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  1. #1
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    Buy a Schmidt if already have a good battery light?

    I'm going on a 3000 mile trip this spring/summer, mostly camping with hotel 1x week, and I'm trying to choose which light to bring in case I don't make a campsite or hotel before dark on a given day. I don't plan on riding at night at all if i can avoid it.
    Last year i splurged on a L&M ARC Li-Ion which is super bright and has a 3.5 hour burn time. I don't think I'd ever miss my daily destination by that much. Carrying the charger and finding a plug to charge it would be a pain. Plus it weighs a bit.
    Or I'm considering forking over 600 bucks for a Schmidt hub and dual headlights. I could afford it, but it would be an uncomfortable expense. I think I'd feel dumb if I spent this much and only needed it a few times.
    Or I could buy a weaker, yet longer lasting battery light that runs on AA. I plan to bring a small AA charger anyways.
    I don't want to bother with the rim generator.

    Which would you choose: bring the L&M, buy the Schmidt, or AA battery light? thanks in advance.

  2. #2
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    If you aren't planning to ride at night, get one of these:
    http://www.mec.ca/Products/product_d...=1169187324290

    I've got two, and they work very well in all sorts of conditions. They have a burn time of about 2.5 to 3 hours, unless it is cold, in which case it is less.

    However, if you were toying with the idea of getting into Randonneuring where you ride all night long, then I'd recommend the Schmidt hub. I've got one of them now and it is great!! BTW - I'm not sure where you're getting the $600 quote from ... I'm sure mine wasn't anywhere near that expensive ... like maybe half that.

  3. #3
    Older I get, Better I was velonomad's Avatar
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    On tour I bring a planet bike LED light and I wear a $20 4 LED helmet light. Together they provide plenty of light for me.

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    I agree with Velo. I carry an early cateye LED, the batteries last for ever. I use it mostly at the campsite, and for reading. It's supposed to be good for 80 hours or something per pair of AAs. If I get on the road in the summer by 8 or 9, then I am ready to stop by the time it gets dark, I just don't put a lot of wear on the light.

    Even in the Canadian backwater one can see where this is going. Two examples. I was in the dollar store today, that's the 85c store to you americans. They had little lights like the Itty Bitty booklight, LEDs, 2 hearing aid batteries, 85 cents. Each one came with a little gooseneck, and clamp base. For 300 bucks you could put quite a few of those on your bike. The other thing I saw was at Princess Auto. They had those task lights like the old ones that have a 60 watt bulb in a grill with a hook on it. Except these are about 30 LEDs mounted in an epoxy sealed flat unit with a charger. 22 bucks. Imagine mounting that thing on your bike! Talk about blinded by the light.

    Nonetheless, I wonder about buying the hub light also. My feeling is that the amount of drag in the hub is only justified when the whole unit gets re-engineered for LEDs. LEDS are far more durable, long burning, and low light consuming. A hub where the drag was equivalent to the LED needs, might actually have less drag than our current range of regular hubs :0). So either the light output has to rise to where it can be seem from the Shuttle or the drag has to drop a lot. Until generators are completely re-designed, I'm not buying into them.

  5. #5
    Senior Member wahoonc's Avatar
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    I am a firm believer in generators and the Schmidt is the absolute best! However I think at least on this tour you would be better served with a battery light. They make a clamp that will allow you to put one of the smaller Maglite flashlights on your handlebars. I went coast to coast in 1977 and have done a couple of shorter tours since then and can only recall needing the headlight maybe 3 times for actually riding. If you can make it a dual purpose light so much the better. The current crop of LED flashlights is great, and would work well as an emergency headlight.

    Peterpan1 the Schmidt hub has the lowest drag of any of the generator hubs out there. According to information I have read even at full power the drag on it is less than a Shimano with the light turned off. FWIW I currently have a Shimano and a S-A Dynohub. I really don't notice the drag on either one of them when I am riding.

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  6. #6
    George Krpan
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    Get a LED battery headlight with a flashing mode. In the flashing mode they run forever on a set of batteries. Don't bother with the charger, just bring an extra set of batteries.
    The Li-Ion and Schmidt lights are way too turbo.
    It's nicer to be camping at night.

