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I have a Batavus Dutch bike for local commuting with a Shimano DH-2R30E 6 volt, 2.4 watt hub dynamo driving a halogen bulb headlight. The light provided is not very bright and I would like to know if I can replace it with an LED headlight for a reasonable cost. If so, what would you recommend?

I should also mention that I would like to bolt the light to the bike in place of the existing light, rather that fix it the the handlebar and unclip it when I leave the bike. One of the major benefits of the Dutch bike concept is that everything is fitted including locks and lights, so it is quick to use for short local journeys.

Given that I will leave the light on the bike unattended, the light shouldn't look too special, and a reasonable cost would be less that $100/£80.

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6 Answers 6

Peter White has done a lot of testing of dynamo headlights and has even put together comparisons of luminance. I have the Schmidt Edelux and love it.

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Likewise, I have the IQ Cyo Senso Plus, and love it. It has a brighter beam toward the bottom so you can see the road, and a fainter beam above the horizon to avoid blinding cars. –  Stephen Touset Aug 13 '12 at 16:08

Reasonable cost could mean a problem depending on your budget, because a good LED light for dynamo-hubs should not be cheap.

My suggestions, based on what I've seen (at night, during some randonneur events) are:

  1. From Busch & Müller, the IXON models. Their light is obscenely strong, reaching 100m+ with a good cutoff, thus without annoying other riders or road users.
  2. Schmidt Edelux, which work on the same principle of semi-parabola reflector. I think this is not so strong as the former, but maybe if you like to enjoy THE NIGHT (instead of throwing bird's eggs out of their nests on the trees with your headlight beam), this is a very good choice.

I cannot tell about other models, but it seems to me that they've seen a lot of improvement in the last few years, the greatest one being the abandonment of halogen bulbs (argh!).

Hope this helps!

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Might be easier to just ignore the dynamo and pick up a bike light off a Chinese website. For $30 I got a light with 2 batteries (which means one spare), a charger, a flashlight and a bike mount for the flashlight. The thing is insanely bright and one battery will run for about an hour and a half. I've had 2 or 3 people comment that they thought it was a motorcycle coming up the road. –  Kibbee Aug 12 '12 at 16:12
    
@Kibbee after I felt the taste of permanently available light, no batteries, I wouldn't even think about going back to anything less than 12 hours straight. I imagine that the brightness-per-buck ratio of your light is great, but one hour and a half sounds like a joke! –  heltonbiker Aug 12 '12 at 21:35
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(not to mention that the beam pattern for a vehicle light is way different than the radially symmetric pattern of handheld flashlights). –  heltonbiker Aug 12 '12 at 21:35
    
Supernove E3 for more that 200 Euros is not a reasonable cost to me. 50-80 Euros/Dollars could be acceptable for good performance. –  Nigel Davies Aug 12 '12 at 21:41
    
The other thing I implied in my question, but did not make explicit is that I would like to bolt the light to the bike in place of the existing light, rather that fix it the the handlebar and unclip it when I leave the bike. One of the major benefits of the Dutch bike concept is that everything is fitted including locks and lights, so it is quick to use for short local journeys. –  Nigel Davies Aug 12 '12 at 21:43

I can also recommend the Busch&Müller Dynamo lights. They are all designed for dynamo (AC, protection against overload/varying voltage, inbuilt capacitor to stay on for a few minutes when stopped, etc.), you don't have to worry about that. And although the manual says "hub dynamo", I'm running them successfully on a bottle dynamo (6V/3W). AFAIK, all dynamos are similar enough that the electronics can handle them. Many models also have electronics that change between day/night settings (useful for tunnels!) and other things.

Regarding theft, they all look fairly inconspicuous, stylish but not particularly expensive, so I don't think they attract casual thieves (experts of course will know their value). The mount is very solid, and the bolt uses a special kind of star-shaped screw; it's not totally theftproof but you can't use standard screwdrivers, and I found even with the proper tools its a bit of fiddling, so I'm not worried about theft; other bits of the bike can be taken off more easily.

The choice of model depends on your situation. Are you mostly cycling in lit areas or do you cycle in dark unlit areas?

I had the "Lumotec Lyt T Senso Plus" first, it is very good for city cycling, with a really bright area on the road so that you can see potholes and obstacles. It's also not very expensive (40 Euro). However, I often cycle through a dark park, and while the Lyt lit up the path perfectly well, I felt I wanted one with a wider beam that also lit up the sides, it just felt more comfortable and safe to see the area around the path.

So I then bought a "Luxos B" (RRP 119 Euro), which has a much wider beam. This is very good in all respects, it almost seems like a car headlight (perhaps not quite as bright, but in terms of beam width and distance that you can see). The "Luxos U" additionally has a battery and a USB charger and is much more expensive, but I'm not convinced it's a good idea. For one thing, the battery will have limited lifetime especially when outside from winter to summer, and I generally don't think you should combine different functions (light and USB charging) in the same very expensive item. The Luxos B has a capacitor so that it stays on for a few minutes when you stop, more than enough for traffic lights and such.

