Hope Vision 1-LED front light review

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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.

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Light and bracket unclip from the handlebars together

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.

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Lowest setting – 36 hours with four AA rechargeable batteries

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.

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Brightest setting – 3 hours with four AA rechargeable batteries

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.

Overall verdict:

performance
ease of use
build quality
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.

16 comments on “Hope Vision 1-LED front light review”

  1. Garry wrote:

    Until I retired, I used to cycle up to twice a week on weeknights at night. For the last 2 years I had a beast of a light. A Cateye Tripleshot. This gave you a 25 yard beam in which you could clearly see the road. One night on one of my quiet hilly country roads near Cork, a car which was approaching stopped and the driver rolled down the window. "Are you lost?", says I. "No", says he, "but where the Christ did you get the light?!", says he!
    I no longer use it as I don't need to. I may flog it on Fleabay.

  2. Mary wrote:

    Great review Patrick. I ride in the winter with Hope lights. I like them for several reasons. THEY REALLY LIGHT UP THE ROAD! First reason. So much do they do this, that I have to make sure I do not dazzle car drivers.... (That makes a change eh!).

    I find with this light, cars coming towards me, think I am a small moped or such like and do in fact dip their lights. Normally with my flashing cateye, if there is nothing but littl' ol' me on the road, they dont bother to dip at all, and I am totally blinded.

    I live in a rural area, where pitch black, means just that.

    These lights are pricy, but I love mine. I recharge the lithium ion battery that mine runs on. I also prefer to by British when ever possible, and though perhaps not 100% of the light is made in Britain (I dont know this bit for sure, but assume some parts are brought in from overseas, but do enlighten me if I am wrong here), buying Hope means you are keeping money in the UK and helping UK citizens – I see them as fair trade in otherwords.

    I have 2 of these lights, the double hope for my Commute and the one with 4 beams for my mtb, when you use the mega light, its like cycling in the day! :)

  3. Patrick wrote:

    Mary, I think your Hope lights are the ones up from mine if they have lithium ion batteries, but they are made in Britain. Hope's website says: "manufacturing virtually everything in our factory on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales." I suppose Yorkshire Dales sounds more romantic than Northern Lancashire but Lancashire it jolly well is!

  4. Hilary wrote:

    Bike lights seem to get better every year. I've had a Cateye 530 for the last 3 years which I bought very cheap from US Ebay. It works well, it did fall off once but that was my own fault for not putting it on properly! A couple of years back I went mad and bought an Exposure Joystick helmet mounted light which Winstanleys were doing at a good price. The combination is great. Cars always dip (and if they don't I can look straight at them & dazzle them till they take the hint!) but on unlit lanes cars pull in for me from quite a long way away. As the helmet light is quite high up I think they mistake me for a truck with only one side of its lights working! There is also an optional plug in rear light, tiny but very bright, which combined with a light on my rack and a flashing light on my saddle bag makes me feel sure of being seen by following traffic.
    I bought a second hand expedition tourer earlier this year which has a Sanyo bottom bracket dynamo. I've not used it yet but combined with the Joystick it should be pretty good.

  5. Ian wrote:

    Excellent review. I have a dynahub on my tourer (http://www.flickr.com/photos/ianlighthouse/4977117235/) and find it very good. Little evidence of the 'drag effect' one supposedly experiences with hubs. That said, and with the light nights gone I need some lighting on my MTB and don't wish to get another hub. One sees so many LED-type lights available that choosing a decent one is not that easy. Perhaps the Hope option is worth pursuing.

    Regards

    Ian

  6. Craig F wrote:

    Thank you for the review Patrick.

    I just back from a ride and though I can be seen I soon worked out I need a new light to see the road (and I hit two, if small, pot holes). Just seen one on ebay and having seen your review I'm hoping to get it.

    Thank you

    Craig

  7. Patrick wrote:

    Craig, good luck with the bidding. My Hope was in use today. I'm still very happy with it. The one thing you have to watch out for is the light suddenly cutting out when the batteries have run out. There is no warning: poof and it's gone. I take a spare set of Energizer Ultimate Lithiums just in case. Then when the rechargable ones are recharged I put the Lithiums back in my bag (they're very light to carry).

  8. OddThomas wrote:

    Cheers for the great review – good to see the pics showing off what the light can do, too. I'm just on the market for a bike and so have been looking at the vast range of lights on offer – this review has helped make up my mind :-)

  9. Gary wrote:

    have been very tempted by this light and have read many good reviews, my only issue looking at the pictures is that the light looks huge, like a soda can.... :-)

  10. Marco wrote:

    I think this is more of an 'off road light' as in MTB -that's what I use it for and I do some serious trails/single track at night and you do need the brightest setting. However when hurtling down hill it's not quite bright enough to pick up all the detail, but take it a bit easy and it's pretty good. I get an hour and a half on full beam using 2750 Ni MH rechargeables.

  11. Paul Thompson wrote:

    Thanks for the review Patrick. Most informative review I've seen on the web of this light. I commented on your Flickr picture too, as I'm a regular user! I do like the fact though you've shown the light from the back, and have to be honest it does look a little strange, and agree with Gary above it looks a tad on the large side. That said, on your information I think I'm definitely gonna go for it, as I think this light has a little more class and quality to the nearest CatEye.

  12. Patrick wrote:

    The light is nothing like as bulky as it looks in the top photo. The case is just wide enough for the four AA batteries. Actually, I used it yesterday, cycling several miles along a dark unlit lane and I'm still impressed.

  13. Chris wrote:

    Apart from the price I can think of only two potential drawbacks for this light. One is that the clamp requires you to fit either the standard or oversize (for 31.8mm handlebars) rubber spacers – a fiddly job in itself – so that although you can remove it from one bike and place it on another you will have to use a shim of some sort if you are switching between standard and oversize bars.

    [Edit: I've since written a review of my Hope Vision 1 LED]

    My other concern is that the battery holder is a little flimsy by comparision with the quality of the rest of the light itself. It's more cost, but I would consider buying another battery holder (a fiver or less) in which to keep that spare set of batteries. I wouldn't fancy taking out four loose AA batteries then replacing them with cold hands on a dark rainy night in the middle of nowhere 😮

  14. Patrick wrote:

    You also need to make sure the clamp is screwed on tight to the barrel, otherwise it tends to work loose. Mine has not worked loose since I screwed it on tight.

    The battery holder does seem flimsy but it's durable enough in practice, although I think I'll take up your suggestion of a spare one as a quick way to switch batteries. There is no warning when they run low – the light just goes from full brightness to off. The ideal standby battery is Energizer Ultimate Lithium disposable as they are very light in weight.

  15. Chris wrote:

    Update: I read on another web site that someone bought a battery holder from Maplin for 79 cents. I picked up one on a similar pattern (item no. HF29G) for £1.19 and have put in a very temporary cardboard spacer to take up the empty space. Works fine.

    Incidentally, the same shop is selling 8x AA Energizer Ultimate Lithium batteries (two packs of four) for £9.00 – pennies dearer than Amazon and a fiver cheaper than Tesco. Well, every little helps...

  16. Patrick wrote:

    Your AA Energizer Ultimate Lithium batteries...

    Good price. I've bought some from 7 Day Shop when they have 4-pack offers with 2 extra free (to make 6-pack). 3 packs (12 batteries) for £14.97. £1.25 per battery.

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