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Minimalist PBP-compliant tail lights?

Old 12-24-21, 03:51 PM
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Minimalist PBP-compliant tail lights?

I waffled about posting this in the Electronics/Lighting/Gadgets forum, but figured this forum might be more hip to what I have in mind. This would be in addition to my dyno taillight, to act as a back-up.

* PBP regulation says the taillight must be visible from at least 150 meters. I haven't done much testing of this, but it feels like a pretty low bar -- it's about the same distance as the inside of a 400 meter running track. Brighter would be fine, but not at the expense of:
* 24-32 hour running time in solid mode. This is where most offerings I know of fall short -- rather than being dimmable, they use flashing modes to extend battery life. I rode through 4 nights in 2015, going to the 84-hour group would cut that down to 3 nights. Nights in France are about 10 hours long that time of year, and with better planning than last time, I'd sleep about two hours of each one. With a long enough runtime, I wouldn't have to fumble with batteries when I'm a zombie, a definite plus.
* Miminal weight. Without features like dimming, flashing or recharging, I'm thinking this kind of light shouldn't weigh much more than 2 AAAs, the LED, maybe a limiting resistor, the switch, and enough plastic to enclose it and attach it to the frame.

Does something like this exist? I'm a little concerned I may have to design and build it, since it's rather niche. Most people in the E/L/G forum (and probably everywhere else in the cycling world) seem to want retina-frying brightness and/or seizure-inducing flash modes.
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Old 12-24-21, 05:40 PM
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Originally Posted by ThermionicScott View Post
I waffled about posting this in the Electronics/Lighting/Gadgets forum, but figured this forum might be more hip to what I have in mind. This would be in addition to my dyno taillight, to act as a back-up.

* PBP regulation says the taillight must be visible from at least 150 meters. I haven't done much testing of this, but it feels like a pretty low bar -- it's about the same distance as the inside of a 400 meter running track. Brighter would be fine, but not at the expense of:
* 24-32 hour running time in solid mode. This is where most offerings I know of fall short -- rather than being dimmable, they use flashing modes to extend battery life. I rode through 4 nights in 2015, going to the 84-hour group would cut that down to 3 nights. Nights in France are about 10 hours long that time of year, and with better planning than last time, I'd sleep about two hours of each one. With a long enough runtime, I wouldn't have to fumble with batteries when I'm a zombie, a definite plus.
* Miminal weight. Without features like dimming, flashing or recharging, I'm thinking this kind of light shouldn't weigh much more than 2 AAAs, the LED, maybe a limiting resistor, the switch, and enough plastic to enclose it and attach it to the frame.

Does something like this exist? I'm a little concerned I may have to design and build it, since it's rather niche. Most people in the E/L/G forum (and probably everywhere else in the cycling world) seem to want retina-frying brightness and/or seizure-inducing flash modes.
I bet a lot of AAA-powered lights would fit the bill. I have the Planet Bike Superflash and it lasted all of 2019 PBP:

Run times: 40 hrs. on high (30 lumens); 90 hours on low (7 lumens); 45 hrs. on Courtesy™ pulse mode (20 - 60 lumens); up to 130 hrs. on Superflash™ (65 lumens)
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Old 12-24-21, 05:47 PM
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I have a Cygolite hotshot Pro 200. You can dim the solid mode down to extend runtime to 200 hours.
You can slow the flash frequency down to give up to 75hrs in the triple flash mode (one very bright flash and two dimmer ones).

The Hypershots have similar features, dual optics and a bit brighter.

https://cygolite.com/product/hotshot-pro-200-usb/
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Old 12-25-21, 08:04 AM
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I was going to suggest a hotshot. I had a couple with me in 2019, never used them though. I didn't hit any of the high traffic roads at night. I'm not sure 2 solid lights are particularly helpful for safety, it could easily cause disorientation if someone thinks you are in a car.
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Old 12-26-21, 12:32 AM
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Thanks, @samkl, @znomit, and @unterhausen.

