Part of the beauty in pursuing a bikepacking adventure is not only the breathtaking scenery on show, the challenging terrain and the camaraderie of mates, but also the simplicity and self-sufficiency that it promotes. However, like with many things in life nowadays, for most people technology is a necessity. Electronic navigation, lights, personal devices, etc all need attention. Depending on your route there may be very few places to recharge all these items along the way. This is where a dynamo hub comes to the fore! Read on to learn about a few of the reasons a dynamo hub is a great asset to have on a bikepacking adventure!
What is a Dynamo Hub Anyway?
A dynamo hub is a special hub that generates electricity. With the right devices you can use that technology to power lights and recharge your devices. The most common dynamo hubs are designed for use in the front wheel, and generate energy using a strong, permanent magnet wrapped in a wire coil inside the hub centre with a series of small magnets attached to the inside of the outer hub casing. These outer magnets spin around the stationary, central magnet/coil structure as the wheel rotates to create electromagnetic induction. Fancy, indeed. The power output of the hub directly correlates to how fast the wheel spins. There area range of dynamo hub options available that offer more or less power output with different levels of resistance.
The hubs electrical connectivity is directed via connectors that can then be attached to light systems or chargers. There are a number of different dynamo hubs out there on the market, however, at Curve, we have used SP Dynamo hubs for years with great success and product durability.
They are Surprisingly Efficient
Since their conception many moons ago, most dynamo hubs are now extremely efficient in producing and delivering power to lighting systems and other connected chargeable devices. There is definitely some inherent drag involved with such a system, but the drag is hardly noticeable when riding along at any reasonable speed. Even at low speeds they are still capable of keeping your lights beaming and devices charging though at a slower rate depending on how many devices you have attached to the one system.
The original dynamo systems were rim dynamos, involving a small wheel which would press against the rim and roll as the wheel turned. This would often power a front light. These dynamo systems were not terribly efficient and the lights were not very bright.
Nowadays, LED technology has evolved so that very little power is required to generate large amounts of light. This means that bike lighting systems in general require much less power than they did in the past. For battery-based lights, this means lighter batteries with longer run times. For modern dynamo-based LED lights this means huge light output at low speeds.
Convenience with Limited Downsides
Yes, there's no denying that a dynamo hub will create some extra resistance to your pedaling, especially when charging multiple items at once or running your lights at maximum brightness. Yes, they do also weigh more than a standard wheel hub (magnets are heavy!). Yes, dynamo hubs and associated accessories like lights and charger are an expensive upgrade to a no-doubt already expensive hobby.
However, with a dynamo hub and light combo you never have to worry about charging your lights ever again! With that, you also have far better lighting power, brightness and potential field-of-view with dynamo-powered units such as kLite. You have the ability to keep all your necessary devices at a reasonable level of charge even in the middle of nowhere. Dynamo hubs will also allow to keep on the move for longer, especially in ultra-endurance racing and remote touring, and be more time efficient as you don't have to sit around and wait for you devices to charge at a power point.
Modern dynamo hubs are extremely robust and can handle almost any level of adventurous thrashing that can be dealt to them. Some of the front runners of Race from the Rocks 2022 traversed the flooded roads of the NSW Central Tablelands with their dynamo hubs fully submerged for hours on end without a hitch.
Dynamo hubs are also highly maintenance-free. Most mid-tier hubs have a service life of well above 10,000 km. Some higher end hubs have a significantly higher service life than that so there really is a chance of these hubs being bomb-proof.
Dynamo hubs are a great option and investment for those who want to get stuck into the bikepacking adventure scene with less reliance on having to making regular stops for charging purposes. We have a number of different wheelset options that include front dynamo hubs and can also help to build up custom wheelsets with dynamo hub set up. We can also help you select compatible lighting systems and charging units to get your bike fully fitted to be the ultimate adventure or ultra-endurance rig. If you have any questions about dynamo hubs get in touch with us HERE!