Planet Bike Blaze Dynamo
The Planet Bike Blaze Dynamo is, as the name would imply, the dynamo-powered version of the previously reviewed Blaze headlight. For the uninitiated, a dynamo hub is a front hub which uses the magic of magnets to generate a couple of watts of electricity; the hub has a little socket with a male plug which you press the wire from the light into, and the socket snaps onto the hub. Dynamo hubs are heavy, and they produce drag, but if you’re looking to provide lots of steady light for hours and hours without worrying about your battery flaking on you, they can’t be beat.
The Blaze Dynamo produces lots of light. I have the 1/2 watt battery-powered Blaze, and while I always thought it was excessive for most semi-lighted city situations, it’s got nothing on its wired brother. The Blaze Dynamo throws a big, medium width beam that lights the road up for half a block, as will most dynamo LED lights. It has a more focused beam than my usual light, the Busch & Muller Lumotec Fly N-Plus, which throws its light more to the sides. What makes the Blaze unique in the world of dynamo lights, though, is that it has also has a SuperFlash mode for times when your own visibility is more important than seeing the road (which I find to be the case in most urban situations). I always thought my battery Blaze did this well, but it pales in comparison to the Blaze Dynamo, which easily gets a reflection from street signs 4 city blocks away. It’s hard to imagine that a car would miss you. And it has a power reserve, so it will keep going for a few minutes when you’re stopped at a light or trying to fix a flat in the dark.
My one grumble is not with the light but with the mounting system. It uses the same quick-cam system that other Planet Bike lights use—a rubber strap with a screw and bolt which is activated much like a wheel’s quick release, which makes it easy to transfer the mount between bikes. The light itself slides and snaps into a slot on top of the mount, which makes it easy to pop your light in a pocket when locking up and keeps your light dry and un-stolen. Or at least it does on a battery-powered light; the wire on a dynamo light would have to be unwound from your fork to remove it. Which, sure, you could do, but it’s enough of a chore to discourage all but the most anal-retentive of riders. Similarly, while it’s possible that someone could have several bikes with dynamo hubs and want to swap the light between them, those users are probably a tiny minority. And the cam, while making mount removal easy, also makes it tricky to get the strap tight enough so that the light won’t get jostled and rotate down (not fun when you hit a pothole on a downhill and suddenly can’t see much but your tire). If you do prefer to mount the light on your bars, this is one of the only dynamo lights that I’ve seen which will let you do so without major hacks. Most dynamo lights are mounted lower (to a front rack or fork mount), which both frees up space on your bars and keeps the light closer to the road. There’s no way to set it up as such out of the box, but by unscrewing the cam you can remove the strap, and with a longer bolt you can attach it to a fork mount or eyelet on a front rack.
This light is definitely a bit of a niche product within an already niche category, but if you’re someone who needs both lots of reliable light and the extreme visibility of a flash, the Blaze Dynamo is just your thing. Planet Bike lists the MSRP as $70, in line with other Dynamo-powered lights.
Review by Dan Goldberg, Urban Velo riding buddy and sometimes tech consultant.