  7. #7
    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    I agree with everyone else. If you need a light with a 2+ hour burn time on a tour, you are doing something wrong I've never been caught out after dark on tour but if I were, I'd find some place to spend the night rather then try to ride to a destination. It's just not worth the hassle.

    Personally, I found that the most useful light on tour is a LED headlamp similar to this one. In a pinch it can be used on your helmet to get you to camp or, in camp, it has a dozen uses, like reading after dark, changing clothes, finding your glasses in the middle of the night, going to the bathroom, looking for that bear that is raiding your food , running away for said bear without falling over every downed tree in the forest , etc. Get one that uses regular alkaline batteries so that you don't have to lug a charger around.
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  8. #8
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    I have a couple of generator hubs, including Schmidt, and I like them. The advantage is light when you are moving and no batteries. Drag is negligible even when operating (true of the new Shimanos also). For a tour, they might be nice. Some of the new Busch and Muller bottle generators are supposed to be excellent also, and the advantage is they can be disengaged mechanically when lighting isn't wanted, unlike a hub generator. They are also a lot cheaper and you aren't linking your lighting to a hub, should a wheel replacement be necessary on the road.

    Cyclocommute has good advice. Long burn time isn't necessary unless you anticipate many days between hotel/motel accommodations where a recharging would be possible. I suggest you also look at the Planet Bike Alias Xenon lamp which has a LiIon in the same case as the lamp (unlike others that have a cord connection to a battery that has to be strapped on elsewhere.) Burn time is shorter than the premium Xenon lamps, but if you are only using it for short periods that shouldn't be a problem.
    Last edited by CHenry; 01-21-07 at 05:12 PM.

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    "eterpan1 the Schmidt hub has the lowest drag of any of the generator hubs out there. According to information I have read even at full power the drag on it is less than a Shimano with the light turned off. FWIW I currently have a Shimano and a S-A Dynohub. I really don't notice the drag on either one of them when I am riding."

    Thanks. I thought the drag from the generator hub is perceptible but rated as trivial by those who love them. There is some weight too. If that's correct... What we seem to have with LEDs is about 1/40 the energy use. I don't know the real numbers but for me it amounted to going from not seeming to have a charged viable bike light most of the time, to hardly having to think about batteries at all. The thing with the better german lights is that for some cost and drag they offered more light and the promise of not having to worry about batteries. Well the later is all but solved by the LED, and I would like to see new LED lamps offered that would make worthwhile use of the greater potential of leds and the greater current of generators. I'm not sure leds can tolerate the current fluctuations of a generator system so a ballast or something like it, might have to be developed. They already have those to keep the lights on when stopped so it shouldn't be a big deal. Indeed I think on my generator system the rear light might be an LED on a ballast while the front is a Schmidt. Basically how many leds can be run off 6 volts and 3 watts?

    I do have an all the bells and whistles german system on a recumbent, and it uses the tire type generator. Those do put on a drag, but for touring they might be preferable since they don't weigh much, and only drag when on. Even the 6 volt 3 watt lights are not so bright that one is going all that fast anyway, so the drag isn not particularly objectionable. If we all agree they won't see too much use, then that's the way to go for generators. The problem I find when cycling at night, outside cities, in terrain I am not familliar with, is that I can get lost during the day, at night without rally lights that iluminate the whole 180, it's just too easy to miss something.

    I do like using LEDS when I am cycling in the rain. They can happily flash all day and give a margin of additional visibility.

  10. #10
    Senior Member wahoonc's Avatar
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    Peterpan1,
    I have run bottom bracket, fork mount and rear stay mount generators for years with varying degrees of success. My first hub generator was a 1974 Raleigh Dynohub, it performs adequately. I just got a utility bike with a early Shimano generator hub. The biggest difference in the performance is the lights themselves, and it is a big difference. The Dtoplight Plus with the standlight feature is slick. The stand light is a LED that is powered by a capacitor. I think that is what they are also using to buffer the power to the LED's to keep from overpowering them. Check out PeterWhitecycles.com he has some great info on the newer generation of LED headlamps. Biggest problem with an LED is that they are very directional and hard to focus. But they are great on power consumption.

