Dynohub vs. Battery

16 05 2009
Solidlights 1203D works with a dynohub

Solidlights 1203D works with a dynohub

I’ve owned the Solidlights 1203D LED dynohub headlight for a couple years now.  I bought it for riding brevets and it worked well for that.  However, since I was riding brevets on a recumbent and hate swapping stuff between bikes before a ride [too lazy] I didn’t use it much for casual use around town on my upright bikes.  Instead I used the battery powered Dinotte 200L-AA LED lights shown below.

My Dinotte lights work well enough and are so easy to swap between bikes [o-ring for mounting the light & velcro strap for batteries] that I don’t mind moving them around a bit.  On fresh batteries they last long enough that running time is not an issue for my in-town night riding.  One problem I have had many times is grabbing my bike and heading out only to find the batteries are dead or very low.  This happens because I don’t use the lights everyday and the Dinotte light draws some minimal amount of power even when off.  I have learned to unplug the power cable from the battery pack, but I don’t always remember to do this and it adds an extra step to getting ready to ride that is a bit of a pain.  I used the Dinottes last year as my main headlight and probably had a 75% success ratio for having enough power to meet my night riding needs.  That means that 1 out of 4 times I rode without a head light or it died mid-ride….=-(

This year my main urban night time bike has been my Bike Friday NWT.  Since my night rides usually end at someone’s house I don’t need the foldability of my Tikit and my NWT is equipped with the Solidlights 1203D dynohub powered headlight.  I can grab my NWT any time and know that my headlight will turn on automatically as soon as I start riding [I use it as a daytime running light as well] and between my two Planet Bike Superflash taillights one will always be flashing.  I didn’t realize how much hassle the battery lights were until I had the dynohub equipped NWT to compare to.

Of course there are downsides to the dynohub light:

  • requires a dynohub front wheel
  • requires longer wiring than a battery light
  • more expensive [at least initially, but there are no batteries to buy/replace]
  • more hassle to swap between bikes
  • there is some extra drag from the dynohub

However, if you do a lot of night riding – particularly always on the same bike – the advantages of having as much lighting as you will need without thinking about it is well worth the disadvantages in my opinion.  If you only night ride occasionally and are always on a different bike it doesn’t make so much sense.

Since I have a fleet of bikes my strategy is to have one or two bikes dedicated to all weather day/night riding.  These bikes will have a dynohub & headlight so I will always have a bike ready to ride when I need it.  If I really want to ride one of my other bikes at night I’ll use a battery powered headlight and hopefully have some fully charged batteries available.

At the moment my only dynohub equipped bike is my Bike Friday NWT, but I have another dynohub wheel using a Shimano hub and a 26″ Velocity rim. I’ll most likely use it on my Thorn Nomad, but I’m pondering getting a second Solidlights headlight [the new XB2] so I won’t have to deal with swapping lights and I can use all my existing Solidlights cables & accessories.

Dinotte 200L-AA battery powered LED lights

Dinotte 200L-AA battery powered LED lights



9 responses

16 05 2009

Some “low cost” very bright lighting suggestions:


Check them out, this is for real.

17 05 2009

Big fan of Dyno huibs I currently have 5 bikes with them on their and unless it is a performance bike ie; MTB offroad or road racing it will most likely have one on it. I have been using lights in one form or another for almost 40 years and have yet to find anything that beats the dyno hubs. I do have a couple of bikes with the sidewall generators which are less expensive than dyno hubs. They do the job just fine, but can be fiddly to keep operating properly, also one bike has the bottom bracket mount generator. Regardless, having lights and using them is a legal requirement almost everywhere, so obey the lay and avoid the man.

I consider a bike to be like any other vehicle I own, they should be ready to go in any weather at any time of the day or night…never know when you might REALLY need them.


17 05 2009

I’ve been using the Lithium powered Dinotte’s exclusively for the last 3 years. I don’t do a lot of planned night rides, so many times they are on the bike in case I’m out later than planned. I like that they are easy to move around, but I’m still considering a dyno hub for my Long Haul Trucker this year just so I have one bike with a built in head/tail light that I can grab on a moments notice.

24 05 2009

I inherited a shimano dynohub wheel, put a supernova e3 head/tail light onto my LHT w/ that and have not looked back. Have not really been commuting in the dark since I put it on in April, but totally love never having to plug the battery in to charge, just park the bike and go. Drag-wise, I never feel anything, so I guess I can safely say that the shimano dynohub has less drag than my big apple tires. And therefore I never turn the light off either. I wish the tail lights flashed but otherwise I am just beyond thrilled with this setup.

12 07 2009
Jesse Smith

I’ve been using the Dinotte 200L for three years now. It’s worth investing in a Maha C9000 WizardOne battery charger. It’s the best unit for anyone who depends on AA batteries. It has features that allow you to see exactly how much juice your batteries are capable of holding, you can condition brand new batteries to get the most life out of them, you can set your own charging power, and many times, it can revive batteries that aren’t performing we well as you think they should.
I’ve found that Kodak 2000 mAh batteries work best, even better than 2500 or 2700 mAh cells. The biggest negative is that AA’s don’t perform well in very cold conditions as burn time can drop to half of what you get in mild temperatures.
With the Dinotte, it’s no big deal to take along an extra four batteries as a backup. Dinotte’s customer service is above and beyond.

11 09 2010
Friday Night Bike Ride « The Lazy Randonneur

[…] the totally dark MUP my Solidlights 1203D and Shimano dynohub were one of the best lights on the ride and it let me blast away from a couple times with other […]

28 12 2010
Bow Cycle | Vik's Picks » Battery Lights vs. Dynohub Part II

[…] About 18 months ago I posted my thoughts on the choice between battery powered bike lights and dynoh….  Battery lights have improved quite a bit in the mean time so I figured it was worth touching on the subject again. […]

21 04 2012

Can’t you charge you’re phone with the hubs during the day or power a radio?

21 04 2012

You can charge something from a dynohub if you have the appropriate additional circuitry. I’ve never been bothered to do so.

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