Oma, what a bright light you have! All the better to see you with…

My Workcycles Oma came with a very cool looking retro-style light and Shimano generator hub.  Unfortunately, it is also a bit retro in that it uses a halogen bulb. While I appreciate warm understated lighting in photography, I like bright-as-you-can-get lighting when riding at night. Another downside to the Oma stock light is that it does not stay on when you stop moving.  I prefer lights with built-in capacitors that keep the light lit when stopped.  This is often called a “stand light” option.

The Supernova E3 is the bomb. It is so much brighter than these other lights, I did not include the beam pattern.

I am a big fan of hub generators or dynamos. They have very little drag compared to sidewall generators, and I don’t enjoy dealing with dead batteries and chargers. I have a few different dynamo hubs on different bikes.  I have two different Shimano hubs and the top of the line The Schmidt Dynamo front hub or SON (Schmidt’s Original Nabendynamo) generator hub on my Waterford. The SON is clearly the winner on all counts, from least drag to quality construction, but I am fine with the Shimano hub my Oma came with, and feel no reason to upgrade. I don’t notice any drag on the Shimano hub on my Oma, especially with those big tires and rims.

I must admit I have been spoiled by the best and the brightest LED technology.  I own what may be the brightest generator light for a bicycle, the aptly named Super Nova E3.  This light is awesome, but has a price tag to match: $230 from Peter White Cycles. I have a SON powered Supernova E3 on my custom all-rounder built by Waterford Precision Cycles.  I ride this bike long distances at night on country roads and even off-road.  The E3 is an ideal light for those purposes and money well spent. For a commuter bike, it is a bit overkill. 

The very bright Lumotec IQ CYO R Senso Plus with nearfield illumination. It has a lens that gives a wide beam pattern lighting more of the road close to the bike.

In looking for a new light, I was pretty sure I wanted the Lumotec IQ CYO R Senso Plus which Peter White sells for a reasonable $ 111.00.  This light is not as bright as the Supernova, but it is much brighter than any other light I have other than the E3.  The fact that it costs less than half what a Supernova E3 does was also very tempting.  This light was not available when I bought my E3 or I would probably own one instead of the E3.  When I was shopping around to see if Velo Orange had a better price on the IQ CYO, I noticed another light I had never heard of before. 

That lower piece on the Spanninga light on the left is just a white reflector. You could take it off if you wanted. I left it on.

Velo Orange was selling the Spanninga Micro FF LED light with Safe Stop for $38.  The write-up made the light seem worth trying at almost 1/3rd the price of the Lomotec, so I ordered one.  Spanninga is a Dutch/multi-national company that has developed what they call ‘LED reverse-beam technology.’ They claim this uses only ¼ of the energy of a regular bulb for the same intensity and with hardly any heat loss. The LED light is projected backwards onto a mirror directing it into a powerful conical beam. 

This light is designed to be mounted to the cent of the fork in the brake hole and would not work well mounted to the fork leg with a front rack.

The light is a lot smaller than the original light that came on my Oma.  It is not as cool looking, but I am more concerned about being seen and seeing better.  This is definitely a place I am willing to sacrifice style for function.  I did not want a tall light like the DLumotec Oval Plus I have on my Scwhinn Dutch conversion bike.  That light is meant to be mounted to the brake hole in the center of a fork crown, and I planned on adding the front carrier rack, which precludes fork crown mounted lights. 

First impressions of the Spanninga were that it had a bit of a flicker compared to my other lights.  And although it was brighter than the stock light, it clearly was not as bright as my DLumotec. It was definitely an improvement over the stock light, but another example of the old saying “you get what you pay for.” 

Here are the beam patterns for the three lights.  I shot all three at the same location with the same exposure. 

Headlight beam from the stock light that came on the Oma is not very bright. While it is bright enough for an approaching car to see you, it is not bright enough to see the road very well.

The Spanninga light is brighter and more blue, but it has a much more focused beam pattern. You can't see much of the road outside the spot.

This is the light pattern from the DLumotec Oval Plus. It is clearly brighter and the broad pattern lights up a lot more of the road.

 I guess overall I would say the Spanninga was a worthwhile upgrade, but mostly because of the standlight.  The beam is only marginally more useful for navigating pot holes in the dark.  It is probably makes the bike more visible to oncoming vehicles too. It can be seen better from the side, as it has a lens designed to provide side light.  The stock Oma light was not visible from the side at all. 

Would I recommend the Spanninga?  Probably not unless you were really on a tight budget.  If I had it all to do over again, I would spend the extra money for the light I originally wanted to buy before I cheaped out.  I would get the Lumotec  IQ CYO R Senso Plus at $ 111.00.  I may still get one and move this light over to the Electra Amsterdam.  If I do, I will compare it to the Supernova, since it is more in that category. 

Spanninga Micro FF LED light with Safe Stop
Pros: Innexpensive LED light with stand light. The light is bright enough for urban riding under streetlights and the occasional dark trail.

Cons: light flickers a bit at lower speeds, light not bright enough for completely dark roads

In the meantime, you can find out pretty much anything you want to know about these and many more lights from Peter White’s excellent site.


About daveschlabowske

Cyclechic advocate from Milwaukee
This entry was posted in Bicycles and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Oma, what a bright light you have! All the better to see you with…

  1. Noel says:

    I used that Supernova E3 on my 11,000 mile trip and can report after heavy use and abuse it holds up well. They say that is the brightest dynamo light on the planet, and it does do a good job. However, it does not seem noticeably brighter than the Schmidt Edelux in real life… I do prefer the magnetic switch of the Schmidt Edelux (less external switches means better weatherability). The Edelux does lacks the factory connection to a rear light, so I had to do some MacGuyvering on it which is not as elegant as the Supernova which is wired from the factory to control the rear light as well! Both expensive, both German, both fantastiche.

    • daveschlabowske says:

      Great feedback Noel. 11,000 through Mongolia and back is a pretty good testimony. I think the E3 has more “bleed” from the focused beam than the Edelux. That bleed can either be considered useful because it lights up mailboxes and road signs or wasted if you really want all the light on the road. You and I should go for a night ride sometime and compare them side by side at the same time under the exact same conditions. I could photograph that.

    • Jim G says:

      The Edelux does have a tail-light connection, it is a single small connector just forward of the mounting hole on the underside of the light.

  2. arlen says:

    for me…and i wished i knew about hub generators when i was having my new wheels made….oh well….
    i like my helmet light from DeNotti….it is bright….and i do not mind dealing with 4 AA batteries…
    what i would like to find is a solar charger that can deal with really making an effort of claiming to do what it is suppose to do….like charge anything….even a lighting bug

    • daveschlabowske says:

      There actually are solar powered bike lights now. Not sure if they are as bright as the light you have.

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