Friday, January 21, 2011

self-lighting: generator systems

Since I work at a shop that's known for espousing these lighting systems, one would wonder why I haven't used generators until now. I did use a generator on my bike in high school and college, but it was a side-mount "bottle" generator -- lower-quality, prone to shorting out in the Oregon rain and having what I always felt was excessive drag on the wheel. So when the thing finally died in my freshman year of college, I ripped it from the bike, installed battery-powered lights and called it done. In recent years I'd switched to rechargeable batteries but still wondered about the generator option. With my decision to hand off the buyer's reins and return to wrenching next fall I've begun to gather tools and knowledge in various area where I feel my know-how is lacking. So I pestered co-worker Nate into teaching an internal class on generator systems, and in advance of the class I installed one of the generator wheels from a recently de-commissioned rental bike.

There are fits and starts and unexplainable moments where the headlight stops working, but overall the result has been pretty good. Since this is a learning tool for me, I will struggle and putter and fidget with the system until it feels dialed in. Last night the headlight went out without warning, for nearly a mile, and then just as suddenly turned back on. I have no idea why. I will do some reading over the weekend and see what I come up with. The headlight I originally chose may have to be replaced with a more compatible model.

One issue that came up was how exposed my taillight would be, affixed to the rear fender too far from the rack to be sheltered. I decided a bashguard was in order, and made one from a broken Master "cuff" lock bracket. It's not nearly as funky-looking as I'd feared, and looks like it will do the trick.



It's been nice to putter on my bike again, and I plan to make time for this on a weekly basis before stepping into the mechanic's role next fall.

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