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Let me get some sidewall dynamo love

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Let me get some sidewall dynamo love

Old 10-25-12, 10:13 AM
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kiltedcelt
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Let me get some sidewall dynamo love

So, I want to hear from all the folks running dynamos - specifically of the sidewall variety. I want to hear practical anecdotes of how well these work in your riding conditions, particularly in the inclement weather you ride in. I live in Chicago, so rain and snow are an occasional occurrence during winter . If you have a new dynamo, (ie not one that is a 30 year old piece of crap that blows your lights out if you peddle too fast), and LED lights I'd like to know what brand, what lights you use, and how well it works in the rain and snow. I'm currently looking at the Dymotec, Nordlicht, and AXA HR. I'm leaning towards the AXA because some tests run by a guy in Europe compared all three and he found the greatest efficiency and output in the AXA. I'm going to be upgrading tires soon, as my rear tire has well over 3000 miles on it and is wearing out. I'm looking at Schwalbes with a dyno strip on the side. Probably Marathons I think. I've already got a couple lights picked out as well. The headlamp is a 60 lux unit that looks to be as blindingly bright as some of the best battery powered LED units, but with a cool German-spec reflector designed to NOT blind oncoming riders or motorists.
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Old 10-25-12, 11:08 AM
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other than they hydroplane on wet tires rather than turn?

I had a 3T Brompton.. that objection, had a hub dynamo a better choice..

B&M has an optional wire wheel instead of a rubber roller contact,
on their Bottle Dynamos.

I'd expect wear thru the sidewall , over time..

Schmidt dyno-hubs are negligible drag, Shimano's not much more..

Last edited by fietsbob; 10-25-12 at 11:13 AM.
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Old 10-25-12, 01:30 PM
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I'm still not 100 percent sold on sidewall dynamos. In fact I really think I'd prefer a hub dynamo, even with the mostly negligible issue of increased drag. However, going the hub dyno route means a significant increase in cost to build a wheel. Also, if I run a second set of snow tires for the winter commute, I'd essentially need two separate wheels, each with their own hub dynamo. Now, if I had my own truing stand and knew how to build wheels, I'd just go the hub dynamo route. However, I don't know how to build wheels and I don't have a truing stand. Getting a wheel built at a shop (x2), is going to cost a LOT more money than installing a sidewall dynamo. I'm willing to give sidewall dynamos a try even with potential slippage issues. I can always convert to hub dynamos at some later date and my LED lights will still work fine with either mode of input.
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Old 10-25-12, 01:55 PM
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Like the OP, I'm toying with a bottle generator for some of the same reasons, but I have another reason as well. I currently only have one bike that is equipped with 26" wheels. My next bike will hopefully be running on 700c/29er wheels. Be a lot cheaper to transfer the system over to the other bike (whenever I actually get it). Of course, my current front light will still be used, but at a lower setting to improve run time.
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Old 10-25-12, 01:58 PM
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Oh, and something else I've neglected to mention is that I'll be building an Xtracycle cargo bike which will need it's own lighting. Again, there's the issue of the added expense of yet another wheel with a hub dynamo versus the much less expensive sidewall dynamo. Also, should I decide that the cargo bike needs snow tires as well, then there's that whole "double the cost" thing rearing it's ugly head again.
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Old 10-25-12, 02:17 PM
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Originally Posted by kiltedcelt View Post
Also, if I run a second set of snow tires for the winter commute, I'd essentially need two separate wheels, each with their own hub dynamo.
you can always just change the tries on you bike's wheel set instead of having a second entire wheel set just for studded tires. that's what i do with my IGH foul-weather commuter. once ice season comes around i just change the tires on the bike from slicks to studs. i don't have a second entire wheel set for my studded tires, as that would require a second alfine IGH and that would just be too spendy for me.
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Old 10-25-12, 03:24 PM
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i love the sounds they make. i can hear them around the corner, reverberating off the walls of buildings. they make a sound like nothing else.
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Old 10-25-12, 04:46 PM
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I used one on my three-month European tour I took when I was young. It worked flawlessly, even in the rain. It was almost dumb luck that I chose it instead of battery powered lights. It was incredibly reliable.
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Old 10-25-12, 04:49 PM
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Originally Posted by acidfast7 View Post
i love the sounds they make. i can hear them around the corner, reverberating off the walls of buildings. they make a sound like nothing else.
Studded tires or sidewall dynamos?
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Old 10-25-12, 04:52 PM
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Yeah, I know I could just swap tires on the rims, but geez! Some of these tires, man the beads are so damn stiff it takes like an hour to swap tires. I'd rather just have two sets of wheels. Especially since Chicago can be pretty unpredictable with the winter weather. It could be icy for three or four days and then nothing for three weeks. That whole time without ice you're tooling along potentially losing studs and of course the faster you go or more aggressive you ride on dry pavement with them, the more damage you do to the studs. That being said, I'm hoping to get through this winter without needing to buy those studded tires and that second set of rims.
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Old 10-25-12, 05:05 PM
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I have a "no-name" sidewall dynamo that came with my Biria. The bike originally had some cheap-@$$ halogen lites - I swapped them out with a pair of LED lites from Peter White. Can't be happier.
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Old 10-25-12, 05:33 PM
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I'm also interested in a bottle generator. I got a presumably cheap version of one with a freebie mountain bike and swapped it to Zoomie to ride. Unfortunately it seemed to be very old and the thing stopped working. In the dark, I managed to crack the plastic bottle and never did get it working.

