Sunday, February 22, 2009

Planet Bike Dynamo Light - Part 1

With the maturation of LEDs and bike technology, there has been a recent slew of dynamo powered lights. Many of them, however, like the Edelux and E3 can be a bit spendy. That's why it's nice that Planet Bike has created a dynamo version of their Blaze 1W in the form of the Blaze Dynamo.

The Blaze Dynamo has a similar form factor as its battery powered cousin, but comes in a nicer dark grey shell (in my opinion). When you purchase it, it comes with the light and its power cord that has the ends stripped, ready to be plugged in. NOTE to buyers, it does not come with the plastic connector caps for your dynamo, so make sure you have one that matches your hub.

The first thing you have to figure out is where you want to mount the light. I first tried the handlebars, but the power cord was TOO SHORT to mount to the handlebars and hub while having sufficient slack for turning. This light is either going on your fork or hub via a nub of some sort (Minoura Besso Light Holder, VO Lowdown Light Mount, Gino Light Mount), or on your rack.

I went the rack route. I took parts of a Minoura Top Swing that I had, a little metal piece for a reflector (I think) and cobbled something together to the front of my Rivendell Mark's Rack. Worked pretty well and lets me put two lights side by side for comparison. (VO also shows some alternative rack mounting methods here.)

For those that have never used a dynamo light, this is what the connector end of the wires look like. They're stripped and are sometimes color coded. You have to slip them into a connector cap that is specific to the dynamo hub you're using before you can plug it in. Takes about five minutes. No biggie, but can be confusing if you've never done it before.

This is how the light sits on the mount after it's plugged in. I'll write more about the performance after a few night rides.


Nathan Backous said...

I like this light in theory but just can't get over the fact that it ships with a QR bracket but the cable is hardwired to the light. Meaning, you have to leave it behind when you lock up your bike somewhere. Thieves will see it, undo the QR and then yank confusedly at the cable and most likely damage it.

The light should either have a proper plug at the light (a la battery pack type lights such as Niterider and others) or there should be a more permanent bracket instead of the QR one (a la Busch&Mueller). The Shimano dynamo light also suffers the same problem.

I either want true quick-release removal or metal bolted on goodness.

RussRoca said...

Nathan...yeah, I agree....I think if they did some sort of in-line release for the power cable that would better compliment the QR of the light..

The VO link shows some of their bolted mountings...I may try that out as well...

Nathan Backous said...

Another thing to think about is that these lights just-plain-look-like battery powered lights, especially if they're mounted to your handlebars. They *will* attract attention to your bike by accessory stealing thieves. I like the fact that since my Lumotec IQ Fly is mounted on my rack it;

1. Isn't visible to most teaked out accessory thieves.
2. Doesn't look like something they could possibly sell for drug-money.

I understand that Planet Bike used the same form-factor because they already had the molds for it but it would be nice if sometime in the near future it would be easy to get a proper dynamo-powered light at your LBS (instead of relying on mail-order. It *should* be easier to do that than get a carbon-fiber water-bottle cage.

brownpants. said...

i guess i'm happy i didn't spring for one of these, just based on the cable not fitting from the handlebar mount to the hub. seems like poor design, in an attempt to get something into the dynamo headlight market. i'm plenty happy with my iq cyo.

Raiyn said...

While I agree that the light should come with a QR, it wouldn't be hard to rig up a quick release connection for this light at all. About $10, a quick trip to Radio Shack, and a touch of know how would handle this nicely.

Dominic Dougherty said...

I gotta say, I am pretty unimpressed by this light. Why wouldn't the cable come long? You can always cut it shorter, but good luck cutting it longer!

Without an in-line disconnect, I agree with Nathan that there will be issues of theft/destroy in which the light will be rendered useless to both the owner and the thief.

Too bad, I really like Planet Bike.

Dean Peddle said...

Hey Russ...thanks for the post...never seen this light before. I have a dynamo hub wheel that I like to switch from bike to bike but I need to set up lights on all bikes. I see this has a QR and I can't really see well in the picture but the cable is just rapped around you fork and not secured. Is this the purpose of this move from bike to bike easily? If so this may be the light for me !!!

Raiyn said...

To support what I was saying earlier, you'd need Radio Shack Part #'s
273-1742 (Hobby Power Leads Adaptaplug)
273-1743 (Replacement Adaptaplug Socket)
64-3073 (Crimp-On Telephone/Alarm Connectors [24-Pack])
*heat shrink tubing would be optional.
Now that first part comes with 6 feet of wiring pre-attached so I don't think "short wires" will be much of a problem with this setup.
Now there are a few other ways to do this, but this is one of the simpler methods as it only really requires a pair of diagonal pliers or a wire stripper / cutter to complete.

RussRoca said...

Thanks for the list. I'll give it a shot.


Raiyn said...

No problem Russ, let us know how it turns out.

James said...

Just purchased one of these after reading about your initial install, and I must say that I really like mine. It's great for the city, and passable for unlit trails (the beam is bright but fairly narrow). Unlike you, I actually had no trouble with the handlebar mount, and trimmed about 5 inches from the end of the cable to avoid excessive slack when mounted to the handlebar. There are better lights out there, but for the price, this one is hard to beat.

Capt. Groundwater said...

You can get Trailtech DIY cables at to make the light removable.

I have a Union generator (sidewall mount) which may work with the PB light.

David said...

I'd love to see Part 2: the performance directly compared to the battery op. Blaze, or to a standard B&M 2.4w halogen. Also, can you run a taillight off this unit?

Raiyn said...

Well played Groundwater....well played.