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OneLessFixie 02-05-13 12:33 AM

Dynohubs - Schmidt v. Shimano
For my next bike, I'm going to invest in a dynohub lighting system as I've had one too many of the el cheapo battery-powered handlebar lights break and fall off. I've pretty much settled on the Lumotec IQ Fly RT for a headlight and the B&M Seculite as a fender-mounted taillight, but the question remains which hub to go with. I notice that the Shimano Alfine and the Schmidts put out the same amount of power. I also notice that the Schmidt is much prettier - and that it costs nearly 3x as much. I am reminded of some wisdom from my dearly departed grandmother (lost her third battle with cancer on the Fourth of July 10 years ago):

"It costs three times as much, is it three times as good?"

This clydesdale's eventual goal is to get into long-distance riding (centuries, randonneuring) and I would regard the dynohub as "mission critical" hardware the failure of which means the ride is over.

Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated.

Carcinogent 02-05-13 06:46 AM

The SON (Schmidt) is a very high quality unit with very low resistance. In a way it is the standard when it comes to hub dynamos, the only negative point being as you mentioned the price. I have it on two bikes and I have no complaints whatsoever. No personal experience with Shimano, however, here you can get a second hand used unit for very cheap.
Since reliability is your number one goal, SON is very well made and I do not foresee any problems. Honestly I have not heard a single complaint about it.
An excellent review can be found on Peter White's site here:
He has Shimano dynohubs as well.

unterhausen 02-05-13 07:29 AM

I have never been able to talk myself into a Schmidt. There probably is no meaningful difference. My Shimano dynohub has been through quite a bit and never had any problems. People tend to like the Shimano connector a little more, the Schmidts have some fiddly little crimp connectors that would be a pain if you have to fix a flat

That being said, I probably will get one of the Schmidt XL hubs for my next bike, the dropout contact is a really good idea

paulkal 02-05-13 08:19 AM

I had a Shimano for 5 years. During that time I had no problems, I liked the connector. Then suddenly it was completely frozen, I tried to repair it, nut there are no spare parts available.
I replaced it with a SON (20r) which I now have 3 years. The SON is lighter, looks nicer and was 3 time the price of the Shimano. They can be rebuild by SON.
The performance is the same.
If my SON ever fails, I will probably replace it with another SON.

mulveyr 02-05-13 09:12 AM

I have a Shimano hub, IQ Cyo front light, and seculite taillight on my Pelican.

No complaints at all. I keep all of the lights on day or night. Between 17 - 19MPH there's a distinct buzz from the hub, which seems very common ( with both the Shimano and Schmidt hubs ). Other than that, I'm perfectly happy. While there is a very minor level of improved performance in the Schmidt, it's not anywhere close enough to make me wish I had spent 3X the price. :-) I couldn't care less about the looks of either of them - how many people spend more time gazing at their hub instead of just riding the bike?

sauerwald 02-05-13 09:45 AM

I have a Shimano dynohub on a older bike - it has operated trouble free for about 10K miles so far. About 3 years ago I built up a new bike which is my primary commuter, it too has about 10K miles on it now, and it has a Schmidt dynohub on it, it too has operated trouble free. Differences between the two:

Price: - The initial purchase price is higher for the Schmidt, but over the life of the hub, I find this to be irrelevant.
Power Connection: - The Schmidt has spade lugs, which I have found more trouble free than the plastic connector that the Shimano hub uses, but not a big deal.
Aesthetics: The Schmidt is definitely prettier - shiny and has remained so.

If I were to buy another dynohub, it would probably be another Schmidt, but if I were told that I had to buy the Shimano, it wouldn't be a big deal.

Either way, you are well ahead of the cost and reliability of a battery lighting system.

pdlamb 02-05-13 01:36 PM

I've got one of each, although my Shimano is a 3NH70 or so rather than an Alfine. Supposedly the Son has less drag, but I couldn't tell you which was on which bike if I didn't know.

