Tell me about dynamo lights…..

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  • Tell me about dynamo lights…..
  • Premier Icon MoreCashThanDash
    Subscriber

    For unlit towpath/busy main road commute, needs a beam that won’t dazzle drivers but bright enough to scare the wild creatures watching me from the bushes.

    Might also need them for longer audax rides next year, so maybe a dynamo set up that can charge gps as well.

    What dynamos and lights are flavour of the month?

    mcmoonter
    Member

    I have two bikes with dynamo lights. My Roberts touring bike has a Schmidt dynamo and a Schmidt Edelux headlamp. My Fargo has an SP dynamo and a Busch & Muller headlanp. Both use B & M tail lights. Outputs are the same, the light patterns are almost identical. Good spread of light that won’t dazzle oncoming cars. They both have capacitors that keep the lights on for a few minutes after stopping.

    I’ve ridden off road bike paths on the Fargo no problem.

    The Schmidt set up was nearly three times the difference of the SP set up. I’d go the SP route.

    thomthumb
    Member

    i have an SP dynamo with a B&M iq cyo. it’s great bought for exactly the same as you. (commuting audax)

    I don’t know much about charging USB stuff. i know that robdean and ir bandito know more about it…..

    orangeboy
    Member

    I’ve got an exposure front lamp and sp hub
    Works very well , you can plug a rear lamp into it to or there is a USB charger adapter that
    Plugs straight into the back of the lamp for charging other things

    PeterPoddy
    Member

    I built a wheel for a chap at work on the Exposure dynamo hub, then we set it up on his bike for him.
    Seriously impressive bit of kit.
    The light has a port on it to connect a rear light or a USB adaptor to charge stuff. It’s an 800 lumen light with a small battery that keeps it going when you stop for about 20 mins by all accounts
    The only thing missing is an on/off switch and different modes on the light which apparently v2 will have.
    The hub is tiny and very neat indeed. I’m going to get one as soon as v2 comes out, I’m sold on the concept. There’s enough light for a night ride on my MTB and then I can swap the wheel to my tourer to charge my phone as well

    avdave2
    Member

    I’ve no idea on the longevity of the SP hubs but my SON hub is about to start it’s 7th winter of commuting and 5 of those years have been off road. It’s been on the bike for all but the last 2 summers as it’s been replaced with a 29″ wheel for that time.

    So they are expensive but they last. I don’t think I’ll ever go back to battery lights and the option to charge other kit is a real bonus.

    Premier Icon philtricklebank
    Subscriber

    Me and the missus have used dynamos for commuting for the last 8 years – absolutely brilliant. I’ve used 4 different Shimano dynamos on various bikes, the DH-3R30, DH-3N80 have been fine on road, and DH-S501 fine off road. Only the XT one (DH-T670) got sad bearings after a year of off road use – I’m now seeing if the Exposure/SP dynamo fairs any better.

    The more you pay for a Shimano dynamo the lower the weight, and in theory the bearings are supposed to be better, but my most expensive Shimano XT unit was the only one go bad.

    For off road lighting the Exposure Revo is great, has better low speed performance than the Supernova E3 Triple (which I also had but sold on), but I still like to add a cheap Chinese helmet light for the twisty stuff. A dynamo light may well work fine on the lid as a directional light but I don’t like being wired onto the bike so I haven’t tried it! I did the last two Dusk ’til Dawns using only the Revo and no helmet light. Plenty of light for that sort of riding. It will dazzle on road though as the beam is symmetrical.

    B and M’s front lights have been good enough for our commutes. They rate their lights in units of Lux. I have the IQ Fly (40 lux) and it’s fine for even towpaths, but if you want USB charging too and a pretty impressive beam, they have just released the Luxos U (90 lux) – check out following for beam shots Peter White.

    I haven’t tried the output port from the Revo lamp, Exposure say it won’t charge USB devices via the USB boost cable, but it appears plenty of people do just that. Other third party charging solutions, that can be added to any lamp, vary from the cheap (Kemo) to the neat but expensive (The Plug II).

