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  1. #1
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    Dynamo light vs. Battery light, my first test

    It is FINALLY warm enough to ride here in NYC again, and a beautiful day at that. Today I did my first commute since January and it was great.

    But to the topic at hand, after I got home in the last daylight I waited for it to get completely dark to give my dynamo light a spin, and thought to put my Lezyne Super Drive on the bars. My dynamo light is the latest B&M Cyo Premium 80 lux model. The Lezyne is rated at 450 lumens.

    Since the dynamo is always on, I started my ride down my Brooklyn street and it lights up the road nicely, but it is really hard to tell the reach as it doesn't throw light at the reflective signs. I then switched on the Lezyne and figured it would add to the light, but really I couldn't even tell it was on. I had to put my hand in front of it to see the beam, and it was bright. I switched off the B&M dynamo and I was completely surprised to see how little the Lezyne lights the road in comparison. I always thought the Lezyne was bright. I played around with it, aiming it differently, going from high to medium to low to flash. There is no comparison, the B&M is MUCH brighter with much more useful coverage. I'm as surprised by this result as all you disbelievers are.

    My next comparison will be with my Chinese flashlight, which seems blindingly bright, but given the results above I don't think it will compare either. It was always just marginally brighter than the lezyne, with much less controlled light. I don't have one of the clones that everyone uses, so unless someone wants to join me in Brooklyn to give it a test in Prospect Park I won't do that comparison. I'd entertain any other lights to compare as well, if you have them. The other thing I'll do when I get a chance is to use my other new toy, my SJ1000 helmet mounted action cam to record this.

  2. #2
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    the German engineers designed the reflectors to put the light on the street where you want it,
    and not in the trees .

    hiking trails that flashlight may be OK , lighting the trees and all .

  3. #3
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    I understood that, but didn't think it would be THAT much better. If anything I thought by putting all the light on the road it would be able to compensate with the lack of spill, but it just blows it away. I spent a lot of money getting this rig up and running and was still skeptical.

    It makes me wonder what we would have if we did away with the STvZO limits, they don't apply to us anyway.

  4. #4
    Rod & Judy gracehowler's Avatar
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    Yes, German engineering is great, B&M does well!
    R

  5. #5
    Senior Member Road Fan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by zacster View Post
    I understood that, but didn't think it would be THAT much better. If anything I thought by putting all the light on the road it would be able to compensate with the lack of spill, but it just blows it away. I spent a lot of money getting this rig up and running and was still skeptical.

    It makes me wonder what we would have if we did away with the STvZO limits, they don't apply to us anyway.
    Confused, why would you want to do away with that standard, if you like the light coverage that results?

  6. #6
    Zoom zoom zoom zoom bonk znomit's Avatar
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    I've used the cyo premium for two overnighters over the last four weeks.
    Plenty of light even in the wet. Easily out throws all the battery lights others are using.

    I run mine with a YINDING 2* XM-L as a backup. This runs on low for around 12 hrs and on that setting nicely fills in the dim nearfield, as well as providing a little light above the cutoff (handy in the hills). Doesn't add much of anything to the Cyo beam otherwise. The two lights work really well together. I switch the yinding to medium or high for faster downhills and roadworks.

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    Thanks for posting this thread!

    I've found the same thing - the only light combination that is better than my Cyo (for road riding) is a combination of a Light and Motion 900 (relatively narrow beam with long throw) and a Light and Motion 1400 (wide beam). And that's impractical - not only is it expensive and the battery life limited, but it completely blinds anyone coming towards me. I mean it's 2200 lumens, and one of them is a wide angle beam...

    It works by lighting up everything.

    But the Cyo works by not negatively affecting my night vision (I mean the kind where your pupils adjust within a couple of seconds of turning a light on or off). The shaped beam and even beam pattern result in that it lights the road up in front me - but doesn't cause me to no longer be able to see to the sides, like every other battery light I've used does.

