Let there be light!

In Denmark the winter is long and dark. So if you want to keep cycling, you need some proper lightning.

On my old Specialized touring bike (see Cycling home for Christmas) I have used a Shimano dynamo hub (DH-3N80) with both head- and taillight for several years. It has worked perfectly ever since installing. A no worries system. Next to the great lightning power it is convenient never to have to think about bringing your battery lights, when you leave home.

A no worries system

On the Specialized I have went through all phases of headlight development. I started out with a regular light bulb, driven by a dynamo on the rear wheel. The lamp had a nice yellowish light, but did not really illuminate the road. Then I moved to a halogen lamp and the road in front of me got brighter. Finally, I got my self a B&M LED headlight, which gives a colder but a much stronger light. It has been on the bike for 3 years now and still works flawlessly.

Therefore I wanted to have a dynamo system on my new touring bike, the Genesis Croix de Fer.

It is my plan to use the Genesis for longer tours, maybe also some brevets, but first of all it is my commuter bike. I live in Copenhagen, but work in Næstved, which is exactly 83 km away. On most days I commute by train, but 2-4 times in a month I try to cycle.

Though the Shimano/B&M system still works to my full satisfaction , I wanted to try something new. After reading at several reviews on the internet I decided to go after the SON hub dynamo in combination with the brand new SON Edelux II headlight. In the end the thorough overview on Peter White Cycle’s homepage convinced me – just take a look at the first photo!

Building a wheel

I ordered and waited. The interest for the new Edelux seemed very large. Finally, end of February two small packages arrived. The hub and the light. I had already received a B&M taillight to be mounted on the seat stays.

The sewing of a wheel. Photo: Jesper Pørksen

Now I just needed to rebuild my front wheel with the new dynamo hub. I cannot build a wheel without looking at a recipe, so I found my old bicycle repair book (Hold cyklen i form – Keep your bike in shape) and attached a wheel turning stand to the desk in the living room. A podcast from The Bike Show on Residence FM had told me that wheel building was simple and yet highly complicated.

To sew the rim and the spokes together is no big effort, but to get it right in all dimensions needs an experienced hand or a lot of trying. With only a few wheels on my resume I had no hopes of getting it right the first time.

To loosen and to tighten. Photo: Jesper Pørksen

It turned out to be quite meditative. Turn the wheel and check for trueness. To loosen and to tighten spokes. Slowly I got a hand for it. I began to learn how much I needed to turn each spoke to see the result I wanted. It took all night and when I installed it on the bike it was a centimetre off centre. To loosen and to tighten again. So it went a couple of times until I finally got it right.


Cycling in the dark

So far I have only tested the system for a few hours in the dark, but enough to be very impressed by the lightning power of the Edelux II. The beam both illuminates the road way ahead of you – more than 25 meters I should say – and it provides a nice wide projection area on the road. I would feel safe going down a curvy road in the night with the Edelux.

The done wheel. Photo by Jesper Pørksen
The done wheel. Photo: Jesper Pørksen

The dynamo hub, I have the SON28 ISO Disc, runs very smooth. I have noticed a minor reduction in speed with the headlight turned on, but no more than expected.

Both hub and headlight make a very good quality impression. It is also very convenient that the headlight has a sensor mode, so that the light turns off and on automatically. It really is a no worries system. I am looking forward to test it during a night ride.