Hope Vision 1 LED review
This is a review of the Hope Vision 1 LED. It is not the most powerful front light available, it seems to be overpriced, it switches off without warning, its quick-release clamp has a number of detractors, and some have called the light ugly. So why should you have one?
The Hope Vision 1 LED is very bright (240 lumens on max) with a white light and good beam pattern, if a little on the narrow side. It's only on tight corners that the relative narrowness of the beam becomes a slight concern, but – given that it it does not dim and will switch off suddenly when there is insufficient power – it has provided confidence on all the unlit roads I've ridden on. Often these have been at speeds much faster than would have been possible with my older lights. (I get just under three hours on max power with Duracell Supreme Ni-MH 2450 mAh rechargeable batteries.)
The light has a stated weight of 110 grammes. However, that figure is made considerably greater with the addition of batteries. Four AA 2700mAH Ni-MH batteries (recommended by Hope) are heavier than the light and bracket combined. Although I didn't find the weight too troublesome when fastened to my helmet I didn't use the light for extended periods. To go by the comments of the majority of reviews the consensus seems to be that the Hope Vision 1 LED is too heavy as a helmet light.
The quick release bracket divides reviewers of this light. Allowing for the fact that if you have bikes with standard and oversize handlebars you will have to fit a shim of some sort on your narrower bars (you have to fit either the standard or oversize handlebar sleeves), I see the quick release clamp as a positive thing; if like me you have five or so bikes it saves having to buy four more mounting brackets. The clamp – with its reassuringly sturdy brass bolt – easily unclips and if you only use one style of handlebar there is no need to even turn the lever clamp once it has been set up correctly (see this You Tube video made by someone in response to grumbles about the bracket). The reason the light and quick release clamp come off the bike as one unit is that the two are held together by an M5 x 12mm bolt with a small rubber 'O' ring between them. This gives a stated maximum of 20 degrees of horizontal adjustment, but be aware that the bolt will need to be tightened firmly or it may soon become loose. Good luck with getting those rubber bungs in place.
Hope Technology promote their claim that the gear they sell is made in Britain. You can watch this promotional tour of their new factory to see how their CNC machined gear is produced in Barnsoldwick. The same cannot be said of the weakest link in the Hope Vision 1 LED – the battery holder. It's made in Taiwan and is nowhere near as robust as the rest of the light. Some reviewers have complained about this and the fact that there is no locating groove to make sure that the battery holder is in the correct position. In practice it only takes a few attempts to get the holder in to the body of the light. If the beam is angled down (recommended) the plastic holder should fall in to place – there should be no need to force it in to position, even allowing for the marginally thicker girth of rechargable batteries that most users will want to fit.
Unlike the other lights I own the Hope Vision 1 LED does not display a white light to the side for other road users approaching from left or right (it is consequently the shortest of the four front lights I own, and explains its stubby appearance). This perhaps reflects the company's main market of off-road cyclists. There has been some discussion on cycling forums on whether lights like these – and especially more powerful ones – are even legal on UK streets. Some, such as this one, don't have a beam cut-off at the top of the light. This is not required or even desirable off road, but unless the light is angled down considerably it may easily dazzle other road users.
A feature of the Hope Vision One LED is that it will switch off when there is no longer enough charge in the batteries to power the light at that particular setting. This is bad enough out on a country road, but in an urban setting you may be riding without a front light for some time before you realise. Perhaps you may have an ancilliary light permanently on (after all, I imagine few cyclists would buy this as part of their starter kit), but that rather defeats the object of having such a bright light up front. One of the symbols on the instructions for the Hope Vision LED 1 illustrates what is meant by this "regulated light output". It looks a bit like the path of someone travelling along the flat and suddenly falling off the edge of a cliff. Which is something that particularly unfortunate cyclists may find themselves doing if a brightly illuminated night time ride turns pitch black without warning. You do get further run time on a lower setting if the light turns off from a higher setting, but you have to manually switch on to the first and lowest setting for this to happen. It takes a few seconds. I keep a spare battery holder (and a spare spare from Maplin, £1.19) loaded with a fresh set of rechargeable batteries just in case.
The aesthetics of this light are not to everyone's taste. I must admit when I first saw one I was reminded of those little canisters they used to have in department stores (were they for till receipts?), but the look grew on me. The scalloped body is supposedly so designed to act a heat sink, but I can find no confirmation of that on Hope's web site. My light also has what appear to be five blobs of glue holding the lens in place, but it's not something that keeps me awake at night.
I finally gave in and ordered this light on behalf of Father Christmas. After being dragged along during a one-day coast-to-coast cycle ride and another one-day ride of the Yorkshire Wolds Cycle Route, both of which finished in the dark, I was ready to upgrade. The clincher came after Patrick steered me home at the end of a cycle ride in Lincolnshire (read his own Hope Vision 1 LED review here). On all three occasions I would have been in trouble had I relied on my own set of lights. My partners for those rides, Steve and Patrick respectively, both have a Hope Vision 1 LED front light. Now so do I, and I'm glad about it.
ease of use
value for money