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.


Bike Lights and Dynamo Hubs

by michelle bontrager in


Our early morning commutes commence before sunrise and our evening trips home are completed in darkness. It’s time to light up!

Bike Lights to Consider

  • Battery operated lights, the most economical

  • Re-chargeable battery lights, less hassle than regular batteries

  • Magnet operated lights, even less hassle, no batteries

  • Dynamo hub driven light systems, the brightest, long lasting, and most convenient

With so many bike light options are available, we’ll happily outline the benefits different lights have and even offer recommendations for you based on: 

  • your budget

  • the type of bike you ride

  • the distance you typically travel

  • the type of streets you traverse

Here is a light system we just wired for a Denverite who commutes on a Surly Straggler.

Front Dynamo Hub

SON hub

  • This little dynamo will power your lights even at low speeds

  • Available for rim or disc brakes

  • Guaranteed for 5 years of riding

  • USB charging options are available

Luxos U designed for dark streets or long trails.

Luxos U designed for dark streets or long trails.

Head Light

Luxos U

  • B&M's Luxos U is the choice for every techy, gadget-loving cyclist out there. It features:

  • Fantastic beam pattern which has become a favorite for nighttime travelers

  • Built-in sensor automatically adjusts the beam to riding conditions

  • A push button on the handlebars to control the headlight such as a beam boost

  • Integrated cache battery that supplies voltage to a USB charging station

  • And more!

Toplight Line Plus BrakeTec, light pulses as the cyclist brakes

Toplight Line Plus BrakeTec, light pulses as the cyclist brakes

Rear Light

Toplight

  • Standlight, light remains lit for minutes after you stop pedaling

  • Brake light, the light flutters as you apply the brakes alerting traffic to your intentions

Check out  Peter White Cycle's  webpage for detailed comparisons of the different German lights and hubs that are available.

Check out Peter White Cycle's webpage for detailed comparisons of the different German lights and hubs that are available.

You may decide to wait on a dynamo light system for your bike. I just invested in my hub-generated light system 4 years ago when my daily commute increased to a 20-mile per day trip. I instantly regretted that I hadn’t made the jump years earlier.  My German dynamo system grants me instant respect on the streets. I recently rode home on a dark and stormy night, while stopped with traffic at a red light a car passenger next to me rolled down her window and yelled out “Hey you.” I hesitantly looked over not knowing what to expect and she continued “Great Lights!”

  • dynamo light system cost $250 to over $800 depending on the components chosen

  • battery light system cost $40-120

  • magnetic light systems cost $70-90.

Don’t let the change of season get you down, light up your bike and go for a ride.


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.