The four-LED array in Exposure's top-end MaXx-D produces a massive 960-lumen claimed output in a broad, even pattern that blankets a wide swathe of trail ahead of you in bright, white light.
The high-quality beam is free of dim spots or other distracting anomalies, and the relatively diffuse focus provides excellent peripheral vision – a key feature for a bar-mounted lamp that can't be aimed as readily as one that's helmet-mounted.
As a result, we enjoyed a more comprehensive view of the trail than with bar-mounted lights with a brighter and more centrally focused hot spot. Trail features – and textures – immediately ahead are easy to pick out and interpret, and the wide beam gives decent advanced notice through corners.
However, that same broad field of view that's so welcome at slow or medium speeds comes at the expense of long-range punch. Without a concentrated hot spot it's relatively easy to overrun the MaXx-D beam at speed – even when on full blaze – and we had to back off on several familiar trails because we couldn't see far enough ahead. The radially symmetrical beam pattern also wastes some candlepower up top by not having a sharp cutoff.
Run times are reassuringly lengthy, though. Exposure claim three hours on the brightest 'MaXx' setting but we regularly went slightly north of that. The medium setting's 10-hour run time should more than suffice for mere mortals but if not, simply plug one of Exposure's supplemental one- or three-cell piggyback batteries into the rear accessory port (which can also accept rear lights, remote switches or other handy bits) to add more juice.
Unlike most high-output lights, Exposure conveniently package the MaXx-D in a unique one-brick bundle that houses the battery, emitters, optics and electronics. Unless you add on one of the plug-in accessories, there are no cables to deal with and no batteries to clumsily mount somewhere. As a result, the MaXx-D is easier to handle than most setups and it's also quite light at around 300g.
That single-brick configuration does, however, preclude using the MaXx-D as a helmet-mounted light. Though the total system weight is very light, 300g is still a fair chunk of mass to slap on your head, and there is no provision for a helmet mount.
Construction quality is typical for Exposure, which is to say extremely high. The stout, machined aluminium housing is anodised and laser-etched with the unit's key features and button operation. O-rings seal the innards from water and mud, and cooling fins add more surface area to the large-diameter body to dissipate heat. The single rear button doubles as a mode and battery life indicator, and it too is sealed against water.
The aluminium bar mount is a similarly thought-out bit with a stout clamp (with shims for various diameter bars) and a brilliant dovetail lamp interface that's rattle-free and rotatable left and right for precise aiming. Unfortunately there's no true breakaway function, though, so the mount is prone to damage if you crash.
All in all, the Exposure MaXx-D is a superb main bar-mounted light with fantastic total light output, excellent burn times and an appropriately broad beam pattern all housed in a compact, light, and easy to handle package – and at an appealing price, too, compared to lights of similar output.
For more casual riders and night rides on slow-to-medium speed trails, the MaXx-D alone should suffice, but more serious night-time riders will want to pair it with a powerful spot-type beam for a more complete high-speed package.