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Like disc brakes or, say, Gates Carbon Drive (belt drive), dynamo lighting is one of those things you just have to experience in order to appreciate.
Here’s why we recommend dynamo lighting.
–You don’t have to worry about your lights getting stolen –Which means you don’t have to remove your lights and shove them into your pockets anymore –You’ll never lose or leave home without your lights –You don’t have to worry about your lights dimming –You’ll never have to replace batteries –You do get to enjoy features like a rear brake light (see our Busch & Muller collection) –You do get to charge your smart phone or Garmin Edge 810, simply by riding your bike (see The Plug II, the Busch & Muller Luxos U, and the AXA Luxx70 Plus) –It costs more up front, but in the long run you save money.
What about the extra weight of the dynamo hub? The lighter dynamo hubs on the market are 200-300 grams heavier than most a non-dynamo front hubs. And the batteries in non-dynamo lights weigh…200-300 grams.
Regardless of what kind of bike you have, what kind of brakes you have, or the size of your wheel, we’ll handbuild you a complete new wheel built around a Shimano S701 dynamo hub for $250 including labor and parts. We wire up your bike with the lights of your choosing, and mount them where it makes most sense for you and your bike.
Right now we’re recommending Busch & Mueller Toplight Line Plus with Brake Tec ($55; that’s the one with the brake light) for the rear and the Busch & Mueller Luxos U headlight ($234), which features a USB charger, a handlebar-mounted switch, wider light dispersion, and a super bright 70 lux (along with the ability to beam 90 lux for short periods). And of course it has a standing light so it stays on while you’re stopped at a red light.
Want to save about $100? German lockmaker AXA recently introduced its Luxx70 Plus for $130. It’s just as bright as the Luxos, its dispersion pattern adjusts to speed like the Luxos U does, and it charges your smartphone, too (although it will not simultaneously charge your smart phone and power your lights). Here’s what it looks like:
If you’re commuting in the city and don’t need the overachieving power of the Luxos, you might consider the new Busch & Mueller Lumotec Eyc T Senso Plus. For $80, this diminutive (we’d even say cute) but powerful headlamp is an excellent choice for city commuters who usually ride slower than 17 or 18 mph and who want to be seen without necessarily needing to light their own way. The version of Eyc (rhymes with “Ike”) that we carry features a daytime running light and a senso that boosts light output when it gets dark. (Or you can choose to turn the daytime running light off.) It also has a standing light, meaning it remains on (for 4 minutes) while you’re stopped.
For the rear light, the vast majority of our Portlandistan customers choose the rack-mounted B&M Top Light Line Plus with Brake Tec, $55. It pulses and it has a virtual brake light that’s activated by deceleration.
This was our most popular dynamo hub through 2013. 6v, 3.0 watt output. Works ideally with your touring or commuting bike. It can also power most smart devices via a handlebar-mounted USB port, in conjunction with a Busch & Mueller Luxos U or AXA Luxx70+ front light.
- Center-lock or 6-bolt
- J-Bend Spokes
- 100mm Front Hub Spacing
- QR Skewer Included
- 32 or 36 Spokes
Shimano Alfine S701: $150 hub only, or $255 built into your existing rim The Alfine S701 is one of the first 1.5 watt (6 volt) hub dynamos with German StVZO approval for LED lamps. It combines filigree appearance, light weight (only 433g, vs. 575g for the S501), and extremely smooth rotation. Powers front and rear lights easily. If you plan on charging a smart phone while also powering the lights, don’t get this; get a 3-watt hub. All of our other dynamo hubs are 3w. 32 or 36 hod. Black or silver.
Shutter Precision PD-8 Price: $150 hub alone; $255 built into your existing rim
This is now our most popular dynamo hub. SP dynamo’s hubs are not only the lightest, but also the most efficient on the market, and are virtually identical to the BioLogic Joule 3. The lightest SP dynamo weighs in at an unprecedented 360g while attaining an unmatched efficiency of 72%. These 3w dynamo hubs are premium products designed and engineered for the most demanding cycle tourists, commuters and enthusiasts.
- STVZO Standard Achieved
- OLD 100 mm
- 28, 32, or 36 hole
- 6V 3W
Although various colors are occasionally available, usually we can get them only in silver or black.
Schmidt SON28. Price: $346 hub alone (price may vary with color); $450 built into an existing rim
This is the world’s most highly regarded dynamo hub. Its very similar in performance to the Shutter Precision hubs.
- Recommended when more light is required at low speed or when other devices are to be operated or their batteries recharged
- Available with ISO 6 Bolt Disc or Centerlock Disc configuration
- 6V / 3W
- Hub Shell: aluminium 6082 T6
- Axle: hollow axle Ø 10 mm, strain-hardened stainless steel
- Bearings: deep groove ball bearing 629 2RSH
- Magnets: neodym iron boron, 26 poles
- Weight: 460g. (6 Bolt); 430g. (Centerlock)
- 5 year warranty
Want to charge your iPhone or other smart device even if you don’t have a Luxos U or AXA light? Tout Terrain’s The Plug II is an excellent little converter.