    Apart from the Exposure dyanamo and light I have found Rosebikes fairly unbeatable for prices on dynamos and lights.

    Premier Icon composite
    Subscriber

    Last week I got my hands on the SP-PD8X which is the new 15mm axle version that is meant be about 6% (if memory serves) more efficient than the “same” QR version. I’ll be building it up this week onto a light bicycle carbon rim.

    I think the bearings were tested to something like 10 000miles. They aren’t user serviceable but SP will do you a free service and bearing replacement if you send the hub back to them.

    In terms of lighting I’m about to order the Revo. The lack of on/off switch doesn’t really bother me as I’ll just unplug the wire from the light in the day time which is when I will be using the hub to power GPS/batteries.

    Peter any idea when v2 is meant to be out and any of the other benefits of it?

    Again if memory serves me correct the stand light is 1 hour.
    The plug that comes out the back of the Revo won’t work as a “through” to usb devices but will power a rear light.

    To power usb devices you need a convertor of some kind. More info here about those. http://cyclingabout.com/index.php/2013/04/awesome-power-resource-dynamo-hubs-solar-panels-power-supplies-and-batteries-for-bicycle-touring/

    EDIT: philtricklebank reply wasn’t up when I started replying. Any idea how the USB devices get enough power from the boast cable with the light on as well? Surely with no on/off switch there won’t be enough power.

    asterix
    Member

    I’m amazed that dynamo lights haven’t (apparently) become obsolete because of the advances in battery and LED technology. do they really do something that cant be done better in another way? (I had dynamo lights when I was a kid and they were awful then)

    mrmo
    Member

    i plan on getting a dynamo at some point hopefully near future for commuting, For info B&M have released some new lights. Uping the output by 10lux of everything basically.

    As an aside the schmidt light is a B&M on steroids, same reflector.

    thomthumb
    Member

    I’m amazed that dynamo lights haven’t (apparently) become obsolete because of the advances in battery and LED technology. do they really do something that cant be done better in another way?

    like never needing a charge?

    the recent resurgence is due to the advances in LED technology.

    Premier Icon MoreCashThanDash
    Subscriber

    Thanks, some good practical stuff on here

    ooOOoo
    Member

    Yeah I’ve had shimano hub & iq fly for years. Perfect beam for towpaths and roads. Just no good if you want to cane twisty trails off road.

    Will be interested to see how you go composite, thinking of doing exactly the same.

    Ultimate self-sufficiency!

    SP dynohub here on my commuter. had it about 6 months. works well.

    home made light with supercap standlight. twin xpg led. output is around 400 lumen. it’s plenty for riding roads/towpaths with. very easily seen.

    I like the fact i don’t have to worry about remembering to charge my commute lights.

    asterix
    Member

    the recent resurgence is due to the advances in LED technology.

    do the new dynamos cause less drag then than the old ones because the new LEDs need less power or something?

    scandalous
    Member

    have the USE / Exposure Revo set up wired through a Kemo M176 so can power the light at night and the garmin 800 by day.
    Love it.
    talk of a very long self supported event next year and so may probably use it as an excuse to get some carbon road wheels built up with the hub on the front.

    richpips
    Member

    If I bought a SP hub could I run my Solarstorm off it?

    mrmo
    Member

    do the new dynamos cause less drag then than the old ones because the new LEDs need less power or something?

    There are improvements in drag, but power hasn’t really changed, it can’t tbh as the rider is the one creating it. That c3watts has to come from somewhere, and when you think most riders are producing maybe 100watts, it is not a lot, but enough to notice.

    So what has changed is that dynamo lights use what power the hub produces better.

    Modern LED lights produce far more light than an old halogen for the same input. Throw in, at least for some, decent reflectors and that is why there is more interest.

