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Old 05-11-08, 08:49 PM   #1
the spin guru
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Lighting for night riding

I noticed that there is not a thread about lighting. After finishing my first 400k with a night start and night finish I realized my lighting system was not all that good.

Just wondering what people use. I hear good thing's about the schmidt dynamo generator hub.

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Old 05-11-08, 09:30 PM   #2
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http://www.bikeforums.net/electronics-lighting-gadgets/
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Old 05-11-08, 09:57 PM   #3
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If you're considering the Schmidt, there's a few threads here that talk about it and a lot of info out there. I've got one and I'm quite happy with it, but it's more of a luxury than a necessity. For what I paid for a wheel and a light, I could have paid for a lot of flashlights and batteries. But it is convenient.

There's other options like the Shimano hub and the Lightspin generator (which I hear is quite good) if you do want to go the generator route, but just make sure you compare prices for the whole deal, with wheel build fee, rim, and spokes.
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Old 05-11-08, 10:54 PM   #4
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After trying a Cateye EL500, and finding it severely wanting, I switched to a Shimano dynohub and Lumotec headlight - basically the least expensive dynamo lighting system I could put together. After two seasons of randonneuring, including a 1000k last fall, I have few complaints. The speed reduction so many are worried about is barely measurable, assuming that you would ride the same speed at night that you do during the day. Since few, if any, people do, that issue is moot as far as I'm concerned. The only thing I would change is to get a brighter headlight, and arrival on the scene of the new B&M IQ Fly LED light would take care of that if I could afford one. Maybe some day...

But count me very firmly in the dynamo light camp. Sure there are brighter rechargeable systems, but they either have a run time of 1-2 hours, or cost $500, neither of which counts as a "plus" in my book. Dyno systems are relatively inexpensive, have excellent optics (if you use a German headlight), and best of all, unlimited run time with no dinking around with recharging every day.

SP
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Old 05-11-08, 10:54 PM   #5
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I'm using the Schmidt and am perfectly content with it. If you are looking for a super-bright system, though, you'll be disappointed.
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Old 05-11-08, 11:42 PM   #6
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I'm using the Schmidt and am perfectly content with it. If you are looking for a super-bright system, though, you'll be disappointed.
The current crop of lights are not making the best use of the hub dynamo. I have made a super bright LED road light and currently building a stupidly bright light for the mountain bike, good enough for 50kph downhills off road. These are the equivalent of a 20 or 30w halogen lamp.
Details in my sig.
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Old 05-12-08, 02:17 AM   #7
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The current crop of lights are not making the best use of the hub dynamo. I have made a super bright LED road light and currently building a stupidly bright light for the mountain bike, good enough for 50kph downhills off road. These are the equivalent of a 20 or 30w halogen lamp.
Details in my sig.
Impressive.
For the DIY-impaired people like me, we start seeing some quite decent LED systems for dynohubs, such as the Supernova E3 or the upcoming SON Edelux.
I wouldn't know how they compare to multi-LED home-made systems like znomit's.
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Old 05-12-08, 06:19 AM   #8
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I'm using the Schmidt and am perfectly content with it. If you are looking for a super-bright system, though, you'll be disappointed.
Supernova E3. No disappointment with that light.
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Old 05-12-08, 07:17 AM   #9
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Supernova E3. No disappointment with that light.
For the price they charge ($200 for just the light, IIRC) I would hope not.

SP
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Old 05-12-08, 07:35 AM   #10
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For the price they charge ($200 for just the light, IIRC) I would hope not.
There were two riders on the recent Westfield fleche who were rocking the Supernovas. Apparently, when they were riding side by side, the lights were nearly indistinguishable from a car. It's certainly impressive, though I'm not about to drop my E6's just yet.
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Old 05-12-08, 09:13 AM   #11
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For the price they charge ($200 for just the light, IIRC) I would hope not.

