If you’ve been to the Philly Bike Expo last weekend (or looked at the photo feeds), you’ve seen many custom bikes with our Rene Herse taillights. (Above is Brian Chapman’s.) The taillight has been one of our more popular products.
If you’ve been to the Philly Bike Expo last weekend (or looked at the photo feeds), you’ve seen many custom bikes with our Rene Herse taillights. (Above is Brian Chapman’s.) The taillight has been one of our more popular products.
With the 750-mile Paris-Brest-Paris coming up, demand for generator hubs and lights has been high. We’ve just received another shipment, and now all products are back in stock, plus there are some new items as well.
By far our most popular generator hub is the SONdelux Wide-Body. In addition to all the standard SON features of extremely low resistance and superior reliability, it features a wider body to create a stronger wheel. This is especially useful for wheels with low spoke counts. Even with 32 spokes, you can feel the difference when you climb out of the saddle: No matter how hard you pedal, the rim won’t touch the brake pads.
The SONdelux is also available in a disc model, both for thru-axles (shown) and quick releases. We now offer the thru-axle version with 24 spokes, in addition to the 28- and 32-spoke models. Running lights on your disc brake bike has never been easier.
SON hubs are available with the ingenious connector-less SL system: The current is transmitted from the hub to a contact plate on the fork, so there are no wires and no connectors.
Not only is it easier to remove the wheel – you also get rid of the wires that can break and cause problems. You do need a custom fork for this – currently, no production forks are available with the contact plates – to get the most elegant way of powering your lights.
Speaking of contacts, there is also the SON coaxial adapter that plugs onto your SON hub. It makes for a clean and reliable connection for riders who don’t like the spade connectors (which have the advantage of being 100% field serviceable).
To build your generator hubs into wheels, we carry rims that provide excellent seating for the tires, whether you run your tires with tubes or tubeless. We offer spoke kits to make it easy to source all the parts you need to convert your bike to generator lighting.
I’ve recently written about why I love the Edelux II headlights: With their carefully designed beam, they illuminate the road evenly without bright spots that can make night riding so fatiguing. All car headlights are required to work that way – why settle for less on your bike’s headlight?
Plus, the beam is cut off at the top, so you aren’t blinding oncoming traffic. It’s not just considerate, but also safer: Drivers who are blinded will be afraid to get off the road and steer toward the center of the road – and toward you.
To mount the lights to your rack, we offer our custom-designed Rene Herse light mounts in different configurations. They allow adjusting the angle of your headlight without tools (lower in the city, higher on mountain roads). And yet, thanks to the clever design, the bolts won’t ever come loose.
The easiest way to mount your light is to attach it to the handlebars. The B&M light mount is perfect for that. If you don’t use a front bag, you can mount the light below the bars, where it’s out of the way. Then you just need to run a wire down to the hub, and you are done. (On the rear, you can use a battery-powered light. Taillights use less power than headlights, and the batteries will last a long time.)
If you are planning a new custom bike, the Rene Herse taillight mounts in a well-protected location on the back of the seat tube. The light uses an ultra-reliable LED circuit with a standlight that keeps you visible even when you are stopped. The lens acts as a reflector. This not only adds safety in the unlikely event that your taillight (or the wiring) develops a problem. It also creates a more diffuse light source that is easier on the eyes of riders following you – and yet it is as visible from a distance.
It’s hard to appreciate how much of a difference a great lighting system makes for night-time riding until you’ve experienced it. When my friend Ryan Francesconi mounted an Edelux II headlight for our recent 600 km brevet, he was blown away. Our all-night adventures wouldn’t be half as much fun without these lights.
Photo credit: Nicolas Joly (Photo 1).
As the days get shorter, many cyclists are thinking about lights. How do you measure the quality of a headlight? It’s tempting to look at how many lumens the light puts out. After all, brighter is better, isn’t it?
On the road, what matters is not lumens, but lux. What is the difference?
SON has introduced a few useful products that have us quite excited. First, there is the 12 mm Thru-Axle Adapter.
You may know the dilemma: As the days get shorter, you really want to equip your bike with generator lights, but you don’t want to invest in a hub that soon may be obsolete. Your current fork has quick release dropouts – with or without a disc brake – but your next bike probably will have a thru-axle.
Enter the adapter: Simply slide it into your thru-axle hub, and you’ve effectively converted it to a quick release. You can use it even on a rim-brake bike. And when the time comes, simply remove the adapter and install the hub in a new fork with a 12 mm thru-axle. This ingenious widget works not only with generator hubs, but with all thru-axle front hubs.
Traditionally, SON lights have connected to their generator hubs with two simple flat spade connectors. These connectors have been trouble-free, and if they ever loosen, they can be fixed by the roadside.
However, some cyclists remove their wheels frequently and prefer a simpler, more elegant connection. SON’s new coaxial adapter (above) has been engineered to provide reliable service for decades of hard use under the toughest conditions. That means that we finally don’t have to worry about electrical connectors any more – in the past, they were the most failure-prone parts of a randonneur bike. The adapter (top) plugs onto the spade terminals of the hub, and then you connect the light with the neat coaxial connector (bottom).
SON’s Edelux lights are available with the coaxial connectors pre-installed. The adapter for the hubs is included, too, so it’s a plug-and-play solution. (And if you ever feel you’ll want the spade connectors instead, they are easy to install.)
The new coaxial connectors are such a breakthrough that you’ll want to use them wherever you need to make removable electrical connections on your bike. That is why we offer them separately, as males, females and complete sets.
The last new product is for everybody who wants to charge cell phones, GPS and other devices while riding. It’s a simple splitter box that you wire into the lighting circuit, anywhere between the generator hub and the headlight. Plug in the included coaxial connector, and you are ready to charge. You can use whichever charger you prefer (not included). After you solder your connections, the box gets covered with heat-shrink tubing. Just make sure that you wire the splitter box so the socket points downward. Otherwise, water can run down the wire and into the connector, which won’t be so good in the long run.