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    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    B&M has some battery type lights too , use similar reflector engineering
    Busch & Müller: IXON IQ
    their new premium ups the light output, at a bit of a cost increase.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Road Fan View Post
    Confused, why would you want to do away with that standard, if you like the light coverage that results?
    Mostly the 6v3w standard. Give us another 2 watts and we could put out even more light. It does seem that everyone's hesitation, mine included, was that a battery can supply more power than a dynamo these days. Also, flash/strobe mode would be nice for us NY'ers where it is standard. You almost never see steady lights here.

    And in the battery vs. dynamo discussions, nobody has really emphasized that in reality the Cyo Premium will out-light the battery units. It is always lux vs. lumens, lighting the trees vs. lighting the road, and other arguments. But the bottom line is that the Cyo just completely blew away my other. It isn't subtle.

    Let me add too the drag factor. It just isn't noticeable. I can turn it off and on, which I did last night to test, and didn't feel anything. Admittedly, the dynamo light was just one of many improvements to the bike that I did this winter. It rides much better than it ever did.
    Last edited by zacster; 03-12-14 at 11:50 AM.

  10. #10
    Senior Member DiegoFrogs's Avatar
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    Welcome to the club. I think that dynamo hubs and modern LED lighting are some of the most practical, useful things I've ever encountered that haven't exactly "gone mainstream" yet. I do see them much more often here in Sweden than I did in the USA, though.

  11. #11
    Senior Member 01 CAt Man Do's Avatar
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    Nice to hear that the Cyo Premium performs well and beats out a 450 lumen "commuter / torch type" lamp but I'd rather like to hear how it might compare to something more common ( like the Solarstorm X2 ). While I don't use my SSX2 for the road while testing it I noticed that it provided a beam pattern very conducive for road use. Currently I use a Gloworm X2 on the bars for road which is more useful due to the mounting, wired remote and UI. Yep, if someone tells me one of the Dynamo lamps can beat out a single emitter XM-L lamp driven to full capacity THAT would impress me.

    As to the Cyo beam pattern; Some people like the cut-off and beam pattern that are provided. I don't think I would have a major problem with it because I'm still going to use a torch on the helmet for those times when you need just a little more...BUT...I like the idea of a little light going off to the sides coming from my bar lamp. Where I live I ride areas where the deer like to munch on the foliage on the side of the road. As such I like a lamp that gives me some advance warning that "they're there". The lamps I currently use do that. I would hate to buy something as expensive as a dynamo set-up only to find that it can't provide an important safety feature that I feel I really need.

  12. #12
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    I'd be happy to compare with any light that I can get my hands on. The Solarstorm x2 looks like it puts out a lot of light, the MTBR review said it was maybe 1000 lumens. The picture looked impressive, but the pictures always look impressive. Cameras don't see the way we see. They have ISO, we don't.

    Anybody in the NYC area that has one and wants to do a side by side?

  13. #13
    Super Moderator no1mad's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by zacster View Post
    I'd be happy to compare with any light that I can get my hands on. The Solarstorm x2 looks like it puts out a lot of light, the MTBR review said it was maybe 1000 lumens. The picture looked impressive, but the pictures always look impressive. Cameras don't see the way we see. They have ISO, we don't.

    Anybody in the NYC area that has one and wants to do a side by side?
    You might check with Interceptor. I don't know if he has that particular light, but IIRC, he was in the process of gathering different lights- battery and dyno- (his and loaned to him from others) for a big comparison. I tried finding the thread, but came up empty.
    Quote Originally Posted by Cyril View Post
    Ride what and in what manner pleases you. Those that mind don't matter, and those that matter don't mind. srsly.
    Community guidelines

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by no1mad View Post
    You might check with Interceptor. I don't know if he has that particular light, but IIRC, he was in the process of gathering different lights- battery and dyno- (his and loaned to him from others) for a big comparison. I tried finding the thread, but came up empty.
    I remember that thread. I'll look for it or contact him directly.

