I'm considering outfitting my hybrid/commuter bike with a front dynamo hub and associated lighting.

Currently, looking at Sanyo, Shimano, and Schmidt dynamo hubs. The Schmidt's are pretty pricey, but may be worth it? Sanyo's and Shimano's are similarly priced.

Not sure yet about compatible lighting as there are multiple choices. The key points here would be that the lights are bright, and easily removable for when my bike is parked in public bike parking areas. Another key point is that I would like to stay lit while stopped and slowly climbing hills; and I'm not sure whether this is a function of the dynamo hub or the lights.


Just to say... After this question, Why are battery-powered lights so popular?

I find that I'm much more interested in a dynamo solution for the commuter bike. The road bike; not so much.

  • 2
    Posting as a comment since it really doesn't answer the question, but despite not meeting your listed requirements at all, it's worth looking at Reelights. They use the wheel itself as the dynamo (magnets on spokes) and aren't easily removable, but are cheap compared to a dynamo system. I have an older set that I like a lot, where the light's at the hub, but they have now have setups with other mounts (handlebar, seatpost, fork crown, basket, rack).
    – freiheit
    Feb 18, 2011 at 23:51
  • @freiheit - I'll take a look at Reelights. I haven't done any shopping for lights in a while, so hadn't heard of it. Thanks.
    – user313
    Feb 26, 2011 at 20:11
  • @freiheit: actually, doing the reelights do not seem that hard. If I can understand, it is just an electric motor, some diodes and some rechargeable battery.... perhaps a good homebrewed project, thank you for idea! :)
    – user652
    Mar 25, 2011 at 17:01
  • 1
    @hhh: you mean building your own? No, not that hard with some basic elecronics knowledge. An induction coil from something, and some magnets from old broken hard drives. instructables.com/id/…. That's much more of a topic for electronics.stackexchange.com though.
    – freiheit
    Mar 25, 2011 at 17:28

2 Answers 2


I suspect you'll find that removable dynamo lights are uncommon. I have not seen any that I can recall. I think it kind of defeats the purpose - dyno lights are always there and always work.

If you can afford it IMO the Schmidt are the way to go. That's what I have. They fulfil the "it just works" requirement very well. Or at least, I haven't heard of any failures other than the "I took it apart and now it doesn't go" ones. I have not seen any Shimano or Sanyo lights that are 10 years/20Mm old, so I can't comment on their longevity, but I own a Schmidt that old and have seen others. It would be annoying to have a dyno hub fail and discover that I had to build a new wheel because I can't get parts for it (Shimano generally support their products for at most five years).

Flickering is addressed in two ways. One is lots of poles in the dynamo, so that even at low speeds the flickering is quite fast (technically an LED light can flicker at any speed you travel at). The other is a small capacitor in the light (or dynamo), so that the flickering is reduced at any speed. My Schmidt/B&M combo flickers at walking speed but once I'm moving I don't notice it. Even riding up hills. I have the standlight B&M, which may make a difference.

The other thing is, don't get hung up about having a switch on the light(s). I don't think it's worth the hassle when the hub dyno drag is so small. I can't tell whether the light is on or not without looking, so when I got offered a better light cheap because the switch didn't work I took it. Now my lights are always on, and have been for over a year now. I still don't notice the extra drag.

FWIW I think the ReelLights are a cool idea and great as extra lights, but I wouldn't have them as my only lights. They are too low and flash too slowly (and they're not bright enough). But then I have a superflash light on the back of my helmet as well as the dynamo lights on my commuter bike. And another battery light under my seat. And reflective tape on the frame and mudguards. So perhaps I'm not the best one to comment on that issue.

  • My plan is to replace an old NiteRider, pre-LED, rechargeable battery lighting system - - which is now unreliable and has re-soldered connectors, etc. - - The Schmidt dynamo hub gets rave reviews; and just sounds rock solid. - - I like quality.
    – user313
    Feb 26, 2011 at 20:04
  • One thing, "...removable dynamo lights are uncommon. I have not seen any that I can recall." - - Am I understanding this right? I thought that the "lights" are detachable. I thought that I would be able to have front and rear light mounts wired to the dynamo hub? With the actual lights removable.
    – user313
    Feb 26, 2011 at 20:16
  • 1
    @wdypdx22: I haven't seen that. To me it just seems like another point of failure. Plus, anyone who's using tools to take stuff off your bike is unlikely to start with the dyno lights, they're more likely to take your seat, handlebars, brakes...
    – Мסž
    Feb 27, 2011 at 20:54
  • Check this out and tell me what you think. It'll take a bit of reading. Sorry about that. peterwhitecycles.com/plight.asp
    – user313
    Mar 1, 2011 at 0:08
  • @wdypdx22: that's an excellent overview, although the lights are slightly dated because no-one uses halogen bulbs any more (Cheeky Transport have newer LED options cheekytransport.com.au/stuff-we-sell/bits/lighting). Candlepower Forums is also an excellent resource, and will often be extremely up to date.
    – Мסž
    Mar 1, 2011 at 0:42

Staying lit while totally stopped, for example at a junction, is a function of the light. It's definitely worthwhile, and a modern LED dynamo light with standlight function will give reasonable light for quite a while when stopped. Theft of dynamo lights seems to be rare, but if you are worried, consider using non-standard screws or bolts to make it harder to remove them, not making them easily removeable like battery lights. If you like the feeling of having the absolute best, even if it was pricy, get the Schmidt, but the better Shimano models are very nearly as good and quite a bit cheaper, and a B+M Cyo is very nearly as good as the Schmidt light.

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