This post was written by Matt Long, expert mechanic and Sales Manager at the Denver Bicycle Cafe.
Some people have to ride at night, other people like to ride at night. You can change yourself from the “have to” to the “like to” category pretty easily, just by outfitting your current bike with high-quality lights (front and rear) or go big with dynamo lighting system.
Whichever you choose, you enhance your safety and riding enjoyment when you can see the road in front of you and others can easily see you on the road in front of them. If you have encountered a cyclist without lights while you are driving, you probably wanted to yell, “Get some lights on your bike!” At this time of year in particular, lights matter. So what are the best lights for your bike?
For starters check out the USB powered LED lights from Lezyne, available at the Denver Bicycle Cafe. LED lights give you high visibility at a economical price when you consider the money you save with rechargeable batteries over the life of your light set. They come with easy to install strapping mounts for front and back. Or you can consider a dynamo lighting solution where you provide the power.
Dynamo hubs provide high quality at a lower overall price.
Bicycle hub dynamos are hubs that have fully-enclosed power generating capabilities suitable for all weather conditions. These hubs have an output of 6V, 3W, which allow them to power a headlight and taillight, and/or certain USB charging devices. This technology starts at around $300 for a complete front wheel and high-output head and tail lights.
A variety of manufacturers make dynamo hubs at a variety of price points, including industry giant Shimano, as well as lesser-known boutique manufacturers such as Wilfried Schmidt Maschinenbau. Quality Shimano dynamo hubs start at around $100, and are available for quick-release, rim brake, and Centerlock disc. Schmidt hubs start at $282, and are available for quick release, thru-axle, fatbikes, folding bikes, Centerlock disc, and ISO disc.
We can build a new front wheel for you using your selected dynamo hub, and any rim and spoke combination you like. Pre-built wheels are available with Shimano hubs through Quality Bicycle Products starting at around $200.
Light sets are manufactured by the German company Supernova, Schmidt, Busch & Muller, and Inoled. A headlight and taillight combo starts at about $100 for an entry-level Busch & Muller to $280 for a Schmidt sytem, to $320 for a top-of-the-line Supernova system.
Headlights are available in halogen or LED versions, the LED versions putting out more light overall, and at lower speeds than the halogen versions. Even the entry-level Busch & Muller LED headlight puts out sufficient light to see where you’re going, as opposed to just putting out enough light for other road users to see you with. The LED taillights are exceptionally bright as well, making sure that other road users can see you from the back as well as the front.
Certain manufacturers, including Supernova, produce USB charging devices. These devices allow you to charge your other electronic devices (such as a cell phone) while riding your bike. These can be invaluable for the off-road touring cyclist that wants to keep their phone, GPS, or camera charged while out adventuring. Supernova’s version is called “The Plug,” and is essentially an extra-thick top cap with all of the necessary electronics inside and a USB port on the side. It’s compatible with 1-1/8” threadless stems and requires a special expander wedge for the wiring to pass through the steerer tube. The Plug is $185 and the expander wedge is $18.
While the initial price may seem high, the value of being able to use your bicycle as a viable form of transportation at any time of day or night is priceless. Depending on how much you ride at night, you could even see return on your investment within a year or two, in the form of saved expenses on batteries and gasoline, as you’ll find yourself making nighttime trips by bike you would have used a car for. You can take extra pleasure in the fact you are pedaling to save the planet!
If you are interested in the hub dynamo solution to power the lights on your bike (or charge you mobile device while you ride!), stop by the Bike Shop at the Denver Bicycle Cafe and talk to our staff about ordering parts and installation of your system.