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Dynamo Hub Rec

  • 28-09-2022 4:43pm
    Registered Users Posts: 1,867 ✭✭✭Tonyandthewhale

    Want to build a new dynamo Hub wheel. Have been using a cheap Shimano hub for the last few years. It's been mostly fine but it's heavy and draggy and not very serviceable which is starting to become an issue.

    Looking to upgrade but budget probably doesn't extend to SON? Are SP any good? Or should I look at some of the slightly more up-market Shimano offerings? And anyone ever heard of Contec? Or anyone else making dynamo hubs?


  • Registered Users Posts: 6,205 ✭✭✭Idleater

    I have a SP running solidly for years now. Seemingly 2013 according to my email history. At the time, it was supposed to be the exact same as the SON one apart from different seals.

    I run a luxos led front and some other simple B&M rear. I haven't tried USB charging or anything.

  • Registered Users Posts: 24,887 ✭✭✭✭Wishbone Ash

    I know you said that your budget doesn't extend to SON but I've been running a SON 28 for about 6 years now and it has never let me down despite being out in all weathers, through flooded roads etc.

  • Moderators, Sports Moderators Posts: 18,202 Mod ✭✭✭✭Weepsie

    Rim or disc?

    Some of the higher end deore xt (I think) are excellent. I've one of them and a SP disc that i run regularly and no issues

    Shimano dh80n rim model is bomb proof too.

    The contec hubs look like rebadge sp.

    The Shimano and Son hubs are somewhat repair friendly if there's and issue. I don't think the sp ones are though, but they all just work

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,550 ✭✭✭Large bottle small glass

    Try or the audax Ireland chat group.

    FWIW I've had DH 3N 80 since 2014, audax, weekend monthly 100km plus commute for a couple of years and it's in daily use on school run/pub/shop bike for last 5 years without issue.

    Friend has an SP one with decent mileage for audax without issue for a few years.

    They generally just work.

    I'd pay for a SON if I was going to be doing 10k a year for the next decade on one, if not doing near that hard to justify the price over the better Shimano ones.

    They are a pretty simple old technology, once well engineered and built there's not much to them to go wrong.

    I've another disc Shimano one on gravel bike but mileage on that is only a few k km.

  • Maybe a good alternative to a hub dynamo and definitely easier and cheaper to install a modern bottle dynamo could be a good option. This is a good review of one from Velogical

    There is also this one although it works slightly differently and it's more designed for battery charging. But you can still power certain lights while they are being charged at the same time.

    One advantage of both of them is that unlike a hub dynamo they can be disengaged when you don't need them, for example, during the day and you won't have to suffer any excess drag like you would get all of the time with a hub dynamo also, the fact that they are significantly cheaper doesn't hurt either.

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  • Moderators, Sports Moderators Posts: 18,202 Mod ✭✭✭✭Weepsie

    On the excess drag. Cant say I notice any on my bikes to be honest. I run them on 2 bikes all year round day and night.

  • Came across this excellent article about Dynamo hubs and their efficiency. The difference between them isn't massive. However, you can see in the graphs what you are really paying for when you go for the more expensive hubs.

    Of course you could always negate the drag penalty by switching to latex inner tubes which I believe if I remember correctly, give you somewhere in the region of a 10w saving if you use them in both tires.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,663 ✭✭✭Mefistofelino

    I've had the SON, SP and Shimano dynamos* over the past few years. The SP performs well, is light and not particularly expensive. However I found the quality of the water sealing on the unit itself and the bearings to be rubbish. The SP shat itself after a particularly rainy Festive 500. The bearings are not user serviceable.

    The SON is a thing of beauty - the only reason I sold mine is that I was moving to disc brakes. The hub is serviceable but it has to be returned to Germany, AFAIK. However that might be needed maybe once every 5+ years, depending on mileage (kilometerage?)

    Currently using the Shimano DH-UR705-3D. Good performance, 450g and more robust than the SP. The bearings can be user serviceable (but it is very tricky and fertile ground for doing fatal damage to the wiring). Its less than half the cost of the equivalent SON hub (I got an pair of wheels, with the Shimano hub for less than the cost of the SON).

    On "lights-off" drag, you don't notice it, like Weepsie said.

    On the PedalCell bottle dynamo above, its not really a cheap (or small option). The dynamo + USB converter (I don't think you can buy it without the converter) is €314. You will get a Shimano or SP in a good quality rim for less that . There have also been some significant build quality failings - Oh - and if you're a downhill demon (over 60 kmh), the generator has to be decoupled due to the potential for bearing (and other) damage due to the high rpms.

    Its an interesting option as the output of the hub dynamos is limited to stay in compliance with German bike lighting regs whereas the PedalCell is not aimed at the German market. PedalCell electronics (with decent build quality) and a hub dynamo could be a good unit.

    *- I know they're technically magnetos, not dynamos

  • Sorry to hijack this thread but I'd appreciate

    I'm trying to decide between two bikes at the moment one with a hub dynamo and one without.

    The one without is around €1700 and the one with a dynamo is €2500

    In terms of gearing and frame material they are pretty much the same made out of steel, although the more expensive bike has a 2x drivetrain vs a 3x and a front rack, but the cheaper one can take slightly bigger tires in case you wanted to go onto some really rough ground.

    If my maths is correct. Then it would still be cheaper to buy the bike without a dynamo and then add one aftermarket by purchasing a dynamo already built into a wheel?

    Plus an extra €150 for the front light and about 70 for the rear light.



    If you were buying a new bike what would you chose?

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,663 ✭✭✭Mefistofelino

    I think you're on the right track with buying the Kona and adding the dynamo. However, I don't think you need to go for a SON - the hub alone is over 300. Also for the lights, the Busch und Mueller 80 lux IQ would be worth a look for under €100 and there's no need for the €70 rear light. The B&M Secula is a good light for under €30.

    To be honest, the wheels on either bike aren't great. You could probably get a much better set with a Shimano DH UR705 dynamo up front, something like a Deore XT at the back plus the lights for under the 800 difference between the bikes.

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  • Moderators, Sports Moderators Posts: 18,202 Mod ✭✭✭✭Weepsie

    The more expensive one is all microshift too.

    Normally it's the other way round.

    Also the hub on it just looks like a rebadged SP and an overpriced one at that.

    The Kona looks aimed more at touring with a bit of gravel, and the Bombtrack the other way round. The gearing on the Kona would climb absolutely anything

  • Thanks, your right the Bombtrack is overpriced, the Kona is definitely the better value plus since it uses friction shifters I could always change to a double or single without having to change the shifter. It also fits 2.1 or 50mm tires so would make a good bike for some off-road adventures. Although at the moment it's impossible to find one in my size :⁠-⁠(

  • Moderators, Sports Moderators Posts: 23,654 Mod ✭✭✭✭CramCycle

    The difference between high end Shimano and SON is not justified by the price. The DH3N80 is bomb proof.

    As for the bikes, little between them, nothing that would justify that price difference so I'd go for the Kona.

  • Registered Users Posts: 22,455 ✭✭✭✭ted1

    I’d vouch for the DH3N80. My one outlived my Rim.