Dynamo Light System and the components to consider

by michelle bontrager in


head light placement for best illumination of the road ahead

head light placement for best illumination of the road ahead

We have received a lot of questions about dynamo lights since my most recent blog post regarding bike lights. I would like to outline the options to consider when choosing the components for a new generator light system.

A dynamo system includes:

  • Front hub which generates the power to the light system.
  • Rim: when we build a new front wheel we recommend a new rim.
  • Spokes.
  • Front light.
  • Rear light.

The first step is to decide which generator hub is best. We willingly offer recommendations based upon the bicycle frame style you ride, and your expectations. 

shimano alfine dynamo hub

shimano alfine dynamo hub

which dynamo hub for your bicycle frame?

  • disc or rim brakes
  • type of fork
  • do you want to add a charger in order to charge your phone or device?

We have utilized Sanyo and Sturmey Archer dynamo hubs but the Shimano and Schmidt hubs are the brands that work the best for most of our customers.  

Shimano Alfine vs Schmidt SON hubs

Shimano Alfine hub

  1. efficiency at 15km/h:  53%
  2. energy required of rider while light is turned off:  2.2 watts
  3. weight of hub:  680 grams

Schmidt SON hub

  1. efficiency at 15 km/h: 64%
  2. energy required of rider while light is turned off: 1.5 watts
  3. weight of hub:  575 grams
SON hubs are manufactured in  Germany

SON hubs are manufactured in Germany

Once the hub is chosen we will discuss other options for your new light system delving into the types of head lights and rear lights that are available.  A dynamo light system with a new wheel may cost about $250 to more than $800, depending on the components chosen.

B&M  rear light mounted to rear rack

B&M rear light mounted to rear rack

When you consider not having to worry about;

  • recharging your bike lights,
  • batteries wearing down in the coldest of Winter mornings, or
  • having your lights physically falling off of your bicycle

a modern dynamo light system makes perfect sense. While it’s fun choosing the extra bike accessories like colorful bar wrap, bells, or baskets, for safety’s sake a dynamo light system is the first upgrade that any bicyclist should complete.


Gunnar Touring Bike Re-build

by michelle bontrager


newly overhauled Gunnar Touring bicycle

newly overhauled Gunnar Touring bicycle

We just finished rebuilding a very heavily used touring bicycle.

This Gunnar goes on rides in and around the Boulder Colorado area and on European tours once or twice a year (lucky bike). After this summer’s jaunt to Switzerland and France the components were finally showing their wear, time for an overhaul.  Ethan provided some great recommendations for the re-build. 

The Gunnar was initially built for asphalt riding in mountainous settings. But the owner has expressed interest in trying out rougher terrain, mixed use trails, even incorporating a little self supported camping into his Summer holidays.

The result is a new solid component package that will withstand dirt roads in remote areas…

New IRD freewheel, Chainrings, Surly Mr. Whirly Crank arms, MKS pedals, KMC chain, new F&R derailleurs

Schmidt's SON generator hub, Velocity's NoBS rim.

To be truly self supported in the wilds, a SON generated bicycle light system is the most efficient answer to the darkest of trails. The SON hubs are small and offer very little drag. We paired the SON rear light with B&M's Luxos U head light. The Luxos U comes with a cache battery and an USB port for charging devices so this system will utilize the SON hub's capacity. Additionally the Luxos features B&M's very best optics, the light beam will even change with the rider's speed in order to produce the optimal beam pattern for the speed accomplished. This light system will really be appreciated on those dark country trails and remote campsites to be discovered in 2016.

hand built front wheel, new front rack, new Grand Compe brake levers by Dia Compe, new cx brake levers from Paul's Components, Newbaum's cotton bar tape, B&M Luxos U head light   

hand built front wheel, new front rack, new Grand Compe brake levers by Dia Compe, new cx brake levers from Paul's Components, Newbaum's cotton bar tape, B&M Luxos U head light

 

Schmidt's new rear light, the smallest yet brightest rear light ever.

NITTO rear rack, Clement tires

NITTO rear rack, Clement tires

This CroMo NITTO rack is another upgrade. The NITTO racks won't bend and this model is well balanced on the frame so when it's loaded down with panniers and gear the rider will still find a stable ride.

Happy Trails in 2016.