You know how sometimes just asking a question out loud is enough to bring the obvious answers out of the woodwork? It occurred to me that I had a topped-up Cygolite Hotshot (SL 30, I think) attached to my fixed-gear commuter, but had never really tested how long it would last, or how visible it was at its lowest setting. So not long after samkl and znomit mentioned their Cygolites, I turned mine on, dimmed it all the way, and found a spot to leave it in the basement. 24 hrs later, it was still going strong. Check. Once it was dark and our toddler was asleep, I went on Google Maps to figure out how far away 450 feet was from our end of the sidewalk. I carefully set it on the ground at the end, and strolled over to my target. Still plenty easy to see, so I kept walking. Another 150-200 feet got me to the end of the block, and I probably could have gone a lot further before it was out of sight, but started to get a little self-conscious about what I was doing, so I retrieved it and went home...

I guess I was biased from a couple lights I'd owned that only had bright or flashy modes -- after some more digging, it looks like quite a few lights would do the job. Now, I'm curious how lightweight one could go, dependably... my Hotshot is 55g, Cygolite makes the Micro 30 at 35g and the Dice TL at 30g. Has anyone reading this tried the Lezyne Femto Drive Rear (22g) or others in this weight class?
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Old 12-26-21, 06:24 AM
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If you end up using a light with AAA or AA cells, keep in mind that lithium type will last much longer than alkaline. Perhaps approaching twice as long.
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Old 12-26-21, 07:08 AM
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Even with lithium batteries, the Turbo Flash won't run the 32 hours in solid mode as TScott wishes. I run lithiums on that light, unfortunately, I forget how long they will run but not 32 hours......I seem to recall just over 20 hours in solid mode. I also use a small piece of tape to keep the halves clamshelled together. In 2015 and 2019, I replaced batteries in it once.

I have had four Hotshots. Three failed the same way, somehow they stop turning on. The fourth died unpleasantly when I came bombing down from the sheepery in Rambouillet into the Paris-Roubaix sized cobbles, which launched it off the mount and it smashed spectacularly. The Turbo Flash mount next to it survived the assault. YMMV
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Old 12-26-21, 08:48 AM
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I use the Cateye Reflex Auto for my multi-day audax rides. According to the specs it only manages 30 hours on constant mode, but I feel like it actually lasts longer due to its ability to automatically turn on and off based on its light and motion sensors. I don't recall swapping batteries during my 1000k rides; I imagine even with 1200k or longer, carrying a single set of spares would be sufficient.

Though like many other lights of this kind, you need a way to secure both halves of the light together or they can come apart and fall off during a particularly bumpy stretch of road. I've used both rubber bands and metal wire twists successfully for this purpose.
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Old 12-26-21, 02:13 PM
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I think almost all battery lights from a reputable brand will be visible from that distance. That's about what is required in most U.S. states.
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Old 12-26-21, 09:02 PM
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Originally Posted by unterhausen View Post
I think almost all battery lights from a reputable brand will be visible from that distance. That's about what is required in most U.S. states.
I bet you're right! A light that can't manage to be seen a couple hundred feet away would be pretty dim and might be hard to sell (at least without incurring a bunch of bad reviews.)

At any rate, my Cygolite has been going for over 50 hours now, and still passes my test of being seen from the other end of the block. If my math is right, that's more than the number of night-time hours available in a PBP! So it seems that my goal of avoiding recharges/battery changes is more easily doable than I thought.

Lezyne only rates their Femto Drive for 30 hours -- right on the edge for the 84-hour group, and would have me changing batteries right when it would be least welcome in the 80- or 90-hour timeframe. But the Cygolite Dice TL is looking pretty good with 65 hours in "group mode", which I understand to be the dimmest solid setting. Think I'll give that a whirl and conclude this relatively pointless thread.
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Old 12-26-21, 10:44 PM
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Remember that you really don't want to discharge a lithium battery too far, it cuts down on the number of charge cycles you can get out of it. Significantly in some cases.
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Old 12-27-21, 05:42 AM
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Originally Posted by ThermionicScott View Post
I bet you're right! A light that can't manage to be seen a couple hundred feet away would be pretty dim and might be hard to sell (at least without incurring a bunch of bad reviews.)

