Power To Go: The SON Dynamo Hub

SON DynamoFor a constant source of power on the road and bike lights that never run out of charge, the SON Dynamo hub should be at the top of your bicycle wish list.

We’ve been testing our SON hubs (with Supernova E3 Pro front lights) for about a year. That amounts to some 5,000km of riding. So far, we’re more than pleased. Our love of the SON hub can be summed up in two main points:

1. Power On Demand – You can now run bike lights and charge your mobile phones, GPS systems and other small gadgets, purely through the power of your legs. It is wonderfully freeing to know that you don’t have to worry about batteries any more.

2. Reliable – These hubs are known to be almost worry-free. They come with a 5 year guarantee and should easily see you through a long bike tour. So far, we haven’t had any issues at all to report.

Any disadvantages?

Nothing is perfect. Here are some potential downsides to consider. They’re not dealbreakers for us but you should be aware of them.

1. The Price – We paid €175 per hub. If you want to charge gadgets such as a mobile phone you’ll also need a separate adaptor. Ours is a prototype from Oddbikes (we’ve been told that the full production version will be on the market in March 2012 for about €85). Solutions currently on the market such as the E-Werk, PedalPower and ReeCharge cost about €100.

2. The Weight – Some people note that the hub is a bit heavy (580g) and generates extra resistance. We think the weight and drag is negligible when compared to the overall load of a heavy touring bike – not to mention all the extra batteries and chargers you’d be carrying around if you didn’t have the hub to provide power!

3. Not Field Serviceable – The SON hub is not meant to be repaired in the field. In the unlikely event that you do have problems with it, you’ll have to send it back to a dealer or the factory for repair.

How are we going to navigate this?A SON dynamo hub paired with a Supernova E3 Pro light.

What might go wrong?

We asked Marten Gerritsen, a dealer for SON hubs in the Netherlands, for some opinions on SON hubs and their reliability. He outlined the two most likely ‘worst-case’ scenarios as:

  • Electrical failure – This won’t stop you but will be annoying. Trying to ‘adjust the bearings’ is the main cause of this. A bad solder connection can also happen and to fix this you need special tools.
  • Bearing trouble – This usually happens because water got in the hub. The hub isn’t waterproof and shouldn’t be submerged, for example by crossing floods that are axle deep. Also do not grease the quick release as this blocks the vent hole. Bearing trouble starts as play at the rim, but if you ignore it eventually the bearing cage will collapse and leave you stranded. If you see rust water stains around the axle and detect a lot of play at the rim you’re living on borrowed time

Marten added that he’d never seen problems with broken flanges or with broken or bent axles.

In terms of preventative maintenance, he recommended checking the hub when the rim is replaced. Any play in the hub or irregular noises would be a sign that you should send the hub back to be rebuilt. The cost for this is around €50.

Marten added:

SON hubs come with a five year guarantee, based on experience. As far as the hub is concerned, a bike tour isn’t as bad as occasional use with long periods for corrosion in between. On a typical touring bike, chances are that a Rohloff hub will give trouble before the SON.

Another dealer, Peter White Cycles, says the hub is:

…designed to give at least 50,000 kilometers of trouble free riding between servicing…

That’s more than enough for most world bike tours. Bad luck can always happen but in general we’d be comfortable taking this hub on a long tour. And from the comments on our Facebook group, it seems a few other bike tourists love the SON hub as much as we do!

Comments

  1. Dave Conroy
    31st January 2012 at 9:21 pm #

    I’ve been touring with the SON Hub for about a year now and cannot believe how I was riding without it before. The drag is so minimal you don’t notice it whatsoever (Maybe the first day, no different than putting lots of groceries in your pannier at first) – but the benefits have been immeasureable. I’ve been able to disappear on the beaten path for days even a week at a time and always have all my electronics charged. It’s also paid itself off in about a month and a half as I’m no longer heading to the coffee shop to charge things and getting sucked in my overpriced baked goods.

