Supernova Infinity 8 Dynamo Hubs
Price: €189.00 (+€10.00 for certain colours)
Weight: 676g (Supernova's Infinity S is the lighter version at just 399g but without the ability to switch on or off)
Supernova is a German company that specialize in lighting for road and off-road use. The big difference with Supernova systems is the advanced dynamo technology powering their components. The Infinity 8 is the latest hub that they have released and we have been putting it through its paces..
We have been running the hub in conjunction with the Supernova USB Plug 2 and David is running an E3 dynamo powered light. We will review all 3 components.
The Infinity 8 Dynamo Hub has been incredibly well executed and with 8 anodized colours to choose from, aesthetically they look the part too!
Made of 6061 forged alluminium and top quality internal parts this appears to be a neat piece of engineering. The hub is only available with 32 holes.
The feature which made this product stand out for us, is the ability to turn the hub off when it is not required, therefore reducing unnecessary drag.
So how has this product performed so far?
The short answer is that we are producing electricity and loads of it!
We have pedalled nearly 20,000 km's and feel like a travelling power bank. In fact, if there was a way to store and sell our excess electricity, we would be making money! Our electronic devices are permanently topped up and our Power Traveller battery pack is fully charged for back up off the bike too.
The speed at which you need to travel in order to charge, depends on the voltage of the device. We use an iPhone 4S and this requires minimum 13km's p/h to charge consistently. If we cycle consistently at say 24kph, we can charge the iPhone from 20% - 100% in approximately 3 hours whilst using our Maps.Me application which uses the phones built in GPS, thus uses significantly more battery than other basic applications. When I am charging my Steripen, I charge consistently at just 5-7kph.
There is definitely a certain amount of drag or resistance when you are cycling with the hub on and there have been occasions where presented with open flat road, we have been tormented between having the optimum chance to charge-up or taking the opportunity to turn off the hub and crank up the speed. Well, I guess it’s nice to have the choice!
To turn the hub on and off there is an integrated dial that you turn to open and close and so you have to set your hub ON or OFF before you take off. For us, we have disc brakes, front pannier racks and mudguards all converging into the hub area which slightly obstruct the access to the dial, but it is not really an issue. The problem that we have found however, has been that when the dial is left open, i.e. the hub is turned off, it is possible for dust and debris to get between the space and clog it up when you go to close it again. Our fear is whether we will end up pushing grit into the hub as we turn it closed. We plan to contact Supernova to ask their advice on the best way to clear out any muck, i.e water/ compressed air or brush it out. We will let you know their response and the long term effects.
We are running our dynamo hubs in correspondence with the USB Plug and David also has the E3 Tripe dynamo light. The cables run neatly up the inside of the forks to the light which is mounted in front of the steering tube and the cables for the USB Plug enter underneath the steering tube where the forks split and up to the USB plug which sits elegantly above the headset. To release the front wheel, all we need to do is disconnect the cables using the male/ female connector, it takes two seconds.
One limitation of this hub, could be the number of spoke holes. At present, there is only one hub available with 32 holes. If you were wanting to build a stronger wheel for touring, or incorporate this hub into a tandem, you may want to consider this. However, we have been carrying between 30 - 45 kg's of luggage between the front and rear wheels and have not yet experienced any issues with either of our hubs/ spokes/ flanges. This is a heavy load, but we also made sure we invested time and money into a strong, quality wheel build.
Overall, we are extremely happy with the Infinity 8 and its performance. We have cycled 20,000 kilometres with these hubs and they are more than standing up to the challenge. They look fantastic and have astounded us in their productivity! We would highly recommend the Infinity 8 dynamo hub.
Supernova USB Plug 2
Price: €159.00+ shipping
This little pocket rocket is simply brilliant!
At just 46g the simple, sleek and neat USB Plug sits perfectly and conveniently above your headset and is used in conjunction with a dynamo hub as it's electricity source.
You can charge your devices directly from the USB port, or if your devices are topped up and you don't want to waste your pedalling efforts, then think about charging up an extra battery pack for later use. We recommend Power Travellers Lithium battery, called the Power Monkey Discovery. Whilst you are charging you will need to mount your device to your handlebars or run your USB cable into your bar bag.
