I have been contemplating some upgrades for the bike (part of it is lust for shiny new stuff and mostly things I think can improve my commute and beyond). There are 2 bikes that I am focussing on upgrades, firstly, it is my Long Haul Trucker and the second one id some upgrades to my New World Tourist. Lets focus on the simpler upgrade, my Long Haul trucker.
The focus is on setting up a power plant on the bike to generate electricity. Recently (2009 / 2010) many companies are working on products that focus on harnessing energy from the bike to charge electronics (phone, GPS etc…). Some good products coming on line are from pedal power +, B&M and Dahon. I have invested in checking out Pedal Power + and will be testing out their product in the coming weeks. The missing component in my bike is a good electricity generator.
Dynamos on bikes are very old technology and have been around for a long time now and the technology is very mature. Generally, there are 2 classes of products, side wall dynamos (good ones are from B&M) and the hub dynamos (good ones are made by SON, Shimano and SRAM). Pros and cons exist for both versions and I have decided on going along the Hub route. It is expensive option (generally) but if you get a good deal on a hub, it is a very fuss free option.
As I was procuring some components I chanced on a great deal for a Shimano DH-3N72 hub (< 60 USD) and pounced on it. I dont know much about the quality of dynamos but Peter White says that the Shimano Hubs (especially the 7x and 8x) are very good bang for the buck and a very good long term value. I received the package and the hub looks very delicious in appearance and it came with a skewer too. The electric attachment also looks pretty robust I do think it is a good value. I will have to wait for the built wheel and some riding to see if things are going to be smooth sailing.
So, the project essentially involves building a new wheel around the Shimano dynamo hub. I also found good deals on a nice head light (Spanninga Luceo) at velo orange and the entire package does not blow a hole in the wallet. I contemplated re-lacing my current front wheel with the hub but when I thought about it, I needed to get rid of the current rim tape, undo the spokes, get new spokes or try to re-tap the current ones to be used with the larger hub, build the wheels again and replace the rim tape. On the other hand, if I just got a new rim, I need not strip the current wheel and keep it as a backup or sell it to someone who needs it. That’s what I decided and I am going to get a new rim and build a new wheel around the hub. Some pictures in the blog show the new stuff and I will post pictures once I get the wheel built.
The wheels are being built by TR bikes who have built my earlier wheels too and do a great job about it. They recently have tied up with a new wheel builder and I am expecting the build to be the best one can get.
Enjoy the component porn while I wait for the wheel (should be in within the week) and I will be posting more of my experiments with the lights and pedal power + charger in the weeks to come.
Update: I realized it is not easy to find the sub 60$ deal on the hub. It is actually sold by Niagara Cycle Works and they have an amazon shopfront. A direct link to the product is here. It says DH-3N71, but they shipped a DH-3N72. According to Peter White, there is no difference between the models (except the 8x which has an aluminum axle). If you are still waiting on a hub, run there to score the deal.