    Premier Icon Pickers
    Subscriber

    Shimano one here – about £40 from Germany – 3N72 model. Got an Axa Luxx 70 light to go with it – built in USB connector. Very good for on road commuting/touring/audaxing. Pretty crap offroad though to be honest.

    flatfish
    Member

    Tagging this thread for reference when I have my new set of wheels built up.

    Premier Icon MSP
    Subscriber

    I would like to see some proper install pictures of that tout terrain plug 2, it isn’t clear if there is any more to it, is there another box of electronics, is where do the wires for the lamp go, are you meant to run the lamp from the usb port? etc etc

    OCB
    Member

    Good thread, thanks for posting, I can definitely see a dynamo in my future.

    I’ve found the driver circuit designs here interesting / useful reading.

    avdave2
    Member

    A proper off road light with a usb out would be perfect. As neat as The Plug 2 and easier to swap between bikes. The price of the SP hubs means it’s feasible to have a dynamo on any bike.

    Premier Icon composite
    Subscriber

    MSP – Member

    I would like to see some proper install pictures of that tout terrain plug 2, it isn’t clear if there is any more to it, is there another box of electronics, is where do the wires for the lamp go, are you meant to run the lamp from the usb port? etc etc

    One of the possible ways of doing it is to twist the pairs of wires from the light and the plug2/lightcharge together into the plug that goes directly into the hub. Then have 2 wires going up the fork leg. The plug2 wire goes into the steerer and up to the plug2 and the light wire goes to the bars where the light is. You then plug the usb device in when required and unplug and plug the light back in when required. This is the setup that Mike Hall used for his winning tour divide ride this year. Mike Hall didn’t install the plug 2 in the steerer though because his carbon fork didn’t have a hole at the bottom for the wire. He just had it in a top tube bag.

    The kemo is slightly different in that I think it’s all wired so the switch on the box controls where the power goes. Looking at the kemo it doesn’t look water proof and well the build looks crap. I could be wrong though and would be happy to be corrected by an actual user on that.

    I have read that there are some issues with charging the Garmin Edge 800 from a usb convertor that doesn’t have a battery. It’s a good feature that the Garmin warns you when the external power supply has run out when using a piggy back battery but of course every time you drop below 8kmh or so it warns you that the power has gone which gets annoying. Any plug2/lightcharge user want to comment on that?

    Some of the usb converters like the Super-i-Cable have a battery as well as a usb connection, so the battery acts a bit like the stand light on the Revo.

    EDIt: Some context. My POV on all this is that I want a setup for 24 hour and unsupported bikepacking racing… well and bikepacking generally.

    drlex
    Member

    Good article on hub dynamos here (ctc PDF). tl;dr is that basic Shimano is fine for most people’s needs.

    Premier Icon DoctorRad
    Subscriber

    For a simple USB charging solution, use this circuit:

    http://pages.citebite.com/d2f2p1r7t4dcn

    …with this regulator:

    http://uk.farnell.com/tracopower/tsr-1-2450/converter-dc-dc-5v-1a-sip/dp/1696320

    Make D1 a 30V zener with a nice beefy power rating, or else a transient voltage suppression diode.

    I have not tested this and it might Blow Sh!t Up, so proceed with caution. At the very least, check with a voltmeter that the output voltage doesn’t go (much)above 5.2V at the fastest speed you’re ever likely to reach.

    scandalous
    Member

    My Kemo works well. A bit of a bugger to set up initially but other than that fine as all I need for is GPS (Garmin 800) and light.

    Light does fade on slower sections but is more than enough when combined with an Exposure Diablo on lowest setting. Once you get rolling however, it is perfect.

    fisha
    Member

    I have a Shimano Alfine hub front wheelset that powers a Supernova E3 Triple front light.

    Its been a brilliant setup for me over the last few years. I initially installed it on a disc braked bike, and have since swapped it over onto a rim braked CX frame I use for commuting.