All these new products are available now. Click here for more information.
We are excited to announce the latest SON generator hubs. The biggest news is the connector-less SL system for thru-axle hubs: Now you can remove your front wheel and its generator hub without having to disconnect any wires, even with a thru axle.
The system consists of three parts: The heart is the SONdelux 12 generator hub. The SONdelux is the lightest generator hub in Schmidt’s program, and it has the least resistance, so it was a natural choice for this application. The flanges are spaced as far apart as possible while still leaving room for the disc rotor and caliper.
This hub has proven itself for many thousands of miles. What’s new is the lack of external connectors for the lighting wires. The current is transmitted via the axle (positive) and an insulated ring that is pressed onto the axle (negative). Like its counterpart with external connectors, the connector-less SL hub is available in black or silver.
The hub mates to a special dropout. By the way, the machining traces that form the funky pattern in the photos can be removed by your framebuilder. Above you see the outside, which looks like a standard stainless steel dropout for 12 mm thru-axles (12 x 1.5 mm thread).
It gets more interesting on the inside, where one dropout has a recess…
… into which an insulated contact plate fits. As you install the hub, the axle connects to the dropout for the positive contact, while the insulated ring on the hub mates to the dropout’s contact plate, which is insulated as well. A wire goes inside the fork leg from the contact plate through to the lights. That way, you provide a path for the current to flow from the hub to the light without any exposed wires that can get snagged or break from repeated flexing during installation and removal of the front wheel.
We have a small number of contact plates and dropouts in stock, with more to come once production catches up with demand. And of course, the connector-less SL system has been available for non-disc hubs all along, and we have those components in stock, too.
That isn’t all the generator hub news! Many modern rear hubs are black, and we are now offering SON hubs and lights in black to match. We’ve worked with Schmidt Maschinenbau to make our favorite hub, the SONdelux Wide-Body, in black, too. The black hub is available in the standard and connector-less SL versions, with 32 holes. This is a one-time production run, so quantities are limited. If there is sufficient demand, Schmidt will make more for us, and in other spoke counts, too.
We also have the SONdelux Centerlock Disc for quick release forks in black…
… and the Edelux II headlight for hanging mounting. (We’ve been stocking the ‘standing’ Edelux II in black all along.) Now you can choose between silver and black components when equipping your bike with the best and most reliable generator lighting.
All these products are in stock now. For more information or to order, click here for hubs and here for lights.
When building a bike, one important decision concerns the wheels. How do you get the best performance and still make your wheels strong enough to withstand 20,000+ miles of riding on rough roads without needing service?
By now, most cyclists know that spokes don’t break from overloading, but from fatigue as the spoke is loaded and unloaded when the wheel rotates. The wheel flattens at the bottom, which unloads the spoke at 6 o’clock. With each wheel revolution, every spoke passes through that spot, where it is slightly detensioned, and then tensioned again. Over time, that causes the spoke to fatigue.
To get the maximum life out of your spokes, you want the detensioning to be as small as possible. That is what double-butted spokes (above) are for: They are thinner in the middle, so they can stretch more, which means that they don’t detension as much as a thicker spoke would. Yet the ends, where spokes fail if they break, are thick and thus will last a long time. It may seem counterintuitive at first, but the thinner mid-sections make double-butted spokes more durable than thicker straight-gauge spokes.
Wheels tend to go out of true when you hit a bump and a spoke detensions so much that it goes slack. As the spoke is tensioned again, the nipple unwinds a bit. Now the spoke has less tension, so it will go slack more often, allowing the nipple to unwind more and more… For more information about the basics of wheel building, I recommend the late Jobst Brandt’s excellent book The Bicycle Wheel.
Now, let’s look at the specifics of building a strong wheel.
How many spokes do you need? For many years, 36 spokes was the standard (above), then it became 32 as modern spokes became stronger. On my René Herse (top photo), I use a 28-spoke front wheel. I built the wheel six years ago and never touched it again. If the rim hadn’t cracked (different story!), I am sure it would still be going strong today.
We can use fewer spokes, because the wider tires we ride today transmit far fewer shocks to the rim. Imagine hitting the bump above with a 23 mm tire: Even if you don’t bottom out, your tire is so hard that much of the impact will be transmitted to the rim. The big, soft tire not only transmits less shock to the rider, but also to the rim.
With smaller 650B or 26″ rims, the spoke bracing angle is greater, which makes the wheel stronger as well. That means that 28 spokes are plenty, even for rough roads.
However, the SON Delux hub I usually ride on my Herse has very narrow flanges, which results in a smaller spoke bracing angle, negating the benefits of the smaller 650B rims. For the Oregon Outback 363-mile gravel race, I put on a wheel with an old SON20 generator hub that has wider flanges (above). When you negotiate rough terrain, your wheel can slip while it’s pointing sideways, then suddenly catch and regain traction. If the wheel is not strong enough, it can collapse into a potato-chip shape, and your ride is over.
We wanted a wider spoke bracing angle, so we asked Schmidt Maschinenbau for the Wide-Body Delux hubs, which have the widest flange spacing possible and thus build into the strongest wheels. Compass now offers these hubs in 28 holes, in addition to the 32h and 36h that have been available for a few years. If I had a Wide-Body hub on my bike, I would have been perfectly happy with 28 spokes for the Oregon Outback.
There are cases when a front wheel with more than 28 spokes makes sense. With disc brakes, your flanges are more narrowly spaced to make room for the rotor – that is why there is no Wide-Body Disc hub – and the entire force of braking is transmitted by the spokes. In this situation, a 28-spoke wheel usually is OK, but 32 spokes gives you an additional margin of safety. The same applies for 700C wheels (larger-diameter rims result a smaller spoke bracing angle), or for very heavy bike/rider combinations. For tandems, I’d go with 36 spokes.
Compass offers the excellent SON Delux Wide-Body hubs with 28, 32 and 36 holes, so you can choose the spoke count that is right for you. We also offer the Delux for disc brakes with 32 holes, both in quick release and thru axle versions (above).