At any rate, my Cygolite has been going for over 50 hours now, and still passes my test of being seen from the other end of the block. If my math is right, that's more than the number of night-time hours available in a PBP! So it seems that my goal of avoiding recharges/battery changes is more easily doable than I thought.

Lezyne only rates their Femto Drive for 30 hours -- right on the edge for the 84-hour group, and would have me changing batteries right when it would be least welcome in the 80- or 90-hour timeframe. But the Cygolite Dice TL is looking pretty good with 65 hours in "group mode", which I understand to be the dimmest solid setting. Think I'll give that a whirl and conclude this relatively pointless thread.
Not to me. I am always looking for a better tail light. I have yet to find a rechargeable light that will last a 1200K at a brightness that I prefer.

I had to buy a replacement in Rambouillet, I do not recognize the name. It sort of looks like the Cayeye Omni 3. This Cateye is rated at 100 hours in steady and 150 hours in flash. I do not own it, so, no idea about brightness, but it is only 41.6 grams with batteries per their instruction manual (I doubt it but that is what they write). The mount looks easy to use. As a backup to a dynamo system, it looks promising to me.
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Old 12-27-21, 11:55 AM
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Originally Posted by unterhausen View Post
Remember that you really don't want to discharge a lithium battery too far, it cuts down on the number of charge cycles you can get out of it. Significantly in some cases.
Good point! My Cygolite was still going strong at 65 hours, but felt it was time to turn it off and recharge. Lots of reasons to have a generous margin on your lights...

Originally Posted by GhostRider62 View Post
Not to me. I am always looking for a better tail light. I have yet to find a rechargeable light that will last a 1200K at a brightness that I prefer.

I had to buy a replacement in Rambouillet, I do not recognize the name. It sort of looks like the Cayeye Omni 3. This Cateye is rated at 100 hours in steady and 150 hours in flash. I do not own it, so, no idea about brightness, but it is only 41.6 grams with batteries per their instruction manual (I doubt it but that is what they write). The mount looks easy to use. As a backup to a dynamo system, it looks promising to me.
Thanks for the affirmation! Once replies started rolling in, I worried that my question was obvious to everyone else, and a waste of their time. I was sorry to hear about your Cygolites, mine has been completely reliable, but I've had other lights that just died out of the blue. Frustrating and disconcerting.
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Old 12-27-21, 08:27 PM
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The Micro is a good option as it easily seat stay mounts. I think it's 80 hours on dim. I did have one give up on a very wet 400 but liked it so much I bought another.

I usually carry a small usb battery and cable so can recharge the taillights if needed during the day, but it's just another thing to worry about.
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Old 12-29-21, 11:46 AM
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Originally Posted by ThermionicScott View Post
...
Thanks for the affirmation! Once replies started rolling in, I worried that my question was obvious to everyone else, and a waste of their time. I was sorry to hear about your Cygolites, mine has been completely reliable, but I've had other lights that just died out of the blue. Frustrating and disconcerting.
Most of my bike taillight experience is from bike touring. I have settled on one Planet Bike Superflash and also a Planet Bike Superflash 65. Both are AAA models. My last bike tour was a rainy five weeks in Candian Maritimes, and I never had a water ingress problem.

I had one light (a cheap brand light) die on my Iceland bike tour, corrosion from too much water getting into the electronics from too much rain.

The Superflash has a very tight beam, so if aimed well it should be very visible from directly astern, but only minimal light to the sides, up or down. I mostly use that on days I plan to be on long straight roads. The Superflash 65 has a much broader beam in all directions, I use that on winding up and down roads because of the broader beam in all directions.

If you choose AAA batteries, I use NiMH rechargeable batteries but I would expect that you want the greater capacity of disposables if you are using AAA batteries that need a long life. Touring, I charge up the AAA batteries once a week whether they need it or not just to make sure they stay bright.