The plug is completely waterproof. There is a little rubber plug to insert in the port when you are not using it, but in reality, this never stays in. As we were worried about water entering the USB port, to begin with we used to cover the plug with a plastic bag and elastic band. However, we stopped doing that a long time ago and surprisingly, have not experienced any issue what so ever.
In the first instance, Supernova supplied us both with the original Plug 1. We set off, fully charging, but both plugs stopped working on us within 72 hours. We contacted Supernova and they acknowledged our complaint immediately and sent a replacement Plug 2 within 48 hours. There had been a manufacturing fault in the Plug 1 but we heard from other customers too, that Supernova did not hesitate to replace the faulty components immediately with the Plug 2 edition with no charge. Their customer service could not have been more friendly and efficient. Since installing the Plug 2, we have not experienced any failures until entering China. The Chinese authority's seemed to think it OK to pick apart everything on our bikes and thus broke one of our plugs. Bizarrely, they had pulled out the plastic insert which holds the USB end in place and snapped the internal pins. We managed to get a replacement sent to us immediately and Holly will now be trying out the latest Plug 3 edition!!
The plug will only charge when you travel at the necessary speed for your device. As soon as you stop, the plug will stop, it is not able to store any sur-charge. Likewise, there is also a safety mechanism implemented that trips the supply if you are travelling too fast, protecting any sensitive devices.
There is a green LED light on the top surface of the Plug which glows when the Plug is actively charging. If you have the Supernova Infinity 8 dynamo hub and the green light is not coming on, check you have fully engaged the disc to activate hub.
One thing to consider when installing the device is whether to leave yourself any excess cable for future alterations to your bike. Last year we were considering inserting a spacer into the headset, but we had already cut the cables to the USB Plug, so there was not enough length to allow this. To remove the plug you simply release the star nut and carefully lift the Plug directly up. Try not to twist the Plug or you will risk damaging the internal cables. Inside there is another male/ female connecter which can be easily disconnected so that you can remove the whole component.
The Plug 2 has attracted a lot of attention on this ride and has been an invaluable addition to our custom built bikes. For us, although the price may seem steep, knowing that we are all but entirely self-sufficient has allowed us to avoid hotels and campsites with greater ease. We rely solely on our iPhone for mapping, we also rely on the USB to charge our Steripen and a second front light. It felt like an extravagance in the first instance, but this lightweight, robust little number, is your classic example of top quality in a small package!
Supernova E3 Triple Dynamo Front Light
The E3 Triple light is powered solely by the output of a dynamo hub and in this instance, Supernova's infinity 8 dynamo hub.
The essential features are 3 LED lights inside a smart housing made from 6061 aluminium. At their brightest, this light shines 800 lumens!
There is an off/on switch on the light. If you are lucky enough to be running the USB Plug, turning the light on will automatically switch off the USB port, unless you have adapted the wiring to charge both simultaneously (note that running both components at the same time will require a greater output from the dynamo hub to feed both devices sufficiently, so you need to get pedalling!).
The brilliance of this light is that rather surprisingly, the light will begin to glow almost immediately, as soon as the wheel begins to spin. At a low speed the first of the 3 LED lights illuminates and as you gain speed, the other 2 follow. At just 8mph, you should reach full illumination. Even more brilliantly is that they have installed a 'Supercap condenser' which stores excess electricity to power the light at low speeds and even when you pull to a halt. As you slow down, the reverse as above will happen; 2 LEDS will switch off and 1 LED will remain, utilising the stored power, shining for up to 7 minutes standing still.
Did I mention how bright this light is? It is insanely bright.. the only problem we have found is that we should have installed the light on both bikes!
I am running a USB chargeable Leyzne, which is actually pretty good in it's own right, but I can only ride with David in front or to the side of me, when he is directly behind me his light totally dwarfs mine, causing a shadow directly ahead of me until he pulls out and illuminates the road for us both!
This light has been designed for trails and 24hour mountain bike racing and I only realised recently that it is prohibited for road use, as it's power exceeds road safety standards. We have ours mounted at the split of the front forks and whilst it illuminates the road superbly, I don't believe it would dazzle oncoming drivers. For us, many of the roads and tunnels that we have been riding on in the dark, have had no lighting whatsoever and it is at those moments that we say how glad we are that we chose the E3 Triple Dynamo Light, it's simply brilliant!