What about the rear wheel? Here, too, the answer is: “It depends.” If you have a strong rim, then 28 spokes may be enough. When HED send us test wheels with their Belgium rims a few years ago, they used 28 spokes front and rear, and they held up fine even when we rode them on mountain bike trails. One reason is that the rear wheel never sees significant side loads.
However, the rear wheel has a much narrower spoke bracing angle to make room for the freewheel/cassette. That is why British builders often used rear wheels with 4 or 8 more spokes than the front. I did the same on my René Herse, which has 36 spokes on the rear. Most wind tunnel studies indicate that the rear wheel is in such turbulent air that its aerodynamics don’t matter much, and the little extra weight isn’t a big deal, either.
Next, let’s talk about rims: Most rims today are stiff and strong. If rims crack, it’s usually caused by poor design or sub-standard materials. Once you’ve eliminated those problems, what you want from your rims is a good fit of the tires. With classic rims, it needs to be good enough to seat the tire automatically as you inflate it. And the tire shouldn’t come off even if you have a sudden blowout on the front. With tubeless-ready rims, the fit needs to be even more precise, so the tire seals easily and doesn’t blow off the rim despite lacking a tube that reinforces the joint between tire and rim.
Compass offers two rims:
For each of these rim/hub combinations, we now offer spoke packages with the highest-quality, double-butted, superlight Sapim Laser spokes (2.0 – 1.5 – 2.0 mm) and aluminum nipples. That makes it easy to build a generator hub wheel that is perfect for your intended use: Just select your hub and your rim, and then order the spoke package that goes with this combination. (We also offer the spokes individually.)
Click here for more information about Compass wheel goods.
Small parts often get overlooked, but they can make a big difference in your cycling experience. Take light mounts, for example. Adjusting the angle of your headlight beam is useful: In town, you want to angle the headlight low so it doesn’t blind oncoming traffic. Out in the mountains, you need a higher beam. Otherwise, you ride into the dark when you descend at speed and go into a dip in the road.
Yet trying to adjust the headlight by hand usually results in one of two outcomes: Either the mounting bolt is really tight and doesn’t move at all. Or light moves to the desired position, but the bolt turns and loosens in the process, and soon the light rotates on its own.
Of course, your headlight should never come loose. In the real world, even if it’s tight to start with, vibrations tend to loosen many headlight mounts, no matter how much Loctite you use during assembly. And the faster you ride, the greater are the vibrations…
There had to be a better solution! Working as a team, Compass Cycles has developed new headlight mounts that finally meets our expectations.
It all started with my own bikes, where I’ve slotted the mounts of the Edelux headlights, so that the attachment of the rack goes in between. That way, the bolt clamps both sides of the light mount, and no matter how often I adjust the headlight’s angle, it won’t come loose. Unfortunately, slotting the headlight’s mount is difficult, especially on the latest headlights.
Hahn figured out a way to use the same concept without modifying the light itself: Secure the light with a locknut. The bolt is tightened only so much that the light doesn’t rotate on its own. That way, you can adjust the light angle by hand. The locknut locks in this adjustment and prevents the bolt from coming loose. (It’s just like the adjustment of a cup-and-cone bearing in many hubs and classic bottom brackets.)
On one side, we use a Nylon washer that provides a little “give” and allows the adjustment. The washer between the light and the mount must be metal, otherwise, there is no good “ground” to the frame, which is a problem if you run a taillight or the “connector-less” SL system.
We now include this setup with all Compass racks that are equipped with a light mount. For those with older racks, we offer the bolts and washers as a retrofit. When you use B&M lights, the new Compass light mount has another advantage: The bolt isn’t so tight that it risks cracking the plastic mounting eyelet. Yet thanks to the locknut, it won’t come loose.
If your rack has only an eyelet for mounting lights, we designed a light mount that offers the same functionality. It incorporates Nitto’s proven stainless steel light mount, but with our own hardware. A toothed lockwasher prevents the mount from rotating (top bolt). The light itself attaches to the mount (bottom bolt) with a set of locknuts that allow the adjustment.
We also worked out a solution to another problem: With a light mount on the left side of the bike, the weight of the headlight tends to loosen the attachment bolt by turning it counter-clockwise.
Theo had the idea of mounting the light mount to the inside of the rack. That way, the weight of the headlight tightens, rather than loosens, the bolt. It’s a small detail, but it can make a big difference.
We also offer a version for racks that don’t have eyelets, but separate, adjustable struts (above). It incorporates all the neat details of the other mounts, making it a great solution for those racks.
We’ve tested all these mounts extensively before offering them to our customers. It’s not really rocket science, but once you have a headlight that you can adjust on the road, without tools, you won’t want to miss that feature. As to lights coming loose in mid-ride – that just shouldn’t happen. Because in the end, there was a better way – it just took commitment and teamwork to figure it out.
The new light mounts are one example of how at Compass, we design products that meet our own high expectations. When we are out on spirited, multi-day rides in the mountains, we want our bikes to fade into the background, so we can enjoy the amazing roads, the stunning scenery, and the wonderful company of our friends.
Click here for more information about the Compass lights and mounts.
Generator lighting make bikes far more versatile. You can ride at night and never have to worry how much charge you have left in your batteries. Your lighting system is always there, not consuming significant energy when off, and very little when turned on.
Which generator hub is best for your bike? This post will explain the differences between different Schmidt generator hubs and introduce a few exclusive models made specially for Compass.
Since introducing the first modern generator hub in 1995, Schmidt generator hubs and lights have become the choice of randonneurs, long-distance riders and commuters all over the world. What makes Schmidt hubs special?
Schmidt offers a large range of generator hubs. Here is a short guide to the mainstays of the program:
The SON28 is a descendant of the first generator hub. It provides ample power, which was necessary with old halogen lights that consumed far more current than modern LEDs. Today, the SON28 is the perfect choice if you need a lot of current to charge digital devices. With the SON28, you can charge your cell phone and/or GPS while riding at low-to-moderate speeds with your lights on. The downside is a little more weight and resistance.