    Aaron
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  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by bokes
    I'm going on a 3000 mile trip this spring/summer, mostly camping with hotel 1x week, and I'm trying to choose which light to bring in case I don't make a campsite or hotel before dark on a given day. I don't plan on riding at night at all if i can avoid it.
    Last year i splurged on a L&M ARC Li-Ion which is super bright and has a 3.5 hour burn time. I don't think I'd ever miss my daily destination by that much. Carrying the charger and finding a plug to charge it would be a pain. Plus it weighs a bit.
    Or I'm considering forking over 600 bucks for a Schmidt hub and dual headlights. I could afford it, but it would be an uncomfortable expense. I think I'd feel dumb if I spent this much and only needed it a few times.
    Or I could buy a weaker, yet longer lasting battery light that runs on AA. I plan to bring a small AA charger anyways.
    I don't want to bother with the rim generator.

    Which would you choose: bring the L&M, buy the Schmidt, or AA battery light? thanks in advance.
    I took a Shimano 3N-71 generator hub (almost as good as the Schmidt, < 1/2 the price) and a single Busch & Mueller headlight on my tour in Italy last May. Much less obtrusive than any battery powered headlight, and it sure was nice to have in the tunnels between Spoleto and Norcia and when I had to cycle to the airport in Florence before sunrise for the flight home. I brought a Black Diamond Ion (tiny, cheap LED headlamp) for around the campsite stuff, I was usually asleep not too long after the sun set.

    Consider a Schmidt with a single headlight, that will be more than adequate for touring speeds, cheaper and lighter too. If you get into randonneuring like Machka mentioned you can spring for a second headlight. If the Schmidt is too much money, the Shimano 3N-71 is almost as good as the Schmidt for a lot less money.

    What on earth do you need an AA battery charger for? sounds like you're bringing too much stuff.

    Note to Machka: The Schmidt generator hub has gone up in price quite a bit recently, at least here in the US. The hub is now $245 at Peter White Cycles, when I first went shopping for dynohubs in 2005 it was < $200. Add in a rim, spokes and two headlights like the OP mentioned and the total tab will be $600+. I bought the Shimano hub because I thought almost $200 was too much for the Schmidt, now the Schmidt is even more expensive.

  12. #12
    Senior Member Paul L.'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Peterpan1
    Well the later is all but solved by the LED, and I would like to see new LED lamps offered that would make worthwhile use of the greater potential of leds and the greater current of generators. I'm not sure leds can tolerate the current fluctuations of a generator system so a ballast or something like it, might have to be developed. They already have those to keep the lights on when stopped so it shouldn't be a big deal. Indeed I think on my generator system the rear light might be an LED on a ballast while the front is a Schmidt. Basically how many leds can be run off 6 volts and 3 watts?
    I built a quad Luxeon k2 system that lights up the road quite nicely powered by a Shimano 3n-71 which I used for about 2 hours of my last 5 hour century so the drag is negligible.
    I mount this on the front of my recumbent and find I have plenty of light at speeds of 20+ and even up into the 30s.

    The 1/2 An amp of the generators puts out an amazing mount of light from LEDs. Here are the details of my light-
    http://randocommute.blogspot.com/200...tor-light.html
    http://randocommute.blogspot.com/200...s-inquiry.html

    Incidentally, after building my own wheel with a velocity rim and DT Swiss revolution spokes and making the light (which is almost as bright as my HID) I have about $200 sunk into the project with the most expensive item being the Shimano 3n-71 generator at $90 at Harris Cyclery. (The addition of a waterproof switch from BatterySpace.com too is really nice)
    Last edited by Paul L.; 01-19-07 at 02:42 PM.
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  13. #13
    George Krpan
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    Another thought. You say your Li-Ion light has a 3.5 hour run time. It probably has a much longer run time at a lower setting. That should get you through the week. Recharge during your once a week motel stay.

