Posted by: audaxing | July 25, 2016

New Bike Electronics

Audax bikes might be propelled solely by human effort but they have various electronic devices on them: GPS, Lights, a generator, maybe a battery pack

A lot of riders (including myself) waste too much time trying to get an optimal electronic setup.

My last bike, the Roubaix had a Schmidt generator hub. This generator powered front and rear lights. The GPS was a eTrex 20 which runs off AA batteries. The front light was a Luxos which had a USB power output. After a while I discovered that the eTrex would run directly off the USB from the Luxos – even when lights were running. I had low powered backup lights too. I usually carry a mobile phone. The Luxos could also charge this, albeit slowly and it couldn’t charge the phone and run the GPS at the same time.

Failed

However, this set up failed and lost me a 300km when the Luxos failed – it was wet – and the backup light would have been inadequate for riding in the dark and rain. The lesson here really is always carry an adequate backup light. The Luxos and other B&M generator lights I’ve used have been very reliable on the whole but you never know what will happen..

With my new bike I am taking a different approach

Front light

The main, front light is a B&M IQ-X. This is the latest B&M offering with 100 Lux output. Compared with the 70 Lux from the Luxos. Like all new lights when they are new it seems to offer a vast improvement on the old. In this case the beam is both wider and longer. The IQ-X is simpler in design to the Luxos, with no USB power output and better water proofing

Rear light

The rear light is a rechargeable Lezyne Micro Drive. This is extremely bright and has various power “modes”. Even in the lowest mode that supposedly lasts for 24 hours the light is very very bright compared to an average light. The build quality is also good. To recharge it, the rear cover unscrews showing a USB plug. It will charge off any USB power source.

Lezyne Micro Drive

Lezyne Micro Drive

My previous rear lights have always had replaceable batteries in them. By preference these were AA batteries. The idea was that I could carry spares or even buy them from a garage if the light ran out

The eTrex 20 is now running off AA batteries all the time and not using the generator. With Sonyo Black XX batteries (now branded as “Panasonic  Eneloop Pro”) it runs for over 24 hours, depending on the exact use it is getting. Carrying a few sets of spares is not a problem for the typical audax event (ie a 600km over 40 hours)

I still carry a phone though. If the phone gets any kind of use – looking for an open shop in the area or for train times – then the battery is rapidly drained. So I needed some way of recharging it in the wild

USB cache battery

The solution was a Portapow 10200mAh portable charger. On 600km events there is often a drop bag service and the charger can go in there. Otherwise, it’s not super heavy and can come on the bike
It is able to charge the phone and the Lezyne Micro drive at the same time

Portapow charging Micro Drive light and phone at the same time

Portapow charging Micro Drive light and phone at the same time

Finally, I have got a new backup light. It’s only a cheap item from Wilcos but much more powerful than the previous light. Hopefully it is good enough to ride for extended periods in the dark and wet. Although I hope I don’t have to find out!


Responses

  1. Having set my Etrex 20 to record ‘less often’, it happily survived an entire 600 (the Exe-Buzzard) on one set of batteries.


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