    I would agree that its low-speed performance isn’t all that great. You do really need to be doing about 10mph to get the good light out of it, other than that, I now no longer feel I need anything brighter for the commute which include lit and unlit sections. I do wonder about some of the other light patterns, I think they may be more effective/efficient in putting light onto the road. The E3 Triple throws light out everywhere, so I do lose some into the darkness.

    Do I feel the difference with it on or off? Not when riding. When rolling along, I cant say I can tell a difference in the speed or drag by switching the light on or off. If you are at standstill and lift the wheel and spin it, then use you feeling the resistance, but that disappeared once your are riding the bike.

    richpips
    Member

    I’ve just been chatting with someone who reckons he can make me a dual head light that will run of the dynamo at night, and charge a battery by day. At slow speeds you can then switch to the battery.

    So basically the dynamo is always being useful, and there aren’t the drawbacks of the dynamo at low speed.

    Premier Icon DoctorRad
    Subscriber

    @richpips – it’s certainly possible. One of the issues is charging a Li-Ion or LiPo battery from the dynamo. The output from the dynamo can vary widely in voltage and frequency, so there’s some power management to be sorted out there.

    One of the things a dynamo can’t do is power a helmet light directly, but charging a battery pack during the day could be one way around that. However, you might lose gadget charging, and unless the battery is pretty large or the days are a lot longer than the nights, you’d be unlikely to get ‘all night’ burn time from the helmet light. But then, you gotta sleep sometime…

    It’s also possible to run multiple dynamos by using a bottle dynamo in conjunction with a hub dynamo. You could also use solar charging during the day if the climate is suitable. Modern bottle dynamos are streets ahead of the kind of thing that was around when I was a kid, and are possibly the only way to get a dynamo onto a Jones or fatbike, e.g.

    http://www.dutchbikebits.com/index.php?route=product/product&product_id=65

    Premier Icon ir_bandito
    Subscriber

    USE / Exposure Revo set up wired through a Kemo M176

    +1


    IMG_20130327_000850 by ir_bandito, on Flickr

    Beware the Kemo

    I’ve got the Kemo M176N which is a lot sturdier.

    I’ve also just got a PD8-X for use on the mtb.

    Premier Icon ir_bandito
    Subscriber

    Yeah, M172N
    cost a bit more and is physically bigger, but has been more reliable than the M172 I had initially.

    ndthornton
    Member

    There are improvements in drag, but power hasn’t really changed, it can’t tbh as the rider is the one creating it.

    this isn’t really true – is it?

    My thinking was that for any given RPM the mechanical resistance of a generator is proportional to the power requirements of the load (bulb).

    So if you switch from Halogen to LED you can get the same Light output in Lumen for less power input since the LED is more efficient. This means the Torque required to turn the generator will be less and the mechanical resistance reduced.

    Of course you could have a brighter light for the same torque instead if you want – which is probably the case with most new dynamos (im guessing as Iv never had one).

    mrmo
    Member

    Dynamo hubs are a bit more efficient. They still deliver the same voltage and current at a given speed.

    So if you switch from Halogen to LED you can get the same Light output in Lumen for less power input since the LED is more efficient. This means the Torque required to turn the generator will be less and the mechanical resistance reduced.

    which is true, but not the way it has been done. What has been done is more lumens for same drag. 2.4/3w halogen bulbs aren’t really very bright afterall so plenty of demand for more better refined light.

    acjim
    Member

    This all sounds pretty cool & excellent for my commute, so what’s the ballpark range of costs for new wheel & hub then?

    drlex
    Member

    You could start with just over £70 (inc. postage) for a Shimano DH-3N80 on a 28″ Mavic A319 from rosebikes. Whilst the lights usually come with wire, remember to get the connector (looks like a wee lego 2 spot brick)

    Premier Icon MoreCashThanDash
    Subscriber

    Not like me to post a thread that is useful and long lived!

    Any UK based suppliers that come recommended?

Viewing 40 posts - 1 through 40 (of 46 total)

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