Monday, November 15, 2010

Thinking about the hub

The dynamo hub seems like a good move to streamline my on-board light system. The bottle generator won't go to waste. It can move to the rain bike, on which I already run more rugged tires that may stand up to the wire-brush wet weather drive roller offered by Peter White.

In the world of generator hubs, the Schmidt SON seems to be the gold standard. My budget does not extend to gold, so I have to shop around. This economic fact has guided every cycling purchase since I started my adult cycling habit in college. In my racing years it was a point of pride to find cool components for your bike that looked good and functioned well for less than the price of the legendary Campagnolo. It was also great to find sweet deals on the Campy itself.

Contenders for a bargain gem in the dyno-hub market include the Sanyo H27, the SRAM i-Light and several models by Shimano.

My first impulse is to avoid Shimano. I developed that habit in the 1990s, when they were basically a malignancy in the cycling industry, spreading fast, killing other companies not just on the basis of product quality, but unfairly on the basis of size or less aggressive marketing. Their devotion to obsolescence preyed on consumers and retailers alike. Most of their stuff was not as awesome as the advertising said it was, it was merely good enough. It was shoved down the cycling world's throat on the end of a battering ram of marketing and preferential pricing for OEM spec. However, the big ugly behemoth has also continued to offer some nice basic components for those of us who like to mix, match and roll our own. You just have to remember two things: don't buy their proprietary crap that does not play well with others and stock up on the stuff you like, for the day when they quit making it at their whim.

I can get the SRAM or Shimano hubs wholesale. SRAM isn't exactly the good guys when it comes to obsolescence and tweaky innovation. They actually offer less to the tinkering cyclist than Shimano does, because their barcons are index-only. I have no brand loyalty, I have individual product loyalty. I suggest you do the same.

In the end, what matters is function for price. That's where I may have to roll the dice and do my own product testing, one wheel at a time. So it's not a question of what hub to buy, it may be what hub to buy first. Or scrape up the coin for the Schmidt, assuming the high price really does indicate the best long-term investment.

Of course I will welcome any input from users with a tale to tell. I'm not doing this right away.


greatpumpkin said...

Check the $50 hub that VO sells. They also sell it built into a wheel. They will give you a wholesale discount even on one item, if you are ordering through the shop (Tom told me this a while ago so ii could place my orders through my LBS instead of direct if I chose). Contact Tom at VO if you ever want anything they stock. While there are some quality differences at different price levels, these may not amount to much difference in actual use.

cycler said...

I've been running the Shimano Nexus for about 3 years now without any complications. So much easier than the (high quality) bottle that I was running before. I never have to mess with the connection or the connectors like I had to with the bottle. Quieter and less resistance. Can't speak to the others, but so far, so good.

I just built up a S-A dynamo/Hub brake, mostly because I wanted to have better braking on my rod-braked DL-1. Not enough miles on it it yet to say, but it seems comparable in sound/ resistance to the Shimano.

cafiend said...

The Sanyo from Peter White is only $40 regular price. I notice that the Novatech from VO is on sale now for $35. The $5 question is, "was it overpriced at $50?" If it was really worth more than the Sanyo, it's a good deal.

I don't want to spend the least amount of money, period. I want s to spend the least amount necessary to get a good return on the investment. If I'm going to gather the parts and invest my time building a wheel, I want it to be worth it.

cafiend said...

Thanks, cycler. Your comment was arriving as I was posting a response to Great Pumpkin.

Steve A said...

I'd go with the better Shimano myself. Drag as low as the SON and lots of them around. OTOH, what would I know? AA rechargeables are cheaper and lighter.

cafiend said...

Ah, but IS the drag as low as the SON? As far as batteries go, generator light intensity is the same at the end of the ride as the beginning of the ride, no matter how ling the ride, ride after ride. I am REALLY digging that.

Anyone have a drive report on the SRAM? The Sanyo? The Novatech?

cafiend said...

LONG the ride.

Steve A said...

Go look at


cafiend said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
cafiend said...

Great stuff, Steve A! Of course the Shimano hub is out of stock at my favorite supplier, but I shouldn't rush into any more gear purchases right now anyway. I'll wait to see what other information drifts in while saving my pennies.