    I use a B&M E-Werk with it alonside a B&M Lumotec lamp. The only issue I have had as of yet is that the connectors have come a bit loose after some reckless riding in the Namibian Desert, which I didn’t notice until I had depleted all my backup batteries. Pliers tightened up the spade connectors easy enough. I carry an extra pair of spade connectors if mine ever become unusuable, as they use a wacky sizing that one can’t find outside of Europe.

  2. francesco
    1st February 2012 at 1:42 am #

    Do you know any other (reliable) hub which charges electronical devices?

  3. Rob Thomson
    1st February 2012 at 3:21 am #

    Thanks for the review, guys.

    I’ve just had a Shimano Alfine dynamo hub laced up to the front wheel of my Surly Karate Monkey bike, and I am loving it (http://www.flickr.com/photos/14degrees/6794369871/in/photostream). I did consider the SON hub, but only for about three seconds, because the Alfine dynamo is sooooo much cheaper (about half the price). So what do you get for the extra money? Not much, as far as I can see.

    The Alfine dynamo hub has the same bearings as the Ultegra line, so that’s got to be a good thing. It has only marginally more drag than the SON when the light is on. If you take a look at the section labeled “It’s a Drag Man” on this webpage – http://www.peterwhitecycles.com/schmidt.asp – you’ll see that when the light is on, there is next to no difference in resistance between a Shimano dynamo hub and the SON hub.

    So, essentially, from what I can see, all you’re getting from your extra $150 or so, is less drag when your light is off (about 0.7 watts less effort). But when I spin my front wheel with the Alfine dynamo hub, the wheel seems to spin just as freely as when I had no dynamo hub on there. For about 95% of all cyclists, I’m sure that any difference in drag would be utterly negligible.

    I will admit, though, that the thought of having to deal with Shimano customer service, should anything go wrong with the hub on tour, sends shivers up my spine. I could imagine that SON customer service might be more approachable.

    Some more comparison resources:

    Alfine dynamo hub review – http://www.ecovelo.info/2011/09/12/supernova-e3-shimano-alfine-dynamo-lighting-system/

    Comparisons Alfine vs. SON (efficiency, wattage required for turning the wheel, weight, 1/5th down the page): http://www.peterwhitecycles.com/shimano3n70.asp

    I think what is comes down to, is that it’s probably a good idea to ask whether 10% more efficiency, 0.7 watts less effort (when the light is off), and 100g less weight is worth the extra dosh for the SON hub.

    • friedel
      1st February 2012 at 5:45 am #

      Fair point, Rob. Yes, the SON is expensive.

      We paid the extra $$$ precisely because we don’t like to deal with problems on tour. We’re lucky enough to be at that point in our lives where we can afford to pay $150 extra for a product with a tested track record of reliability. Let’s call it a bit of bike touring insurance. Of course, we could always be unlucky…

      You do see the Shimano dynamos fitted to many commuting bikes here in the Netherlands (we even have one on our Brompton folding bike) and I’m fine with that because I know if it goes wrong that there’s a bike shop just around the corner that can fix or replace it.

    • Rif
      29th February 2012 at 12:16 am #

      I’m not knocking your choice of hub Rob, but
      when faced with the same choice I decided that
      half the price but only 1/5 of the warranty didnt
      make economic sense to me.
      I bought the Sondelux for my 20″ wheels for its
      390g and “5” year warranty.
      Matched with my Edelux headlight (also a Schmidt/Son
      product) I’ve no regrets

  4. Aushiker
    1st February 2012 at 5:58 am #

    Another happy SON 28 owner here. Thanks BTW for the reminder about river crossings … got a few of those coming up. Need to carry the bike to protect the SON 28 and to fend off the salties 🙂

    Also have mine connected up to a PedalPower+ Super-i-Cable which is working out okay. Just have a little niggle with it seemingly not charging my Google Nexus S phone. Need to test that aspect a bit more.

    Thanks
    Andrew

    • Dave Conroy
      1st February 2012 at 8:38 am #

      Andrew, if it’s anything like an Iphone I had to invest in a cache battery to provide a steady 5V to the device. I have a Tekkeon MP7200 7200maH battery with two USB ports that I can use to charge two other devices from the E-Werk which gives me some backup and ability to use when I’m not using the bike.

