“Rhymes with Puppy” has a question about Hub Generators


An other of the Idiot Children on Uprights (ICUs) has a question on the ChainLink Forum. For all their smugness about bicycling you would think that there would be few if any questions about such things as basic as lights. After all with their vast experience in traffic, an experience which exceeds even that of Tour de France riders, at least according to their Venn Diagrams, one wonders how they could be asking about anything related to bicycle maintenance.

But of course when one of these Einsteins (who self-identified himself as a worker from Active Transportation Alliance) stopped and asked me whether our front fairings “slowed us down” it should have been obvious these are “babes in the woods”. At least the one asking about the front lights claims to have experience building wheels.

He writes:

Dynohubs. What maintenance do they require?

I am thinking of building a wheel with a dynohub. It looks like all of them (including the Schmidt dynohub) have ball bearings. What kind of maintenance do they require?

  • Do they have to be overhauled every year or so, like a conventional front hub? Is the overhaul just as straightforward as a regular hub? Or do I need an experienced bike mechanic to do this?
  • Do they require any other kind of maintenance besides overhauling the bearings? Can I do this myself?
  • The Schmidt info says you should expect 50,000 km (30,000 miles) between servicing. Given my mileage that would mean it would take e decade or more between servicing. Is that realistic?

Sorry for the many questions in one thread. Appreciate any feedback.

Speaking Truth To Arrogance

SON Hub Generator
© Peter White Cycles

First of all front fairings (realize he did not ask about these but will push this into the collective face of the group) would make your northbound trips along the Chicago Lakefront Trail a good deal easier today and yesterday. Anything southbound would be swept along at record speeds. While I tend to travel slower than most folks I would be expending quite a bit less energy than someone on an upright traveling at the same speed, especially if they were in a relatively upright position. So for the ChainLink denizens getting your heads out of your collective arses long enough to learn from such lowly creatures as suburbanites on recumbents is sometimes a good thing.

As for the SON hubs, we have ridden with them for nearly eight seasons if memory serves. The expected 30,000 miles between maintenance sessions is exactly what you should expect. Working on these wheels takes some special tooling which I would venture to guess means that you should not open the hub yourself.

In fact I would venture to offer than building the wheel yourself while doable is probably also something you should leave to the professionals. I did, despite the fact that I have built every other front wheel I ride, with one exception. Sometimes the mark of an intelligent person is knowing your limitations. Paul White’s wheel builds are excellent!

Finally, A Bit About Lights

One of the things that really “frosts my puppies” is the cavalier attitude this ChainLink crowd has about important stuff like lights. They have all the time in the world to poll one another over dumb ass questions like whether they should use earphones while riding. But when it comes to riding with lights their responses are “all over the board”. I get angered because rather than trying to deal with important issues you can always count on the same knuckleheads to try and wax clever. They give obtuse answers which usually include references to dumb ass movies that few have seen or even should be allowed to.

For goodness sakes if you are riding in the city at night you need lights. But folks like this assume that the best way to ride in places like the Chicago Lakefront Trail at night is without any lights on! Yikes! If you feel that unsafe on the trail you should probably use the streets. And if the streets feel unsafe you probably ought to consider the bus and train routes headed towards your destination. Otherwise get some lights, turn them on and ride safely.

Now the sole reason for considering something as expensive as a SON hub generator is because it provides access to one of the finest lighting systems on the planet, the SON Edelux. The good folks from SON have actually reworked a Busch & Müller lamp:

Schmidt Edelux Lamp
© Peter White Cycles

The Edelux is Wilfried Schmidt’s new LED headlight. It’s compatible with all modern 6 volt hub dynamos. This headlight is almost entirely hand made by Schmidt, with the exception of the wonderful IQ-TEC mirror, which is made by Busch & Müller, and of course the LED itself. Since heat is the big enemy of LED headlights, the LED in the Edelux is mounted on a large and heavy copper heat sink. This keeps the LED cool, and results in a very low operating temperature, and a very bright headlight. Like the E6, it uses a magnetic reed switch for high reliability. The switch has On, Off and Senso positions. On Senso, the light switches itself on or off as conditions require. The standlight remains on for up to four minutes after you stop, depending on how long you’ve been riding. The Edelux does not have a built in reflector. A few people have been surprisd by the fact that the standlight stays lit for a few minutes even if the light is switched off. This is normal for the Edelux.

