Been running my lights with dynamo power for over a year now, and I'm totally sold. Last winter (2012), I finally built a dynamo-hub front wheel for my winter/wet commuter (Shimano Alfine Hub and 26 in. MTB rim). After 10 years, I was getting lazy about battery charging, with the obvious results.
The Alfine powers my 2 headlights (Cree XMLs) and tail light (19 red LEDs) "to infinity and beyond", and all I have to do is turn 'em on and clean the lenses. I built a circuit (fits in the steer tube) that boosts output at my optimum speed and provides an acceptable stand light - 1 headlight and taillight. Running around 500 mA, the XMLs put out decent light to see and be seen (commute is on lit city streets), without blinding anyone. It works so well, this winter I decided to do the same thing for my summer/dry commuter. While not really necessary, I still have the bug, and wanted to try the SP hub.
So, I bought a Shutter Precision PD-8 (6 bolt disc) hub and built it up with a 700c rim. This hub is touted as one of the lightest, most efficient dynamo hubs on the market. At $130 USD (including shipping), the price was certainly right. It is small and light (for a dyno hub), has sealed bearings, and seems well built. Used the same circuit to power 2 headlights (SSC P7) and a taillight (red Cree XP-E). The PD-8 has noticeably less drag (spinning in the workstand) than the Alfine - in use, it does take another (3rd) pedal stroke to achieve full, steady brightness. Otherwise, it works as expected (same 500mA output - less weight and drag).
Actually, on the road, I don't notice any drag from either hub, so now I just leave the lights on all the time. (Why did I bother with those sweet top cap switches?)
Nevertheless, I've already had multiple questions about the taillight on the summer bike (still in only limited use). Even had a motorist say how bright it was and ask where could he get one. All in broad daylight (and music to my ears). I guess the red XP-E, running near its max, is plenty bright. Nothing left but to put one on the winter bike, too.
I hope this post inspires others (at least commuters) to (get smart) go dynamo.
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Thread: Dynamo Odyssey - one year on
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