      It solved my charging problems – I detail it all here:
      http://www.tiredofit.ca/2011/03/19/pedal-powered-electronics-charging-system/

      • Aushiker
        2nd February 2012 at 2:10 am #

        Thanks Dave for you comments and link. The PedalPower+ Super-i-Cable does have a 18650 2200 mAh battery so in theory at least provides that interface between the dynamo and the electronics. Unfortunately my PedalPower+ Super-i-Cable is not allowing me to power my lights and charge my Garmin Edge 800 at the same time or for that matter charge my Google Nexus S phone period. Hopefully it is simply a faulty unit and not a design issue as it does have the potential to be a good unit.

  5. Rob Thomson
    1st February 2012 at 6:14 am #

    Just while I remember it, here is another resistance test (SON vs. Shimano Alfine): http://www.thebikebiz.com/Articles.asp?ID=153

  6. Shane
    2nd February 2012 at 11:32 am #

    My Son/e-werks combination has been powering my gps 8-12 hours a day for most of the last 3 months, love it:)

  7. Rael Belterman
    3rd February 2012 at 8:52 am #

    I agree with your review. I love my SON Dynamo. Last European summer I had the Tout Terrain The Plug II connected to it. It is a much nicer looking charging device than others on the market because it is integrated into the steering stem. I wish i could post a photo of mine. Anything that uses a USB charger, including i-pod and i-phones can be charged with it (although not i-pads because there is not enough charge). No special cables needed, just the ones that come with the devices (if they are chargable with a USB). I used mine with the Garmin Edge 800, a mobile phone, and i-pod. With the Garmin fully charged, 12km/h would keep it charged, but trying to recharge it with the battery partly depleted, required higher speeds of closer to 20km/h ( although don’t quote me on this, it has been over six months since i used it), so not so good on hilly days.

  8. Rael Belterman
    3rd February 2012 at 8:54 am #

    I can’t charge and use the lights at the same time, though.

  9. Steve Jones
    14th February 2012 at 1:06 pm #

    “Chances are,that a Rohloff hub will give trouble before the Son”
    You’ll have to explain that one to me.
    Because I don’t believe you based on my own experience and the construction of the hubs and also what basis do you have ( testing? ) to make such a hypothesis?
    I don’t doubt that the Son is a good product.. but …

    • Rif
      29th February 2012 at 12:26 am #

      You’ll have to take that quote up with
      Marten Gerritsen, a dealer for SON hubs in the
      Netherlands. Whilst the comment may show a
      little excess enthusiasm, few companies offer
      a five year warranty like the makers of the
      Son dynamo hub. Even their headlights are
      covered by this faith in their product, with
      the same warranty.

    • Robbie
      6th March 2012 at 9:02 pm #

      Means that the SON is awesome!

      You have to re-lube the Rohloff once a year or there abouts, and there’s lots of moving parts so it’s a fair call. Plus there is always the 7-8-7 change that can cause problems. Plus it does a lot more work – it’s a fair call.

      I love my Rolly and I love my SON!

  10. Gregor
    28th February 2012 at 9:36 am #

    Nice review!
    Just wanted to mention that there’s now a lighter hub dynamo with higher efficiency available from Supernova (plus the switchable version)and Schmidt has also greatly improved the weight of the old SON28 shown here.

    Also, you didn’t mention my preferred dynamo charger “The Plug” built by Tout Terrain (also available under Supernova label)http://www.en.tout-terrain.de/accessories/electric-power-supply/

    Greeting from Germany!
    Gregor

    • Rif
      29th February 2012 at 12:29 am #

      Hi Gregor,
      how long is the warranty?
      Cheers
      Rif

  11. Gregor
    28th February 2012 at 9:36 am #

    Nice review!
    Just wanted to mention that there’s now a lighter hub dynamo with higher efficiency available from Supernova (plus the switchable version)and Schmidt has also greatly improved the weight of the old SON28 shown here.