You may use a taillight with the Edelux, and it will be switched on or off by the headlight. The headlight is unaffected by the presence of the taillight; it’s performance is the same in every respect with or without a taillight attached. For safety’s sake however, I strongly recommend the use of a reliable wired taillight with the Edelux.

For the Edelux PDF brochure, with all the specifications and a beam comparison with the E6, click here. The graph in the PDF, showing the relative brightness of the Edelux vs other headlights, was made before Inoled introduced the latest version of the Inolight Extreme, and before the new Supernova was introduced.

Two Edelux headlights can be used together, powered by the SON dynohub. However, the cyclist should think long and hard before ordering a second Edelux. One of these headlights is already extremely bright, making it difficult for me to see a significant advantage to having a second. And the wiring for a second Edelux gets a bit complicated. Below 25kph two wired in parallel will be brighter than a single Edelux. But at speeds over 25kph, series wiring will produce the most light. Wiring in parallel is easy; just run both lights to the hub directly and you’re done. Each light can be switched on or off independently. But to wire them in series requires a “Secondary” version, with a switch that shorts the Secondary to switch it off. That’s something the user will have to rig for himself, at least for the time being. While I can’t say it will never happen, there are no plans to make a Secondary Edelux at this time. And the reason for that is that since the Edeluxis so bright, it hardly seems like running two makes much sense. The best argument I can see for a second Edelux is to make the beam even wider than it is, and it’s now twice as wide as the E6 halogen headlight.

The light is available in polished aluminum finish, as shown, and in black anodized. And both versions are available with either a 60cm wire with attached connectors, or a 140cm wire with the connectors loose. We are happy to install the connectors to the long wire version using my special crimping tool, which does a better job than you can do using regular pliers. You’ll just need to loop up the excess wire, or tell me exactly how long you want it.

Polished or black anodized: $ 194.00 Specify 60cm wire or 140cm wire when ordering.

Red Anodized to match Red anodized SONdelux and Red anodized Rohloff 14 speed hub: $ 210.94

As you can see the lights are not cheap and the hub itself is an additional expense. And when I hear one of these arrogant little strumpets complaining about the cost of such things I always stop and look in their direction and wonder aloud how much you understand about the necessity of having a working vehicle. If you depend on your bike to get you to and from work why would you not spend some of the savings from not using a car on your bike. Why would you ride around on cheap anything under the circumstances?

Since I don’t commute to work by bicycle you would think I am the perfect candidate for going cheap. But I spend the money because when you need your bike to work whether for recreation or a long distance ride (sometimes in the dark) it should be a reliable vehicle. There are no doors to lock, no windows to roll up while you make a phone call for assistance. It is simply you out in the dark and cold and wind trying to secure help. Why would you not have the best money can buy under you when you need it to survive?

I sat next to a couple of folks at the Native Foods Cafe this weekend and listened to discussions about messenger bags. I leaned over and asked the fellow across the aisle whether his was a Chrome bag. He answered in the affirmative and then offered that they were expensive but worth the money. I’d be willing to wager that on balance you will find more ChainLinkers riding around with $150 Chrome bags (or at least willing to) than you will find ones who have the proper reflective clothing on at night and superior lights to help them navigate the streets while being seen at the same time. And you wonder why getting doored is such a common occurrence in the city? It is largely because these cheap ass knuckleheads will nickel and dime a shop owner over something really important and spend way too much time lingering over nose rings, Chrome bags and tattoos.

Mind you I have not issues with any of those three things, but priorities are important. If wearing a Chrome bag actually makes you safer on city streets then by all means get the very best one available. If on the other hand an Edelux light and SON hub generator rank much higher then by all means get them and if you have money left over by the bag. If not, settle for that damned nose ring and count yourself blessed.