It was mentioned above the concern about two lights being mistaken as a car with two taillights. Put one higher than the other to avoid the potential for that confusion.
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Old 01-06-22, 09:03 AM
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Originally Posted by GhostRider62 View Post
Not to me. I am always looking for a better tail light. I have yet to find a rechargeable light that will last a 1200K at a brightness that I prefer.

I had to buy a replacement in Rambouillet, I do not recognize the name. It sort of looks like the Cayeye Omni 3. This Cateye is rated at 100 hours in steady and 150 hours in flash. I do not own it, so, no idea about brightness, but it is only 41.6 grams with batteries per their instruction manual (I doubt it but that is what they write). The mount looks easy to use. As a backup to a dynamo system, it looks promising to me.
I bought a Cateye Omni 3. It was maybe 10 bucks. The seatpost clamp seems pretty decent but the thing they give you to put it on a jersey is junk, the light would be ejected immediately over a bump. One thing that I do really like is the clear housing giving some visibility almost 360. There are only three settings, two flash and one steady. I tested it from 150 yards at night and it was very clearly visible although not as bright as the Turboflash (to my eye). It weighs 43 grams with 2 AAA batteries, the mount is very light (did not weigh it).

I needed a blinky for one of my bikes and decided to give this one a whirl. 100 hours, 43 grams, and 10 bucks? I'll now in the coming months if it lasts.
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Old 01-07-22, 05:04 AM
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Originally Posted by GhostRider62 View Post
The seatpost clamp seems pretty decent but the thing they give you to put it on a jersey is junk, the light would be ejected immediately over a bump.
There seems to be some variation in quality with these, some have a more pronounced hook at the end which helps avoid ejection when fastened to hoops and pockets. Though for extra safety I dremel a hole in them and use wire twists to secure them to my seat bag.

And then there's the Cateye Wearable Mini which has one of the most stubborn clips I have ever encountered. Hooked it up to my rear jersey and it was a pain just to take it off afterwards.
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Old 04-18-22, 01:54 AM
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Originally Posted by atwl77 View Post
And then there's the Cateye Wearable Mini which has one of the most stubborn clips I have ever encountered. Hooked it up to my rear jersey and it was a pain just to take it off afterwards.
I've had issues with mine clicking off mid ride.

Picked up a couple of cygolite hotrods last week. The low steady mode runs for 100 hours. They mount nicely to seat stays, not particularly good side visibility unfortunately.
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Old 04-18-22, 07:00 AM
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Originally Posted by GhostRider62 View Post
I bought a Cateye Omni 3. It was maybe 10 bucks. The seatpost clamp seems pretty decent but the thing they give you to put it on a jersey is junk, the light would be ejected immediately over a bump. One thing that I do really like is the clear housing giving some visibility almost 360. There are only three settings, two flash and one steady. I tested it from 150 yards at night and it was very clearly visible although not as bright as the Turboflash (to my eye). It weighs 43 grams with 2 AAA batteries, the mount is very light (did not weigh it).

I needed a blinky for one of my bikes and decided to give this one a whirl. 100 hours, 43 grams, and 10 bucks? I'll now in the coming months if it lasts.
The Cayeye Omni 3 bit the dust. The clamp loosed up or something and it got shredded in the spokes. I was freaking out because the spokes are 3 x 1 mm carbon fiber. The spoke almost cut the red plastic housing in half. I had it mounted on the left seat stay. Could have been operator error but I used thick rubber electrical tape to increase seat tube diameter for a better purchase. No idea who it happened. Otherwise, pretty decent light. If I got another, I would try to beef up the connection with maybe zip ties and/or some duct tape
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Old 04-19-22, 05:11 PM
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Originally Posted by ThermionicScott View Post
I waffled about posting this in the Electronics/Lighting/Gadgets forum, but figured this forum might be more hip to what I have in mind. This would be in addition to my dyno taillight, to act as a back-up.


