Thursday, 11 August 2011

I've Seen The Light (and it's dynamo powered)

Schmidt Edelux front light and Busch & Muller Toplight Plus rear light

Recently investing in a SON dynamo hub for my Santos commuter/tourer, I have been using it to charge electrical devices while touring. This allows me to be self sufficient - charging my smartphone and bulletcam without having to resort to mains electricity and meaning I have much more freedom where I camp for the night. I must say it works rather very well but this was only ever one intended use of the SON hub. The other was to have it powering front and rear lights. Great for winter commuting and, who knows, maybe some through the night Audax rides in the future.

Well folks, I hate to be a killjoy but Winter is coming! I know we need Autumn first but let's be realistic -  the nights are drawing in and soon, with my shifts, i'll be commuting in the dark at both ends of the day. I didn't get the lights when I bought the hub as I had no great need of them over the Summer and had more immediate financial commitments but last month decided to make buying and fitting them an August project. So I have. They are now fitted and working brilliantly (literally). This is a film by a guy in Finland who has the same set up. I intend to make my own when I get opportunity.

If your experience of dynamo lights is running some pathetic excuse of a front light from a bottle dynamo as a kid (as mine was) then you have no idea how good this set up is. They are both LED lights and very, very bright. They both have standlights so will carry on working for several minutes after the dynamo has stopped turning. The front light has an ambient light sensor so, if this setting is chosen, will turn on automatically when it darkens. The rear light is wired into the front light circuit so will do the same. They can also be either on or off. The LEDs will last for thousands of hours and they draw very little power. I was expecting good light output but really am blown away by how effective they are. I had to be quite careful angling the front light as am worried it will dazzle other road users if i'm not careful.

The Edelux came with the mount and had wiring attached. I chose to get the longer, bare ended wire option as I was always going to fit double spade connectors to allow the charging unit to be plugged in when needed as well. Crimping on the connectors was a doddle. The rear light came with bolts to fit the rear rack and spade connectors but no wiring. I had some appropriate USB cable I could make use of and this was wired to the front light with no problem. The wiring is discreetly cable tired along the rack and then lies alongside the existing brake/gear cabling on the underside of the top tube until it reaches the head tube. It then spirals round a brake cable until it meets the front light. All very neat. Apart from one short circuit before I had put some heat shrink on the live cable where it enters the front light, it's all works perfectly and took about an hour to fit. Bring on the darktime!


  1. I'm not convinced.

    Battery LED lights are superb now.

    And why does a middle aged man need a mobile phone with a long battery life?

  2. MAC.,
    As another MAC converted to the joys of dynamo lighting Your set-up sounds good. I haven't seen the Edelux in the flesh, but I have several optically similar B&M Lumotec IQ Fly lights plus various rear lights. I'm afraid that Pete's ill-informed opinion is typical of those who have fully-formed opinions based on few, if any facts. It's likely you'll get more of those.

    Even if the battery types are good, and some are both bright and road legal, the battery life fails utterly when compared with dynamo lights, which lasts as long as you can ride.

  3. Pete,
    Your lack of comprehension is showing.
    Modern dynamo-powered LED lights are superb and typically they are superior to many [probably most] battery lights. Their beam geometry is road legal [certainly in the case in the StVZO approved versions, which are US, UK and European standard compliant and probably many more]. Most super-bright battery lights were designed for off-road use only and feature conical beams which are very inefficient, dazzle other road users and are illegal for on-road use.

    Most people who criticise dynamo lighting are completely and utterly ignorant of the fact. It's a classic case of the Dunning-Kruger effect.

    Dynamo Lighting


  4. Pete

    Battery LEDs are good no doubt. However, the illumination from these lights is excellent, they are secure on the bike, available all the time and are fit and forget (apart from a little lens cleaning every now and then). I just get on and pedal! Just what I need for commuting/touring.

    If I was tearing down a singletrack in the dark they would not be fit for purpose. I would want more spread + a head mounted light. However, for road use they are excellent. Horses for courses dear boy!

    Re my smartphone. It is a PC, GPS, 8mp camera and a phone. I use it for updating Facebook, texting my wife, surfing the net, taking stills/video, checking my location and even phoning people sometimes! The one thing is doesn't have is a long battery life, particularly when doing all the above, hence the need to charge it daily when touring.


    Don't need to convince you obviously. I shall follow your links with interest.

  5. Ooh. The Dunning-Kruger effect. I like it. Will mention this to a few people I come into contact with at work. They'll have no idea what i'm on about but i will be satisfied i have insulted them in a superior manner. Thanks

  6. Ohh, ooh. I forgot. I also use my smartphone as an MP3 player and FM radio and sometimes even play chess or patience on it too.

  7. Amoeba, I didn't criticise dynamo lighting. For years I commuted on a bike with a hub dynamo for the lights.

    However, I am now more than happy with modern battery LED lights, which are cheap, bright, have batteries which last for ages, can be swapped quickly between my bikes and can be removed altogether for rides in daylight.

    As for MP3 player charging when camping I've got a little gadget which cost £8 with 4 AA batteries in it which does the job very well. It can also charge my phone, but as I am not a heavy user that's not usually necessary.

    As for Dunning and Kruger, after watching the video I reckon I'm one of the high competence, logical types who underestimate their own ability and overestimate that of others, so I'm probably more right about everything than I think.

  8. As for Dunning and Kruger, after watching the video I reckon I'm one of the high competence, logical types who underestimate their own ability and overestimate that of others, so I'm probably more right about everything than I think.

    LMFAO!!! Got to hold my hands up to you Pete - subtle wind-up merchant that you are - I think I like your dry sense of humour all of a sudden ;>D

    @MiddleAgeCyclist Glad you're happy with the rear light. The front looks a good few clicks above my bottle powered bulb device! I'm with you & Amoeba. If you want your bike to be get on & go, you can't beat a dynamo set up.