My trusty night-riding light has countered three winters of abuse with an attempt to exact painful retribution. Not so much “Hope Vision 4” more “Hope I still have all my own teeth“.
The maker is Hope Technology – a UK firm based on the wrong side of Yorkshire* – housed in an industrial unit full of proper machinery. Their ability to CNC, Mill and Bevel metal results in an extensive range of MTB products. Some of them are very good, some of them are a bit special, and occasionally one of them is a dud.
Their showpiece 4-LED light that pushes the night away for 9 months of my riding year is somewhere between “special” and “terrifyingly unreliable“. Bit like kids, when they are good they are very good indeed**, but when they are bad “bloody awful” isn’t the half of it.
Wednesday night put Dr Jekyll in charge of illumination. Or not, when the light flicked to black as the bike was dropping smoothly over a rock-step. That smoothness absented itself with the light, and only the backup torch lashed to my helmet prevented a high speed gravelly facial.
This isn’t the first time unscheduled benightment has been visited on my innocent person. Nor the second. Or even the third. I now have a fairly matey relationship with the Warranty fellas up at Hope as the feckless light boomerangs between us. They’ve been fantastic at repairing way outside of any warranty period, and I’ve rewarded such customer service by campaigning the thing through years of rain, snow, frozen temperatures and occasional unscheduled trail percussion.
And while they are happy to give it another electrical brush up and polish, there really are only so many times that a fearful man can be plunged into darkness before demanding a replacement not marketed with a skull and crossbones. Laziness lulled me into accepted the “wisdom of the crowd” presented by Internet warriors who at least talked a good game. A quick scan of the ever escalating arms race between manufacturers’ added nothing but acronym confusion, so it was back to my night-riding roots with Lumicycle.
Whereas Hope are all grown up and serious nowadays, there’s still a whiff of shedness with Lumicycle. My first set of lights, bought nearly ten years ago, had clearly been designed and manufactured in a small wooden outbuilding. Yellow halogens powered by cut down car batteries dimly lit the trail for almost minutes, before fading to candle power. But this still proved to be a huge step up from catastrophic experiments with head torches and crappy clip on lights.
A decade later, development has been driven by technology, the 24 hour race scene and – somewhat predictably – huge steps in LED power from the Far East. The results are frankly staggering. Even compared to my Hope, the small form factor and huge light beam are really something else. It’s not quite the night-sun which appears to be gaining ground especially in homebrew solutions, but that’s not what night riding is about.
What it is very much about is sufficient light to go fast, go for a decent length ride, and go for a beer afterwards without having to rebuild complex electronics on the trail. The Lumi’s are definitely an upgrade on all fronts, but cheap they were not. But since six months of my weekly riding is undertaken entirely in darkness, and another three start that way it’s an investment worth making. That’s what I’ve told Carol anyway
No excuse not to get out next week then. Well apart from the mud, rain, cold and a dose of pre-spring apathy. But that’s not stopped me yet, and we’re well past being half way out of the dark.
* Or Lancashire as the locals call it.
** We call this state “at someone else’s house”