* PBP regulation says the taillight must be visible from at least 150 meters. I haven't done much testing of this, but it feels like a pretty low bar -- it's about the same distance as the inside of a 400 meter running track. Brighter would be fine, but not at the expense of:

* 24-32 hour running time in solid mode. This is where most offerings I know of fall short -- rather than being dimmable, they use flashing modes to extend battery life. I rode through 4 nights in 2015, going to the 84-hour group would cut that down to 3 nights. Nights in France are about 10 hours long that time of year, and with better planning than last time, I'd sleep about two hours of each one. With a long enough runtime, I wouldn't have to fumble with batteries when I'm a zombie, a definite plus.

* Miminal weight. Without features like dimming, flashing or recharging, I'm thinking this kind of light shouldn't weigh much more than 2 AAAs, the LED, maybe a limiting resistor, the switch, and enough plastic to enclose it and attach it to the frame.


Does something like this exist? I'm a little concerned I may have to design and build it, since it's rather niche. Most people in the E/L/G forum (and probably everywhere else in the cycling world) seem to want retina-frying brightness and/or seizure-inducing flash modes.
I assume you are raising this topic with an eye to doing PBP.


I would consider the best lighting you can get, not the minimum requirement that would prevent your disqualification. If you believe that the additional weight/drag of a good lighting system stands between you and that medal, you should not try for PBP.


Let me suggest a generator system. They are bright, they are permanent, and they have on board energy storage that will keep the lights on for about 4 minutes, when stopped. I would avoid the integral hub generators and opt for a sidewall generator. The only penalty would be the generator's extra weight and drag only when the light is being used. I used a bottom bracket generator on both my PBP rides. They are no longer available, otherwise I would have suggested one. I also had battery lights front and back, in addition to the generator.


You are the best judge of your own body. I planned for 5 hours sleep per night. I did not want to fall asleep on the bike. Your two hours per night would be unrealistic for me.


If you believe that sleep deprivation would prevent you from changing batteries, what would you do in case of a flat? Your plan must be predicated on your having your wits about you for the full 1200+ km.


Just my two centimes worth.
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Old 04-19-22, 09:51 PM
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Originally Posted by SBinNYC View Post
I assume you are raising this topic with an eye to doing PBP.

I would consider the best lighting you can get, not the minimum requirement that would prevent your disqualification. If you believe that the additional weight/drag of a good lighting system stands between you and that medal, you should not try for PBP.

Let me suggest a generator system. They are bright, they are permanent, and they have on board energy storage that will keep the lights on for about 4 minutes, when stopped. I would avoid the integral hub generators and opt for a sidewall generator. The only penalty would be the generator's extra weight and drag only when the light is being used. I used a bottom bracket generator on both my PBP rides. They are no longer available, otherwise I would have suggested one. I also had battery lights front and back, in addition to the generator.

You are the best judge of your own body. I planned for 5 hours sleep per night. I did not want to fall asleep on the bike. Your two hours per night would be unrealistic for me.

If you believe that sleep deprivation would prevent you from changing batteries, what would you do in case of a flat? Your plan must be predicated on your having your wits about you for the full 1200+ km.

Just my two centimes worth.
Good points, SB! Since PBP 2015, I've installed a full generator lighting system on my brevet bike and love it. So this thread is/was mostly about backup lights, in a minimalist way.

I guess I forgot to follow up in this thread, but I did end up buying a Cygolite Dice TL. Think it'll be perfect for what I have in mind. I should hope I'd be able to change a battery or a flat at any point during a grand randonnee, I just want to eliminate any obligatory maintenance that I can.
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Old 04-20-22, 08:25 AM
  #22  
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I would never recommend a sidewall generator for any purpose. I had one on my utility bike for a while.

There are some newer ones that instead of using the sidewall of a tire have a roller on the rim, they are called rim dynamos. Some owners like them. I have no such experience so I can't comment. I think the Velological was the first one that gained any foothold in that mkt. Those came out when rim brakes and machined rim braking surfaces were the norm, not sure how they work on rims that were designed for disc brakes, that would be something to research if the roller would wear the paint off the rim.

If you wanted to have a dynamo system and did not want to get a dynohub, I would check out a rim dynamo before considering a sidewall one.

