Dynamo Lighting – First Impressions

In an earlier Post, I had mentioned how I had decided upon and installed a hub dynamo lighting system on my bike.  I outlined some of the reasons for my decision,  and told everyone I’d report back in after using the lights.  So here’s the report …

I had ordered the Shimano dynamo hub through Kyle’s Bicycle Shop — met with Kyle to explain what I wanted to do, and he seemed excited about doing the work.   You see, a dynamo hub is larger than a standard hub, so when installing you have to re-spoke your wheel (or purchase a new wheel and have it spoked with the dynamo).  Kyle had just finished some work for my son on his bike (converting a 10-speed to a fixie) so I had confidence he would do a good job (and he did!).  Kyle’s doesn’t carry new bikes in their store, but they have an ever-revolving selection of used bikes for sale, and Kyle and the service team stay busy with a steady stream of people bringing in bikes for repairs or upgrades.

Kyle did not carry the lights I wanted to use, so I order them via the Web from Peter White Cycles.  The B&M IQ-Fly Senso Plus headlight was highly rated, and the pictures of the different lights’ output at Peter’s web site gave me some assurance of what I would get.   I also purchased the taillight from there.  It is important that you give some thought on how you will mount your lights on your bike.  In my case the headlight would mount over the fork crown, where the front reflector was located.   My rack on the back of the bike had a spot for the taillight mounting, so in my case no special brackets were needed for any mounts.  If you do need  (for instance, if you decided to mount the headlight to a fork, or to your handlebars), be sure to mention this to Peter White’s Cycles and they will make sure you get the proper mounting brackets for your situation.  Once the order arrived, I dropped off the lights at Kyle’s and he installed.

When Kyle called me to pick up the bike, I was apprehensive, but when I met with him, he was smiling and said “you’re gonna love it.  I think I’m getting one for me”.   That’s got to make you feel good!  He said that the whole installation process is very straight-forward, and connecting the lights to the hub was a very simple matter.

I waited for darkness, and then took out the bike for its inaugural night ride.  The first thing I noticed was … I did not notice the dynamo hub!  It works as advertised — you really do not notice it being there doing it’s thing.  As for the lights — yes, they also work as advertised.  One interesting note about the light was that at speeds from just moving to 4mph, — i.e. walking speed — the light strobes.  Once you get above 4mph, the light comes on steady.  After a minute or so of riding, if you come to a complete stop the lights will stay on (you’ve charged a condenser that holds a small charge to keep the light on).

There is also a Senso feature on this particular light — it means no switching the light on or off.  The light senses whenever it gets dark, and it turns on the lights at that time.  I found the sensing feature a bit over-sensitive, keeping the light on in situations where it really wasn’t needed.  But no harm done — it’s not like you’re burning out the bulb or it’s costing you in pedaling effort.  I think of it as being extra-safe ….

Now, what about brightness?  Well, I had planned to try and take video clips and pictures to give you an idea of what the lights look like.  Sadly, my video camera decided to go on the fritz, and I can now see that taking pictures at night is fraught with peril.  I’m attaching two pictures that were the best of what I could get — I’m no camera expert.  But in riding down darkened paths or roads, I can tell you I’m comfortable being able to see what is in front of me.

For what it is worth, her are the pics of the headlight and taillight.  I chose the darkest place near my house, having my son ride my bike at me (notice the streetlight in the background).



For those of you considering a lighting system, do think about going with a dynamo setup.  It may have been true in the past that these systems extracted too much of a toll on pedaling effort for the amount of light generated, but no more.  Not having to worry about charging batteries or replacing bulbs, not having to worry about securing the lights or batteries if you park your bike somewhere — all this means to me I can just jump on my bike and go anywhere, anytime, and always have my lights.  Perhaps a bit more expensive, but for me, it was worth it.

Highly recommended!   🙂


2 replies
  1. Jean-Jacques
    Jean-Jacques says:

    Great choice! Your setup is state of the art in Germany where dynamo-powered lights are mandatory. The IQ Fly is without doubt the brightest of the affordable bike lights for dynamo use.

  2. Keri
    Keri says:

    Andrew, thank you so much for sharing your decision process and lighting choice! I had not considered a dynamo hub before, but with my Nightrider crapping out, it’s starting to look appealing.

    The full moon sure was nice last night! I rode back to Maitland from downtown Orlando after 10PM. So peaceful, nice temperature. I saw a lot of other cyclists… and only 2 of them were bike ninjas.

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