SP
Currently I'm riding with battery lights, but I'm saving up to make the switch to a SON/E3 setup. The way I look at it, I could spend $500 - $700 on an HID or super-bright LED with a long-life battery, and even then I'd have about 4 hours of light unless I carry multiple batterys and start racking up the excess weight. Then I have to worry about battery life, and purchasing expensive replacements in a few years, etc... Or I can spend $550 or so on a SON28 and an E3 light, not have to worry about battery life, charge life, recharging, etc.
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Old 05-12-08, 12:30 PM   #12
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Currently I'm riding with battery lights, but I'm saving up to make the switch to a SON/E3 setup. The way I look at it, I could spend $500 - $700 on an HID or super-bright LED with a long-life battery, and even then I'd have about 4 hours of light unless I carry multiple batterys and start racking up the excess weight. Then I have to worry about battery life, and purchasing expensive replacements in a few years, etc... Or I can spend $550 or so on a SON28 and an E3 light, not have to worry about battery life, charge life, recharging, etc.
My problem is that I'd have a hard time justifying that kind of money for ANY kind of light.

SP
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Old 05-12-08, 01:16 PM   #13
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My problem is that I'd have a hard time justifying that kind of money for ANY kind of light.

SP
I've wrestled with it, but my distance bike is also my year 'round commuter ride. The PNW days are really really short all winter, so I'm riding to and from work in the dark (or close to it) for a few months each year. I like my current light, but I only get 2.5 hours of charge from it so it's already cutting it close if I want to put in some extra miles on the way home in the winter.
In my warped brain, I can justify it with "Well, at least it's not one of those $1000 systems. Those guys are really crazy."
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Old 05-12-08, 01:47 PM   #14
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There were two riders on the recent Westfield fleche who were rocking the Supernovas. Apparently, when they were riding side by side, the lights were nearly indistinguishable from a car. It's certainly impressive, though I'm not about to drop my E6's just yet.
on a recent brevet two riders with E6's looked a lot like a car to me!

and as for brightness, we had multiple cars flash their brights at us (three of us with E6 lights), but then again maybe someone had theirs aimed too high. all i know is that the beam of light it sheds can light up a sign from at least 1/4 mile away!

i use the shimano dynohub, and like it. although at 40+ km/h you can feel a slight "buzz" as if going over chip-seal. does the schmidt dyno do that too?

even with the added drag, i've done a full 300k with it on (it was a rainy day), and didn't notice it too much.
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Old 05-12-08, 05:55 PM   #15
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I'm currently using a 240 lumen 3W CREE LED, available off ebay. $28.50 for the MR16 bulb including shipping.

MR16 housings are available in automotive section of Walmart ... 2 for $15.

Then buy a battery from batteryspace. 5Ah battery with smart charger for $70+shipping.

This will give you 15+ hours of run time between charges, good enough for most 600k routes.

The Minoura water bottle mount is $7 from Amazon.

Total price...<$150 for 15 hours of excellent 240 lumen lighting. This system is also fully upgradeable. If new LED technology comes out in 2 years, just buy a new standard MR16 bulb with it.

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Old 05-12-08, 06:05 PM   #16
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After trying a Cateye EL500, and finding it severely wanting, I switched to a Shimano dynohub and Lumotec headlight ... After two seasons of randonneuring, including a 1000k last fall, I have few complaints. ...

But count me very firmly in the dynamo light camp. Sure there are brighter rechargeable systems, but they either have a run time of 1-2 hours, or cost $500, neither of which counts as a "plus" in my book. Dyno systems are relatively inexpensive, have excellent optics (if you use a German headlight), and best of all, unlimited run time with no dinking around with recharging every day.

SP

That was my reflection. A few years ago, 250-300 $ could buy a decent battery system, but I only had power for 3 hours at low power or maybe 1-1.5 hours at high power. And after 2-3 years, the autonomy dropped significantly, especially in Winter. I like long-lasting evening rides, so 3-hour was a bit limiting.

I built my own wheel right on the bike using the late Sheldon Brown's excellent wheelbuilding instructions. So a Schmidt with Lumotec headight (the best at the time) cost me approximately 300 $, and I don't have to worry about dead batteries anymore. And even that headlight was twice brighter than the low-power mode on my battery system. I eventually trickled down systems to the less-often used tandem and to my daughter's bike, so I had the opportunity to try the E-6 (nice improvement) and the Lumotec IQ Fly (superb improvement).