    Also, you didn’t mention my preferred dynamo charger “The Plug” built by Tout Terrain (also available under Supernova label)http://www.en.tout-terrain.de/accessories/electric-power-supply/

    Greetings from Germany!
    Gregor

  12. sz
    29th February 2012 at 3:16 pm #

    Ok, so if you submerge the SON hub, you might get water into the hub through the pressure compentsation system’s hole in the axle. Has anyone considered to build a snorkel for a dynohub? 😉

  13. Robbie
    6th March 2012 at 8:53 pm #

    Had a SON for about 5 or 6 years – have raced toured and commute on it. Bike has been ridden nearly every day 11 months of the year since – wet or dry. I leave my lights on day and night as it needs a smooth surface before you can tell if it’s on or not and NZ roads are mostly chipseal.

    I’d probably by a SON just for the bearings…

    Had a Rohloff fitted a few years ago and love it too (despite the weight)

    The only real competitor for SON might be the new Magnic system.

    http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/dynamodirk/magnic-light-get-new-energy?ref=category

  14. davide
    9th October 2012 at 1:56 pm #

    LightCharge usb for bicycle (bottle dynamo and hub dynamo)

    http://blomming.com/mm/LightCharge/items?view_type=thumbnail

  15. Dave
    2nd May 2013 at 5:24 pm #

    I’ve had a SON28 for a while and it’s been great. I recently took it on a short tour with a Bright-Bike Revolution (which I built) and the two worked well together.

  16. Rob Thomson
    4th August 2013 at 2:57 pm #

    I have finally gotten around to having a shot at a home made USB charger for my smartphone, hooked up to my dynamo hub. It works like a treat (at least from the 1,000km I’ve toured with it so far): http://www.14degrees.org/en/?p=5203.

    With a plethora of charging options on the market these days (at very reasonable prices), there is less need to resort to DIY, but it can be quite fun 🙂

    Cheers,
    Rob

  17. steve
    25th March 2014 at 12:26 pm #

    Hey, Was looking to get a way to power my gadgets while cycling (mostly my Sat Nav but if works well probably a light as well). I saw a few clip on dynamo’s to the outside of the wheel that look a bit nasty. Then i saw the dynamo hub. Looks really sleek and much better than a nasty add on. Only quick question i have is that i dont really know much about what the output from them is and how to connect a phone (moto g) to it. I think you need to buy an additional thing to spit out the power more consistently? Something like – Tigra Bike Charge Power Pack – 2600mAh Li-ion Battery. (just example for the basic principal not quality).

    If that is the case:
    1. Do dynamo hubs ever com with this built-in
    2. Or are there any dynamo hubs i can connect a moto g directly to?(charge recomentations between 500ma and 1.5A)
    3. Or maybe this is too costly a route for someone that is a casual fair weather cycler and i should just hook up a battery pack instead…. hmmm

    • Gregor
      27th March 2014 at 1:04 pm #

      Hi Steve,
      1. all hub dynamos produce AC, so you have to use a special charging device like The Plug.
      2. no
      3. Dynamo chargers are great for serious touring, brevets and other extreme adventures, but just a gadget for short trips.

  18. Tamara
    14th September 2014 at 11:53 pm #

    Has anyone come up with an adaptor or alternative connector system for the Schmidt SON28? Having to remove the wired connections each time I remove my front tire has become a pain in the tush – and is not a reliable way to maintain a connection between the hub and 1) headlight and 2) The Plug. Help!

  19. Andrew
    8th March 2016 at 5:38 pm #

    As an alternative, try the D1. It’s been designed to outperform anything else that gives out 5V from a dynamo, and is hand built in England with a lifetime warranty. As a long distance tourer (a year ago I finished a three year jaunt riding around the world), I wanted something I could trust long term. I couldn’t find anything so I made it instead.

    These days everything but your laptop can charge from 5v; AA batteries, cameras, lights, you name it.

    http://d1.igaro.com

  20. Greg
    2nd June 2016 at 5:08 pm #

    Hi you all
    I’ve clocked up 9000 km and my son won’t charge .very disappointed in this expensive bike part
    Any one else had problems with them .all my wiring good .everything seem OK .I’ve no multimeter to test it so will need to wait till I get to big town to have it looked at

  21. Jesse
    20th February 2022 at 10:44 pm #

    Perry

  22. Terence
    29th April 2022 at 8:33 pm #

    Which team do you support? https://asianwhiteskin.com/stmap_38ilarsy.html?cialis.ursodeoxycholic.arjuna.zaditor what does mpf stand for in lidocaine The eight-year-old online messaging service gave potentialinvestors their first glance at its financials on Thursday whenit publicly filed its IPO documents, setting the stage for oneof the most-anticipated debuts in over a year.

