Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Just Ordered A Dynohub! Never thought I'd see the day...

Years ago, when I first stumbled upon Sheldon Brown's wonderful world of bike knowledge, I used to chuckle at the clunky-looking hub-generators. Who would use such an ungodly hub, it looks like it weighs a ton!

Well things have changed since my earlier days of cycling, and with dark winter commutes already happening, and long (possibly riding through the night) Brevets coming my way, I think it's time.

Once you decide to go with a "dynohub," the hardest part is figuring out which one you want. Schmidt SON28, or the smaller SONXS100? Or what about Shimano's dynohub? 32 or 36 spokes? And then there's lights: Schmidt E6 (supposedly the best/brightest), or the Lumotec Standard? 3 watts with one front light, or a 2.4 watt front bulb with a .6 watt rear one? Hell, you can even have two lights in the front, one as a backup.

Is your head spinning yet?

What I ended up choosing:

  • Shimano Nexus hub generator - apparently weighs in at 735g (~1.5 lbs), ouch. $89
  • Schmidt E6 main light - the best one, by all accounts. $110. ouch.
  • Caliper-brake mount for the E6, backup bulbs: ~ $20
Apparently there aren't that many places in the U.S. to get these hot items, but Harris Cyclery has everything except Schmidt Dynohubs, they only carry the Shimano ones, go figure. Well the Schmidt hub is like $250, and only about 100 grams less, so I would've bought the Shimano anyway. Peter White Cycles carries the Schmidt hubs, but they don't have an online ordering system, for some odd reason.

Then I'll need a wheel built around the hub, of course. I might try my hand at building my first wheel, why not? Although the idea of rolling out on the first time on it is a little daunting to say the least.

Either way, I'm gonna be so brightly lit it'll be ridiculous! Unlike tonight's 30km commute home, in the dark, from Redmond to Capitol Hill. At least I've got reflectors on my fenders, but that was about it! Thank allah for car & street lights! (Before you get your reflective vest & helmet light in a knot, I forgot my light at home, OK?!)

When it's all said and done, it should look something like this, except on my Bianchi Eros:

Yeah, it'll be a little heavier, and has a tiny bit of drag, but hopefully this will save me from buying tons of batteries over the years. And if I ever do a 1200k (gulp!), I won't have to carry spare batteries! Bring on the night!


Tim said...

I currently own three bikes with Shimano dynohubs and I love them. I first used one about 2 years ago, and it's just so convenient to not have to worry about batteries, and to have a steady, bright light at all times. My bikes all have variations on the Lumotec, one standard and two Plus models, which have a "standlight", a capacitor-powererd LED that gets "charged" by the hub, and stays on even when you're stopped, unlike the main halogen light.

Ted Diamond said...

Do you think you'd ever use an internally-geared hub? With an 8-speed, you can get nearly the same range of gear inches you'd get with a typical double derailleur setup, say 53/39 X 12-23. I've been toying with the idea.

Ted Diamond said...

...And if you want to build a wheel around this and are looking for tools to use, let me know. (ted.diamond@gmail.com)

matt m said...

Good to hear you like the Shimano hub, Tim! I'll definitely look into getting a standing light at some point, but I figured I was going to start small and see how it goes. A rear light would be nice too...

As for an internally-geared hub, I dunno about that quite yet, but check back with me in a few years! Who knows what wacky parts I'll be using by then.

I've got all the tools I need to build the wheel (spoke wrench, old fork to use as a truing stand, book on how to build wheels), or at least I hope. I suppose a tensionometer would be useful, but I'll probably have the LBS check it out once I'm done with it anyway, just to be safe.

Anonymous said...

For anybody who wants to build a wheel: That's not that hard as many think! I have built a wheel on DH-2R40 dynahub. I don't have any superior mechanical skills, yet I've made it, it is round and true. All I did to prepare was buying spokes, spoke wrench and reading on the Net.