  14. #14
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cyccommute
    I agree with everyone else. If you need a light with a 2+ hour burn time on a tour, you are doing something wrong I've never been caught out after dark on tour but if I were, I'd find some place to spend the night rather then try to ride to a destination. It's just not worth the hassle.
    Really??? You've never been caught out after dark??

    I disagree that a cycletourist is doing something wrong if he/she is caught out after dark!! Many of the days I've been cycling on tours end by cycling in the dark, and for a variety of reasons such as:

    -- we decided to wait out the hot part of the day, and only ride between about 5 am and 10 am, and then again between about 4 pm and 10 pm.

    -- the days on the Australian mainland were quite short ... the sun would be down by about 7 pm.

    -- riding at night can be really nice.

  15. #15
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by markf
    Note to Machka: The Schmidt generator hub has gone up in price quite a bit recently, at least here in the US. The hub is now $245 at Peter White Cycles, when I first went shopping for dynohubs in 2005 it was < $200. Add in a rim, spokes and two headlights like the OP mentioned and the total tab will be $600+. I bought the Shimano hub because I thought almost $200 was too much for the Schmidt, now the Schmidt is even more expensive.
    I got mine in August 2006.

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    Any north american examples that occur to you M. I will be sure to pack more light along with the croc repelant if I go to OZ. I have to agree I like riding at night if the route is clear enough to follow with a bike light. Which so far isn't my experience, never know what is around the corner. And of course it could be my puny LED. So roll on the wall of generator powered light!

  17. #17
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Peterpan1
    Any north american examples that occur to you M. I will be sure to pack more light along with the croc repelant if I go to OZ. I have to agree I like riding at night if the route is clear enough to follow with a bike light. Which so far isn't my experience, never know what is around the corner. And of course it could be my puny LED. So roll on the wall of generator powered light!
    I haven't cycle-toured much in NA ... but I've done a lot of night riding on this continent ... thousands of kilometers during my randonneuring events, and during winter centuries etc.. I enjoy riding at night, and since I got my Schmidt hub, I enjoy it all the more. Oh BTW - I also didn't notice any resistance differences between using the Schmidt hub and not using it ... it seemed all the same to me.

    Hmmmmm ... let me think ....

    Oh yes, there was one night on a tour in the Rockies that we ended up riding in the dark. You aren't allowed to stealth camp in the national parks in the mountains here, so we had to make it to an actual campground. Unfortunately we had been bucking a nasty headwind all day and couldn't make any time.

    And I mustn't forget the one and only tour I did this year! We left right after I finished work on a Saturday afternoon at about 5 pm. Our destination was a little further than I thought. I did think we'd end up doing some riding in the dark ... that part was planned, but I didn't think we'd end up doing as much as we did. But I've got no regrets about that, it was a GORGEOUS night!! http://www.machka.net/short_tours/2006_PineLake.htm

    There was a night or two on a tour in Wales (another non-Australian place) too that we ended up arriving at the destination quite late ... we'd been doddling along sight seeing, taking photos, lingering at cafes and pubs, and also dealing with several flats ... and before we knew it, we ran out of sunlight.

    All three of these examples happened in September, so there isn't as much daylight then. The first example happened in the mountains were it feels like the sun sets at 5 pm year round because it dips behind the mountains.

    None of these examples were traumatic though ... we just turned on our lights and rode.



    Oh ... and I ended up in Paris in 2003 as the sun set. I was cycling through the city to meet some friends ... it was the first time I had ever set foot (or bicycle wheel) in Paris. As the sun sank below the horizon, I rounded a corner and found myself staring right at the Eiffel Tower. At that moment they lit the tower ... it went up in a blaze of lights!! WOW!! ................. and then I had to continue cycling through Paris in the dark.

  18. #18
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    For those who have read my prose elsewhere, I'm a firm believer in generators in general, and more so in dynohubs and even more so in the Schmidt dynohub. However, as others have said, there is no need for one in most touring situations. That's the key point; still it's nice to have.

