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Does anyone still make a bottom bracket dynamo?

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Does anyone still make a bottom bracket dynamo?

Old 06-19-18, 09:10 PM
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Does anyone still make a bottom bracket dynamo?

I’m trying to help a friend power some lights on the cheap. Light theft is a big problem here, so I want to avoild a battery powered removable light. It seems like a bottom bracket dynamo might be the best route since building a new wheel with a hub dynamo will be expensive. She’s also small, so keeping her modern, light weight, 20 spoke wheel is better than throwing on a hearty 36 spoke touring wheel with hub dynamo. The only problem I’m having is I can’t seem to find a BB dynamo... Are they still made?
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Old 06-19-18, 09:32 PM
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Do you mean like a 'drag dynamo;' one that attaches behind the BB shell, with a roller that drags against the tire? Or one that's wholly contained inside the BB shell & generates power directly from pedaling?

If the former, I'm pretty sure Sanyo still makes one; and I'd swear I recently saw one made by Axa, but I'm not totally sure about that (it's been a few years & my memory is a tad fuzzy; I might be thinking of an NOS vintage unit).

I was exploring these for a while myself as one of my 650b bikes (my Panasonic) has a brazed-in bracket for mounting a BB dynamo.

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Old 06-19-18, 09:52 PM
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They stopped making the BB dynamos a while back. Sanyo was the most well known. Soubitez made one too. There's a few hokey bolt on modern generator gizmos available if you look for them. Or you could try to buy a vintage one. They weren't that great anyway. Tended to break after a while.

If you don't want to spend a lot of money, or even if you do, IMO the best choice is a modern LED battery light. I love my cygolite. They unclip usually. Have your friend take it with her when the bike is locked.

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Old 06-19-18, 10:08 PM
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The Sanyo and Soubitez ones still show up on eBay. I.e. :
https://www.ebay.com/itm/NEW-Soubite....c100011.m1850
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Old 06-20-18, 05:28 AM
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In addition to the Sanyo and Soubitez ones, there is one made by Union. The Union one may be the most recent, but I don't know when it was made. It's pretty neat since it was made to be cable operated; you turn it on/off with a control lever on the seat tube. It's also pretty easy to attach to a bike. I don't know how tough they are; it appears to be made of plastic or resin, but I have not seen one get damaged.

The Soubitez one is robust and well made, but I dislike the way it mounts to the bike. I have one that wouldn't fit I the bike I wanted to use it on; on other bikes it is prone to alignment problems. Worth a try if you can find one.

I have several of the Sanyo ones, and I cannot recommend them. They were nicely made, but there is something wrong with the bearing, and all the ones in my possession make an ugly squealing noise. They may be fixable. (Anyone want to try? Send me a message).
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Old 06-20-18, 08:40 AM
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My 1984 touring bike was wired for a BB generator but had none when I purchased it around year 2000. All I could find was a NOS Soubitez. Later I picked up a NOS Sanyo thinking the Soubitez would probably fail. After a lot of use, French unit is still going strong though, so I agree they are robust. Don
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Old 06-20-18, 10:14 AM
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I got one of the Sanyo dynamos at a bike swap meet for about $10. I installed it on my wife's bike for her. I want her to have lights even though she doesn't intend to ride this bike at night. It suits the purpose well. We found ourselves riding at sunset time once, so she has used the dynamo once. It creates more drag than a hub dynamo but less than a sidewall dynamo. It was pretty easy to install. If I remember right, it has only one wire coming out of it and uses the frame as ground. I had to run a ground wire from the bottle cage bolt to the headlight.

I hear that the roller can lose traction with the tire when it's wet. The chances of my wife riding on a rainy night are small enough to take that risk. I hear the problem can be mitigated by gluing sandpaper or skateboard paper to the roller, and I might try that only because it's an interesting challenge.
@rhm, were you unsuccessful at forcing oil into the bearing(s)?

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Old 06-20-18, 12:52 PM
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Originally Posted by noglider View Post
...
@rhm, were you unsuccessful at forcing oil into the bearing(s)?
I think so. I've been meaning to pickle one of them in oil for a while, see if that makes any difference... But haven't bothered yet.
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Old 06-20-18, 01:03 PM
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Originally Posted by rhm View Post
I think so. I've been meaning to pickle one of them in oil for a while, see if that makes any difference... But haven't bothered yet.
Don't forget marinading it with a little salt and lemon juice. Is pickling a technician's term, or did you just adopt it? I love it.
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Old 06-20-18, 06:55 PM
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Originally Posted by rhm View Post
In addition to the Sanyo and Soubitez ones, there is one made by Union. The Union one may be the most recent, but I don't know when it was made. It's pretty neat since it was made to be cable operated; you turn it on/off with a control lever on the seat tube. It's also pretty easy to attach to a bike. I don't know how tough they are; it appears to be made of plastic or resin, but I have not seen one get damaged.

