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The Supernova Infinity 8 is a superbly engineered dynamo hub with some clever technology.
Dynamo hubs just get better and better, and with the increase in power and efficiency of LED light units there's never been a better time to switch over to hub power and ditch the batteries. The Infinity 8 is built to last and performed extremely well throughout testing. Whether you need its USP - the ability to switch it on and off - will depend on how much and how far you're likely to ride.
First the science bit. Normal hub dynamos have magnets around the inside of the hub shell, and these interact with coils to produce the power. The Infinity switches things around with a magnetic core at the very centre of things. This, say Supernova, allows for greater output at lower speeds. It also allows Supernova to do something that other dynamos can't: switch off.
Normally your dynamo hub runs all the time, generating power even when you don't need it. The Infinity 8 has a rotating disc on one side; turning it allows the magnet to spin with the coils so there's no magnetic resistance. Running on triple sealed bearings, the Infinity is a smooth-running hub all the time and when you turn off the generator it'll spin free, just like a standard front hub.
Is that something you need? Well, that depends. For a lot of people, saving the 1-3W of drag that a hub would generate isn't going to make much difference, really. It's the equivalent of giving your tyres a bit more air. However, if you've got a 600km audax to do and you're running a dynamo hub anyway, the ability to switch it off through the day and run it only at night is going to be saving you a little effort for a significant amount of time, so it might be worth it. To be honest, most of the time I left it switched on. I was running the dynamo predominantly with Supernova's E3 Pro single LED front lamp and miniscule three-LED tail light, and they make pretty good daylight-running lights for the commute.
The best thing about the Infinity 8 out on the road isn't its on/off switch, but the fact that it's a high-quality, dependable energy source. It really does deliver lots of power at low speeds; you have to be going up something really steep before you notice the juice tailing off. It produces enough energy to turn the E3 Pro LED light (separate review of that coming soon) into a genuinely all-night-capable unit, and it'll run both that and a USB charger (I was mostly using a Biologic Reecharge battery but you could use the Tout Terrain Plug for a neater look), albeit with the light on lower power. If you're touring and you like to stay connected, then this dynamo plus decent lights and a USB unit will probably be all you need.
The Infinity 8 is drilled for a 6-hole disc so you can use it with your disc-clad tourer or your mountain bike; expect to see more and more of these and similar hubs at MTB all-nighters in the coming years as LED technology improves to the point where a 3W light is really all you need.
You'll probably see the MTBers opting not for this unit but something smaller, like the Supernova Infinity S, which shares the 8's SoloMagnet technology but comes with a centre-lock disc mount and no on/off switch. That hub weighs in at under 400g - quite a bit lighter than the 660g of the Infinity 8. The reasons that you'd pick the smaller hub over this one in an MTB setting - simplicity and lighter weight with almost the same output - will hold true for a lot of road settings too. The Infinity 8 is the daddy in terms of power but there's not much in it, and you may decide the on/off capability will suit your riding.
I'm not convinced, now I've tried it, that the switchable hub is a better option for me than the smaller one. What I do know is that either of them will be a very capable, long term solution to powering you through the night (and, via USB, through the day) and the design, construction and output of the Infinity 8 is hard to fault.
Top quality dynamo hub. If you really need the on/off capability it's more or less the only choice. If not, consider the smaller Infinty S.
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Make and model: Supernova Infinity 8 dynamo hub
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
"A CLEVER INNOVATION
The new Supernova INFINITY 8 hub dynamo is an engineering masterpiece! It contains not one, but two revolutionary patented technologies: with its clever FREESPIN technology, the INFINITY 8 can be set to roll without any magnetic resistance, making it superior to all standard hub dynamos.The unwanted drag when the generator is running idle can be mechanically switched off by twisting the waterproof and easy-to-use dial wheel on its side. Simply release the power of the hub whenever you need it. This saves pedalling power by transforming the dynamo into a smoothly-running front hub.
POWER-UP NOW WITH ENDLESS POWER!
The second groundbreaking technological innovation used in the INFINITY 8 is its trendsetting SoloMagnet technology. While standard hub dynamos have magnets attached to the walls of the hub body, using only one side of the magnets, the INFINITY-series has a high-performance magnetic disc at its core that can effectively utilize both poles of the magnet at the same time. This technology gives you enough power for an optimal use of your light even at low speeds. This also allows you to power your GPS device or charge your cell phone or the Supernova Airstream battery light with 'The Plug' USB power supply even while riding slowly."
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Very well. The on/off is a great innovation if you think you'll need it.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Well made and solid performance.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes although I'm not convinced I need the on/off
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Age: 38 Height: 190cm Weight: 98kg
I usually ride: whatever I'm testing... My best bike is: Genesis Equilibrium with SRAM Apex
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, cyclo cross, commuting, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mtb, Mountain Bike Bog Snorkelling, track
Dave is a founding father of road.cc, having previously worked on Cycling Plus and What Mountain Bike magazines back in the day. He also writes about e-bikes for our sister publication ebiketips. He's won three mountain bike bog snorkelling World Championships, and races at the back of the third cats.