you’re the type of rider who doesn’t want to faff around with changing modes while riding, it’s a good idea to pick a program that suits your ride time. For example, P2 will get you two hours of runtime on the High setting, which is approximately 700 Lumens of power.
As is typical of our experience with Exposure Lights, the Diablo has a very high quality spread of light. It’s beam is focussed, but it isn’t super narrow and there is no hot spot to speak of – especially compared to the ITUO XP2 and Gloworm CX Trail lights. Instead, there’s a very smooth transition from the central focal point, to the outer rim of the beam pattern. Throw down the trail is excellent, and while we’d always recommend pairing it with a handlebar light, there’s enough juice in the Diablo that you could get away with it as a solo light.
A very high quality helmet light that is compact, lightweight and dead simple to use. Unlike some of the other lights on test, the Diablo is a focussed helmet light. Yes you can fit it to the bars, but this is primarily a helmet light, and Exposure has engineered it accordingly. As such, it has an excellent beam pattern that offers a focussed spread of light while keeping things smooth. The shorter run times may put off some, but we’d recommend changing the light settings to get the right program for your needs, or just adding an extra battery pack if you really want more burn time.
Exposure Toro Mk8
- RRP: £279
- Claimed power: 1800 Lumens
- 3 x LEDs
- Weight: 262 grams
- Mounting: Handlebar only
- Actual run time: 2 hours 24 minutes on High
- Charge time: 9 hours
- Included in the box: Light, handlebar mount, USB cable, AC wall charger
- Pros: High power, excellent beam pattern, programability, sturdy and functional handlebar bracket
- Cons: Long charge time, no rotational adjustability in handlebar bracket
While Exposure has engineered the Diablo for helmet use, conversely, it’s designed the Toro for the handlebar. This is somewhat unique amongst in our Combo Lights Group Test, as most other brands build their lights for both handlebar and helmet use. In the case of the Toro though, this light can only fit onto your bars. However, it’s this focussed design ethos that has produced such a brilliant little package for bar use.
Like the rest of the Exposure range, the Toro is made in the UK with a lovely CNC machined alloy housing and a matching alloy handlebar bracket. Included in the box is a 31.8mm diameter clamp, though Exposure also makes an aftermarket 35mm clamp for £19.95. The clamp bolts onto your bars with a 4mm stainless steel bolt, and a rubber shim lines the handlebar surface to minimise slipping. A spring-loaded pin locks into the latch built into the light head unit, keeping it secure even in the most hectic nighttime crashes. To remove the light body, simply pull down on the red dial underneath the mount, and the light pulls away by hand.
While it’s a quality piece of kit, it’s worth noting that there is no rotational adjustability in the light mount…
*Update: The plate that’s held to the light body is in fact adjustable in its angle. Loosen the silver bolt (shown in the photo below), and rotate the plate to the angle required depending on the sweep of your handlebars. Simple!
Like the Diablo, the Toro is equipped with three high-powered LEDs. On a simple High-Medium-Low program, the Toro will bust out 1800 Lumens of power in the High setting. In our experience, it constantly went over the two hour claimed run time, which is far more than can be said for other lights we’ve tested.
One of the coolest tricks up the Toro’s sleeve however is the Reflex technology. Introduced a few years ago, Reflex technology allows the light to adjust its output based on how fast you’re riding. Come to a standstill, and the accelerometers inside the Toro will tell it to dim the power output so as to save battery life. Start rolling away from a standstill, and the Toro will gently increase the power output until it’s reached the maximum level. Exposure has been refining this technology for a while now, and in use, it is absolutely seamless on the Toro. Rather than having to worry about toggling the switch to get more run time out of the light, you let the light do the work. Brilliant.
Although the Toro features three LEDs like the Diablo, the power and beam pattern are different. The Toro delivers a much broader beam pattern that is more ‘full’ from side to side. Overall throw is similar to the Diablo, but the Toro simply fills the surrounding trailside with more peripheral light. And with it pumping out more Lumens on the handlebar, it helps to increase shadow definition behind rocks and roots on the trail – a very important characteristic that a helmet-mounted light cannot achieve.
While the Toro light is often overshadowed by the more powerful Maxx D and Six Pack lights, it’s a brilliant handlebar light on its own. Paired with the Diablo on the helmet, you get a very smooth and consistent spread of light that is seamless – it never feels like one light is trying to outdo the other. At just 262 grams, it comes in a fair bit lighter than the bigger Exposure handlebar lights, and it still delivers more than enough juice for my night rides.
Combined with the local manufacture, a 2-year warranty, and the ability to have repairs performed down the line, the Exposure Diablo and Toro combo very much deserve the Singletrack Recommended label.