Axa HR Traction bottle dynamo

The last holdout bike in the household has finally ditched battery lights. After giving her Brompton a dynamo wheel by selflessly buying myself a new Brompton, I had been promising Ms C. that I would sort out her Kona Africa bike with dynamo lights. Due to various upgrades I had managed to end up with a spare B&M Lumotec Retro front lamp and a spare Brompton Spanninga rear light. All I was waiting for was the next time I needed to order something from Rose Bikes and I could add on one of their cheap Axa HR Traction bottle dynamos. Thanks to worn out stock Brompton brake pads, that time finally came.

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This is the same dynamo which used to be specified by Brompton (the left mounting version) before the Shimano dynamo hubs became available. Rose sell them for £14-15, depending on exchange rate, which is probably quite galling for anyone who bought them as a Brompton part. Thankfully, the parts needed to run this dynamo on the Brompton rear wheel (a special stay and a mudguard with a cut-out) are still available as spares, making this particular dynamo probably the cheapest (and fully supported) route to dynamo lighting on a Brompton.

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The bottom of the dynamo has two pairs of remarkably simple wire connectors, simply insert stripped wire into plastic housing and push it into the dynamo body. The arrangement allows front and rear lights to be connected to the dynamo independently of each other, rather than requiring the rear light be connected through the front as is the case with most hub dynamo set-ups. In the end I ran the rear light from the connectors on the Lumotec Retro so that it would be less work if the Kona Africa Bike ended up with a hub dynamo.

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Axa also make a dynamo mounting bracket which screws onto cantilever/linear pull brake bosses (front left/rear right only – requires left mounting version of dynamo). A simple design which works well, although the screw shown connecting bracket and dynamo was not included.

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Since the Africa Bike was kitted out with a front rack in 2011, the front lamp could not be mounted on the fork crown or using the headset bracket. Instead I used the cork-lined p-clip supplied with the front rack to fix the lamp in place on the right hand supporting leg, Japanese style.

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Not exactly elegant, but it does the job.

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Similarly, the rear light attachment was a bit of a bodge. Since the rear rack in integral to the Africa Bike’s frame and lacks a rear light mounting plate, I drilled four holes into a roughly 100 mm section of trunking lid I had knocking about. Two of these were for the fixing bolts on the light, the other two were to create a slot for the jubilee clip used to attach the creation to the rear rack. Not pretty but it does the job.

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I took the bike out for a spin with the dynamo on to make sure I had set it up without too much pressure causing excessive drag. Thankfully it was spot-on; other than the whirr of the roller it was barely noticeable. For a bike such as this which is used as practical transportation rather than high speed, high effort riding, this set-up works really well.

10 thoughts on “Axa HR Traction bottle dynamo

  1. Pingback: After the gritting | Chester Cycling

  2. Thanks for the helpful light info – I’m into replacing the one that comes with the Shimano hub on the Brompton. The new B&M Luxos IQ U has great light and a usb charger for phones / gps. Any thoughts on fitting this to a B? It’s pricey. THANKS

    http://www.peterwhitecycles.com/b&m-hl.asp

    Luxos U and Luxos B headlights also incorporate Busch & Müller’s “Licht 24″ daytime running lights, which help make daytime cycling in high traffic safer by helping oncoming drivers see you. The Luxos U includes a “Panorama” mode, in which power is shifted from the main LED to two side LEDs that illuminate the road close to the bike and to each side. The shift in power is done automatically below 15 kph, about 9 mph. The slower you go, the brighter the panorama LEDs glow …. and very bright.

    • The Luxos is something I’ve put on my list to try at some point. from what I can tell, it should work just fine with the Brompton if you use the bracket which came with the Lumotec halogen you already have, rather than the Luxos one. Another idea worth considering is to send the USB power supply to the Brompton bag rather than the handlebar, which may be more use. To do this, but a simple USB extender lead and split it at the luggage block, with the other half going to the Brompton bag as described in this post. The voltage will already be DC so you won’t need the rectifier.

  3. Hi there, I was wondering if you could help me, I’ve never had dynamo powered lights before and know nothing about them! I too have been looking at getting Axa HR Traction Dynamo and can I just double check, I don’t have any dynamo mounts on my bike frame, so am I right in thinking I need to get the left mounting version and get a dynamo bracket to fix it to the rear right brakes? I’m so confused! Your help would be greatly appreciated. Many thanks, Catrin.

    • My bike didn’t have a dynamo mount, so I got a cantilever brake dynamo mount from Really Useful Bikes near Bristol (it’s fairly heavy so it was cheaper than DBB’s postage, although DBB are lovely people – Rob at RUB is also lovely). I have a left-mounting Axa HR and it’s on my front-left brake bolt. I did have to wrap the “legs” that go around the fork blade with some inner tube to avoid scratching, though! Hope that helps!

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