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Vintage bike touring lighting system

Old 04-29-19, 07:51 PM
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Vintage bike touring lighting system

I'm trying to do some research on a piece of tech that was around in the 80s. I don't really have any pictures, but I'll try to go by description since I've come across them on numerous bikes before disassembling them.

There are tiny magnet pieces that attach to spokes or cranks. When you spin and the magnet on the spoke or crank, it meets a certain magnet attached to the frame with a wire to a lighting system.

Hope some of you may be familiar with it. To those who are, are these old lighting systems good? I was thinking of using one as it seems less costly than buying a dynamo hub.
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Old 04-29-19, 07:57 PM
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Originally Posted by BikeWonder
I was thinking of using one as it seems less costly than buying a dynamo hub.
Modern lighting systems are in no way comparable to older systems.

Research a modern dyno system, save your $$$ and install.

I'd go for a Son or SP dyno, an IQ-X and a Supernova E3 tail light.

Remember, lighting is a safety issue.

I never cut corners.
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Old 04-29-19, 08:13 PM
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What you're describing sounds a bit like Reelights.

They're very commonly used in Denmark; they have the advantage of being cheaper than a generator hub and more reliable in the rain than a bottle generator. I'm not sure whether they'd be bright enough for North American conditions, though.

I'll second the suggestion that you get a generator hub -- it's often possible to get a built-up wheel for about $100, and then you'll never have to think about your lights again.

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Old 04-29-19, 08:18 PM
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Like @gomango said, I wouldn't use a vintage lighting system unless for novelty or restoration purposes. If for practical use get a modern system. Modern LED lights are way brighter and more reliable.

There are still a few companies making a modern version of a magnetic dynamo lighting system. For example, Magnic. https://www.magniclight.com/en/
It has its advantages. Namely the fact that it is contactless. I don't think the good ones are cheap, though. And you would want a good one if you want it to be bright at all. Not easy for a small magnet like that to generate enough power for a good light.

Modern dynamo hubs are way lighter than the old days and are very reliable. You can get a fully built front wheel with a nice Shimano dynamo hub and a Velocity rim (made in the US) for a little over $200 from QBP or Universal. That is CHEAP, and good rims too. It's a no-brainer.

The other option that is a little more unique is a bottle dynamo, that runs off of the rim or tire sidewall. Advantage is it is super light, and can be moved away from the rim at will when lights are not needed. Old ones have a reputation for slipping off the rim in the rain. New ones have better contact parts and are more reliable. The cheap good one is a Dymotec. $50 or $60. Clamps to seatstay or fork blade or a mount if your bike has one. The expensive really good one is a Velogical. I just ordered one for a future build along with a Son Edelux II headlight. I did this because I am using a pair of Bullseye hubs and don't want to give up the front Bullseye for a dynamo hub. The bike is also from a renowned Japanese framebuilder who built a lot of randonneuring bikes that used bottle dynamos, so it makes sense.

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Old 04-29-19, 08:53 PM
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Sounds like the OP is describing the counter magnets for a bike computer. Those were and are very common, but of course did not supply any light. Maybe there was some version of the modern contactless generator mini lights, but I never saw one, and I was a bike mechanic for the entirety of the 80s. Could have been a euro thing, maybe.


I remember carrying a wonder leg light in my jersey pocket when I knew I'd be caught in the dark on the way home. It didn't light your way, but it lit up the rider just enough for cars to see. The general rule is that bottle type generators were not appropriate for skinwall/performance tires. If you wanted a light, it had to be the battery type flashlight, or you ran heavy duty tires and a bottle generator. Later on, bottom bracket generators were used. That was the deluxe touring system. There actually were no dynamo hubs around, except for the steel kind that came on Raleighs etc. So I'm not sure how logical it is to compare modern vs vintage dynamo hubs. Even the Raleigh type were somewhat rare and considered obsolete. At the start of the eighties - it was still Wonder lights, the rectangular ones. A couple years in the halogen Cateyes came out, and they were way better. Towards the end of the eighties, the hot thing was various very expensive battery lights, some of which used a bottle cage battery.


Modern lights are 100x better, whether you go with batteries or some type of generator, or both. Pick something that works for you.
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Old 04-29-19, 09:07 PM
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I guess I'll start saving up for the hub dynamo. I'm a student at the moment so my budget is fairly tight. I'll have to sell some bikes to make the purchase since I'm working on two projects for touring/randonneuring.
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Old 04-30-19, 02:44 AM
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Originally Posted by BikeWonder
I'm trying to do some research on a piece of tech that was around in the 80s. I don't really have any pictures, but I'll try to go by description since I've come across them on numerous bikes before disassembling them.

