Hope Vision 1-LED front light review
A couple of weeks ago my front light was accidentally left in the Leo Smit bike shop in Medemblik, Holland, when we'd got Mrs Taylor's touring bike repaired after her crash, so back in the UK, with the darker nights coming on, I needed a new one. Here it is: a Hope Vision 1-LED front light, manufactured in Barnoldswick in the Lancashire district of Pendle.
Hope Vision single-LED front light features:
- Brightness: 240 lumens (max)
- Bulb type: single LED
- Burn time: 3-36 hours (max-min)
- Batteries: 4 AA (not included)
- Weight: 110g without batteries
- Mount: handlebar or helmet
- Price: £72 (winstanleysbikes.co.uk)
The Hope front light is in a different league to the one I lost. It runs on four AA batteries (rechargeable or disposable) whereas my previous front light ran on four AAAs, so the improvement in performance is not surprising. Bicycle lights are all about the batteries, I think, and balancing run time against light output. I'd be surprised if there's much difference in the efficiency of LED systems between one manufacturer and another for lights powered with AA or AAA type batteries.
I looked at the Cateye EL530 single LED front light which is about £25 cheaper and includes batteries, but several reviews suggested it has a poor bracket with the light falling off. The Cateye light is bright and has a longer run time than the Hope but its brightness fades as the battery expires and I don't like that either. The Hope light maintains the same brightness until the battery runs out, although it then shuts off without warning; I can cope with that as I always carry spare batteries (or an emergency light) when cyling in the dark.
The on-off button on the top of the light cycles through four brightness settings beginning with dimmest – bright enough for riding under normal street lighting – up to the brightest in three clicks – too bright for using in traffic but brilliant on unlit roads when riding fast and easily bright enough to pick out sunken gullies and bits of glass in the gutter. There's also a flashing option which seems to be set to dim on which the batteries will last forever.
LED bulbs tend to be less reliable when they're allowed to burn hot. It does burn hot, so the brightest setting is best reserved for conditions that really require it, preserving battery and the bulb itself.
I like how the button is positioned almost directly over the mounting bracket so that the light doesn't tend to slip round the handlebars when you press it. Holding the button down for two seconds turns the light off. The bracket is solidly built in plastic. The light's case is not plastic but CNC-machined alloy in a choice of four colours including black. It comes with a helmet bracket and wrist strap.
The beam is quite narrow, although outside the main illumination is a halo ring of light that helps pick out the side of the road, kerb, hedge, etc. It's not visible in these photos but it's there.
Some users don't seem to like how both the light and the bracket need to be removed at once. The light is fastened to the bracket with a small Allen screw (which needs to be screwed on tight to prevent the light coming loose) and the bracket unclips with a lever. I actually prefer this feature as it means you can swap the light from one bike to another without the need for an extra bracket.
At £72 (up to £85) the Hope Vision single-LED is at the top end of AA-powered LED road bike lights but at the bottom end of the Hope range, which includes 2 and 4-LED lights with separate Li-Ion battery packs. These are significantly more expensive and more suited to cycling off-road when floodlighting is required. Their products would probably be cheaper if they were made in China but there's some satisfaction in buying a north-of-England designed and built item, especially when the best price is from a bike shop also located in the north: Winstanleys Bikes in Wigan, Lancashire.
ease of use
value for money
Incidentally, the types of AA/AAA battery I use for cycling equipment are:
- Energizer Ultimate Lithium disposable – longest lasting, lightweight
- Duracell Supreme rechargeable Ni-Mh 2650 mAh – very heavy
- Sanyo Eneloop rechargeable – retain 75% capacity untouched for 3 years
As a matter of interest, North Lancashire is also where Pendle bike racks for cars are made, and Carradice bags are from Nelson. The bicycle accessory industry is alive and well around these parts. The Hope light is not my first encounter with Barnoldswick either: in my dinghy sailing days I had a racing hull made there, and several masts.