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For some, riding a bike in the dark is simply a necessity that they could happily live without and for others, it’s an accepted part of year-round cycling in UK. Love or loath the dark nights it matters not, because one thing you’ll need to both endure or enjoy the hours of darkness, is a light. 

The world of lights has moved on considerably since I first bolted a 10w halogen Cat-eye and cage snappingly heavy lead-acid battery to a bike. Weights have dropped, run-times increased and outputs can now literally turn night into day. There’s never been so much choice; trying to whittle down the hundreds of possible options into some kind of workable short-list can become a mammoth task … unless of course, you have a dynamo. If you do have a dynamo, then your choice is somewhat limited and if you’d like a light capable of tolerating the bikepacking life, then you can count your options on the fingers of a single hand with some to spare. I think it’s fair to say that, the Exposure Revo has become the default off-road dynamo light but there are other options; one of which is the K-Lite.

What’s in the box – it’s virtually plug and play.

K-Lite is the brainchild of Kerry Staite, an exiled Kiwi living in Oz. New Zealanders have a reputation for self-sufficiency, so maybe it’s no surprise that when Kerry wanted a dynamo light, he didn’t simply buy one – he built one, a process which eventually culminated in this – the Bikepacker Pro. 

The Bikepacker Pro is K-Lite’s all encompassing dynamo set-up and it’s specifically aimed at those of us who class rides in days rather than hours. From the first moment you reach it out of the box, it’s obvious that the whole thing has been designed by someone who understands what bikepackers require and knows that it’s often more than just a light. The above photograph shows all the component parts of the Bikepacker Pro system and at first glance it might look a little confusing, yet in reality, it’s very straightforward and virtually ‘plug and play’ … a real bonus for those with the soldering skills of a chimp.

Light unit – Small, compact and weighing only 50g. It contains 3 LED which are capable of producing a claimed 1200lm which makes it the brightest dynamo light available … it’s also waterproof, shock-proof and dust-proof, so I suppose that makes it ‘bikepacker proof’ too. 

Control box – You might be wondering what the control box does and why you need it. Well, it’s actually quite cunning as it enables you to switch the output of the light. In ‘Hi’ the light produces a full 1200lm which is handy if you’re travelling slowly but still need to see where you going. Flick the switch to ‘Low’ and the output is reduced to ‘a mere’ 700lm and in the process reduces dynamo drag – perfect for those flat road sections that don’t require masses of light.

Handlebar switch – I’ve already mentioned that, in the same way a dog’s not solely for Christmas, a dynamo’s not just for lights. Most people will also want their dynamo to perform charging duties for gps, phones, batteries and all manner of gizmos and gadgets. The bar switch allows you to direct your dynamo’s current to either lights or to charging. There’s no messing around unplugging wires and plugging others back in, it’s all controlled by a simple flick of a switch … there’s also a very neat top cap mounted version available.

Light, control box and switch homed on a single mount.

Two types of light mount are included but should you need something more specific, K-Lite have lots of options. The underside of each component is radiused to sit against a round bar but exactly where and to which round bar you fit them, is up to you. I decided to mount everything close together and within easy reach but rather than attach anything directly to the handlebars, I opted to use an additional mount. There’s lots of mounts like this available and K-Lite themselves make some very nice ones. However, I didn’t have one to hand and I’m tight, both of which lead to me rummage through boxes and beneath benches until I’d collected enough odds and ends to make something suitable.

Mounting like this minimises loss of bar space, allows the light unit to be positioned directly in the centre of the bars (my OCD doesn’t like off-set lights) and means I can remove the entire light set-up by simply unplugging two connectors and loosening a single bolt. There’s also the added benefit of positioning the light above whatever bar-harness / dry-bag I happen to have fitted. I know some people will feel that the use of cable-ties is somewhat basic but from a practical stand-point, they’re perfect. Strong, light, quick, secure and easily carried or sourced; Industrial maybe, practical certainly.

Considering it’s the worlds most powerful dynamo light, it’s very small.

With the addition of a usb charger such as a Sinewave, Cycle2Charge or similar, you can pretty much do whatever you like and when your light’s not on, you’ll have a permanent power supply on tap. If you add a ‘cache’ battery to the equation, you’ll also have additional stored power which you can then use to charge things while you’re sat in a cafe or even asleep. Initial forays into the night have left me very impressed but there’s more to be done, I’ll report back shortly and let you know how we’ve faired.

K-Lite

Available in the UK from Travers Bikes

3 Comments

  1. Unknown says:

    It all sounds simplish…. BUT what about the hub ? Isn't that where all the problems are ? What are the hub options, cost, maintenance, life span etc
    (Keep it simple I get confused easily)

  2. And that's a very good point Eric … The 3 main hub brands are SP (or a re-branded version), SON or Shimano. I've used SP in the past but sadly did have a bearing failure (replaced under warranty via SP directly). SON have a very good reputation but are the most expensive and like SP, can't be serviced at home. At the moment I'm using a Shimano DH-3D32, it has a 6 bolt disc fitting, produces the required 3w and is cheap. It certainly isn't the prettiest or lightest dynamo hub but it's user-serviceable to a degree and so far, is holding up well to the Welsh winter. I can't say that I notice the additional weight when riding and 'drag' isn't a factor once you're underway.

    Going back to the SP for a minute – There's some very mixed opinions regarding reliability. Some people have covered 1000's of miles without a glitch, while others have had similar problems to me after less than a 1000. However, I believe the design has been altered on the latest hubs although I couldn't tell you anymore than that.

    To give you a rough idea of cost – SON £150+, SP £60-£85 and Shimano £35 upwards.

  3. Unknown says:

    so QR versions of SP are great…on AV 25,000km…..15mm TA versions had a few issues….now the power part is always fine…as no moving parts….only magnets passing copper wire…;)

    I have moved over to SON like many others with no issue…..K

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