The Delux was developed originally for bikes with small wheels. Those wheels turn faster, so the hub doesn’t need to produce as much power per revolution. Some of us figured out that it worked fine with larger wheels, too, as long as you rode faster than walking speeds. Then came LED lights with their much-lower power consumption, which illuminated brightly when powered by the Delux, even at low speeds. The minimalist design and aluminum axle make this SON’s lightest generator hub. The downside is the narrow flange spacing, which results in a weaker wheel (and looks a bit odd). When riding out of the saddle on a bike with a Delux hub, the rim can rub on the brake pads.
The Delux Wide-Body is our favorite. We use these hubs on most of our bikes. It features the ultra-low resistance of the Delux, but with extra-wide flanges for a much stronger (and nicer-looking) wheel. The weight penalty over the standard Delux is a paltry 27 grams. The Delux Wide-Body is strong enough for off-road racing and even tandems.
We’ve had many requests for Wide-Body hubs with fewer logos. Compass now offers them with only subtle “SON” logos. As another Compass exclusive, we also asked Schmidt to make them with 28 holes (in addition to the standard 32 and 36-hole versions). With the wide flanges, 28 spokes are plenty for a front wheel, even in rough terrain.
All the above hubs are available with the connector-less SL system. This eliminates the wires between hub and bike – a special dropout incorporates an insulated ring that mates with a matching ring on the hub axle. (All you see above on Peter Weigle’s BQ test bike is that there are no wires…)
You remove or install the wheel just like you would on a wheel without a generator hub: Open the quick release and pull out the wheel. Apart from a clean look, this means that there are no connectors that can fail and no wires that can break. You need a bike – or at least a fork – that is prepared for this system. In North America, that means a custom bike. The system is so brilliant that if you get a custom bike, I consider it a “must-have”.
For bikes with disc brakes, we recommend the Delux Disc. Its symmetric flanges are as wide as possible, while still leaving room for the disc rotor. Its internals are the same as the other Delux models, with superlight weight, ultra-low resistance and proven reliability. The Delux Disc features a Center Lock disc mount, but you can get adapters if you want to use a 6-bolt rotor.
The Delux Disc 12 is designed for bikes with thru axles. It has the same ultra-low resistance as the other Delux hubs. Compass now offers a special version of this hub in anodized silver. (Not shown. Usually, it’s available in black only.)
Schmidt’s headlights match the quality of their generator hubs. They simply are the best in the world. The Edelux beam pattern is shaped specifically to provide even illumination of the road, unlike many battery-powered headlights with symmetrical beams that put more light into the sky (and into the eyes of oncoming traffic) than on the road. The beam shape is far more important than the output in lumens, which tells you nothing about where the light goes. The Edelux features a sturdy aluminum housing that will survive tens of thousands of miles on rough roads, where other lights with plastic mounting eyelets tend to crack.
All of us on the Bicycle Quarterly “team” use Schmidt’s generator hubs and headlights on our bikes, because we don’t want to think about lights when a ride takes longer than planned, and we end up returning home in the dark. And for spirited night-time adventures in the mountains, there simply is no other choice for us.
Compass Cycles now is a distributor for select models of Schmidt generator hubs and lights. This means that in addition to offering them directly to our customers, we also wholesale them to bike shops, wheelbuilders and bike builders.
Click here to find out more about Schmidt hubs and lights.
When the new Edelux II headlights came out a little over a year ago, they were another big step forward in lighting technology. Compared to the first Edelux, the new version features a much wider and more evenly lit beam. Compared to older halogen headlights, the difference is night and day. (Sorry for the pun.)
At first, the Edelux II was available only for “standing” attachments. This works well if you mount your light on the fork crown or with a rack designed for such a light (like the Compass CP1 rack), but if you prefer to mount your light under the handlebars or on a custom rack, the hanging attachments has several advantages.
It took a while to redesign the Edelux II for hanging attachment, but we are glad to report that the first production samples have arrived. There are two versions:
The first features the standard on/off switch, the standard co-axial wire and a second connector for a taillight. The taillight connector is different from the standing Edelux, in that it uses a screw that attaches a connector, rather than a plug-in connector (see photo below). The screw makes sure no water can enter through the connector. (The screw should always be installed, even if no taillight is attached.)
The second version is intended for bikes with separate light switches. This version has no switch, no wire and only a screw connector to attach the wire from the generator hub. (Both versions have the “Ground” connected to the light’s housing.)
At first, I was surprised that there wasn’t a single-strand wire as on the previous hanging Edelux lights, but I now realize the connector is better: Since most custom bikes will use wiring that runs inside the fork blades, fenders and/or rack tubes, having a screw connector allows you to remove the light without disturbing the wires.
The hanging Edelux II does not have a light sensor – if you use a handlebar bag, the bag shades the light, and the sensor always would turn the light on. Otherwise, they are functionally identical to the standing versions.
I am looking forward to installing these lights on my next bike. We now have a very limited quantity in stock. More will arrive, but we don’t know when. Eventually, they will become regular products in the Compass Bicycles line.
For a photo of this light installed on a bike, see Anton Tutter’s photos.
Click here for more information or to order.
When building my René Herse randonneur bike, I was unable to find a taillight that combined the functions I needed along with a classic appearance. I ended up making my own taillight. Now this light is available from Compass Bicycles Ltd.
I wanted a generator-powered taillight that matched the appearance and style of a classic, hand-built custom bicycle. The plastic tailights from Europe did not meet that criteria and were not appealing. I also wanted the light to incorporate a reflector, both as a fail-safe and to comply with legal requirements and the rules of randonneuring events.
I wanted reliable internals, and not custom-made electronics. The light had to survive many years of spirited riding on rough roads. It also had to be lightweight.
