Hub Dynamo Systems For Bicycle Touring: Part 3
NB: If you’ve just stumbled upon this post, you may want to read Part 1 about hub dynamos and Part 2 about hub dynamo chargers!
In all my hub dynamo USB charging excitement, I almost failed to add lights to my setup. Considering that we rarely ride after dark, I planned to use battery lights instead. My buddy Justin saw my new bike just before we left on our big trip and he exclaimed in disbelief,
“Where are your lights? You built a hub dynamo wheel and didn’t add lights?!”
As usual, Justin was right. I immediately ordered front and rear B&M lights from SJS which arrived two days before our departure from London Heathrow. I would be kicking myself without them!
There are quite a few options on the market when it comes to hub dynamo lights, many of which come from Germany. German bicycle lights are produced to meet strict road safety requirements (StVZO regulations). They incorporate special design considerations to avoid blinding oncoming traffic. If you plan to use your lights mainly off-road (or if you just don’t care about road cycling safety), you may want to consider something brighter that floodlights everything in front of you. However, since The top brands worth considering are Busch & Muller, Supernova and Exposure. I went for the Busch & Muller Lumotec front light and D TopLight Plus taillight.
Both the Lumotec and the Toplight are available in several different options (LUX, stand light, switches, etc). I recommend going for the standlight option with the highest number of lumens (brightness). I think any riding without a standlight would be pretty annoying!
Installing Busch & Muller Lights
Hub dynamo lights should be installed in parallel (not in series) with the USB charger. This means that you can power either the lights *or* the charger, but you should not use them at the same time.
Installing B&M lights is a piece of cake. They come with the necessary cables and connectors. The only additional step for me was to add a Y splitter from the hub in order to connect them in parallel with the USB charger. You can either buy a cheap piggyback connector at RadioShack (US) or Maplins (UK). Alternatively, you can crimp the cables by hand and tape or heat shrink them together. I didn’t have time to find the piggyback connectors before arriving in Mexico, so I opted for the hand crimping option. No problems so far! The cables themselves can be attached neatly with zip ties beneath the frame tubing.
Links For Hub Dynamo Lights
- Busch & Muller – A leading manufacturing of German-compliant bicycle lights
- Supernova Lights – A newer German brand of premium bike lights
- Exposure Lights – Fantastic lights for off-road; super bright, but not super cheap!
- CandlePower Forums – A geeky forum for talking about outdoor adventure lights of all kinds
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