Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Schmidt Nabendynamo with E6

If I were forced to pick a favorite component or accessory for my bicycle, it would easily be my Schmidt dynamo hub with its accompanying headlight. (a bit of a review following the pics)

Drive-side view of my Schmidt dynohub:
Stupor Bowl X

I happen to have the Schmidt made E6 headlight, which uses a halogen bulb, as shown attached to my Nitto front rack on Cross-Check frame:
I put that front rack on

Here's the light pattern on the E6 light - tall and narrow and more than adequately lighting up the pitch-dark trail before me. This is a light to see with, not just be seen.
The Ride Home

Here I am going head-to-head with the light rail line - damn did I blind the driver that night:
Riding Home from Work

And finally here is my dynamo hub and light equipped cross-check before the Kölner Dom in Köln, Germany (the E6 is handlebar mounted in this photo) - this photo doesn't show the hub or light very well, it's more of a bragging rights thing:
Mark with his Surly before the Kölner Dom

The one downside to the E6 is the fact that the halogen bulb only lasts for about 100 hours of use - which is actually a lot more than it sounds, I turn mine off during daylight hours. Keep a spare bulb with you and you're fine - they're about 4-bucks each. Replace the bulb when you notice the light output a bit fainter than you remember it - it also gets a bit yellower with time, that's also a good indication. The E6 also does not have an internal capacitor, which means when you stop, the light goes out. I don't see this as an issue, as when I'm stopped it's usually because I'm hiding from the man, but there are other lights that have a capacitor driven LED backup light helping to make you visible to others, notably at traffic stops.

People often remark to me - "man, that thing must really slow you down with all the drag it creates." Yeah, but have you seen my legs? My quadriceps femoris are quite truly enormous. For the rest of you less physically endowed individuals (and I look down upon and mock you when given the opportunity,) the drag has been compared to either a 1- or 5-foot vertical climb for every mile travelled, when the light is switched off or on, respectively.

Here's an efficiency test from (Vintage) Bicycle Quarterly for those of you who care - I happened to study my options for about a year before plunging in - this VBQ comparison pretty much summarizes up most of the other articles I read during that time.

There are other dynamo lighting options available, notably the Inoled +10 and +20, which use an LED vs. a halogen bulb in the E6 - the difference between the Inoled +10 and +20 being a 1 or 2 Watt bulb, respectively, and of course the associated price difference. I can't speak from a great amount of personal use from the Inoled - but a few people I know, including my brother, have the +20 model. I've ridden next to my brother - him with his +20 and me with my E6. The +20 has a wider and shorter light output pattern, while my E6 generates a taller and narrower light patch (see above photo.) Also, the +20 hits peak brightness at walking speed, while I have to reach about 10mph (16kph) to gain peak brightness with the E6.

If I had to do it again, I would likely get the Inoled +20 - but wait...

There's a new light coming out! Introducing the Edelux, made by Schmidt in Germany. This Edelux puts out more than 3x the light intensity, based on Schmidt's own data, as compared to the E6 model, which up to now offers the highest illuminance from a Schmidt light source.

Where to you get a Schmidt hub or light, you ask? Well, if you're in the Minneapolis and surrounding areas, you should go straight to Hiawatha Cyclery without passing go - that's where I got mine more than 2 years ago. You could also go to Peter White, but he probably already has enough business as it is.

Please remember, the US dollar is currently about worthless as compared to the Euro, so this lighting system is in no way an inexpensive accessory - something about the US taxpayers currently spending $5,000USD each second in iRaq. Me? I'll wait before buying a second Schmidt, which is one component my steamroller feels naked without.

edit-here's one more photo showing how far out the light can be adjusted. The ambient lighting is relatively bright on the trail here, not to mention the reflected light from the snow, so the patch of light doesn't look too impressive in this photo.
Snow riding

UPDATE - I went and got the Edelux, read about it here.


Unknown said...

Nice write up! I'm waiting for mine to be built up. Can l kindly ask what clamp mounts you used for the fork?

Me [LFoaB] said...

I love it...

we have a conversation, and it becomes a blog entry. Like a puppet.

That's it man, when we see one another next time I'm just nodding my head a lot to anything you say... nothing more.


Patch O'Houli said...

So, by the photos, I am only to assume you lost the front portion of your bow fender in Allemange, since you weren't using SKS? Pity. Or please tell me it is due to some Wed night madness.

Antoine said...

I want one.. when I get a Cross-Check... when I get some money.

I'm a full-time bike commuter now and it's always dark on my trip home from work. Batteries suck and it's hard to see the rabbits on my nightly bomb through the local golf course with my current light.

I take it the Inoled LED will last for 1000s of hours like most LEDs as opposed to a halogen bulb?

Marco Esteban said...

Paul - the mount I used on the fork is the R&M with the nylon bracket, as shown here:
for handlebar mounting you only need the R&L.

LFOAB - Are you promising to remain silent the next time we meet? I don't believe you're capable of it - this should prove interesting.

Fleck - the fender broke at the fork mount about 3 years ago while riding in sub-zero (F) weather. I wish I could say it was a war injury, but sadly cannot. I'm not riding stainless Berthoud fenders, as you well know.

Antoine - from what I've read, the Inoled is supposed to last 50,000+ hours. The people I know that ride them simply leave them on all the time.

Reflector Collector said...

Great write up and excellent photos. I have had my E6 for over a year now and it is my least favorite light.

I picked up one of the DLumotec LEDs from Jim for my wife's bike and found it more suitable for urban commuting conditions.

Picked up a Busch&Müller Lumotec IQ Fly from PeterWhite and it is wonderful. MUCH brighter than the E6 and comes on at walking speed.

I cannot read German, but it looks like the information on the Schmidt page says that the new Edelux will be using the optics of the B&M in a much more attractive and heavy duty mounting. Could be the perfect dynamo light!