Bicycle Quarterly contributor Hahn Rossman suggested using the reflector as the lens of the taillight, which creates a nice, diffuse light. This reduces the glare for riders following you closely, yet it is no less visible from a distance. (The reflector doesn’t reflect the other way, so it doesn’t absorb more light than a normal red taillight lens.)
The Compass taillight has a machined aluminum housing. The reflector is EN-approved. (We tested a number of reflectors and used the one that reflected best, while also being thin enough to work as a taillight lens.)
Inside the aluminum housing are the electronics and LED of the Busch & Müller Seculite Plus taillight, which include a standlight. The circuit board mounts to a custom-made stainless steel plate, so it is securely attached. The stainless plate also serves as an attachment for the grounding wire.
The light comes with a custom-machined, two-piece braze-on. Your framebuilder can attach this behind the seat tube of your bike, René Herse-style. The screw-in piece provides a conduit into the seat tube, so the wire doesn’t snag on the sharp edge. It also provides a stop for a seatpost that otherwise might be inserted too deep and cut the wire.
The braze-on is pre-mitered for the seat tube, but your builder also can braze it to the end of a tube, if you want to use the light on a rack. You could also mount it underneath the chainstay, Alex Singer-style.
The light comes with ample wire to reach the headlight. The wire itself is a special automotive wire. The insulation is made of a cross-linked polymer with extra-high abrasion resistance.
The Compass taillight carries a 2-year warranty. It is made in the USA, and available now. More information about the Compass taillight is here.
We just got our first shipment of the new Schmidt Edelux II headlights.
The Edelux II and the B&M IQ Cyo Premium really have raised the bar in headlight design. Their wide, even beams make night riding at any speed even more pleasant. At the same time, older versions of these and other lights continue to be available, some on close-out at enticing prices. For many riders, they offer a great light at an affordable price. All these headlights provide exceptional illumination as a part of a generator-powered system.
A full review of the new Edelux II, the B&M Luxos U and the B&M Eyc headlights is in the Winter 2013 Bicycle Quarterly. Here is a brief overview over the headlights that Compass Bicycles sells. Click on the links for more information or to order:
Schmidt Edelux II: You cannot do better than this. It uses the best optics in a sturdy and beautifully machined housing. The LED is placed with precision, so every light is perfect. (With plastic lights, you get a little variability from one light to the next.) The glass lens is scratch-proof and has an anti-glare coating on the inside to reduce light absorption. If you do a lot of night riding, the Edelux II is definitely a worthwhile investment.
B&M IQ Cyo Premium: With the same beam as the Edelux II, the IQ Cyo Premium offers 90% of the performance at 60% of the price. The plastic housing isn’t as pretty, and you have to be careful not to overtighten the mounting bolt. (The plastic mounting eye can split.) It’s a great light for serious night-time riding.
Schmidt Edelux I: The original Edelux offers the same appearance and quality as the new model at a closeout price. The beam has been good enough for fast night-time descents on gravel roads. Especially in urban settings with light pollution, you’ll be hard pressed to notice the difference to the new lights. If this appeals to you, get one while they last! The Edelux I also is available for “hanging attachment” (shown above), which is useful is you want to mount your headlight underneath the handlebars or underneath a front rack.
B&M IQ Cyo: The original IQ Cyo still is available at an unbeatable price. You get what was a state-of-the-art light just a few months ago for the price of a budget light. Just like the Edelux I, it remains a smart choice for riders who don’t often descent mountain passes at night.
B&M Eyc: They Eyc is the lightest real headlight available today. It offers a very good beam – very similar to the original IQ Cyo/Edelux – at a very competitive price. I would have no qualms doing Paris-Brest-Paris with this light, and for a bike that sees only occasional night-time use, it offers amazing performance for its weight and price.
B&M Lyt: The Lyt is a good light for around-town riding. It’s the least expensive light we sell, so if you are on a budget, it’s a great choice. Even this basic LED light offers much more light and a better beam shape than the best halogen lights of old.
At Compass Bicycles, we only sell what we consider the best products, based on our own on-the-road experience. I believe that our program features a headlight for almost every application. If you still use battery-powered headlights with poorly shaped beams and questionable reliability, now is a great time to upgrade to a generator-powered system. You won’t regret it!
Click here for more information on these headlights and the generator hubs that power them.
It’s not often that we get excited about new technology around here. Whether it’s 11-speed cassettes or 31.8 mm-diameter handlebars, we often fail to see the need to improve upon what works perfectly well. So when Busch & Müller announced new LED headlights, we wondered how much better than our current favorites they could be. After all, with the current lights, we often descend curving mountain roads in the middle of the night at 40 mph or more, and even ride gravel descents at speed.
We tested the B&M Luxos and Eyc models, as well as the Schmidt Edelux II for the Winter issue of Bicycle Quarterly. Without giving too much away, I can tell you that we were impressed. The old lights are perfectly fine, but the new ones are really a big step up.
Here is the beam pattern of the Edelux II, courtesy of Andreas Oehler from Schmidt Maschinenbau. Not only is it much wider than the previous version, but the illumination is incredibly uniform. There is just light on the road, no bright and dark spots. And that is how it feels – most of the limitations of riding at night no longer apply.
The Edelux II will be available at the end of this month. The B&M IQ Cyo Premium uses the same optics, and we just received the first shipment, so it’s available now.
The new IQ Cyo looks like the old one, but you can spot the “P” for Premium in the photo above. This means it has the new optics and a brighter LED that produces more light for the same power consumption.
In addition to the new beam, the IQ Cyo Premium has “daytime running lights.” This features two smaller LEDs that shine slightly upward. During daytime, the main LED is dimmed, and the two small LEDs make the cyclist more conspicuous to other traffic. At night, the main beam shines at full brightness. The two daytime LEDs continue to shine, which may be useful for riders who like to set their beam so it illuminates the road right in front of their bikes, making them hard to see from a distance. A light sensor switches between the daytime and nighttime setting.
