This is a shameless attempt to save the the most advanced civilization in
history from imminent self destruction by eliminating carbon emission,
dependence on foreign sources of fuel,obesity, hypertension and diabetes.
Cycling accomplishes all those things at once and helps us develop a better
understanding of ourselves, each other and our relationship to the cosmos.

Oh, horse puckey!
I like to ride bikes, have been doing it all my life.
The rest of that crap is just a fringe benefit,
and the blogosphere gives me a chance to share my interior
monologue with virtual rather than imaginary friends.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

The Everdeveloping Lighting Technology Dilemma

    While lighting technology has vastly improved, I am still a bit behind the curve.  The small rechargeable lights are nice for the occasional after dark roll.  I still like having a dyno powered light on one of my bikes.  The world of dyno hubs has become a big market and the tech has improved tremendously.

One would think that jumping into the pool would be a natural for somebody like me, but I can't seem to make the leap. What seems to be the best of the lot is the SONdelux which is the lightest I could find and still adds 390 grams to the bike.  That's about 1/2 the weight of the popular Shimano dynohub.  Compared to the weight of regular 105 hub and maybe 100 grams for a tire driven dyno it's a lot.  Then there is the drag, the dynohubs create additional friction even when they are disengaged, the tire driven do not. Then there is the price.  The SONdelux is nearly 3 times as expensive as  the best tire driven dyno and a decent hub.

     What I really like about a tire driven dyno is that I can move the lighting system from one bike to the other on a seasonal basis despite their having different size wheels. It works as well on my 650B city bike in the winter as it does on my 700c touring bike during the summer. People talk about needing a special dyno trak built into the tire, but I haven't seen the advantage.  The BM Dymotec has a tension adjustment and also a wire roller I use in the winter when it's always wet.  It hasn't seemed to create any additional wear and works just fine.  As I see it, the different systems stack up like this:

                                                    Dyno-Hub           BM tire dyno

Cost                                             $300                    $95 (w/105 hub)
Weight(est)                             400-700 g           250 g (w/105 hub)
Drag disengaged                               yes                         0
tension adjustment                             no                         yes
Versitile between bikes?                    maybe                   yes
compatible with all light bramds          no                         yes

      I guess the best way to decide is just look at your needs.  If you commute everyday in the dark, or are preparing for the next Paris-Brest-Paris, a dyno hub might be a good purchase.  I don't think this is a symptom of a Retro-Grouch, I recognize the viability of new tech (I even installed a threadless headset once)I just don't see a practical application for it.  The hub dynamos are all anybody wants to talk about, but I just can't see it because I don't have a daily need for lighting.
      By far the best source for information is going to be Peter White Cycles.  Peter is the importer for the best systems and his website provides a wealth of comparative data concerning the latest products.


  1. Regarding moving dyno hubs between bikes: Recently I was surprised to find that the 27 inch wheel, with dyno hub, from my Trek 620, will also fit my Bianchi Volpe, which is set up for 700c wheels, without any adjustment of cantilever brakes. I do have a dynohub for the Volpe, but that wheel has studded tires mounted for winter use. I tried the wheel from the Trek on a whim, to test new mounting point, on front rack, for the Volpe's front light. (No snow in downtown Anchorage as yet.)

  2. Yeah, if the wheel and tires fit, swapping the dynohub between bikes will work. I'm also surprised you didn't have to adjust the brakes at least, but that would be the least of my worries anyway.