bicycle generator light sets

geepondy

Flashlight Enthusiast
Joined
Apr 15, 2001
Messages
4,896
Location
Massachusetts
When I was a kid in the late 70s, they were quite popular. The generator had a friction wheel that rested on the rear tire of the bicycle and turned when the tire turned. It did make pedeling somewhat more difficult.

Now I don't see them around anymore and I always thought they had a lot of potential for improvement. One big change would be to regulate the output so you wouldn't blow bulbs if moving too fast. Also perhaps a low power battery backup bulb. Or have the generator charge a battery, just like a car system. Of course they have high end rechargeable lights now, albeit quite expensive in some cases but I still think there would be a use for an improved bike generator light. True not for stop and go like mountain biking but for commuting road bikes, it would be an endless supply of renewable energy. I put mine to good use, commuting home from a late night restaurant job.

Anybody know if they're still around?
 

Empath

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Joined
Nov 11, 2001
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8,508
Location
Oregon
The generator lights are still around. They aren't valued very highly, though, for bicycles. Anything on a bike that diverts your work to anything other than moving it, is undesirable. The system that might work would be a generator that comes into play only during the near-free rides downhill, and then it would only recharge a light-weight battery like a NiMH.
 

cave dave

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Joined
Aug 15, 2001
Messages
3,768
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VA
generators are still popular overseas. To view the best available check out peter white cycles.
The schmidt even has a capacitor that powers a LED when the wheel stops.

or check out sheldon browns site here

Besides being a caver and flashaholic I am also a biking nut!
I have an old fashioned wheel drager cheapy for sale cheap if you want to experiment.
 

mikep

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Sep 22, 2000
Messages
305
Location
IL
There is a Simpson's episode where Bart is riding his bike at night (to do some star-charting punishment with Principal Skinner), and he says "Better turn on my light"- He engages the generator, and the bike slows to a crawl, as the light puts out a weak pulse of light with each pedal stroke Bart can muster. That is about how efficient the generators were that I used as a kid.
smile.gif
 

Velcro

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Joined
Feb 25, 2001
Messages
767
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The Netherlands (NL)
Bicycle generators are very very popular in The Netherlands (bicycle country #1). They have been so for many many years. In fact, each bicycle (except some mountainbikes) comes with one standard. They power the headlight and the red taillight.

Some generators are very cheap, which results in having to put a lot of physical power into each pedal stroke to generate light and the light output can still be minimal. But there are also much better models that generate full brightness with even the lightest pedal stroke. These often also have an output regulater to protect the lamp from blowing if you're going (too) fast.
We mount generators on the rear part of the frame.

The most popular bicycle headlights over here have different finishes and styles. The cheapest are made of metal, use a krypton lamp and have a bad light beam (dark spots, rings, etc.). These are mostly used for a certain type of bicycle we call "granny/grandpa bicycles" because of their overall style. The better headlights are made of high-impact plastic with polycarbonate lenses, mirrored or partially faceted reflectors and halogen lamps. These often have nice round beams that are really bright and powerful. They are perfect for unlit terrain as they really penetrate the dark. Some are even to powerful (you'll notice that when the beam hits your face
smile.gif
). I've also seen a couple of headlights that had a white-bluish (sp?) tinted beam. Perhaps these use xenon lamps?

All in all, those generators are really useful. I can't imagine a Dutch bicycle not having one.


Greetings,
Velcro
 

B@rt

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Joined
Nov 21, 2001
Messages
10,467
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Land of Tulips and Philips
Hi Velcro,
my Challenge Hurricane doesn't have one...and it's not even an ATB.
they can be very handy, but on a recumbent?
Seems to me that it isn't build to even accommodate one.
I wonder why?
grin.gif
grin.gif
 

jbechto

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Joined
Jan 16, 2001
Messages
63
Location
Vista, CA 92084
I thought about doing an LED setup with one of these "wheel draggers" (that's avery apt name by the way) But after I built my first 4 white LED headlamp with 4 AA batteries, I decided I didn't want to pedal any harder! With the new NiMh, it's practically free to operate.
 

bikeNomad

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Joined
Sep 8, 2001
Messages
166
Location
Stanwood WA
I have a Schmidt SON hub dynamo that's very efficient. I can't notice the drag when I turn it on.