Another new light is the B&M Eyc. This tiny headlight packs an amazingly powerful beam. In fact, the beam resembles that of the old IQ Cyo/Edelux. It’s a bit narrower than the new lights, and it has a few bright and dark spots, but it’s very affordable and at just 44 g, it is the lightest headlight I have used. I would have no qualms doing Paris-Brest-Paris with this light, it’s really that good.
It’s amazing how far lights have come in recent years, but it’s also sad that many headlights of other manufacturers still use symmetric beams that put too much light in the nearfield, not enough in the distance, and then waste half the light output by shining upward, into the eyes of oncoming traffic.
So if you have one of those other kinds and are waiting for deep discounts, now could be a good time for you to change to a generator light: we’ve reduced the prices of the remaining stock of first-generation Edelux and IQ Cyo headlights. At these prices, they provide an amazing value. Remember, these are the lights that we use on our own bikes, lights that until a few weeks ago were state of the art and seemed hard to improve.
To facilitate installation of these great lights, we now install connectors for SON generator hubs for a small fee. We use state-of-the-art crimping tools to create a connection that is durable for many years to come.
Click here for more information on the headlights and accompanying generator hubs that Compass Bicycles sells.
Current LED headlights are amazing. Both the Schmidt Edelux and the B&M IQ Cyo provide a bright, even beam that puts the light on the road where you need it, without blinding oncoming traffic. When they came out a few years ago, these lights truly were a quantum leap, and I replaced all my old halogen headlights long before they were worn out.
Progress continues in smaller steps, and our favorite headlights will be updated this autumn. You can read about Schmidt’s new Edelux II in the current issue of Bicycle Quarterly. B&M just announced their new Cyo IQ Premium. Both will use new optics that provide a wider beam (“new” above).
We look forward to testing the new lights. We anticipate that the wider beam pattern will be a significant improvement while cornering in the dark. In the photo above, it looks like the center of the beam is less bright than with the current optics, but that may just be due to the camera exposure – at least the Schmidt Edelux II uses a new LED that emits more light with the same power consumption.
I expect the updated lights to improve on an already excellent product, but I don’t expect another quantum leap. I probably will continue to ride with my original Edelux headlights for a long time. Even during night-time descents on gravel roads at 40 mph, the original Edelux provides plenty of light.
With the new models coming, Compass Bicycles is reducing the prices of the current versions of the IQ Cyo (above) and Edelux (below). Here is your opportunity to get a state-of-the-art light for less, while supplies last.
I like to hang my headlight from my front rack, which makes it less susceptible to coming loose due to vibrations and provides the best beam pattern for spirited riding. Unfortunately, there are no plans for a “hanging-mount” or “upside-down” Edelux II at this time (above the original version). However, we’ll keep pushing Schmidt Maschinenbau, and hopefully they will reconsider.
For details, prices and orders, please click here.
Few taillights available today complement the aesthetics of a classic randonneur bike, where you want to see finely detailed components, typically in metal. Most modern lights are chunky black plastic, but one succeeds in being more understated: Busch & Müller’s Seculite Plus (above). So Compass Bicycles decided to sell that light.
The Seculite Plus is made from plastic. It is available in three finishes: The basic version is black plastic (above left). The “matte silver” finish retains the pebbly surface of the basic black version, but it appears to be coated with aluminum. The “polished silver” version is somewhat shinier (above right).
When ordering a light, it is easy to assume that the “polished silver” version would be a good fit for a classic bike. After all, racks usually are chrome-plated, and aluminum fenders are polished. However, I find the “polished silver” version the least appealing of them all. I don’t like it when manufacturers try to make plastic look like metal, and it is not always a success.
If I were to choose one of these lights, I would pick the basic black version. It’s honest about what it is: a plastic light. The “matte silver” color looks acceptable, too, and would be my second choice. In any case, we’ve stopped selling the “polished silver” version.
We would welcome a new product, if someone would make it: a nice, well-made generator-powered taillight.
When “Schmidt’s Originaler Nabendynamo” (SON) was introduced more than a decade ago, the choice was easy: There was only one model. Today, Schmidt offers three models of their revolutionary generator hubs. Here is what distinguishes them:
Use the SON28 if you plan to run other electronics (cell phone, GPS, etc.) and power your lights simultaneously while riding at moderate speeds.
The lower resistance of the Delux models is a benefit especially at low and moderate speeds. At high speeds, all current SON hubs have the same ultra-low resistance.
All SON hubs are available for the connector-less SL system.
All SON hubs feature the pressure-compensation system that prevents moisture from being sucked through the bearings when the hub cools down. This greatly increases the longevity of the bearings. (There is a lot of air in a generator hub, and when the hub cools, that air volume contracts. On all other hubs, the only way more air can enter the hub is through the bearings.) The 5-year warranty includes the bearings.
Click here for more information or to order your SON generator hub.
In other lighting news, we now stock a variety of light mounts for generator-powered headlights.
Further reading: The resistance of current generator hubs, Bicycle Quarterly Autumn 2012 (Vol. 11, No. 1).
There is a reason why automobiles use integrated, generator-powered lights, rather than clip-on battery lights. Cars also come equipped with lights from the factory, but on most bikes, you have to install your own lights. This usually means connecting your lights to the generator hub.
We sell Schmidt Edelux lights with connectors already attached to a 60 cm (23″) wire, but if you use a headlight from Busch & Müller or another brand, you will have to attach your own connectors. Even with an Edelux light, it makes sense to cut the wires exactly to the length you need (but not too short!), rather than wrap extra wires around your bike’s fork blades.
Attaching connectors to your headlight is not difficult. The whole process takes me less than 15 minutes. These instructions show how to solder the connectors to the wires. It’s even easier (and you get a better connection) with a special crimping tool.
Tools you need:
There are special crimping tools that allow you to crimp the connector onto the wire without soldering. If you have access to one and don’t like working with solder, it may be worth trying that instead.
Before you start, it helps to visualize how the connectors fit together. The goal is to make them integral with the wire, so that you can pull on the wire, and the wire will not come off the connectors. Instead, the connectors slip off the tabs on the hub.