I have several dynohubs and dyno powered lighting systems on some of my bikes. They are great.

But in this era with powerful low energy LED lights and high capacity powerbanks, a battery system could be a good option too if the purpose is for events of no more than four days and four dark nights.

There are too many good options out there to consider using one that rubs on the tire sidewall.
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Old 04-20-22, 10:05 AM
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I had a b&m battery light for the seatstay, it's a nice light but the mount isn't very good. I suspect the smooth carbon on the chainstay doesn't offer enough grip to keep it from moving around. Luckily it's far enough from my spokes that it hasn't caused problems but this year I'm gonna put a piece of grip tape on the stay to try and hope it stays in place better.

I'm hoping B&M releases something like the eyro front light with more lux and running time, the eyro is a few years old but I put it on my road bike for riding brevets up to 300k, pretty unlikely to need to run it for more than 5 hours.
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Old 04-21-22, 05:52 AM
  #24  
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Originally Posted by clasher View Post
I had a b&m battery light for the seatstay, it's a nice light but the mount isn't very good. I suspect the smooth carbon on the chainstay doesn't offer enough grip to keep it from moving around. Luckily it's far enough from my spokes that it hasn't caused problems but this year I'm gonna put a piece of grip tape on the stay to try and hope it stays in place better.

I'm hoping B&M releases something like the eyro front light with more lux and running time, the eyro is a few years old but I put it on my road bike for riding brevets up to 300k, pretty unlikely to need to run it for more than 5 hours.

look into the B + M IXON Space. Rose has it on sale AND they will ship to the USA. Many power levels and decent battery. From some online forum members, it can also be powered from an external powerbank.
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Old 04-24-22, 08:46 PM
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN View Post
I would never recommend a sidewall generator for any purpose. I had one on my utility bike for a while.


There are some newer ones that instead of using the sidewall of a tire have a roller on the rim, they are called rim dynamos. Some owners like them. I have no such experience so I can't comment. I think the Velological was the first one that gained any foothold in that mkt. Those came out when rim brakes and machined rim braking surfaces were the norm, not sure how they work on rims that were designed for disc brakes, that would be something to research if the roller would wear the paint off the rim.


If you wanted to have a dynamo system and did not want to get a dynohub, I would check out a rim dynamo before considering a sidewall one.


I have several dynohubs and dyno powered lighting systems on some of my bikes. They are great.


But in this era with powerful low energy LED lights and high capacity powerbanks, a battery system could be a good option too if the purpose is for events of no more than four days and four dark nights.


There are too many good options out there to consider using one that rubs on the tire sidewall.
What's your objection to a sidewall generator? N.B. the rollers on the new ones are rubber and are replaceable. That means they won't injure the rubber on the tire sidewall. In the old days, there was the Velox rubber cap to prevent the metal roller from touching the sidewall.


I used cold press tubulars, when I rode PBP. The only sidewall protection on those were the liquid latex I'd apply. That's why I used the bottom bracket generator, which rode squarely on the tread.


I have not tried a rim generator. However, the biggest problem for an external generator is slippage during rain. I'd assume there would be more slippage on the rim than on the tire sidewall.


I used a SA dynohub on my pre-historic Rudge, way back when. I'm sure the current models are much more efficient. I did not like the additional friction penalty, when the lights were off. The extra drag on the required full fenders were bad enough, when I did PBP. I would have gladly traded a dirty vertical stripe up my back for the 1 mph lost to fender drag.


There is another objection to a hub generator that might not be obvious. There was a flash flood coming back on a century ride. I had to cross a fast moving stream that was up to my hubs. Some debris in the water broke the seal on the hub bearings. I had to send the wheel back to Phil Wood for the hub to be repaired. I used a spare front wheel, until my wheel came back. Had something happened to a dynohub on PBP, getting a replacement wheel would have been iffy. They have excellent repair and common parts at the controls. However, a wheel with a dynohub is too much to expect. A friend busted his freewheel on PBP. Contrary to Sutherland, it is possible to screw a French threaded freewheel onto an English threaded Campy hub...once.
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