  23. Nathan
    30th April 2022 at 6:46 am #

    Yes, I love it! https://mokameleman.com/stmap_15nrpill.html?phenytoin.tylenol.cialis uses of ursodeoxycholic acid tablets Shares of defense companies declined, as a prolongedgovernment shutdown would most likely diminish the amount of newcontracts. Raytheon Co closed 1.4 percent lower at$77.07 and Lockheed Martin Corp fell 1.3 percent to$127.55, while Boeing Co slipped 1.1 percent to $117.50.

  24. Seth
    3rd May 2022 at 7:40 am #

    Zayn

  25. Zackary
    29th May 2022 at 5:39 am #

    Where are you from? https://ndstrytowns.ca/stmap_54yebbug.html relief pharmacist manitoba Fiat took the majority stake in Chrysler in 2009, however its efforts to buy out a minority stockholder have been stymied by a disagreement over a price. A court in Delaware is deliberating Fiat’s petition to put a value on an initial 3.3 stake, which will form the basis for determining the value of further shares.

  26. HwqTGAP
    30th June 2022 at 1:13 am #

    Pills information leaflet. Brand names.
    cheap bactrim tablets in USA
    All trends of medication. Get now.

  27. Minions: The Rise of Gru movie
    7th July 2022 at 9:45 am #

    Production of the movie shifted to remote work
    in the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, following the short-term closure of Illumination Mac Guff.

  28. watch The Deer King online
    11th July 2022 at 8:52 pm #

    Also, the Claudia fluid and excessive worth of water also can mentioned to be inspired by The Deer King.

  29. watch Thor: Love and Thunder online
    12th July 2022 at 8:11 pm #

    Using what you’ve learned, you could start winning more frequently than shedding.
    It really is easy to beat all competitors by gaining a bit of vital Thor
    box office knowledge. Knowing a little will go much on the planet of Thor
    box office.

  30. a bathing ape
    22nd July 2022 at 12:05 am #

    I’m just writing to let you know what a perfect discovery my cousin’s daughter found browsing your blog. She learned such a lot of things, most notably what it is like to have a very effective helping mindset to get many others without problems know a number of specialized issues. You actually exceeded visitors’ desires. Thanks for delivering those beneficial, healthy, informative not to mention cool tips about this topic to Janet.

  31. Ronaldbrari
    22nd July 2022 at 12:37 pm #

    karibik yachtcharter

  32. watch DC League of Super-Pets online
    23rd July 2022 at 8:54 pm #

    Your hair close to a dog’s paws can simply get matted,
    and should be cut regularly. Prior to do any shaping,
    straighten the hair using a hair comb a bit. A specialist can always part in to assist in the
    event you don’t feel comfortable accomplishing this.

  33. yeezy
    29th July 2022 at 12:37 am #

    I precisely needed to thank you so much all over again. I do not know what I would’ve accomplished in the absence of the type of thoughts provided by you over my topic. It was before a alarming case for me, nevertheless understanding this expert avenue you handled it took me to cry for joy. I am just grateful for your information as well as pray you are aware of a powerful job you are always accomplishing training some other people using your site. Most probably you have never come across all of us.

  34. Colt
    2nd August 2022 at 8:49 am #

    Alistair

  35. golden goose
    6th August 2022 at 2:13 pm #

    I precisely desired to say thanks once more. I’m not certain what I would’ve used in the absence of the type of suggestions revealed by you about my theme. Entirely was a very frightening issue in my position, however , understanding the skilled way you managed that made me to leap over happiness. Now i am happy for this assistance and as well , believe you realize what a powerful job you’re getting into training the mediocre ones by way of a web site. More than likely you have never come across any of us.

