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.