The Maiden Voyage of the Dynohub

In preparation for my upcoming bike travels, I’ve made an exciting upgrade to the bike: a dynohub! This genius device attaches to the front wheel and generates electricity with every pedal stroke.

With the tremendous support and expertise of Paul Priest and his compatriots at Recycled Cycles, the Kona is now equipped with a headlight, tail light and USB charger—all powered by the dynamo on the front wheel! Translation: no more carrying battery-powered lights, no more batteries, and no more fussing over how to keep my phone or rechargeable lights working.

I took the new setup for a test ride last Thursday night. Departing Seattle’s leafy Madrona neighborhood at dusk, we spun up a curving hill and past the line of people waiting for Molly Moon’s ice cream. Two more hills loomed to the west, but somehow the climbing seemed easier than usual. I didn’t bother with my lowest, granniest gears and leaned instead into the sweet night air. After passing a marijuana retailer’s big neon sign (“Hey stoner, around the corner!”), I spontaneously turned up a narrow street I’d never pedaled before. I was headed for my housesitting gig, and the northbound route was new to me.

Streetlights were sparser here, and the new Edelux headlight illuminated the pavement with a wide, boxy beam. We had the street practically to ourselves, and the light stretched from curb to curb. Near the enormous stone structure of Holy Names Academy, I stopped to tilt the Edelux so it would show the street farther ahead. The head and tail lights remained on after I stopped the bike—another nifty feature of the German-made gear.

As I kept an eye out for potholes, pink rhododendrons loomed out of the dark. Lit windows filled with people socializing in gracious old Seattle homes. Soon the Kona and I were bumping downhill to cross the 1924 Montlake Bridge, where car tires squealed along the adjacent metal grating. It sounded more like a freeway than a picturesque drawbridge. Up ahead, a purple neon sign burned “Husky Stadium” into the night, and we climbed the nearby ramp past the shiny new light rail station.

Now for the true test of the headlight: the Burke-Gilman trail, which is overgrown, rough and dark in sections. Could I find my way without veering into the foliage? Would the Edelux show where tree roots had lifted the pavement into a bumpy hazard?

Yes and yes!

All the weeks of research and the hassle of eBay—where I got the wheel and dynohub from a difficult seller—paid off! We sailed down the trail and then climbed to the edge of Ravenna Park and over the 20th Avenue Bridge, long closed to cars. I breathed a silent hello to the 110-year-old-house where I lived for five years in the 90s. Before I knew it, the new bike light had led me another mile north, into the yard with the Asian pear tree and the house that I’ll call home through June 22.

It’s still a little hard to believe that I’ll be powering these lights all the way across Canada and down to Cuba. There are plenty of unknowns, especially when it comes to earning on the road, but my excitement is building. I feel like I’m a big step closer with the dynohub lighting the way.


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