Dynamos

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The Hub Dynamo: the Epitome of Worry-Free Lighting
If you want to retrofit a permanent lighting system with front and rear lights that don’t rely on disposable or rechargeable batteries, there is hardly a way around a hub dynamo these days. It is designed as a front wheel hub and is permanently laced as such. Unlike classic side-running dynamos, it does not require any contact pressure with the sidewall, so it runs extremely light without significant additional resistance and functions reliably regardless of weather conditions. However, anyone who is reluctant to change the front wheel out of cost concerns, or who only wants to install dynamo lighting as an emergency backup, can still use a side-running dynamo.

Finding the right hub dynamo

A bicycle’s fork determines the installation width and the clamping mechanism for the hub dynamo. Not every dynamo manufacturer has every configuration on offer. However, a hub dynamo wheel is a sensible and often not-insignificant investment, so it should provide reliable performance for years to come. Even if you are currently riding with a fork with quick release, it is quite likely that your next fork will have thru axles. Our advice: Choose a hub dynamo for thru axle now, and use an adapter to ride your bike with its current fork. For commuter bikes, touring bikes, road bikes and gravel bikes, thru axles with a width of 100 mm and a diameter of 12 mm are quite common. Hub dynamo specialist SON offers a corresponding adapter from quick release to thru-axle. Excursion bikes and mountain bikes often use 15mm thru axles, and brands like Shutter Precision offer an adapter in such cases. In the same respect, you should also choose a hub dynamo with a disc brake mount, even if you are still using rim brakes.

Quality differences in hub dynamos

Generally speaking, there are serious differences in terms of quality and pricing when it comes to hub dynamos. The higher the quality of a dynamo's design and construction, the more fluid and inconspicuous it will operate. That said, it is very possible to find the right dynamo following this basic principle: The higher your mileage, the better the dynamo should be. Models from SON are manufactured in Germany and are here considered to be top of the line. They run smooth, are durable and robust. However it’s also worth mentioning that models from Shutter Precision or Shimano, such as the PD-8 or the XT DH-T8000-3D, also deliver great performance. Shimano offers the widest range of prices and quality levels and offers a hub dynamo to fit every budget. Shutter Precision offers the widest range of colours and, like SON, has some very special designs in its range. While lights can be replaced (and thus upgraded) quite easily, changing the hub dynamo at a later date is rather costly. This is another argument for choosing a higher quality model, especially if you’re in doubt.

Of course the hub dynamo and rim must have the same number of holes, and the spoke length must be calculated precisely to the wheel’s construction. Because hub dynamos have a high hub flange and the spokes are generally less bladed, they give the front wheel a lot of lateral stiffness. The lacing and centring of a hub dynamo wheel does not differ at all from that of a conventional front wheel.

Compatibility with bicycle lights

Apart from the installation width, hub dynamos also differ in terms of power output. Most models deliver 3 watts – that's what most front and rear lights on the market are designed to handle. Some models, such as those from Shutter Precision, distribute 2.4 wattsin a different way. They supply the front light with power and are usually combined with a battery operated rear light. In addition, there are hub dynamos, like some Alfine or XT models from Shimano, which "only" put out 1.5 watts, so they must be used in combination with an LED light in order to be used legally in Germany.

Wheels with hub dynamo

The easiest way to get a front wheel or a wheelset with a hub dynamo is to buy assembled hub dynamo wheels from us. If you would like to assemble the individual parts yourself, but are unsure which dynamo goes with which lamp, our helpful colleagues on our service team will be happy to help you put together the right components for do-it-yourself assembly.

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