April 11, 2010 at 4:27 pm | Posted in bikes, Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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I’ve been using generator lighting systems for the past couple of years now. I’m sold. Love ’em! Having lights that are always on your bike, always bright, all without having worry about batteries is amazing! Being able to use your light to see the road ahead of you instead of simply using a blinky light to be visible to others really makes riding at night much safer and more fun!

There are still a lot of people who haven’t had the opportunity to experience night riding like this. It’s a big step to make the switch and unfortunatly it’s not a cheap upgrade. Light and hub options continue to grow though, which helps drive standards higher and prices lower. I’ve had some experience with a few different lights and hubs and would like would like to share with you my findings to help aid in your decision.

First off, I’d like to note that these are all my personal opinions. You may have had a different experience. That’s okay. This is what I think about the different lights and hubs I have used. Okay, moving on. I own (and use regularly) two lighting set-ups. The first is on the Kogswell, it is in my opinion, the ideal commuter set-up.

I’m using Shimano’s front hub and a LED powered B&M (Lumotec IQ Cyo R) light. If you purchase the hub separately it will set you back about $100 or so, but you can buy pre-built wheels in a couple different configurations these days I think. That would be a much cheaper option than collecting all the parts for a wheel and building from scratch. The hub itself is strong and with the right light provides a very rewarding amount of light in exchange for a bit of drag. The IQ Cyo R is what I would recommend for the daily commute (I also use this on the Kogswell). It provides a large rectanged shaped beam of light directly in front of the rider and can be seen from quite a distance. I would say it is as bright or brighter than some lights which carry price tag close to double to that of the IQ Cyo. The shell itself is sort of large and a bit bulky compared to some more expensive lights, but that does not affect the performance at all. One nice feature is on/off switch with built in compasssitor. Basically, when you turn the light off it goes off completely, stand light and all, while the remaining charge is held in a compassitor. What that means is, when you go back to turn the light on, it comes on bright and strong, even before you start to pedal. It’s a nice feature, I like it.

For the Ahearne I employ the use of the Schmidt SON20R or SONdelux. This is, in my opinion, the best hub currently available. You get less drag with this hub when the light is on than you get from the Shimano hub with the light turned off. It is also very, small, light (comparatively speaking) and very shiny! Shiny things have always seemed to get me. Read more about the tech specs of this hub here. The light I use for this set up is the Supernova E3 Pro. The E3 is a very bright and casts a huge amount of light in front of the bike and probably twice as far as the Cyo. No one will be able to use the excues “I didn’t see ’em” when you are using this light. It is simply too bright to be missed. All cased in a very attractive, rugged, aluminum housing. They say the heavy aluminum housing actually draws heat away from the LED allowing it to get super bright. That explanation works for me. The main difference you would notice with these lights is the beam pattern. The Cyo provides much more light concentrated directly in front of your bike than the E3. While the E3 sheds much more light overall, just not as much is focused at the ground directly in front of you. It’s a trade off.

Overall, I’d say for faster bikes and bigger budgets the E3 Pro is the way to go, it sheds much more light farther in front of and around you than the Cyo does. That goes for the Schmidt hub as well. If you do have to cut costs somewhere, I’d maybe spring for the nicer hub first? You’ll have a lighter hub which creates worlds less drag, and you can always upgrade your light later. For the no-frills everyday commuter the Shimano hub will work just fine though. The IQ Cyo is a fantastic light, and much much cheaper way to go than the E3, I recommend this route for most, unless your budget is sky high and/or you know someone who can get you a deal.

For a vast amount of information on these products and others others like them see

See. Be seen.


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