From left to right:
To start, strip the insulation off the wire. The Edelux comes with a coaxial cable, so you have to be careful when you strip the outer insulation. Then uninsulate the inner wire as well. Twist each strand of wire. Don’t touch the wires with bare hands, as the oil from your hands would prevent the solder from sticking. Use gloves or a piece of paper tissue when you twist the wire ends. Put a drop of flux on the wire, and another on each connector. The flux further cleans the wires. (If you use an acid-based flux, use very little, so that it burns off as you solder. A rosin-based flux may be a better choice, since acids that remain in the wires can cause corrosion down the line.)
Before you do anything else, slip a piece of large-diameter heat shrink tubing onto the wires (upper right arrow). If you forget that, you won’t be able to put it on later. Slide it out of the way, so it doesn’t accidentally get heated, which would shrink it in place. Slip the two small-diameter pieces of heat-shrink tubing onto the individual wires.
Place the connectors on the wires and bend the rearmost portion over the wire and insulation (lower left arrow, photo above). In the photo above, only the right side has been bent, the left still sticks up.
Above, both sides are bent over the wire. This holds the wire in place as you solder.
Repeat with the next connector. Then slip the small-diameter heat-shrink tubing over the end of the connector. The tubing should cover the bent-over end of the connector, so it should come down a little further than shown here. As you solder, the tubing will shrink from the heat, and you won’t be able to move it any more.
To solder the connectors to the wires, heat the joint with the iron, then the solder. Make sure the solder is joined to the connector. Simply melting a blob of solder onto the wire will not result in a reliable electrical connection. Heat is key here – the connector must get hot enough to form a firm bond with the solder.
Be careful not to use too much solder, as it will run into the connector, which will make it difficult to plug it onto the tabs of the hub. To repeat: More heat, less solder.
I took the photo above for illustration purposes only – don’t solder on a flammable surface! To solder, you need to hold the wire, while manipulating the iron and the solder.
Unless you have three hands, it helps to gently clamp the wire in a vise. (Don’t clamp the connector, as the vise is a heat sink, and you won’t be able to heat the connector.) Above are the soldered connectors. You can see how the heat-shrink tubing now is firmly wrapped over the connector. This strengthens the connection, but we’ll make it even stronger in the next steps.
Slide the large-diameter heat shrink tubing over the connectors.
Use a lighter (or even better, a heat gun) to heat the tubing. It shrinks tightly around the connector and wire, making them almost inseparable.
Now slide the last piece of heat shrink tubing down to the joint. Heat it, and you are done.
Now the connectors will remain attached to the wires, even if you forget to disconnect the hub when you remove the front wheel from the bike. I still recommend unplugging the wires first, but it’s good to know that a careless moment will not leave you without lights for the remainder of your ride.
Update: We now sell an automotive crimping tool that creates an even better connection. When you solder the connectors, the solder will go into the wire some ways, and at the end, it forms a stress riser where the wire can break. A crimped connection is just as secure, easier to install (no soldering!) and doesn’t have that stress riser.
Few bicycle headlights are actually waterproof. The Planet Bike headlight in our test wicked water past the headlight lens, and the standlight function stopped working. Busch & Müller’s lights are open at the bottom, so moisture can drain out. This means that you should not mount them in an area where they can be exposed to tire spray.
Schmidt’s Edelux headlights were designed to be waterproof, and for most customers, this claim has held true. In our group of friends, we have used Edelux lights in a Flèche that saw pouring rain for 20 hours straight. In PBP, I rode through 10 hours of thunderstorms with my lights on. None of us had problems with water getting into our lights.
However, a couple of customers report that water is getting into their lights, sometimes repeatedly, so we asked Andreas Oehler of Schmidt Maschinenbau about this. Here is his response:
“We had a few issues of Edelux being not 100% watertight with earlier production models. The water in these cases found its way inside through the internal sealing of the rear light connector. Current-production Edelux have an improved seal there.
“The most problematic situation is a headlamp mounted directly in the water spray from the front tire without a classic mudguard and without the plug of a rear lamp cable inserted. If this kind of use is planned with an older Edelux, we recommend to cover the rear light connector hole with a little piece of Duct tape. If a rear lamp connector is used, it should be isolated with heat shrink tubing and mounted with some bearing grease.
“Users should open the headlamp only as a last resort, because the front glass or the seal around it might get damaged. Noticeable amounts of water inside are a defect that is covered by our 5-year warranty.”
Here are some hints to get the most out of your Edelux (or other light):
For most users, the Edelux has been working flawlessly for many miles. Use the above guidelines to reduce the (already very small) risk of your Edelux suddenly going dark during a ride.
I am excited about the new Wide-Body SON Delux generator hub. It allows you to enjoy a super-strong wheel, yet roll along with the less resistance than other generator hubs. It is available now in limited quantities with 32 or 36 holes.
When Schmidt Maschinenbau developed the standard SON Delux generator hubs, they optimized the hub’s performance in every way. The Delux is the lightest generator hub, with the lowest resistance, ever made.
To minimize both the weight and the internal air volume,* the hub shell closely hugs the generator inside. The hub flanges are spaced just 50 mm apart, rather than the 60-70 mm of most front hubs. While the resulting wheel is strong enough for most applications, the hub looks slightly odd in standard bicycle forks with 100 mm dropout spacing.
In September, Schmidt introduced their new SON28 hub with wider flange spacing and a more powerful generator. While I was excited about the wider flange spacing, I don’t need (or want) the more powerful generator, which has more resistance than the Delux hub. Modern LED lights powered by the Delux hub are plenty bright even at low speeds. The SON28 may be useful if you ride slowly, and need to charge electronic devices like cell phones or GPS systems while you have your lights on.
Following the introduction of the SON28, I asked Schmidt whether they could make a wide-flange version of the Delux. My dream hub would combine the strength of the SON28 with the low resistance of the Delux. The nice thing when dealing with a small company is that things can happen quickly. In today’s mail, we got a few of the new Wide-Body Delux hubs (below on the left, with a standard Delux hub on the right).
