Friday, 16 December 2016

Dynamo update

Several months ago I finally got round to rebuilding my bike's front wheel around a Shimano hub dynamo and I fitted a dynamo front light.

I've had a crash in May 2016, which injured my spine in three places, damaged my left thigh and left shoulder and resulted in a torn right calf muscle. As a result I've not cycled much recently - certainly FAR less than I otherwise would have.
I used to cycle to work and back daily, with my commute a round trip of 30 miles. That's 150 miles per week just commuting - on top of that I used to go on club rides (typically around the 60-mile mark) on Saturdays, and often on Sundays I'd do Sky Rides, as I'm a Ride Leader.

Lately it's a good week if I manage to ride 60 miles, and almost all of that would be by occasionally cycle commuting. This means that I actually had little chance of properly testing out my new dynamo lights.

Even commuting home wasn't in real darkness and I got home well before dark. Despite this, I kept the front light switched on all the time. As is the case with most dynamo lights, it has a built-in sensor that can cause it to switch off automatically during the day, and back on when it starts to get dark. I leave it switched on because I try to be as visible as I can be on the bike.

As I was told by many dynamo evangelists would be the case, I couldn't notice any extra drag caused by the dynamo, even with the light switched on, so at least I managed to test that part.

And then the clocks changed, meaning was dark by the time I leave work, and pitch black before I get home. I've now had a good many proper dark commutes with the dynamo light and I am as happy with it now as when I first received it!

My dynamo light is everything I had hoped for.

Before, when I used to ride with a 5 x Cree T6 battery light, I also used a single Cree T6 torch, zoomed to light the road much further ahead. This is because, despite the large amount of light produced by the 5 x T6 light, it's scattered everywhere and only a relatively small amount directly lit the road ahead.

The dynamo light outputs less light, but uses it SO much more effectively that I never felt any need to slow down for lack of light. According to Strava, my fastest speed was 34 mph on one descent and even then I had plenty enough light to safely ride.

The Cree lights undoubtedly lit the road directly (as in a few metres in front of me) better than the dynamo light does, but that caused my night vision to be affected by glare. The dynamo light doesn't have that same glare, but I can clearly see debris, potholes, etc in the way.

The beam pattern of the dynamo light is just SO much better!

If you're still sceptical about dynamo lights, like I was for a very long time, and if you're anywhere near Plymouth, I'd be happy to meet you somewhere like the Coypool Park & Ride, then go cycling up the Plym Valley for a bit, where it gets proper dark.

Failing that, turn up for Darkmoor 2017 and you'll have all night to see my dynamo lights being used in anger.