I LOVED being able to hop on my bike and go without having to worry about spare batteries or dealing with a flaky light as batteries slowly die. My only wish was that mine had some way to keep the lights working for a few minutes after you pedal a bit- like those wind-up flashlights- so I wouldn't be sitting at a traffic night feeling invisible.
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Old 10-25-12, 06:41 PM
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Originally Posted by redeyedtreefr0g View Post


I LOVED being able to hop on my bike and go without having to worry about spare batteries or dealing with a flaky light as batteries slowly die. My only wish was that mine had some way to keep the lights working for a few minutes after you pedal a bit- like those wind-up flashlights- so I wouldn't be sitting at a traffic night feeling invisible.
A lot of the nicer LED lights have a stand light feature where they will stay on for several minutes after you stop.
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Old 10-25-12, 06:55 PM
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Originally Posted by acidfast7 View Post
i love the sounds they make. i can hear them around the corner, reverberating off the walls of buildings. they make a sound like nothing else.
I'm curious as to what kind of sound you are referring to. My attempts searching youtube did not yield the results I was hoping for.
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Old 10-25-12, 07:52 PM
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They work like a hot damn. I just have to remember NOT to have it engaged going down a hill, since I'd blow the bulb in my headlight (which was used in addition to the battery powered ones on my handle bar).
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Old 10-26-12, 03:58 AM
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i have been using a sanyo dyno for 2 years now. The sanyo mounts where the kick stand goes and rides on the top of the tyre. The dyno has been submerged during stream crossings and is still working great.
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Old 10-26-12, 04:30 AM
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Originally Posted by no1mad View Post
I'm curious as to what kind of sound you are referring to. My attempts searching youtube did not yield the results I was hoping for.
yeah can hear the sidewall dynamos rolling on the wheel ... like a vvvv-fffff-vvvvv-ffffff-vvvvvv-ffffff when the front wheel get a little out of true. after far as studded tires go ... i never really see them. usually the bike paths are cleaned before the streets and no one needs the studs to commute.
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Old 10-26-12, 07:17 AM
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Originally Posted by Fargo Wolf View Post
They work like a hot damn. I just have to remember NOT to have it engaged going down a hill, since I'd blow the bulb in my headlight (which was used in addition to the battery powered ones on my handle bar).
Have you really blown bulbs? I'm under the impression that they all have over-voltage protection.
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Old 10-26-12, 08:54 AM
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Originally Posted by acidfast7 View Post
yeah can hear the sidewall dynamos rolling on the wheel ... like a vvvv-fffff-vvvvv-ffffff-vvvvvv-ffffff when the front wheel get a little out of true. after far as studded tires go ... i never really see them. usually the bike paths are cleaned before the streets and no one needs the studs to commute.
Studded tires on pavement sound a little like that buzzing, crackling sound you hear when riding under high power overhead electric lines when it is raining lightly.
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Old 10-26-12, 09:20 AM
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Had a B & M bottle. Worked great, snow and ice were almost no problem. Rain ... that was a problem, even with the wire wheel and a generator track on the tires. It mostly worked, but I simply could not count on it in the rain.
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Old 10-26-12, 09:22 AM
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Originally Posted by kiltedcelt View Post
Yeah, I know I could just swap tires on the rims, but geez! Some of these tires, man the beads are so damn stiff it takes like an hour to swap tires.
some tires can be tougher than others, but it's never taken me an hour to swap tires.



