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Generate your own power

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Generate your own power

Has anyone put a dyno hub on their touring bike and used it to keep electronics charged? Does it put a drag on the bike? Any pitfalls or watch outs for newbies? I am thinking or retrofitting a dyno hub to my touring bike.

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I have a dyno hub

I have a dyno hub on my bike but it isn't set up to do anything but run my lights. There are plenty of systems available to charge electronics as well as run lights.

I've never noticed resistance from the hub. Others say they can feel it but I am either accustomed to it and don't notice it or there is no drag to speak of.

I understand the newer SON hubs are outstanding. If you'd like to read about them, here's a link

I do not represent SON nor do I have any interest in the company. Please feel free to do your own Google search to find out more about generator hubs, light sets, and charging systems.

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Dynamo hubs

I have a dynamo hub on my touring bike. I got it relatively recently and then had some enforced times off touring, so my experience is limited. However, I have done it and it seems like a very useful idea. My setup has a headlight and tail light that turn on together; each of them has a capacitor so that they remain on when I stop momentarily for a light, etc. This is a wonderful convenience that eliminates the need for any additional lights or blinkies at night. I usually leave the lighting on when I'm riding the bike around town, day or night.

The hubs -- yes, the SON is undoubtedly the supreme hub with the least resistance. However, mine is a late-model Shimano that I got used already built into a wheel, and I find it quite excellent. The resistance on mine is undetectable when the lights are off; when the lights are on, I'm not sure. So, that tells you the resistance is so low that you have to talk to yourself to decide if you can tell or not. Not a big deal of resistance for sure. I don't think I'd use anything below the Shimano as a touring bike dynamo; they definitely are said to have quite a bit of resistance and, on tour, that can be a serious problem if conditions are adverse.

Using for electronics -- I tried this on one tour. I hooked up the voltage adaptor so it would power my Android phone. I'm a slow rider, but my phone was able to increase its charge level as I rode along. After charging for a while, I disconnected the phone, but not particularly on account of resistance; I just thought if it didn't need more charge, why charge. So, if you had several devices -- phone plus gps plus music player, say -- I see no reason why you couldn't charge them sequentially. They would have to be small, efficient devices, but such are becoming common now.

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I installed a SON 28 hub

I installed a SON 28 hub about two years ago for my touring bike, along with a set of Busch & Muller LED lights, and it has been nothing short of wonderful. I used to take it on night rides and it's so bright and reliable that I felt perfectly safe going out into the country at 2am on a whim (with the addition of a reflective vest when I left the city). So I highly recommend that one. This model is disc brake compatible if you need that (which I did).

More recently I decided to tour long-term with my Brompton folding bike, and since it has smaller wheels I had to buy a different hub. I chose the Shimano Nexus generator because it was $400 less than the expensive SON hub, and so far it's fine. You can see the resistance if you lift the bike and spin the wheel (it stops quickly) but when riding I can't feel any noticeable slowdown. I leave the light on all the time.

I plan to buy a device such as the e-Werk in the near future so I can charge my phone and mp3 player. If anyone has experience with them please share.

My recommendation based in experience is the following:
1. Get good lights such as Busch & Muller LED. They are durable, brighter than anything else on the market and will direct the light beams where you need them. The LED headlight bright enough in dark areas for many cars to think I'm driving a car and pay attention to me.
2. Get lights with a capacitor/standlight so the light stays on for a few minutes after you stop (i.e. a traffic light). An on/off switch helps if you take your bike inside anywhere.
3. Connect the lights well and know how to fix the plugs if they come loose during a ride. Once I installed them well they never came out but if you have a front flat you'll need to disconnect it.
4. Think about theft. Nobody has tried to steal my lights or the hub but it's possible (and common with battery lights); I imagine most bike thieves can't quickly tell the different between a generator and standard hub.
5. They can't attach to your helmet (obviously) so if you're used to that setup you may need a backup battery light (perhaps a USB light that you can recharge from the hub)
6. The difference between the SON and Shimano while riding is undetectable for me. If anything goes wrong I'll give an update, but based on experience I can't justify the much more expensive SON.
7. Should something go wrong you can't service it in the field, so if you're traveling in remote areas, take backup lights. But for everyone else, don't worry about spares.

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Generate your own power

Here's a link to a great forum discussing this issue:

The son / e-werke solution is highly recommended, if a bit costly. B&M stands by their products.

Robert Mink
Jary Poland via Spokane USA

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