It can put out about 12V 6W at higher speeds (25km/hr). It puts out more or less a constant 500mA (AC).

I've been thinking about making an LED headlamp out of 4 Luxeon Star/O LEDs in series/parallel, but mounted back-back so that two would run when the voltage was positive, and then the other two when the voltage went negative.

With enough heatsinking, I think I can get the Luxeons to take the peak currents (which I suspect will be almost 700mA).

I'm going to try using a dummy load made out of 8 1N4004 diodes first so I don't invest $60 in 4 LS LEDs.
 

JollyRoger

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Joined
Aug 21, 2001
Messages
875
Location
Berkeley, CA
BikeNomad, any luck or progress with your conversion? I'm thinking of doing a trip across the country in a few years...this could be the perfect lamp! (Don't want to lug along my NiteRider system, etc.)

I did a SF to LA trip with some friends last summer, but never really rode at night. The one night we were caught in the dark, I whipped out my Eternalight, but this wasn't really mounted very well...

A two or three or...four (
shocked.gif
) LS lighting system would light up a road no problem. I think even two Luxeons running around 350ma each should do the trick?

BTW, were you the one a while back that modified the Specialized light with two luxeons? That was a neat mod...ever consider doing it again? (hint..hint...)

EDIT: I found it...(it wasn't you after all): http://homepage.mac.com/abrankod/PhotoAlbum1.html
 

markus_i

Enlightened
Joined
Apr 24, 2003
Messages
248
Location
Ulm, Germany
B@rt said:
Hi Velcro,
my Challenge Hurricane doesn't have one...and it's not even an ATB.
they can be very handy, but on a recumbent?
Seems to me that it isn't build to even accommodate one.
I wonder why?
grin.gif
grin.gif

Well, my Mistral has a holder for a bottle dynamo, but I'm using a SON hub. Since the (normal) Hurri has the same rear fork, there may be some of them around with a dynamo.

Bye
Markus
 

markus_i

Enlightened
Joined
Apr 24, 2003
Messages
248
Location
Ulm, Germany
bikeNomad said:
I have a Schmidt SON hub dynamo that's very efficient. I can't notice the drag when I turn it on.

....
I've been thinking about making an LED headlamp out of 4 Luxeon Star/O LEDs in series/parallel, but mounted back-back so that two would run when the voltage was positive, and then the other two when the voltage went negative.
...

Usually not worth the effort. 4 LEDs means twice the Optics/Reflectors and twice the front area compared to 2 LEDs and a silicon bridge. The Lux IIIs will stand it - they'll also stand it with 1 LED and a bridge and still have an output comparable to a halogen bulb. Depending on your setup (which SON in which size wheel), you'll get a good efficiency from 3..4 LEDs in series at higher speeds, but need to switch back to 1..2 LEDs for slow riding (just bridge the superfluous LEDs with a switch).

Bye
Markus
 

albertm

Newly Enlightened
Joined
Feb 20, 2009
Messages
5
When I was a kid in the late 70s, they were quite popular. The generator had a friction wheel that rested on the rear tire of the bicycle and turned when the tire turned. It did make pedeling somewhat more difficult.

Now I don't see them around anymore and I always thought they had a lot of potential for improvement. One big change would be to regulate the output so you wouldn't blow bulbs if moving too fast. Also perhaps a low power battery backup bulb. Or have the generator charge a battery, just like a car system. Of course they have high end rechargeable lights now, albeit quite expensive in some cases but I still think there would be a use for an improved bike generator light. True not for stop and go like mountain biking but for commuting road bikes, it would be an endless supply of renewable energy. I put mine to good use, commuting home from a late night restaurant job.

Anybody know if they're still around?

Not only are generators still around, they are very popular in the United States among Randonneurs (long distance cyclists). The better ones not only provide voltage regulation, but the most efficient ones are in the hub itself. The Schmidt and Shimano generators are in the front hub, they are not cheap, but are efficient enough that we use them on 24 - 90 hour rides (sleep is optional). Full details can be found at Peter White cycles on the web.

I intend to replace my generator powered halogen light with leds - the reason I've joined the forum is that I don't want to pay the $200 to $300 for a E3 or E3 triple so I'm going to learn to build my own.

Albert
 
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