The Soubitez one is robust and well made, but I dislike the way it mounts to the bike. I have one that wouldn't fit I the bike I wanted to use it on; on other bikes it is prone to alignment problems. Worth a try if you can find one.

I have several of the Sanyo ones, and I cannot recommend them. They were nicely made, but there is something wrong with the bearing, and all the ones in my possession make an ugly squealing noise. They may be fixable. (Anyone want to try? Send me a message).
Somehow I did a search for bottle dynos within the past few years, and found AXA, Union, Soubitez, and Basta are now the same company. And I have seen some rather recent BB dynos on Ebay under several of those names. You have to look closely at the way they will mount, to decide if they'll work for XYZ frame.

I don't know if the OP has ever perused the iBob list (now a Google Group, but I think you'll get a very erudite discussion about that.
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Old 06-20-18, 07:01 PM
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Originally Posted by rhm View Post
In addition to the Sanyo and Soubitez ones, there is one made by Union. The Union one may be the most recent, but I don't know when it was made. It's pretty neat since it was made to be cable operated; you turn it on/off with a control lever on the seat tube. It's also pretty easy to attach to a bike. I don't know how tough they are; it appears to be made of plastic or resin, but I have not seen one get damaged.

The Soubitez one is robust and well made, but I dislike the way it mounts to the bike. I have one that wouldn't fit I the bike I wanted to use it on; on other bikes it is prone to alignment problems. Worth a try if you can find one.

I have several of the Sanyo ones, and I cannot recommend them. They were nicely made, but there is something wrong with the bearing, and all the ones in my possession make an ugly squealing noise. They may be fixable. (Anyone want to try? Send me a message).
Somehow I did a search for bottle dynos within the past few years, and found AXA, Union, Soubitez, and Basta are now the same company. And I have seen some rather recent BB dynos on Ebay under several of those names. You have to look closely at the way they will mount, to decide if they'll work for XYZ frame.

I don't know if the OP has ever perused the iBob list (now a Google Group), but I think you'll get a very erudite discussion about that.
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Old 06-21-18, 08:10 AM
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Originally Posted by Chuckk View Post
Wouldn't it just be easier to take the headlight with you when you leave the bike?
No, I love leaving my lights bolted onto my bike. I lock my bike up sometimes, and the only trouble I had was someone without a wrench tried to remove it by bending it. I bent the bracket back into the original shape, and the light was back in business. Funny, the thieves carry cable cutters with them but no wrenches.
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Old 06-21-18, 12:46 PM
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They were discontinued because the mounting position puts them in line for all the worst gunch the road can throw at a bike. Even hard-working long-suffering bottom bracket bearings are not so directly in the line of fire. Building one with fully shielded bearings, as opposed to the little dust covers on most cartridge bearings, would be cost prohibitive and heavy. Half the potential market for these is also using fenders. Look at the photo above and imagine what a fender would do.

Current battery lights are really good.
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Old 06-21-18, 01:01 PM
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Why not a bottle dynamo? They are much maligned but they are simple, cheap and work OK if they are correctly aligned and you don't ride too fast (like under 24kph/15mph). I hear there are millions of them still in use in Europe.
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Old 06-21-18, 01:43 PM
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Originally Posted by 63rickert View Post
They were discontinued because the mounting position puts them in line for all the worst gunch the road can throw at a bike. Even hard-working long-suffering bottom bracket bearings are not so directly in the line of fire. Building one with fully shielded bearings, as opposed to the little dust covers on most cartridge bearings, would be cost prohibitive and heavy. Half the potential market for these is also using fenders. Look at the photo above and imagine what a fender would do.

Current battery lights are really good.
Good points!

Except that yes, battery lights are good, dynamos offer a convenience that's hard to beat.
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Old 06-22-18, 09:44 AM
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"I hear that the roller can lose traction with the tire when it's wet"