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    Quote Originally Posted by 01 CAt Man Do View Post
    As to the Cyo beam pattern; Some people like the cut-off and beam pattern that are provided. ... Where I live I ride areas where the deer like to munch on the foliage on the side of the road. As such I like a lamp that gives me some advance warning that "they're there". The lamps I currently use do that.
    Dynamo lights are one of those things you have to try to see for yourself just how good they are. On the spillover, though, because my dyno-driven lights illuminate the road, I find they don't affect my night vision. As a result, I can see things out of the corners of my eyes (like dogs, cats, turkeys, raccoons, and joggers in black) when riding with dyno lights better than I can with battery blowtorch lights. Don't know about deer, I haven't had any close encounters with deer at dusk or night so far.

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    Yea, that's what I did. After reading about them here I needed to see for myself. And since the only way to do that was to buy one, I did. In my limited use so far they've been much more than I even expected.

  17. #17
    Senior Member Road Fan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by zacster View Post
    Mostly the 6v3w standard. Give us another 2 watts and we could put out even more light. It does seem that everyone's hesitation, mine included, was that a battery can supply more power than a dynamo these days. Also, flash/strobe mode would be nice for us NY'ers where it is standard. You almost never see steady lights here.

    And in the battery vs. dynamo discussions, nobody has really emphasized that in reality the Cyo Premium will out-light the battery units. It is always lux vs. lumens, lighting the trees vs. lighting the road, and other arguments. But the bottom line is that the Cyo just completely blew away my other. It isn't subtle.

    Let me add too the drag factor. It just isn't noticeable. I can turn it off and on, which I did last night to test, and didn't feel anything. Admittedly, the dynamo light was just one of many improvements to the bike that I did this winter. It rides much better than it ever did.
    If I understand this correctly, the standard doesn't specify an upper limit in power, but a minimum power. Whether or not you get an extra two watts, say for an extra pair of LEDs, is due to the design, not the standard.

  18. #18
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    What I want to do is to take my DVM with me and just measure what the dynamo puts out unloaded, and also what the light draws. There is the connector for the rear light that I could tap into, I think it is in parallel with the main light? Or is it in series? Must be parallel because it is currently open.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by zacster View Post
    What I want to do is to take my DVM with me and just measure what the dynamo puts out unloaded, and also what the light draws. There is the connector for the rear light that I could tap into, I think it is in parallel with the main light? Or is it in series? Must be parallel because it is currently open.
    If it were in series and open, it would be an open switch.

    6V 3W split between the front and rear light works out to around 400mA (Front) and 100mA (rear) give or take depending upon the specific loads/lights.

    To measure the current draw of you rear light, you would connect your DVM in series with it while it is on. But, why bother?

  20. #20
    Senior Member Road Fan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by zacster View Post
    What I want to do is to take my DVM with me and just measure what the dynamo puts out unloaded, and also what the light draws. There is the connector for the rear light that I could tap into, I think it is in parallel with the main light? Or is it in series? Must be parallel because it is currently open.
    You could measure voltage in that way, but not current. To read power you'd have to be drawing current from the generator, which will inherently reduce the voltage you read due to the resistance of the wire inside the dyno, and perhaps the magnetics. You'd have to set your DVM to read AC volts, which is no big deal, it will still be power. If you connected a resistor (12 ohms, at least 3 watts rating) to the dyno's outputs and did the measurement and recorded the data, you'd be able to compute power in very real terms. This would be a rigorous measurement of power.

    If you can do this it would be nice to get speed at the same time, and graph power over speed. It should increase with speed, up to a point. Touch the dyno from time to time. If it gets uncomfortably warm, you're probably at a reasonable upper limit.

