I decided to document a recent wheel build to try to capture my thoughts while going through the process. Ever since I bought my Rivendell in 2009, I planned to add a dynamo lighting system to it. I experimented with one last year on a “winter” bike, and decided it was awesome for a number of reasons. It takes all the thought and worry out of riding at night. You will have a light, and it will not gradually fade out like battery systems. With the modern German lights made by Busch & Muller or Schmidt Maschinenbau, the beam pattern is wide, bright, and generally much more usable than what I was used to with the round, unfocused beams on the battery lights I have used.
I have built a couple mountain bike 26″ wheels in the past, so I felt like I needed the practice. The front wheel is just a 2-3 hour job for me at this point, and the hardest part is getting the wheel laced up correctly. In the end, this went pretty well – I just sat down in my office with the parts and a few books (Jobst, and Zinn), as well as the Sheldon Brown wheelbuilding web site. I had used beeswax on the spokes in the past, but this time I went with linseed oil as was recommended by my local bike shop. I lined up the wheel, and got all the spokes laced up with 5 or 6 turns of the nipples.
At this point, it was on to the Park truing stand for tensioning and truing:
I used a Park Tensiometer to bring the spokes to a proper tension, and found that plucking them for tone was a great way for me to get them consistent. The rim I used, a Velocity Synergy, is the same as the back wheel from my prior set. I found it to be simple to lace. It was also quite true once the spokes were tensioned up. I didn’t have to do too much fiddling with this rim to get it right.
Next up: mounting the Edelux light on the front of my Platrack. I decided to mount it front and center keeping the light low to give good relief to the road irregularities. I’ve read that most dynamo lights are designed to be at fork crown height for optimal beam.
Here are a few pictures of the mount and wiring:
The trickiest part was finding a way to route the “too short” rear wiring in a way that would work. I used Shoe Goo to glue the wiring under the lip of the fender. It worked out just fine, but I would have rather had an extra foot of wire so I could route it along the downtube and chainstay. Ultimately, this setup works really well, albeit with a bit less tire clearance in the back 🙂 The lights are on whenever I need them, and I don’t have to worry about batteries. The beam on the Edelux is wonderful, and easily as bright as any of the other lights I’ve used (Planet Bike 2 watt, EOS, B & M IQ Cyo). Happy rides!