New for winter 2022/23 comes the Exposure Zenith Mk2, one of the most premium models in the UK brand's helmet light range. The Zenith was already top of our best helmet light list, but what refinements make the Mk2 version a worthy successor to the (discontinued, but still around at a reduced price) Mk1 original?
Design and specifications
Encased in a gun metal grey stainless steel body, the Zenith Mk2 is a very sturdy-looking and feeling unit. Lazer-etched graphics show the product logo with a relief map excerpt of World Championship Downhill venue Fort William on one side and a chart showing the different light programs on the other.
Three LEDs combine to produce a 2,100 lumen light beam, which is 100 lumens brighter than the original Zenith. The extra lumens have been made available by a series of small refinements to the Mk2's internals and programming, and add a little more length and width to the light beam according to Exposure – we didn't have a Mk1 to compare ourselves.
The rear of the light is home to the operation button, an LED which changes color to indicate the remaining battery charge and the charging socket. As well as turning the Zenith on and off and cycling between high, medium, and low beam strengths, the operation button also allows you to choose one of eight different light programs.
Like the Mk1 version, the Zenith Mk2 features all of Exposure's latest light technology including Tap which allows you to cycle between light brightness by tapping the casing and Reflex which automatically gives more light at speed and less when riding slowly.
Along with the Zenith, in the box you also get a helmet mount, bar mount, bar/helmet tether, plug-in charger, and a USB cable which can be used to turn the light's battery into a power bank – though Exposure doesn't recommend that you regularly do this with their helmet lights.
The Mk2 Zenith is undoubtedly the brightest and most powerful helmet light I've ever used. The beam projects down the trail well, illuminating everything in its path 15 to 20 meters ahead as well as picking out objects much further down the trail. Like any MTB helmet light, it's far better to pair it with a bar-mounted light for trail riding after dark, but the Zenith Mk2 kicks out enough light that you could use it on its own.
The stated runtime of the light is an hour at max lumens, but I definitely got at least an hour and ten minutes when running it at full power. When using the Tap function to knock back the power on climbs or road sections, the Zenith Mk2 has enough juice to last for a couple of hours or more – longer still when dialing back the light levels. Recharge time isn't exactly quick, but in testing took slightly less time than the five hours stated.
Initial setup, where you have to count LED flashes to choose your desired light program, isn't the most intuitive process, but it's simple enough once you get your head around how it works.
While it's easy to cycle through the three light levels thanks to the Tap function, it can get very annoying on rougher trail sections when the tech misinterprets bigger hits for a tap and switches the light beam at the worst possible moment. Fortunately, there are three levels of Tap sensitivity, so you can adjust the function to suit taking bigger hits – or turn Tap off completely if you prefer.
My test unit tipped the scales at 150g, which is definitely not heavy for a helmet light. However, being an all-in-one unit rather than a separate light and battery, the weight on the top of your helmet is noticeable at first and the light can end up drooping in its screw-together two-piece mount if you don't balance the weight properly when fitting it to your helmet.
When your original product is one of the best of its kind available and already packed with genuinely useful features, it can be a pretty tough job to actually improve upon it. Exposure has managed to do that though by wringing out an extra 100 lumens for the Mk2 version. Aside from that and the new graphic etched into the body, everything else about the Mk2 version is identical to the Mk1.
Aside from the hefty price tag, the extra weight perched on top of your helmet is the only other potential issue, but during testing, I found that it quickly became unnoticeable. If you can wallet can take it, the Exposure Zenith Mk2 is a quality piece of kit that will last you for many years to come.
Tech specs: Exposure Zenith Mk2
- RRP: $329.99 / £265.00
- Max lumens: 2,100
- Run time: 1 hour (max lumens) to 18 hours (min lumens)
- Recharge time: 5 hours
- Weight: 150g
- Dimensions: Length 120mm, head diameter 41mm