When looking for a light to go with my dynamo hub the obvious choice was the K-lite, compact, light weight and the choice of riders in the Tour Divide. The only choice I had to make was the setup. I decided to go for the brightest 1000/600lm light with a Sineway USB charger for my Garmin 800 and iPhone. The hub was also a straight forward choice, SP do a number hubs but the PD-8X was the only one that had a 15mm thru axle. It also seems to come out on top in all the reviews.
The hub arrived first and I built it up using a Travers carbon 29+ rims which are tubeless compatible and a feathery 540g, which saved 500g over a Northpaw rim with innertube. I did what everyone does when they take a new hub out of the box, I tested the bearing for smoothness, smooth isn't the word these were positively notchy! so much so that I considered stopping the project there and then. I cant put these on my bike! I had read the reviews before I bought the hub but I wasn't expecting them to feel this rough. I had the hub and rim so went ahead and built it, they laced up just as any other hub, there is an arrow down the middle to show you the direction of rotation but as this was going on a mountain bike with disc brakes you can only put it in the dropouts one way.
Once built up, especially when you have mounted the tyre the notchiness all but disappears to such a degree that unless you were told or spotted the small plug you would never know it was a dynamo hub. In use on the trail, I couldn't feel any extra draggy, from the figures published on the SP site the drag ranges from 1-6 watts. The SP PD-8X was quite underwhelming, its just felt like any other hub! Which is praise in its self.
The K-Lite turned up a couple of days after the hub so the bike way ready and waiting. On opening the packet that the light came in I was presented with what seemed like a lot of cables, not to be put off I laid them out on the table and it soon became clear what everything did.
A cable plugs into the dynamo hub on the right fork leg and runs up to the switch on the top of the steerer above the stem, this switch swaps between the light and the Sineway USB Charger. Two cable run out of the switch, one to a battery with another switch on (this switch goes from High to off and Low for the light) the other cable diverts to the Sineway USB charger. I will use this to power my Garmin 800 and my iPhone.
I played around with the position of the light and decided to mount the head unit under the bar to keep it out of the way, this also allowed me to mount the battery to the face plate of the stem and run the cables under the Garmin. I have read a few reviews from recent BB200's and there is some bike carrying to be done and I wanted to limit the chance of pulling out a cable or knocking the light.
Like a big kid the first thing I did was pick the bike up by the bars and span the front wheel to see if I could get the light on, to my surprise it did! Not only that I can report its quite bright, I did it so you dont have to...! I then rode the bike around the corner, maybe 200m to take some pictures and this was enough to charge the battery. I was only there for a couple of minute but the light stayed on for the whole time.
Once I was happy that the system worked and I had everything zipped tied down in the right place I kitted up and headed out for a proper test. I have been using a Exposure Maxx D mk3 up until now so I am used to a reasonably bright focused light and wasn't expecting the K-Lite to come close. The climbs are defiantly a weak point for the K-Lite, on open fire roads it wasn't an issue but on more technical loose climbs I was finding the light of other riders were casting my shadow on the trail. This is obviously an issue with every dynamo system, there is only so much power generated by the hub for the light. This all changes when the speed picks up, normal cursing speed is enough to illuminate even the trickiest single track or downhill. The light is less focused than my Maxx D but gave a bright flood light. It was so bright that my Exposure Joystick on my helmet made no impression on the ground within the area illuminated by the K-Lite.
I still have a bit of tweaking to do with the setup. I am probably going to move the Sineway USB charger to the front of the frame bag for the BB200 to make it easier to swap between the iPhone and Garmin. I had a quick chat with Kerry from K-Lite and showed him the pictures of my set up to make sure I had everything correct and a strategy for the best way to charge my Garmin and iPhone on the BB200. With the switch directing the power to the light it pulls more power from the hub especially when traveling at higher speeds (compared to the off or Sineway position). This isn't really a concern for me as the high speed will probably be gravity assisted, so wont have a great impact on my legs. I had considered riding with the light on during the day to aid my visibility to car drivers, my thinking was the dynamo is running all the time I might as well use it. Now this is were my basic understanding of dynamo systems lets me down...as by having the light on it will use about 7 watts of power compared to 1 watt in the off position.
The other thing I discussed was the large size of the battery box, again my basic understanding of electrical systems let me down shamefully! The box isn't all battery but also holds capacitors. K-Lite uses high quality capacitors (unlike other brands) ideal to give extra peace of mind when you are in the middle of nowhere.
