With 750 lumens, wide beam, integrated USB charging function and compact dimensions, the Sinewave Beacon sounds like the Holy Grail of hub dynamo bicycle lights. Is it really that good? We have subjected the US bike light to extensive real world testing and provide you with the answer.
Whether it’s the dark season or a summer night ride: once the sun is gone, you need light on your bike. As convinced all-year commuters and hobby bike packers, we are definitely fans of lighting systems with hub dynamo. However, the range of high-performance products on display is relatively small and if you look around on the internet for even five minutes, the Sinewave Beacon seems to have been unanimously voted into this category. Its key data definitely sound impressive: 750 lumens, USB charging port, connections for external power supply and rear light, easy upside-down mounting, waterproof and all this at a weight of just 115 g – including 90 cm of cable. There is no in-house mount for the Sinewave Beacon, but thanks to the 10 mm wide base you can use common mounts of big manufacturers like Busch & Müller, Supernova or SON.
In terms of workmanship, the Sinewave Beacon is in no way inferior to the industry leaders à la Supernova or SON. The finish is of high quality, nothing rattles, the switch is easy and defined to operate and even after 6 months of continuous testing with relatively regular rain journeys lasting for hours, we did not experience any problems concerning water resistance or function. The high quality, the integrated USB charging function and the fact that Sinewave manufactures 100% in the USA are reflected in the price. In anodised black or silver, the Sinewave Beacon is sold in Germany for € 341. However, small brands often offer greater customisation possibilities, and so does Sinewave. On the US website you can get the Beacon for $ 20 more e.g. in highly polished silver or for $ 50 extra in a variety of anodised colours, which you can also combine as you like thanks to the three-part housing.
Power and brightness of the Sinewave Beacon
For our long-term review, we operated the Sinewave Beacon continuously with a SON 28 12 disc hub dynamo. First of all: The light output of the Beacon is impressive for a hub dynamo light. According to Sinewave, it offers 200 lumens from 8 kph, 500 lumens from 13 kph, 650 lumens from 16 kph and 750 from 20 kph. And even if we cannot measure lumen figures objectively, they fully reflect the subjective impression. From 13 kph, sufficient brightness is available for technical terrain and even on high-speed descents on the gravel highway, there is always enough illumination to feel completely safe.
The Sinewave Beacon has a useful brightness from approx. 9 kph; below 5 kph there is clear flickering due to the construction of the system – very steep ramps with luggage can be tricky. However, if the flickering is annoying or if you want to have full light output even uphill, you can use a super clever feature of the Sinewave Beacon. It can also be operated via a battery bank if required. This can be done either alone or in conjunction with dynamo – i.e. depending on how hard the dynamo is running, more or less power is drawn from the battery bank.
The light beam of the Sinewave Beacon is completely symmetrical respectively round. This has the advantage that the cone of light is always the same in any mounting position – whether normal, upside down or turned as desired. Unfortunately, this also means that it is not traffic-legal in Germany, for which a light edge in the upper area must be dimmed. Make sure you check the legal regulations in your country! Due to the brightness of the light, you will definitely dazzle oncoming traffic and should definitely tilt the lamp downwards in city traffic or hold a hand in front of it if you encounter pedestrians in the forest, for example. The coverage of the Sinewave Beacon is excellent because it is not particularly focused but rather wide. So you can also take tighter corners reasonably fast. Thanks to the high brightness, long-distance illumination is nevertheless completely assured.
A small capacitor in the Sinewave Beacon also enables a parking light function. However, it cannot be switched off and remains lit for as long as the capacitor has voltage – although only in the front light. If you want to connect a tail light and also want a parking light function here, you should make sure that the tail light has its own capacitor. Models such as the Supernova E3 Tail Light that use the headlight’s capacitor will switch off when the dynamo stops turning.
The USB charging function of the Sinewave Beacon
There are two connectors on the back of the Sinewave Beacon. While the left, round one is intended for external power supply e.g. via a battery bank, the right USB-A-port can be used to charge mobile phones, GPS devices, the battery bank or the Di2/AXS battery while riding. In principle, this port is always on, but the specific charging performance can be controlled by a three-step switch. In the upper position, the light gets the full power of the dynamo – charging is theoretically still possible, but Sinewave advises against it in this position, because it reduces the brightness or does not produce enough constant current on the USB port. In the middle position, the light is switched off and all power goes to the USB port. With the switch in the lower position you get a kind of hybrid function. Here, the lights only receive a certain amount of current – a daytime running light / low beam function, so to speak – and the excess energy is fed to the charging port. Since the USB-A port is located on the back of the lamp, make sure you check before the tour whether there is room for a plug or whether the frame is in the way and you have to reposition the holder.
he Sinewave Beacon does not have an integrated buffer battery. So you need a minimum speed, depending on your hub dynamo, to maintain the charging current. Devices without support for fluctuating charging currents can be a source of trouble. It is therefore always worthwhile – also for reasons of practicality – to charge a battery bank and supply all devices with energy from there. Make sure that the bank supports “pass through” so that you can charge the bank and the connected devices at the same time.
Our conclusion on the Sinewave Beacon
The high-quality Sinewave Beacon does not only impress with an optional bling factor! It is absolutely waterproof, offers clever features such as the charging port and operation via an external battery and is therefore a clear recommendation for adventurers and bike packers who like to travel off-road and self-sufficient. The price is fully justified for the features and the impeccable function. For commuting it’s only suitable to a limited extent due to the lack of a dimming function and because the Beacon may simply be not traffic-legal in some countries.
- can be customised in colour
- USB charging port
- operation by external battery
- no dimming control and therefore not traffic-legal in all countries
Test duration: 6 months
Price: € 341
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Words: Photos: Benjamin Topf