    Machka has already covered a few untypical touring situations where the dynohub is useful. While touring, I have used mine a couple of times on overcast and rainy days. With the sun in my face however, a powerful flashing blinker is more useful. But there are many cycling situations where I enjoy mine: commuting, nice evening rides, whether in town or out of town.

    There are a few advantages of the generator system :

    The light is never out. I think that's an under-estimated factor. Even when justriding around town on a wonderful night, it's nice to know that I don't have to plan my ride with a given time limit. I can go as far as I feel, ride as long as I'm not tired, yet know that I will be able to ride home with plenty of light.

    No dangling wires around. Small battery headlights have their batteries in the casing. But larger ones – the ones that are more powerful than a Schmidt dynohub – typically use an external battery pack which either replaces a water bottle or hangs on the top tube. Even in the dark, I hate dangling wires around a bike.


    Finally, for self-contained touring without a dynohub, I would recommend against a headlight with a rechargeable battery pack. Apart from the bulkiness of the load and the fact it typically uses the same handlebar real-estate already consumed by the handlebar bag, rechargeable battery packs tend to self-discharge anyway. So you charge it at home and have 2-3 hours autonomy... except when you need it 1-2 weeks after, there's hardly any juice left.

    The current crop of LED be-seen headlights are useful enough to be seen, to serve around camp... and to light the road (don't ride too fast) in an emergency. At home, they can be used with AA rechargeables, but on the road they can be used with disposable lights.
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  19. #19
    Zoom zoom zoom zoom bonk znomit's Avatar
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    Having spent most of last winter training in the dark I know a little about this.

    To ride comfortably I found I needed a 15w narrow beam hologen. Wired this myself(with a 10 15 or 20 head depending on ride time) and works great although it needs a recharge every ride. Used it along with a 1w luxon led helmet mounted(6 hrs from 4AA batteries) so I could see what I was looking at as well as where I was going!. For my fiji tour I took the led light as it is small and light. I ended up needing it one day for 15min(it gets dark real fast in the tropics!). Its summer now so I dont bother with the hologens but will put them back on when winter comes.
    Something like this is probably an ideal emergency and around the campsite light http://peterwhitecycles.com/b&m.asp

  20. #20
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    Don't forget that the Schmidt is gorgeous. A real piece of Teutonic bike jewelry. I was interested in them before I saw one, then I was head over heels for them. They really are very shiny and pretty. Far prettier than any battery-powered light.

    That being said, I use two small LEDs -- one on the bars and one on the helmet if needed. On tour, I would choose a bottle generator before a hub unit and just kick it in when needed. I do like the idea of not dealing with batteries -- as long as my legs are turning anyway I might as well use that power.
    Safe, efficient, and comfortable transportation.

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    Good examples. The great thing about bikes that have the built in system from the factory is that one is never without it, as has been say. It's not worth removing and I do occasionally end up out there having left the LED bar lamp at home, though that is more my fate around town than on the road.

  22. #22
    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GTcommuter
    Don't forget that the Schmidt is gorgeous. A real piece of Teutonic bike jewelry. I was interested in them before I saw one, then I was head over heels for them. They really are very shiny and pretty. Far prettier than any battery-powered light.

    That being said, I use two small LEDs -- one on the bars and one on the helmet if needed. On tour, I would choose a bottle generator before a hub unit and just kick it in when needed. I do like the idea of not dealing with batteries -- as long as my legs are turning anyway I might as well use that power.
    One of the reasons I don't use generators (not the only one but one of them) on tour is that I use my light for much more around camp then on the bike. A generator just isn't going to work for that. Since I already carry the light for around camp...and absolute emergency use on the road...I'd rather just carry one.
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  23. #23
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GTcommuter
    Don't forget that the Schmidt is gorgeous. A real piece of Teutonic bike jewelry. I was interested in them before I saw one, then I was head over heels for them. They really are very shiny and pretty. Far prettier than any battery-powered light.
    There's mine.

    And for around camp, I use a helmet light. It's a great hands-free option.
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