The ins and outs of kLite systems.

Here at Commuter, we have a longstanding love affair with kLite. An Australian owned and made brand, they manufacture top-of-the-range dynamo lighting solutions for adventure cycling. However, they offer a broad range of options and working out which combination is right for you can be daunting. But no more!

First Light – Photo: Kia Matley

We’ve put together this handy step-by-step guide to kLite’s products, to make planning your build, (or just plain perusing) more straightforward. Please note, however, that this is not an exhaustive index; there are a plethora of smaller parts involved in dynamo lighting and power systems, and to discuss the more minute details, get in touch with us here at the workshop!

So with that in mind, let’s flick the switch and get right into it.

So, what are the main pieces?

kLite systems can be broadly split into 5 distinct parts: hub, wiring loom, headlight, USB charger, and optionally the QUBE safety light

In broad strokes, power is generated by the hub, and directed up through the wiring loom. It can then be sent either to the main light, or to the USB outlets which in turn also power the safety lights.

Now let’s zoom in.

Dynamo Hub

kLite systems are designed to work with one of two types of dynamo hub: Schmidt SON, or Shutter Precision (SP) / Shimano. While they both serve the same function, they use a different style of outlet from the hub, and this needs to be matched with the rest of the kLite system. 

Schmidt ‘SON 28’ Dynamo Hub – Photo: Sime Doran

Here at Commuter, we work exclusively with Schmidt SON hubs for our in-house wheel builds. In our experience, they combine optimal performance with industry-leading reliability, and also look a million bucks!

Wiring Loom

The wiring loom brings power up from the hub, and directs it to your choice of outlet. I like to imagine it as the brain of the whole setup, while your lights and USB charger are the muscles around your body. In other words, it allows you to choose how your power is applied. 

There are two considerations at play when you are selecting your wiring loom: firstly, it must be compatible with your dynamo hub. That is, if your hub is Schmidt SON, you will select the Schmidt SON wiring loom, and if your hub is from Shimano or SP, you will select the Shimano/SP option. 

The next consideration is slightly trickier. Wiring looms can be either “Headlight OR USB charge” or “USB Always On”. Put simply, “Headlights or USB charge” includes a small bar-mounted switch, allowing you to charge your devices while the sun is up, before flicking over to lighting in the evening hours. Conversely, the “USB Always On” sends a portion of your power to the USB at all times. 

Seems slightly confusing? Don’t worry. In fact, the choice comes down to one consideration. If you intend on running the kLite QUBE safety light, you need the “USB Always On” wiring loom. If you don’t intend on using the QUBE, and seeing rather than being seen is the end-goal, we encourage you to use the “Lights or USB charge” alternative. 

kLite Switch – Photo: Sime Doran

Headlights

kLite headlights are truly dazzling; leagues above other dynamo lights, and virtually incomparable to standard bike lights, they provide floodlight illumination which is perfectly suited to those broad, unlit landscapes that make adventure cycling such a rewarding experience. Think of flicking from standard headlights to high-beams on a dark backcountry road, and the sigh of assuredness that comes with it. 

kLite Race (Gravel) Headlight – Photo: Sime Doran

Again, there are choices: Namely, lights are either classed as “Race” (previously Gravel) and “Adventure” (Previously MTB). The difference between the two is in the breadth and depth of the light beam they generate. The “Race” lights, being designed around straight, dark gravel roads project a longer but narrower beam. On the other hand, the “Adventure” lights are best suited to singletrack and fire-roads, casting a wider beam, though not quite as far ahead. 

At the end of the day, the question is not “what kind of bike are you riding” but rather “what style of riding do you see yourself doing?” If you lean towards roads, whether gravel or sealed, “Race” lights are your best friend. If you prefer to head off the beaten track, “Adventure” lights may be the better-suited companion. 