There are tiny magnet pieces that attach to spokes or cranks. When you spin and the magnet on the spoke or crank, it meets a certain magnet attached to the frame with a wire to a lighting system.

Hope some of you may be familiar with it. To those who are, are these old lighting systems good? I was thinking of using one as it seems less costly than buying a dynamo hub.
I remember something like that from my shop days and recall only a rear red light. Nothing for the front. You would be much better off with a modern rig, with something that provides light while you are stopped.
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Old 04-30-19, 07:02 AM
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Originally Posted by BikeWonder
I guess I'll start saving up for the hub dynamo. I'm a student at the moment so my budget is fairly tight. I'll have to sell some bikes to make the purchase since I'm working on two projects for touring/randonneuring.
You have a sweet bike that you should do right- not cut corners.
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Old 04-30-19, 07:12 AM
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Unless you’re a rando nut, or only use one bike, I’d skip dyno and go with helmet mounted rechargeable. My 360viz gives me 3 hours, and it’s small enough to toss a spare in the saddle bag if I think I need more time.
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Old 04-30-19, 08:05 AM
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Hey, cool topic. 😎 I bought an old system like you describe just last month, or rather it came on a bike. I guess it's called a bottle generator, according to this thread. 😉 I'm not very familiar with them, but was thinking they look awful cool, and could probably be modified to work better, at least the bulb.
I also couldn't help noticing they're 6v, and thought there might be a mod for charging USB devices, also 6v. This needs more thought & research, but definitely has potential. 🤔😉
I'll edit in a pic later, it's still early.
EDIT

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Old 04-30-19, 08:33 AM
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Originally Posted by stardognine
Hey, cool topic. 😎 I bought an old system like you describe just last month, or rather it came on a bike. I guess it's called a bottle generator, according to this thread. 😉 I'm not very familiar with them, but was thinking they look awful cool, and could probably be modified to work better, at least the bulb.
I also couldn't help noticing they're 6v, and thought there might be a mod for charging USB devices, also 6v. This needs more thought & research, but definitely has potential. 🤔😉
I'll edit in a pic later, it's still early.
If it's the bottle dynamo I'm thinking of, those are reasonable to use for city commuting. I find that using them wears down the sidewall of the tire quickly unless you are using a rubber device placed on top of the spinning part.

You can make the light a lot brighter, though. For my Peugeot UE8, I switched out the old yellow bulb for a modern LED and I'm expecting a long life out of it. It's a lot brighter too. If you're interested, I can send you a couple since I have them layinf around collecting dust.
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Old 04-30-19, 08:35 AM
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Originally Posted by The Golden Boy
You have a sweet bike that you should do right- not cut corners.
You're right. That's why I'm going to trim the N+1 a bit to spend on better parts. I have a bunch of stuff I need to get rid of anyways. My tour dates are coming up quickly and I need to finish them.
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Old 04-30-19, 10:33 AM
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I should've just posted again, lol, it never edits right from my phone. 🙄 Anyways, I mostly wanted that cool chrome headlight housing, to go with all the other chrome on my bike. It just looks classy, to me. Or will, once I clean it up. 😁😉
I appreciate the offer of LEDs, but I'm sure I can scare up any I need.
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Old 04-30-19, 12:05 PM
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I have used Reelights and other magnetic induction lights, and I think they are great for having lights that require so little increased work that you will not notice. These are the ones that I have bought most recently: Batteryless Bicycle bike safety LEDs lights, A non friction bicycle dynamo, generator, No battery, No friction, science DIY kit, invention, green product. I bought them on ebay and they are good as blinkies.

I find that none of these induction lights provide enough light to light the road at all, but they make you more visible to cars, and they are always on blinking away. Particularly work well for teenagers, who are unable to recharge batteries or even activate lights.

I have found that even old generators (i.e. Sturmey Archer Dynohub) produce enough power to run LED lights, and I recently noticed that the headlamps that Harborfreight was giving away (https://www.harborfreight.com/swivel...amp-64145.html) could be wired into my Dynohub to work well as a headlight (and I suppose I could find some red plastic to work as a taillight).

