By Nick Legan
Out of the UK, Hunt Wheels offers a complete line of wheelsets. For touring cyclists, the firm’s SuperDura Dynamo Disc wheels are of particular interest. Using Hunt’s own 25mm wide (20mm internal width), tubeless-ready aluminum rims, Hunt’s 4Season Disc rear hub, a Schmidt SONdelux front dynamo hub, and 32 spokes per wheel, they are built for the long haul. Little details like brass nipples resist corrosion better than alloy ones. The rear hub is offered with Shimano/SRAM or SRAM XD freehub bodies, so Campy fans will need to look elsewhere.
I haven’t had a chance to put huge miles on the Hunt wheels just yet, but out of the box and after several good rides, they seem exceptionally well built and sturdy. If you’ve been curious about dynamo hubs to power your electronics, Hunt’s options are quite affordable. Also available is a front-wheel–only option, giving you dynamo power for $445.
Once you have a dynamo front wheel, you then need to figure out what lights you’d like to power and how you’d like to charge items like your phone or GPS. I’ve used a Sinewave Cycles Revolution USB charger for countless miles over the years, and when they showed off the new Beacon headlight with an integrated USB charging port, my eyes lit up!
The Beacon has a max output of 750 lumens, reached at 13 miles per hour, but will still give 200 lumens at 5 mph. Uniquely though, you can shore up the lower dynamo power at lower speeds by plugging in an external, off-the-shelf USB battery pack. This gives you 750 lumens at all speeds, even stopped. On long rides, during the day, you can then charge up that same external, or cache, battery from light’s USB port. Brilliant!
Installing the light requires a little work with a soldering iron and some shrink-wrap to wire the fittings that come with your dynamo hub. You’ll also need a mount for the light, but there are many available from Schmidt, B&M, and Supernova. Also handy is the fact that a taillight can also be wired into the headlight.
This made-in-the-USA light uses a three-position switch so users can toggle between:
I used the Beacon on a recent five-day trip to light my brief night riding as well as charging my GPS and phone. It worked without a hitch even over the rough roads of Flint Hills surrounding Emporia, Kansas. Highly recommended!
Vittoria debuted its new line of Terreno gravel tires earlier this year at the Land Run 100 in Stillwater, Oklahoma. The Mix sits between the super-fast Dry and the knobbier Wet versions. Made in a healthy 40mm width, the tire is tubeless ready and uses Vittoria’s Graphene technology to reduce rolling resistance while increasing durability. The Terreno Mix rolls well, even on tarmac, but really digs in nicely in loose corners. They also seem to hold up well to sharp stones and constant usage. I’ve ridden Vittoria’s Mezcal offroad tires for much of the past season, and I have one set with 2,000 miles of hard use that are still kicking. Vittoria is clearly paying attention to the needs of adventure cyclists with its Terreno gravel line. If 40mm is too large for your bike, they are also offered in 31mm and 33mm widths.
Six and a half hours into my ride, it was 37 degrees and then it started raining. The high earlier in the day was 48, and with snow on the sides of the road and trail at higher elevations, it was never warm. Sportful’s admittedly expensive Fiandre Extreme Neoshell Jacket kept me warm and comfortable all day through nine hours on the bike. Underneath I had on a light, sleeveless wool baselayer, and when the rain started to come down in earnest I put on a rain jacket, but only for extra warmth.
Sportful’s NeoShell is windproof and waterproof all by itself with sealed seams and a waterproof zipper. It also breathes quite nicely as I found during the day’s long climbs. Unlike many apparel items that carry the jacket appellation, Sportful’s does have three back pockets, and large, useful ones at that. It is certainly cut for the riding position, with a dropped tail and long sleeves. It also runs small. I wore a large — I’m normally a medium. So most will need to size up. Thankfully the NeoShell is offered in XS through XXXL. If you’re looking for the ultimate wet-weather winter wear, Sportful’s Fiandre Extreme NeoShell Jacket may fit the bill.