Originally Posted by kiltedcelt View Post
I'd rather just have two sets of wheels. Especially since Chicago can be pretty unpredictable with the winter weather. It could be icy for three or four days and then nothing for three weeks. That whole time without ice you're tooling along potentially losing studs and of course the faster you go or more aggressive you ride on dry pavement with them, the more damage you do to the studs.
oh, now i see, you've only got one bike. that does make the studded tire thing a bit more challenging. for me, the studs typically go on my foul-weather bike in early december and stay on til late march/early april. for the warmer days during that stretch when the weather is good and ice isn't a threat, i can always hop on my fair-weather road bike.

btw, if you get good studded tires like nokians or schwalbes with the super-hard tungsten-carbide studs, riding around on dry pavement isn't gonna do much to them. those tungsten-carbide studs are TOUGH. i rode on dry pavement A LOT with my marathon winters last season (because winter was so mild last year) and i only lost 3 or 4 studs between my two tires. and the missing studs can be replaced.



Originally Posted by kiltedcelt View Post
That being said, I'm hoping to get through this winter without needing to buy those studded tires and that second set of rims.
best of luck to you. i got my education on studded tires from the school of hard knocks (literally).

as the saying goes, you don't need studded tires until you do.

Last edited by Steely Dan; 10-26-12 at 09:28 AM.
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Old 10-27-12, 07:29 AM
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I've been using them for years. I had one on my first Raleigh 3 speed way back when, I use one today on my commuter in the winter and switch it to my touring bike in the summer. By doing that I have one bike with a totally reliable lighting system available all the time. I prefer them over the idea of a dyno hub for a couple of reasons. They are cheaper, lighter and don't create any resistance unless they are being used. I've only had a couple of problems with them slipping in the rain, but the mount had just come out of adjustment. I just bought a new B&M this year and the have wire brush roller I intend to use this winter. That should eliminate any possibility of slipping, even in Michigan slop.


Marc
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Old 10-27-12, 08:50 AM
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No love for sidewall dynamos here, at least for the ones I used 40/50 years ago, and maybe someone can clue me in on today's sidewall dynamo's newer technology, not frying out one's lighting system is one thing I've learned so far.
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Old 10-27-12, 09:06 AM
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I have a Nordlicht sidewall dynamo on my touring bike and a Shimano high end hub generator on my everyday commuter.
Key to a reliable sidewall generator is the mount. I use a braze on tab on the chainstay ; you need a leading or trailing edge appropriate to the hinge orientation. For touring with occasional use, a sidewall style is good. I have used it for dull, foggy, rainy days as well as evening jaunts into town.
for everyday commuting use, the hub generator wins on every count.
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Old 10-27-12, 10:08 AM
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Sidewall dynos can be great, but they're a little picky to set up so you have maximum spin but minimum drag. And if you're looking at changing wheelsets, then they'd need to be re-adjusted every time you do this. I really like a tread-contact generator like the Union/Marwa or the abovementioned Sanyo. They just plain work all the time, although they wouldnt work at all with studded tires.

So either shell out for a hub dynamo, or get a really good rechargable-battery powered light setup. Life is a series of compromises.
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