    You could also do this with the bike stationary and the wheel driven by an electric drill with a rubber disk rubbing on the tire, with a cheap Cateye or something computer reading speed. The dyno only "knows" it's turning and producing current, not that it's on the road or not. You should be able to verify the German spec and discover how much power you can really get at your riding speed.
    Last edited by Road Fan; 03-15-14 at 06:32 AM.

  21. #21
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    DYNOTEST

    Here is some good data..........

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Weatherby View Post
    DYNOTEST

    Here is some good data..........
    with all the research I did before I bought my hub and light, I never came across that one. But that just confirms what I thought, there isn't a fully linear relationship between speed and power. Either the hub saturates, or their is a limiter built in. A limiter would save an incandescent bulb, and the hubs were originally based on incandescent usage. The German law was written to an old standard and needs to be revised. Or, as I say, why do we care about the German law? Why isn't somebody grabbing the market here for something that make sense for us?

    I understand how to do the measurements, although I'm far from an expert in electronics. I really just want to see where voltage peaks out, and maybe check the drop across a resistor as Road Fan suggests. I have some high power resistors from my tube amp building days. I had a pair of gold finned resistors, and one of my tubes went out and it just started drawing power and fried the resistor on one side, the other was still ok.

    And back to my original post, I think tonight it will be warm and dry so maybe I'll do a more thorough test of dyno vs Lezyne vs Chinese flashlight. I'll put my helmet cam on and report back with video. Nothing scientific, just impressions.

  23. #23
    Senior Member Road Fan's Avatar
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    Regarding the non-linear power curve, it could be caused by a lot of things. I would only expect power to be linear with speed with a linear load, essentially a resistor. An LED lamp is a very non-linear load since it is based on diodes - the LEDs and a rectifier system such as a full-wave bridge with four diodes. The diode conduction interval changes with any filtering, such as a big capacitor for standlicht, rendering the load current curve for the lamp rather different from a sine wave. In industrial electronics, the harmonics caused by load non-linearity can even cause wiring to overheat, adding to the non-linearity.

    But you are correct about the other factors - the gen may contain voltage limiting, and the gen may saturate magnetically.

    I assumed you were interested mainly in understanding what the generator is capable of on a stand-alone basis. I'd still suggest doing the power curve measurement using a load resistor - those finned gold-body ones are fantastic, if you haven't damaged it.

  24. #24
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    last time I put a bike dynamo on a test instrument , it was an Oscilloscope.

    Waveform amplitude was a constant, frequency was more often with speed increase.

  25. #25
    Senior Member Road Fan's Avatar
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    I just read the Dynotest article. The electrical load used for the test was a 12 ohm resistor with parallel 7.8 volt zeners. On the AXA power curve I see the knee in the curve occurs around 4 watts output, which corresponds to about 7 volts AC (rms) delivered to the load. The peak voltage then was 9.8 volts, so there should have been considerable Zener conduction, potentially the major source of non-linearity. For the less-capable gens knee powers varied from about 2.5 watts to about 3.9 watts (identifying the knee is not an exact science). These correspond to rms voltages from 5.5 volts to 6.8 volts, giving peak voltages from 7.8 volts to 9.7 volts. The zener was in some level of conduction for all of these generators, but this does not explain why the knees are not at the same power level. If the zener was the only cause of the knees the limiting power level should be the same for all generators. Something else is going on at the same time. I can only guess what it is, but my best guess is magnetic saturation.

    If you want more than 3 watts from a generator and more output as you go faster, I'd suggest using a Schmidt, an AXA-HR, or any of the ones that tested higher than the Schmidt. I had trouble identifying the Shimano curves, but I think the power curve of the Shimano Inter-L overlaid mostly with the Schmidt. However, I don't know if that corresponds to any current Shimano model. It's hard to say "get Shimano" because I don't know if the current ones will match this good performance.

    It would be real interesting to see how the better ones performed with a 10 ohm load, and with the Zener diodes removed.

    I'm sure there's some good information at Candlepower as well, but I'm having trouble with my membership there.

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