  36. NrfxDiatS
    8th August 2022 at 2:37 am #

    Atorlip-20 Cialis Oral Jelly (Orange) Caverta

  37. Bullet Train movie
    8th August 2022 at 10:15 am #

    It was revealed in May that “Bullet Train” was moving to August 5, as
    Sony hopes to make their movie the summer’s ultimate blockbuster.

  38. VitaminBeilt
    10th August 2022 at 6:32 pm #

    quick candida cleanse

  39. watch Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero online
    17th August 2022 at 6:20 am #

    Dragon Ball Super Super Hero News can be used to get exercise nowadays.
    Technology which uses motion is becoming integrated into games.Which means you enables you to play the games for all
    sorts of things such as yoga or sports. You may get in your living area!

  40. nope! The new horror movie you can’t miss
    20th August 2022 at 9:43 am #

    Popcornflix is one other great place to look at
    free motion pictures online.

  41. JbukDiatS
    23rd August 2022 at 5:33 pm #

    write my term paper free help writing a college paper all ivy writing services

  42. a bathing ape
    24th August 2022 at 1:20 am #

    Thank you for all your effort on this site. My mum really loves setting aside time for investigation and it’s simple to grasp why. Most of us know all of the lively method you offer very helpful steps on your website and foster response from visitors on this content while our own girl is without a doubt being taught a lot. Enjoy the rest of the new year. You are performing a fantastic job.

  43. WdxcGaini
    25th August 2022 at 6:32 am #

    table of contents thesis thesis statement about depression thesis builder

  44. NbfyDiatS
    26th August 2022 at 6:48 am #

    cause and effect thesis statement introduction paragraph with thesis statement examples what is a working thesis

  45. JvbyOrbisdimi
    27th August 2022 at 4:22 am #

    essay abstract example gender inequality essay informative essay outline

  46. cheap kyrie 5
    27th August 2022 at 11:02 pm #

    I needed to compose you a little bit of word in order to say thanks a lot over again with your amazing solutions you’ve provided on this page. It has been remarkably open-handed of people like you to convey publicly exactly what most people could possibly have supplied as an ebook to earn some bucks on their own, principally now that you could have done it if you desired. These principles as well worked like a great way to comprehend other people have the identical keenness just like mine to realize a good deal more related to this condition. I’m sure there are lots of more fun moments up front for folks who see your site.

  47. JxecDiatS
    28th August 2022 at 3:53 pm #

    free essay editor photo essay informational essay

  48. WxevGaini
    29th August 2022 at 1:42 pm #

    how to write an essay in apa format argumentative essay format best argumentative essay topics

  49. NxerDiatS
    30th August 2022 at 2:04 pm #

    citations in an essay essay structure essay in spanish

  50. ExecerelT
    30th August 2022 at 2:28 pm #

    what is essay format leadership essay example read my essay

  51. watch Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero online
    31st August 2022 at 3:48 am #

    Youngsters usually imitate anything they see men and women do.
    Buy them props that act like the clothes you put on and stuff you
    use. Give them a enjoy list of pots and pans should they
    see you in the kitchen area a great deal. Provide a Dragon Ball
    Super: Super 2022 broom to aid with clean up time.

  52. WiqzGaini
    16th September 2022 at 6:18 am #

    where to buy cialis in australia walgreen cialis price cialis dosage 40 mg

  53. Nope movie
    16th September 2022 at 6:01 pm #

    Nope has its personal digital reality expertise, available on Oculus devices.

  54. watch Top Gun: Maverick online
    24th September 2022 at 4:51 pm #

    Your brand-new knowledge of guide generation should persuade you that it must be certainly
    vital. A great lead is someone who will be your consumer for
    a long period, although a negative the initial one is someone who will have you throwing away considerable time.
    You must remember the guidelines discussed to attain for fulfillment.

  55. Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero movie
    26th September 2022 at 4:05 pm #

    You could possibly consider video games as toys for youngsters.
    This is simply not be further more from your reality.

    There are plenty of games adults may play, from physical
    exercise online games to army game titles.
    This article will give you some suggestions on how to get in to the huge world of hot video games.

Leave a comment