Light Reading – The Technical Side

So what actually differentiates the Adventure and Race headlights? Both have an output of 1300 lumen, but achieve this through a different selection of optical elements.
“Flood” optical elements cast a 180 degree beam, however the breadth of this beam is at the expense of its depth. That is, how far it extends in front of you. 
“Spot” optical elements, conversely, project a long, narrow beam. Think of the spotlight in the theatre!
The Race headlight utilises 2 Spot optics, and 1 Flood, whereas the Adventure headlight uses the inverse: 2 Flood, 1 Spot. 
Both headlights also feature a 30 minute standlight. Once the bike has come to a stop, the capacitor within the headlight will continue to provide a degree of charge to the light. The Adventure headlight has a flood-style standlight, whereas the Race has a non-flood standlight. 
Bear in mind, the standlight will only function if the capacitor is fully charged; that is, if you’ve already been pedalling for a while!
Finally, kLite headlights include a low speed power booster. This offers more output power at lower speeds, compared to other dynamo lights on the market.  
A word of warning when using either light in situations where there are oncoming walkers or riders. All kLite headlights function similar to the floodlights used on 4WDs (or the High Beam of a car), and are similarly considered to be “anti-social” as they are too bright when used in urban settings.

If you have a bike that you want to be able to use for both Adventure and Commuting, we can tailor a solution for you.

USB Charger

Phew! No choices here, just an integral part of the system.
The USB charger connects to the wiring loom, and provides outlets for charging devices or powering the QUBE rear light. As an aside, we find that the most efficient mode of charging devices is through the “middleman” of a powerbank. Hook the powerbank up to the USB charger while you ride, and then charge from it as needed! It’s like filling up your water bottle from the stream and then drinking from the water bottle, rather than trying to chug from the stream itself. 

In our experience, the kLite USB Charger is the most rugged and the most efficient USB charger in the Australian market.

kLite ‘Dual USB Charger’ unit housed in a Revelate ‘Magtank’ – Photo: Sime Doran

The QUBE

Last but not least are the QUBE safety lights. Unlike most other dynamo light systems, kLite lights are not designed to run a rear light directly from the front light**, instead they are designed to run their Qube safety lights directly from the USB charger.

Long story short, if you want a safety rear light in your kLite system, it is best to use a QUBE. The Qube V2 is super bright, fully waterproof and has an Auto Start/Stop with a 3 minute standby, and uses so little power you can run it day and night. It’s now available with two cable lengths – one for mounting on the seat tube or seatstay, or an XL version for rear rack mounting. The Qube’s default mode is flashing, but Qube V2 lights now include a small ‘dongle’ that when run inline with the Qube make it’s output ‘solid’.

As a callback to the wiring loom section, the QUBE requires you to use the “USB Always On” option.

** it is technically possible to run rear lights from other manufacturers, chat to us in the workshop if this is something you’d like to explore.

kLite QUBE Rear Flashing Safety Light – Photo: Sime Doran

And there you have it! The sketch artist’s rendering of the kLite picture. We hope that this has been illuminating, and perhaps lifted the shadows from some of the more ambiguous aspects of these amazing components. 

If you’d like to enquire about getting your own kLite system up and running, you can shoot us an email at [email protected], or give us a call at 9388 1319.

Your pal,
Finn Mollison

Thanks to Zeke for technical edits, Kia and Sime for photos.

4 comments

  1. What system do you recommend for both bikepacking and commuting?

  2. Hi there!
    For a bike that is frequently being used for commuting in built-up areas, we would probably recommend having a conventional USB-charging front light, in addition to your kLite dynamo lighting. The USB front light can be charged from the kLite dual usb charger during the day, preferably via a powerbank. This way, you can commute with your “people-friendly” light, while still having your powerful ULTRA headlight ready for action whenever you want to go bikepacking! Hope this helps 🙂
    – Finn

  3. Hey Commuter Cycles, great article! what’s the name of the type of connector that is used to connector the lights (not the dynamo connector)? Pictured as a yellow connector with two pins. Thank you!

  4. Hi John, They’re called an XT30 connector. We don’t sell em but you’ll find them easily on the internets.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Sign up to have our blog posts and updates delivered straight to your inbox

Enter your email address to subscribe to our blog and receive notifications of new blog posts by email.

Commuter Cycles acknowledges the Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung people of the Kulin Nation as the Traditional custodians of the lands and waterways in the area now known as Brunswick, and pays respect to their Elders past, present, and emerging, as well as to all First Nations’ communities in Australia.