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Like disc brakes or, say, Carbon 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, GPS, etc., 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 How to do it: 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 dynamo hub for $250 including labor and parts—everything but the tire and inner tube. The most common hub we sell is Shimano’s Alfine, which comes in black or silver, and that’s what goes into this package. 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 & Muller Toplight Line Plus ($55; that’s the one with the brake light) for the rear and the new Busch & Muller 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. Here’s what the light and the USB handlebar-mounted charger look like: It turned out the rear light and front light didn’t always play well together. B&M resolves the problem in August 2013 with the introduction of an improved Toplight Line Plus. Want to save about $100? German lockmaker AXA recently introduced its Luxx70 Plus for $149, now available for $120. It’s just as bright as the Luxos, its dispersion pattern adjusts to speed, and it charges your smartphone although, unlike the Luxos U, it will not simultaneously charge your smart phone and beam light. Here’s what it looks like: Front view: 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.
Shimano dyno hubs use a small plastic piece to attach the light cable to the hub contacts, and it can be quickly disconnected for easy wheel removal. The Shimano Alfine hub (left) comes in both silver and black, and in 32 and 36 hole drillings. It is compatible with Shimano Centerlock disc brake technology, and with the use of a small adapter can be made to work with traditional 6-bolt rotors as well. The Alfine hub has a retail of $140, the Sport Dyno $160, and the basic Shimano Dynamo rim-brake only dyno hub (DH-3D30, not shown) retails for $80.
SRAM now also manufactures a dynamo hub called the iLight, producing 6 volts, 2.4 watts even at low speeds. They make a 6-bolt disc-compatible version as well, and they retail for $98, or $102 for the disc hub. They have been released into the market, but we haven’t been able to get our hands on one yet. Sturmey Archer, known for its English 3-speed hubs, makes a drum-brake dyno hub for $105. For those wanting a brake more weather-resistant than rim brakes, but lacking the disc brake tabs, the drum-brake dyno offers a generator light and a non-infrastructure-specific brake that works beautifully in wet and nasty weather. WAIT! What does “non-infrastructure-specific” mean? It means you don’t need a fork specifically made to accept a drum brake. Forks can be made with cantiliver-brake posts, they can be made with a disc brake tab, and they can even be made with a special sleeve for drum brakes. But this drum brake can work with any old fork. However, this Sturmey brake/dyno hub is a heavy little beast at 4+ lbs. Shimano makes a great light for their dyno hub, and it sells for $32. Planet Bike also makes a version of their popular Blaze1 light for a generator for $60, which includes a capacitor that keeps the light shining even when you’re stopped at a long red light. Dyno hubs and lights are great for touring and those hard-core commuters who leave and come home in the dark most of the year. Investing in one, including the labor to build the wheel, the cost of the spokes and rim, as well as a light, averages between $240 and $375 depending on the quality of the rim, hub, spokes, and light chosen. There are always more expensive and less expensive options, of course, so please call the shop for assistance and a detailed estimate. Note: If you don’t see it here, that probably just means we haven’t gotten around to posting a photo of it. Call or use the contact form.