The new hubs are even nicer than I expected. Schmidt managed to increase the flange spacing to 68 mm. This not only is 18 mm wider than the standard Delux hub (above left), but even 6 mm wider than the SON28.
Schmidt designed the “Wide-Body” hub shell so it fits tightly around the generator. There appears to be less air volume inside than in the SON28.* Not only does this improve the longevity of the hub, but I find the resulting gentle curves of the new hubshell very attractive. As usual with Schmidt, the aluminum hub shell is polished to a mirror finish. For the first time, a generator hub not only is functional, but beautiful. This is the generator hub I always wanted to have!
The features that distinguish the “Wide-Body” from the standard Delux hub (in parentheses) are:
All other specifications (power output, resistance) are exactly the same. For me, the very slight increase in weight and cost are a small price to pay for a much stronger wheel. (The steel axle also will provide peace of mind, even though none of the aluminum axles have failed so far.) Most of all, I prefer the appearance of the wider flange spacing, which makes the wheel fill out the front forks of my bicycle.
I cannot wait to build a wheel with the new Wide-Body Delux hub for my new René Herse. (I intended to have two wheelsets for this bike: one with 28/32 spokes for events, and one with 32/36 spokes for all other rides. Now I’m glad that I never got around to building the second wheelset with an old SON20 hub.)
Compass Bicycles has a few “Wide Body” hubs available right now, with more on the way. In a few weeks, we also should have Edelux lights for “upside-down” mounting, so they can hang from a front rack.
In other “bright” news, we now have the standard SON Delux with 28 holes (in addition to 32 and 36 holes), as well as the B&M IQ Cyo without sensors. The latter is the least expensive generator-powered headlight that uses the superb “IQ” optics and high-output LEDs. Click here for more information.
* The internal air volume contracts when the hub cools, sucking outside air (and moisture) into the hub. SON generator hubs feature a pressure compensation system that prevents moisture from being sucked through the bearings; most other hubs do not have this system.
Taillights can be very elegant and beautiful. Some are shaped like raindrops, others emerge from the fender like a submarine parting the waves. There are minimalist taillights like the beautiful JOS lights that René Herse mounted on the seat tubes of his randonneur bikes.
In recent years, the LED revolution not only has made headlights much brighter, but taillights have improved as well. More than added brightness, generator-powered LED taillights offer the advantage of a standlight, so you are visible when stopped at a stop sign or traffic light. However, even the nicest modern taillights, like the B&M Seculite (below), lack the elegance of the old lights.
Some American constructeurs are making their own taillights with modern LED internals. Others have converted classic taillights to modern LED circuits. Either approach requires considerable effort and expense.
We now offer a red LED insert (above) that screws into a classic taillight. It even includes a standlight circuit. It’s a clever design: The housing of the LED is shaped like an old incandescent light bulb. You can power your lights with a generator hub or even a classic sidewall dynamo.
You can simply replace the light bulb of your taillight with this LED bulb, without any other modification. If you ever want to return your light to original spec, you can put back the incandescent bulb.
We’ve tested the LED bulbs. They are bright. The standlight remains lit for at least a minute at full brightness. They work well with the higher voltage of modern LED headlights. Unlike incandescent bulbs, they don’t burn out, but last a very long time.
In other light news, Compass Bicycles now carries Busch & Müller‘s excellent and affordable generator-powered lights:
The IQ Cyo (above) has the same optics as the Schmidt Edelux. It even features a big cooling surface on top to keep the LED running cool and efficient. Unlike the Edelux, it is made mostly from plastic. The IQ Cyo is available in black and silver (shown). We sell the versions with a standlight and a light sensor that automatically switches on the light when it gets dark – for example, as you enter a tunnel. (They can be switched off, too.)
The Busch & Müller Lyt is an affordable LED light that offers remarkable performance. It was the clear winner of the “affordable light test” in Bicycle Quarterly. We were surprised how good this light is: Its beam is bright and broad, yet the Lyt does not blind oncoming traffic. You could ride all night with this light. It even has a standlight and an On/Off switch. For just $49, there is no reason to continue using your dim old halogen headlights. And of course, we also sell the Seculite taillights, as well as Schmidt’s excellent generator hubs. Brighten up your holidays and winter riding with a generator-powered lighting system!
Compass Bicycles has added SON generator hubs and Edelux lights to our program. We are excited to carry the best bicycle lighting systems ever made.
A few years ago, a reporter asked me what I considered the most important innovation in bicycles during the last half-century. After thinking about the many innovations that have been branded as “game changers,” I answered: “Generator hubs and modern lights.” (The only other thing that comes close are clipless pedals.)
Generator hubs have made bikes far more useful, because you now can ride as well at night as during the day. No longer do you need to worry how much charge you have left in your batteries. Nor do you have to ride the brakes on descents, so you don’t outrun the beam of your dim lights that are powered by a sidewall dynamo. In the rain, you no longer worry about your generator slipping on the wet tire.
Generator hubs have made bicycles as convenient as cars: When it gets dark (or you enter a tunnel), you just flip a switch, and the lights come on. They are always there, not consuming significant energy when they are off, and very little when they are on. (In fact, we didn’t even wire a switch on my son’s bike. His lights are on all the time, like those of modern cars.)
Schmidt Maschinenbau (above), a small company with 28 employees, developed the first modern generator hubs. They continue to make the best generator hubs and LED lights in their small factory in Germany. Most of their suppliers are within cycling distance, and they pick up many parts by bicycle.
For years, we have collaborated with Schmidt Maschinenbau on testing the resistance of generator hubs and the beam patterns of lights and have made suggestions for products, such as the SON 20R (now called Delux) and the connector-less hubs, which transmit the current to a special dropout without wires to unplug when you remove the wheel. We have been using their hubs and lights for many years on our own bikes.
We are proud to announce that Compass Bicycles now sells Schmidt’s SON generator hubs and Edelux headlights. Click here for more information.