I heard this also, but never experienced it with my Soubitez unit, despite daily use, sometimes for weeks, during our wet, NW Winters. So, another plus for the French design. Don
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Old 06-22-18, 09:54 AM
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Originally Posted by Reynolds View Post
Why not a bottle dynamo? They are much maligned but they are simple, cheap and work OK if they are correctly aligned and you don't ride too fast (like under 24kph/15mph). I hear there are millions of them still in use in Europe.
The old rule was that they were suited for heavier tires only, because they chew up the sidewalls. Good for gumwalls but not skinwalls. That's why the BB dynamos became popular. They could be used on lightweight higher end bikes. BITD most people with racing bikes had to make do with a wonder light. I did. By the later part of the 80s and 90s, expensive battery systems were what most enthusiasts used if they needed lighting.
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Old 06-22-18, 10:46 AM
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I used a sidewall dynamo with tubular tires, though not extensively. Maybe it would have chewed up my sidewalls, but who knows.
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Old 06-22-18, 12:04 PM
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Originally Posted by Salamandrine View Post
The old rule was that they were suited for heavier tires only, because they chew up the sidewalls. Good for gumwalls but not skinwalls. That's why the BB dynamos became popular. They could be used on lightweight higher end bikes. BITD most people with racing bikes had to make do with a wonder light. I did. By the later part of the 80s and 90s, expensive battery systems were what most enthusiasts used if they needed lighting.
That's right - in Europe they use tires with textured sidewalls for bottle dynamos.

You could also use a rubber roller on the dynamo to save the tire.
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Old 01-04-20, 01:15 AM
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Squeaky sanyo

Originally Posted by rhm View Post
In addition toI have several of the Sanyo ones, and I cannot recommend them. They were nicely made, but there is something wrong with the bearing, and all the ones in my possession make an ugly squealing noise. They may be fixable. (Anyone want to try? Send me a message).
i had a squeaky Sanyo unit(mine was just old but really hadn’t had a lot of use) but fixed it. First tried putting thin oil through what looked like the seals to the bearings but didn’t work, so bit the bullet and took the assembly apart, take photos, have to get through the release/engage mechanism first. Put some grease in the end cap, it has a strange screw there that looks like it s to put lubricant in couldn’t get to the bearing inside the dynamo, reassembled and all is good,but possibly done only 20 km on it so far.
while the bb dynamo provides much more drag than a hub one, it provides zero drag when not engaged which for me is most of the time
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Old 01-08-20, 06:34 AM
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"Light theft is a big problem here, so I want to avoild a battery powered removable light."
Asked and answered.

All of mine are removable. That, perhaps, would change if I commuted by bike and not tele---. My '59 Sports uses the front dyno, and it's not something I'd depend on to see. I have had two bottle-type, and I didn't like either one, but they worked, valued as much for the taillight as the headlight, because for me, being seen is the goal.

"I’m trying to help a friend power some lights on the cheap."
Lights to see, or be seen? That kind of drives it. I've got cheap round lights from China that are rechargeable, micro-USB, and they're fine, but under-powered if I want to illuminate my path vs. just be visible to others. I've also got a MyNewt that works great but is a PITA with iit's separate battery pack. I've also got a Garmin Varia that is the bomb.

The inevitable conflict always comes with most devices when performance is required on the cheap.
We want to play, not to pay. Human nature.
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Old 03-15-20, 05:18 PM
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Originally Posted by sacr View Post
i had a squeaky Sanyo unit(mine was just old but really hadn’t had a lot of use) but fixed it. First tried putting thin oil through what looked like the seals to the bearings but didn’t work, so bit the bullet and took the assembly apart, take photos, have to get through the release/engage mechanism first. Put some grease in the end cap, it has a strange screw there that looks like it s to put lubricant in couldn’t get to the bearing inside the dynamo, reassembled and all is good,but possibly done only 20 km on it so far.
while the bb dynamo provides much more drag than a hub one, it provides zero drag when not engaged which for me is most of the time
just to update, done ~200 km of night riding and squeak has not reappeared, hard to know which of the measures stopped the squeak, but it appears just cleaning and greasing the end cap did the trick.
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Old 03-15-20, 07:03 PM
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I have a soubitez bb dynamo. It works better than a sidewall unit but i would build a wheel around a cheap ebay hub dynamo before i would regularly use the soubitez.
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Old 03-15-20, 07:24 PM
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Originally Posted by 52telecaster View Post
I have a soubitez bb dynamo. It works better than a sidewall unit but i would build a wheel around a cheap ebay hub dynamo before i would regularly use the soubitez.
sure, I wouldnt for a heartbeat knock back a hub dynamo , but building a wheel? if you can do it yourself fine, but for the average Joe(if you can work an allen key bb is easy to install), not going to get much change out of $300(more than my ride is worth) once you go through the whole process, more if you buy the high end, and of course if you swap bikes then the wheel may not come across, or someone stealing the whole wheel!

and if you ride the bike for exercise, the extra drag from the bb dynamo is just part of the fun!, and of course there is no increase in rotational inertia andtranslational inertia of front wheel or drag when it is not being used.
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