The B&M Website shows the beam shape and sample images, it's worth comparing the models and think about what kind of area you're cycling in.

All the B&M models are bright enough so that you are clearly visible to cars in normal street situations (the Luxos even has additional non-directional LEDs), although if you are in an arms-race situation (where everybody else has multiple superbright lights) you may feel too dark.

A bit off-topic perhaps, but as somebody mentioned it in a comment, please stay away from superbright LED lights without shaped beams, not only cheap ones but also some of the expensive brands. It is important to have a shaped beam that illuminates the path but not dazzle oncoming cars, other cyclists or pedestrians, and that they are adjusted carefully. Also please stay away from helmet-mounted lights. Or at least use them only where absolutely needed (e.g. to be seen in an already very bright environment).

My regular experience, when I cycle along through the park and somebody with a floodlight comes round the corner and completely blinds me - don't know how many times I ended up in the grass, and once I almost collided with one of the "floodlighters". The worst experience was when I suddenly faced a team of several riders, each with a superbright handle bar light and a helmet light, all looking straight at me. I couldn't see anything for minutes afterwards. Unfortunately I only managed to stammer a "too bright" before they had gone (they didn't stop to ask if I'm ok...).

So please, when you check out different lights, not only consider your own requirements, but also those of fellow path users.

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I recently installed the Philips Safe Ride 60 on my Pashley with a Sturmey-Archer dynamo hub. It's a big improvement over the incandescent headlamp that came with the bike, and it meets your price criteria. (Though having to ship from Europe added to the cost...)

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I went for the Lumotec IQ CYO RT, also a big improvement on the incandescent. I thought the day running lights might be worthwhile on grey days, and people are calling the flashing lights drunk magnets. Sadly my always on LEDs are drowned out by all the day running LEDs on modern cars. Oh well. –  Nigel Davies May 30 '13 at 12:50
    
My B&M IQ CYO RT works fine with the dynamo, except when pushing the bike when the light tends to flash. I don't know if any of the LED lights have a bigger capacitor to smooth out the current. The new B&M Luxos 2 with a build in battery looks interesting. Perhaps on my next bike ... –  Nigel Davies May 30 '13 at 12:53
    
The Safe Ride 60 definitely has smooth brightness, it even stays lit for ~20 seconds after I stop motion. –  Ryan Olson May 30 '13 at 16:37

Any replacement would need to be matched to the dynamo in voltage and load. I'd suggest that you contact the dynamo manufacturer to find out what might work.

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The dynamo has 6V, 2.4W printed on it, so I know that. What I don't know is the voltage or power required for the various LED lights. The manufacture web sites don't make that data easy to find. –  Nigel Davies Aug 12 '12 at 22:17
    
@ngdavies -- First off, the dynamo almost certainly produces AC, and the output is 6V RMS (which means a peak voltage of about 8.5 volts). And the voltage likely varies widely. Any LED lamp would expect DC, and relatively steady voltage. Unless you're an electronics hacker or can find a regulator designed to mate the two, there's no way a standard LED lamp will mate with the dynamo. –  Daniel R Hicks Aug 12 '12 at 23:49
    
thanks for pointing that out. I will do more research on the various dynamos now. Clearly some are compatible with LED lights, or maybe some lights have build in regulators. Hopefully some googling will give me an answer. I will update my question when I know more. –  Nigel Davies Aug 13 '12 at 7:55
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For the record: 1) The standard for dynamo hubs is AC, 6V, 3W, so they can feed a 2.4W headlamp and a 0.6W tail-light. 2) Every light built for dynamo use have a circuit inside which converts the AC to DC, regulating its voltage to 6V to prevent blowing the light at high speeds. 3) You can convert, as I did, any 6V (4 batteries) bike light to use with dynamo, but you should be able to build a rectifier/filter/regulator with electronic circuit board. 4) If you can build the circuit, you could very well build (as I did once) the headlight itself with a handful of relatively cheap white leds. –  heltonbiker Aug 13 '12 at 12:20

I second (or third) the recommendation of B&M LED lights from Peter White Cycles. We have an B&M Lumotec Eyc T Senso Plus ($72, 50 lux) on one bike and a Lumotec IQ Premium Cyo Senso Plus ($98, 80 lux) on another. The Eyc came first, and for riding on dark streets the beam isn't wide enough for my taste – you end up making turns "into the dark." The Cyo is much better, the beam is wider and has a bit more reach.

That said the Eyc is not a bad light by any stretch, if money is an issue you can save an additional $6 by getting the version without the daytime running light (Licht 24). The difference is that the Licht 24 version uses a second LED that doesn't have the sharp cutoff of the primary LED optics so it seems brighter to oncoming cars in the daylight. At night the Licht 24 LED is off.

Your generator's output is suitable for a halogen bulb without a taillight, they draw much more power than modern LED lights, so you should be just fine running any of the German spec LED lights.

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