Okay, you might have seen a few pictures I have posted recently for the BB200 event. I have my kit pretty much sorted now and have loaded the bike up with what I intend to use for the event for the first time...altogether.
Up until this point I have ridden the Rudy Fat with different elements, evaluating each component and part as I go to see if, first up it works, will I need it and could I ride with it for the whole event.
I suppose I should give a little background before I go too in depth. I first came across the minimal bike packing scene when Stuart from Bear Bones Bike Packing questioned the need/suitability of the Rudy Fat and the 29+ wheels for the kind of riding they do. To be honest I had never done this kind of thing before so I sent him the Rudy Fat to test, the review can be seen here. He liked it, so I guess it is only right that I enter one of their events to see for myself, I chose the BB200.
What is the BB200? to be honest I am not 100% certain! The BB bit stand for Bear Bones and the 200 bit is the distance 200km. I know you have to ride self supported, with a sleeping bag, bivvy or tent, Front and rear light and a mobile phone. The course is sent to you 3 days before the event and it's based around mid Wales. Other than that I am not really sure what I have let myself in for.
I have ridden a number of endurance mountain bike event over the last couple of years including a couple of solo 24hr races where I have ridden further than 200km, these have all been on circuits where you come back to the pit area and you can refuel, relax and sort out any mechanical issues. The BB200 you need to carry everything you will need. I am quite picky and being a XC racer at heart weight is a major issue for me, with that in mind I researched every element and where possible tested everything first.
The obvious thing to start with is the bike, I am in the fortunate position of being able to pick from the whole range of frames that Travers Bikes produce. The Rudy Fat was the obvious choice. I have ridden it in nearly all the endurance race I have done this year and to be honest this is just the event I had in mind when I designed the frame around the large 29+ wheels. Simplicity is the key, no suspension, lightweight with 1x10 gears, its pretty much bomb proof.
I have decided to run a dynamo hub system on this event mainly for security and my own peace of mind, with this set up I can either run the main light, or charge my Garmin/phone off the USB port.
I will write a short review of each of the components I have chosen to use and why over the next week.
I am getting my Rudy Fat 29+ ready for the BB200 in a couple of weeks. Everything is fitted except for the USB charger for the Garmin but the cable are in place. The bivy and sleeping bag will go on the Anything cages mounted to the traversbikes.com Prong 29 forks. I will also be running a saddle bag for tools and a small bag on the top tube (by the seat post) for grab food. Thanks to Kerry Staite for help with the K-Lite setup, Nextie Bike for the carbon 29+ rims (rear still to fit) and beerbabe.co.uk for the custom frame bag.
The Travers Fat Race has been away on long term review since October last year 2013. In fact it been away so long the frame has now been updated! with 5mm longer chainstay to allow for the use of 29+ wheels and a tapered headtube.
I think Matt is a convert!
Proud to be supporting the jerseys for the BB200...and it got my name on it! What have I let myself in for!
Another fine showing from the Travers team last night at the last Maldon & District Cycling Club Summer CX race. Russ lost out on the win going into the last corner finishing 2nd. Another strong showing from Steve Coulson in 7th with Gavin Thomas in his first ride for the club in 11th. I dragged myself round to 26th on the Rudy Fat followed closely by Michael Bebbington in 28th Peter Stiff in 31st and Kateel Quereshi. Thanks to the Maldon cycling club for putting on a great series, which they were rewarded with a large field of 56 rider, exceptional for a local evening event.
The Prong 29 has landed! The perfect upgrade for your 29er or 29+ bikes, this feather weight fork is the ultimate weight weenies dream!
42mm fork rake
Suspension corrected geometry
485mm Axel to Crown
Carbon threadless steerer uncut length 300mm
15mm thru axle (supplied)
Direct mount disk brake
Ideal for 29er or 29+ bikes
42mm fork rake
2 year Warranty on forks
The "Prong 29" has been tested and has exceeded the EN14766 standard.
It was the first round of the Maldon and District Cycling Club Summer Cyclocross Series last night. It was a great event, really well run with superb support from local riders.
Team Travers were there with a strong team of 5 riders. We all finished in the top half of the field with Russ in 3rd, Steve in 4th, Matt in 6th, myself on the Fat Race in 18th and John in 19th.
It was extremely close racing with battles all the way down the field. The 30 mins plus a lap is a killer and was a bit of a shock to my legs after mainly riding endurance events all year.
I must say a special thanks to Lesley for the pictures and to Pete, Brad and Anna (and kids) for turning up to support the team.
HAND BUILT TITANIUM FRAMES.