Based in glamorous Barnoldswick, Hope have been turning aluminium lumps into sparkly objects of desire for some years now. The Vision R4 is the latest in their established range of lights and belts out a hefty 1000 lumens from its tiny head unit.
The R4 is a separate unit from its power source, with the 2.6ah battery slung under frame or stem on a simple Velcro backed strap. The tiny head unit is beautifully made and perches atop a sturdy aluminium bracket. The bracket is cunningly off-set in such a way that it places the light directly over your stem. That's handy, both because it frees up space on the bars for other toys (GPS, computer, back-up light etc) and because ensures that the light is right in front of you. This is important because there isn't any lateral adjustment.
The light has a neat bayonet fitting and can be easily removed for safe keeping but the bracket stays bolted onto the bars, annoying if you have more than one bike.
Hope specialise in mountain bike lights and this new R4 is no exception. The beam is like the blast from a sawn off shotgun. It's very wide, without much of a defined centre spot, and goes absolutely everywhere. It's great on narrow, twisty back lanes, because every surface is flooded with bright light, however I really wouldn't fancy coming across it in the opposite direction. That's not such an issue on mtb trails, but on the road or bike path it's potentially dangerous. That spread also means that it sacrifices reach, more useful and important on roads than illuminating low hanging branches. To be fair, Hope describe the R4 as a multi-sport light, which indicates that they haven't tuned it for road use.
It comes with a head band and battery extension lead but there's no way I'd want to deploy it at head height, right on the eyeline of most drivers and other cyclists. Even on lower settings, you're still going to be punting out a lot of light upwards and sideways and at close quarters on a bike path or narrow country lane, that's not going to make you many friends. Hope apparently consider that this light is fine for road use. I beg to differ. If you're going to produce an expensive light with this much power it really should be better configured for actual road use.
I'm pretty demanding when it comes to lights. My commute takes in some well-lit urban roads, but mostly it's unlit country roads and twisty back lanes. What I look for is lots of usable light, sensibly deployed, and also a good hefty runtime. The R4 falls down quite badly on the sensible deployment bit but it positively hurls itself to the ground when it comes to the runtime. This type of light usually has an advantage over all-in-one units because they don't have the problem of cramming everything into a single casing. That tends to translate into a larger battery and hence better run-time. Unfortunately that isn't the case here.
Hope provide the R4 with a modestly sized 2.6ah battery which gives a miserable 1hr 15min on full power. For comparison, the Lumicycle LEDS3i with a 5.2ah battery gives 6 hours on full, plus £10 change. Of course you can change down to a lower power setting, but even on the next setting down you only get 2 hours. Hope do offer it with a bigger battery, but that will cost you an extra £45 and still only gives 2:30hrs. There no fuel gauge either, the light just reverts to its lowest setting and flashes at you when things are getting low.
Another little quirk of the R4 is the switch. A quick press accesses the three most powerful settings, a longer push gets you into the lower three. Swapping between sequences means turning the light off and then back on again. If you've been in frugal low power mode while the streetlights lasted and need to suddenly ramp up the power as you turn off onto the unlit 20% twisty descent, be careful.
The R4 may be a beautiful example of UK machining skill but the beam means it's a poor choice for use as a road light and there really is no excuse for the feeble runtime.
Pretty and beautifully made - but not really suited to road use and has a pitiful run-time
road.cc test report
Make and model: Hope Vision R4 LED Universal
Size tested: Black
Tell us what the light is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
Hope say: "Multi-sport...biking, running, climbing, exploring, adventure racing, caving, skiing...versatility is what the Vision R4 is all about.The multiple mounting options and quick release bayonet fitting enable quick and easy changes from head harness to handlebar mount to helmet bracket.
Four Cree XPG LEDs flood the path ahead with up to 1000 true, measured lumens of uniformly distributed crisp white light. That's 65% more light output than its predecessor – the original Vision 4, whilst also being half the weight and 30% smaller.
Burn time with the standard 2600mAh battery pack ranges from 1:15 hours in maximum, to over 8:00 hours in low.
As featured on the Vision R8, the dual sequence operation simplifies and facilitates mode selection. RACE sequence offers the highest of the power levels with an emphasis on light output. TRAIL sequence offers flash mode and the more economical power levels to maximise battery life.
The R4 also features a battery save mode. When the battery life reaches a critical level the lamp will drop down into the lowest power setting and flash every 15 seconds in order to maximise the remaining battery life whilst also providing just enough light to continue with caution. At this point you should take action to either change the battery pack or return home."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the light?
Four Cree XPG LEDs
2600mAh battery pack
Carved out a solid lump of aluminium. Wiring and connectors feel solid and reassuring.
Not keen on the twin light sequences - having to switch the light off to access the lower/higher settings doesn't seem very sensible.
Tough and beautifully made but there's no lateral movement and it's not QR. Placing the light above the stem is cool and frees up handlebar space.
The connectors are chunky and well sealed.
1 hr 15min on full power isn't good enough.
Has breadth rather than punch. Better suited to dark lanes rather than high speed night rides. It's not really a road light, even on the lower settings.
Solid construction should mean it's bombproof
Dinky wee head unit isn't a burden.
Like the Lupine Piko, although build quality and output are excellent, run time is pitiful, especially compared with the likes of Lumi.
Tell us how the light performed overall when used for its designed purpose
It's not really a road light and Hope don't pitch it as such.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the light
Nice spread in dark, twisty lanes.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the light
The bit at 1hr 16 minutes when the world goes dark. Unfocussed beam.
Did you enjoy using the light? Not really
Would you consider buying the light? No
Would you recommend the light to a friend? No
Anything further to say about the light in conclusion?
Pretty and beautifully made - shame about the poor beam and dismal runtime.
About the tester
I usually ride: Kona Dew Drop, Dawes Century SE, Carlton Corsa My best bike is: Guess SC1 scandium
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, Audax and long distance solo rides