If you build your own wheels, then you save your existing rim. Then the Schmidt + IQ fly come to approximately 350 $ and are only surpassed by a few expensive halogen battery systems and HID systems (also very expensive). Since the price is the same, the IQ Fly has totally outclassed the E-6. Two other options are the Supernova E-3 and the upcoming Schmidt E-Delux, which would cost an extra 100 $ over the IQ Fly system. The Supernova is very bright, but has a symmetrical beam, which is better on trails but not as efficient on roadways. The E-Delux will have a beam similar to the IQ Fly, optimized for road riding. In theory, the E-Delux should be better than the Supernova for commuting or long-distance highway riding, but we'll see.


Vibrations of the Shimano dynohub (Mattm)

Which hub are you using? I have a Schmidt on my tourer and used to have the cheaper Shimano NX-30 on my commuter. Apart from having a bit more resistance (so they say, I wasn't really able to tell, except by spinning the wheel at high speed), the NX-30 is a bit notchier and gives the kind of buzz you are talking about. After 4 years and maybe 8000 km of all-season riding (even in snow and sleet), I had to replace that hub and have since installed the newer Shimano DH-3N70. They say the resistance is much lower, though still not as low as the Schmidt. I see that the wheel spins a bit more freely, but most importantly, I haven't been able to feel any buzz when the light is off. But that bike isn't used much anymore and I can't comment on its long-term duration. By contrast, my oldest Schmidt is 5 years old and 30-35 000 km old and still works as new.
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Old 05-13-08, 03:58 PM   #17
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Vibrations of the Shimano dynohub (Mattm)

Which hub are you using? I have a Schmidt on my tourer and used to have the cheaper Shimano NX-30 on my commuter. Apart from having a bit more resistance (so they say, I wasn't really able to tell, except by spinning the wheel at high speed), the NX-30 is a bit notchier and gives the kind of buzz you are talking about. After 4 years and maybe 8000 km of all-season riding (even in snow and sleet), I had to replace that hub and have since installed the newer Shimano DH-3N70. They say the resistance is much lower, though still not as low as the Schmidt. I see that the wheel spins a bit more freely, but most importantly, I haven't been able to feel any buzz when the light is off. But that bike isn't used much anymore and I can't comment on its long-term duration. By contrast, my oldest Schmidt is 5 years old and 30-35 000 km old and still works as new.
i've got the 3N70 model shimano dynohub - no buzzing/resistance i can tell when it's switched off, but when on i can feel it a bit. and like i said at high speeds i can really feel it.

i don't think it slows me down but maybe .5 km/h, if that, but it all adds up! i'm thinking about buying a Schmidt SON just to see how that feels.

also there's a newer dyno from shimano, i the model # is 3N71 or something - that might be worth it too.

i still love my dyno/E6 combo, just wondering if the buzz is normal or what. sounds like it is, thx!
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Old 05-13-08, 09:51 PM   #18
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With the NX-30, I could feel a very slight vibration at 30 or 35 km/h when the light was off, but the vibration disappeared if I went 2-3 km/h faster or slower. With the light on, the vibration was quite evident at a wide range of speeds. I did not consider it a nuisance. I did not even consider it an inconvenience in stop and go traffic, but it would have bothered me on sub-urban or rural rides.

From memory, I think I have perceived very minor vibrations once or twice with the Schmidt and the light on. But it was either a combined effect with road imperfections or it was happening at a very precise speed because I can't duplicate it. So the Schmidt is definitely a superior hub. Whether it is worth the extra money I don't know. And if you ride lots and lots of miles, it is likely to last longer.

As for the 3N70 vs the 3N71, there doesn't seem to be any functional difference.
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Old 05-13-08, 10:50 PM   #19
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also there's a newer dyno from shimano, i the model # is 3N71 or something - that might be worth it too.
Isn't the DH-3N80 the newest model?
I've read a positive review in Aktiv Radfahren (German magazine), not quite as efficient as a SON yet, but getting closer still.
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Old 05-14-08, 05:20 PM   #20
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Isn't the DH-3N80 the newest model?
yeah i guess that's the one.

SON owners: with the light on, when you spin the wheel with your hand, how quickly does the wheel stop?

with my shimano dyno i get maybe one or two rotations before a little shudder and the wheel more or less stops. this doesn't affect riding at all, but it might be a decent gauge of drag relative to other dynos.
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Old 05-14-08, 05:42 PM   #21
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Just for yuks I went and tried it; got about three revolutions.

Actual useful information can be found here.
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