Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Gift: SON20 hub

I got one of those orange slip in the mail yesterday, and in the sender field, the postal worker who dropped it off had written "Great Britain". I immediately knew what it was and picked up the package from the downtown Berkeley postal office this morning.

I opened the package, and surely it is the SON20 hub I ordered 2 weeks ago from St. John Street Cycles--a bike shop in Somerset, England that specializes in bike touring. This was before the US dollars began to weaken and I got the hub shipped for $180--not a bad deal at all!

I mentioned in one of the previous posts that I had been pondering the possibility of getting a dynamo front hub for my Ebisu. I am also thinking to get one (maybe an economic version) for my il Pompino to make my winter commute safer.

There seems to be a consensus that SON-series (Schmidt's Original Nabendynamo) dynamo hubs made by Wilfried Schmidt Maschinenbau of Germany are the best in the business. They are available in the United States mainly through Peter White Cycles and several other touring or randoneering-friendly bike shops. They are not cheap though: a standard SON28 hub designed for 26" to 700c wheels cost $270, and a lighter version (SON20R) that was designed for smaller wheels but can be used with the combo of larger wheels and LED headlamps cost $300. Adding rim, spokes and build fee, one quickly approaches $500 territory.

SON20 Generator Hub

Shimano has lower price offerings. For example, the bike part giant recently released its DH-3N80 dynamo front hub in the United States (although it has been available else where for about 1 year now). The Shimano hub is approximately 1/2 the price of a SON hub, though not as efficient as the SON hubs. Jim G has posted some performance information in this entry of his SF Cyclotouring blog.

I think the DH-3N80 is probably good enough for me on the Ebisu, though I am still hesitating to put it on my commuter. To complicate matter, the two bikes have different wheel size so if I want dynamo lighting on both bikes I will need two such wheels.

Now I think I will take it one part at a time. I will also need to have a bright LED front light to go with the SON hub. For that I am thinking to get the Busch & Müller Lumotec IQ Cyo front light, which is on par with lights such as Schmidt's Edeluxe and Supernova E3 in terms of brightness and half the price. I will hunt around for a good deal.

In the meanwhile, I will probably get the wheels built around the Ultegra rear hub and a phil wood front hub, both with 36 spoke holes.

The delivery of Ebisu is less than 2 months away (I hope).
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