Dynamo bike lights

22 November 2020  |  by Simon McFarlane

There’s something very satisfying about generating your own electricity…

With the winter fast approaching I found it really annoying having to make sure my lights were always charged. I just wanted to quickly grab my bike and go. When chaining my bike up I would always remove my lights as they were so easy to steal. What to do?

I remember dynamo lights from when I was young. They were dull, noisy and would get brighter the faster you rode. Since then the technology has really moved on, especially as in countries like Germany where lights are compulsory.

Bottle Dynamo

Bottle dynamo.

This is a relatively cheap way to power your lights. My AXA HR Traction Dynamo can be found for under £20. There is no need for a new wheel as it can run on your rim or tyre. It can comfortably run both front and back lights.

It does make a bit of a noise when it is running and there is a little drag… but not much. The benefit is you can move it away from the wheel when not in use.

Hub Dynamo

Hub dynamo.

A hub dynamo normally involves replacing your front bike wheel. They can be found for a little as £40 from companies like German based Taylor Wheels. There are some much more expensive options from companies like Son which are a bit quieter and smoother. You can sometimes find them second hand on sites like eBay.

They’re actually really simple to install, you just remove the old wheel and attach the new.


Rear bike light.

There are lots of options available but the main thing to look out for “parking lights”. This means that even after you stop the lights will stay on for a few minutes. This isn’t a legal requirement but very helpful if you need to stop in traffic! These don’t use batteries but a backup capacitor. These lights also are really good at smoothing out the light delivery so they don’t get brighter the faster you go.

For your front light I would advise at least 35 Lux (measure of brightness). Lights can range from 5 Lux to 100! Budget options are available from Busch + Muller and AXA. High end lights are from Supernova or Exposure which are especially useful if you are going off the beaten track.


If you want a little more detail here is a simple guide to the legal requirements:


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