My experience on a longer tour where I could not recharge things at night, the bigger power need was to keep my smartphone charged for maps. I recommend a hub generator feeding a battery pack that you can use to run lights and also charge your phone, but also you can plug in when you are eating lunch to keep it topped up.

-Will
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Old 04-30-19, 12:26 PM
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Lights that belong on a bike and lights that work well are two different things, when talking C&V bikes in 2019.

Luckily, a solution has been available for quite a while: get both. Mount a period-correct and beautiful dynamo-powered system, as well as a battery-powered option. The latter is what you use as your main system, until the battery runs out. Then the dynamo-powered system is there to fall back on.

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Old 04-30-19, 01:02 PM
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1984 Miyata 1000 with SON dynamo light system

I just outfitted my 1984 Miyata 1000 with a SON dynamo light setup, I believe it looks classy on this bike!



1984 Miyata 1000 with SON dynamo light system

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Old 04-30-19, 01:20 PM
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Originally Posted by tacreamer
I just outfitted my 1984 Miyata 1000 with a SON dynamo light setup, I believe it looks classy on this bike!
Sure, but the Miyata 1000 is timeless, and you have Suntour Symetric shifters for bonus points. Lovely bike.

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Old 04-30-19, 01:33 PM
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Gugie's cheap and dirty hub generator review:

Cheap, works well, highest drag: Sanyo, about $50. You can find an entire front wheel sometimes for around $100. I've seen Shimano hubs for around that price.
Best value, works well, low drag: Shutter Precision (SP) around $135 for hub alone
Bestest, works well, best built, when you don't want the stigma of low price: SON, around $200.
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Old 04-30-19, 02:25 PM
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Originally Posted by tacreamer
I just outfitted my 1984 Miyata 1000 with a SON dynamo light setup, I believe it looks classy on this bike!



1984 Miyata 1000 with SON dynamo light system
That is exceptional!
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Old 04-30-19, 03:04 PM
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I guess I'm wondering, do touring bikes really need lights? For randonneuring, obviously you'll need lighting if doing the longer ones. For bike touring, I'm not convinced. It's been eons since I've been on a multi week tour, but generally I recall starting at sun up, and making camp by late afternoon or early evening. Riding in the dark on tour - that's pretty hardcore. Some people must do it, but if you don't, why bother with lights. You will need some sort of flashlight. BITD I think I had a battery flashlight/bikelight that doubled as my camp light. These days a headband lamp could serve the same purpose. Clearly it's a good idea to bring a flashy for safety, even if it isn't vintage.

The real issue seems to be keeping a cell phone charged. C&V touring didn't need to account for these. Some pocket change and a paper map was all that was needed for communication and navigation. It seems to me that a dyno hub is the way to go, for the modern C&V tourist. I suppose in sunny places a solar panel thing would work too. I've used one hiking. For mini 2-3 day bike tours, a back up battery is enough.

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Old 04-30-19, 03:20 PM
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Originally Posted by gugie
Best value, works well, low drag: Shutter Precision (SP) around $135 for hub alone
We use the SP on my wife's MAP and also my Della Santa.

I bought two of them at the time and they work just fine.

Got some crazy deal at $80ish a piece from a German site.
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Old 04-30-19, 03:31 PM
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Originally Posted by gomango
We use the SP on my wife's MAP and also my Della Santa.

I bought two of them at the time and they work just fine.

Got some crazy deal at $80ish a piece from a German site.
Damn, for $80 I'd stock up!
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Old 04-30-19, 03:31 PM
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Originally Posted by KonAaron Snake
Unless you’re a rando nut, or only use one bike, I’d skip dyno and go with helmet mounted rechargeable. My 360viz gives me 3 hours, and it’s small enough to toss a spare in the saddle bag if I think I need more time.
I have a Light and Motion Viz Pro on my MTB helmet. Works quite well, especially when teamed with this setup:

https://www.niterider.com/product/68...enduro-remote/

Kinda spendy, but important when one has ridden 24 miles into the BWCA for a fishing expedition and it's getting dark.

I also carry them along when I'm out in my fishing kayak at the cabin.

Double duty.
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Old 04-30-19, 03:33 PM
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Originally Posted by gugie
Damn, for $80 I'd stock up!
Should'a bought more!!!

There was a fellow at our Blaine bike swap that had them at $90.

He had three or four left.

Wonder if I still have his card....
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Old 04-30-19, 03:36 PM
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Originally Posted by The Golden Boy
That is exceptional!
Thank you ��
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