In thinking about which lights to try, I have relied on two online information sources.
First, there is a good, practical set of English language online comparisons from a website in the Netherlands, here. I pretty much agree with what that author says, and his photos of various beam patterns are useful.
Second, there is Peter White Cycles in the U.S. He is the U.S. distributor for SON dynamo hubs and the Edelux lights, among others, and his website has his take on the requirements for lighting, as well as photos of lots and lots of lighting beam patterns taken down a pitch dark road in the New Hampshire night. The photos are very useful.
A few thoughts:
1. These LED dynamo lights generally include both wires to connect to the hub for power input and also separate wires for output to an LED tail light. I have never bothered with dynamo powered LED tail lights, since my Panasonic rechargeable Eneloop AAA batteries and rear lights will last weeks or months set on flashing mode, and even on a constant-on mode (as required by most Audax events) one set of freshly charged batteries will make it through all or most of a 1200km ride.
2. There are now lots of Japanese LED headlights for use with dynamo hubs, but they are generally for use with shopping bikes, light only the near field and not way down the road, and look ugly. At this point, stick to the European (primarily German) products for the best lighting.
3. The nicest looking lights by close to consensus opinion are (1) the Supernova E3 Pro and (2) the Schmidt Edelux.
4. It is not easy to compare lights. Some lights include "Lux" ratings. Others are rated in "Lumens". (Lux = 1 lumen per square meter, and so takes into account the area lit as well as the output of the LED. Others have the same brightness in theory, but seem to use more or less efficient LEDs and so get bright at lower/higher speeds. Others seem to dim somewhat after the LEDs heat up fully.
5. Brightest is not always best. If you plan to do trail riding in pitch dark, you want the brightest light and widest beam you can find. But for most on road riding, you may want a light that draws less power and provides enough light. And you do not want to blind drivers coming toward you. I do not need an E3 Pro Triple. I find the E3 Pro offers plenty of light and a good beam pattern. Then again, I might want more light if I was on a fast descent in rain at midnight, or if I had poor eyesight.
6. Get a light with cutoff switch. The lights designed for bottle (rim) dynamos are "always on", since you turn them off by lifting the dynamo from the rim. For a hub dynamo, you definitely want a cut off switch so you can reduce the dynamo's drag during daylight hours, or use the current to charge a USB device.
Which lights have I tried?
A. Philips Saferide 60 Lux
It has a reflector along the front of the mount. And it fits nicely behind the front road brake mount. There is also a 40Lux version -- plenty for most uses.
Unfortunately, the mounting tab snapped off at its base an hour or two before the end of the Rocky Mountain 1200 last summer. I descended a steep hill (on a sunny afternoon), and I think metal fatigue plus intense vibration of the Canadian rumble strips snapped it off. So I cannot give an unqualified recommendation. Then again, I was given a refund (still within initial one year warranty period). And even if the warranty had not covered it, I could buy two or three of these for the price of one Edelux or Supernova E3 Pro.
B. Trelock 885
This is another relatively reasonably priced light. It is 40 Lux, and I used it on the October 2012 600km Brevet I rode with Jerome, as well as keeping it on my Canyon road bike since.
My main complaint with it is that the beam pattern has a sharply defined area and lights only a relatively narrow area of road in front. This was a major detriment as I descended the North side of Tsuru Pass just after dusk on the Brevet last October. I could not see the road in front of me as I twisted through turns and the beam lit the corners that I turned through, rather than the road I was turning into. And once I hit a straight away and really accelerated, I could barely see anything outside of the beam's defined edges. I almost hit a deer, descending at over 50 kph speed. Really. At least I think it was a deer. I smelled it just about the same time that I saw its shadow.
C. Busch & Mueller Lumotec IQ Cyo Senso Plus
Busch & Mueller has a dizzying number of different models with different characteristics. There is something for everyone. Be very careful when you order to make sure you get the right one. The first I ordered, in 2011, lacked a cut-off switch, and so is on all the time, unless you unplug it at the hub. (Jerome has been using it since without complaint). B&M have 60 Lux models that they advertise as 500% of the brightness required by the German regulatory scheme. The 60 Lux plastic model is around 50 Euro.
I have been using a 40 Lux version (300% brighter than required) that has some brushed aluminum mixed in with the black plastic, instead of just black plastic, and is costs just under 60 Euro. I could not bring myself to get the true retro-styled, more expensive and only 30 Lux "Classic" version.
I have been reasonably happy with this light so far, using it mostly on my fixed gear bike for night riding in the city. The beam is relatively close to the Trelock ... but offers just enough more leakage outside toward left and right sides in order to make on aware of nearby obstructions. With this light I would probably have seen the deer.
D. Supernova E3 Pro
|E3 Pro with multimount, and wires for tail light wrapped around the mount (eventually I should cut them off as I am unlikely to use them and they detract from the aesthetics).|
|E3 Pro with handlebar mount|
I like the beam pattern. Unlike the Busch & Mueller and Trelock, which have an LED at the top front of the light, which shines indirectly off the reflector and out onto the road, the Supernova LED is in the rear of the reflector and shines both directly and off the reflector. The beam is not as sharply defined as my B&M or Lumotec, but rather gradually dissipates at the edges. And my version of the E3 Pro has a "Terraflux" reflector, designed to spare the eyes of drivers just like a "low beam" auto headlight. Even so, just enough light expands to see a reflective highway sign overhead.
I used the E3 Pro on the Tohoku 1700 rides last May and again on the Brevet I did last weekend. I expect that I will use it a lot in the future.
I do not have a Schmidt Edelux, though have heard that they are great -- very attractive and perhaps lighter weight and slightly less expensive than the Supernova E3 ... but they use a Busch & Mueller style reflector, and so I somehow find it hard to pay 120 Euros for the Edelux instead of 50 or 60 for the B&M.
The other light I would like to try is the new Busch & Mueller IQ2 Luxos B or Luxos U. As you can see on Peter White's B&M page, and from his beam photos (worth scrolling way down the page to see these) this has a very bright LED (70 Lux), with a very wide angle beam. But unlike the Philips Saferide, the near field is not overly brightly lit so as to distract or make it more difficult to see further down the road. And the Luxos U includes a built-in USB charger for iphone, Garmin or other accessory. What's not to like? Well, in the catalogue at least it looks ugly, and it probably draws more current (and creates a wee bit more drag) at the dynamo hub than is necessary in many conditions.
NOTE: Price information is from Bike24 website, excluding VAT and shipping charges.