Shimano may have upgraded the Alfine, but the reviews I remember showed that the Alfine had a "significantly" higher drag than the upper end Shimano models.

zacster 02-05-13 08:18 PM

Did you look at the Shutter Precision hubs? They are the lightest available and look nice. They are only available as far as I know on ebay. Also, all dynamos put out the same power. This is the German standard.

I looked into dynamos but ultimately decided that I'd get more light from a battery. I don't need continuous light, just an hour or maybe 2.

pdlamb 02-06-13 01:00 PM


Originally Posted by zacster (Post 15241602)
Did you look at the Shutter Precision hubs?

Still new on the market, only been out a year. I'll check back in another 3-5 years and see how users report the reliability.

unterhausen 02-06-13 05:56 PM

people have gotten some heavy usage out of the SP hubs in that short amount of time and I haven't heard of any failures. Over the years I have never heard of a Shimano hub having issues and Schmidt has a small but significant number of problems on very long, wet rides. Specifically on the last couple of days of a 1200k grand randonnee that saw a lot of rain. Wouldn't mind hearing about issues with Shimano dynohubs because it wouldn't hurt to be a little less complacent about it.

2_i 02-07-13 02:14 AM

Onto the bike that is my main means of transportation, I would not even for a moment consider putting a Shimano instead of Schmidt. However, onto the bikes that get an occasional use and are more likely to die from age than use, I put Shimanos.

fietsbob 02-08-13 12:04 PM

German precision vs Asian mass production..
Schmidt cases are Actually Air Tight, there is a little vent hole inside the QR axle
to equalize air pressure as the temperature changes.
[instructoins say don't grease the skewer (much) as you may clog that hole ]

rifraf 02-10-13 12:46 AM

Its a very easy question to answer. The Schmidt Son has a five, yes a five year warranty. The Shimano has a one year warranty last I looked. Now the Shimano is not one fifth of the Sons price as if it was the Shimano might be competitive. Simple economics. I'm not saying that there is any inherent problem or issue with the shimano but they dont consider their product worth issuing with a 5 year warranty.
Hence in my opinion its a no brainer (for me - you make up your own mind) to dig deeper and buy the Son.

moleman76 02-10-13 01:40 AM

Check out Bicycle Quarterly's August 2012 issue where they did an extensive comparison of dynohubs.

As I read the charts and graphs, the SON and Shutter Precision units are within a whisker of each other for efficiency and drag. Shimano is very close, too.

SON has the pressure-venting feature (Teutonic engineering at its height) and the longest warranty. Shutter Precision is newest to the market.

In any case regarding warranties, if your hub fails you are going to be without it for a while, and at best will likely have to rebuild a wheel. For the price of one SON hub, you could buy two of the Shimanos or three of the SP.

This site will get you to a series of reviews of dynohubs and lights:

As I recall, his advice is to buy a good hub and a great light (one that puts the photons onto the road / path).

znomit 02-10-13 04:41 AM

Shimano have at least a two year warranty on all components except wheels.
I just priced a shimano 3n80 and a son 28 at
63 vs 209 euro. :twitchy:

unterhausen 02-10-13 10:34 AM

Maybe that vent hole is what causes the Schmidts to fail if they get drenched. I'm not really a Shimano advocate, I would prefer to have Schmidts, but Shimano dynohubs have treated me very well over many miles. Some of those miles under extreme weather.

I view a warranty on a hub as fairly unimportant since you can't mail them the wheel. Even if you could, it's expensive. So getting warranty work done costs me a minimum of $100 to rebuild the wheel, and probably more since I don't like to re-use rims. I've heard of people getting warranty service on Schmidts, no so on Shimano hubs. When it would cause me difficulty, I ride with a backup light, but I don't expect my Shimano hubs to fail.

A long time ago someone pointed out that the manufacturers price warranties into their products. If they don't think they will have any costs, they will not put much of a price premium on the warranty.

zacster 02-10-13 11:17 AM

One could probably buy an extended warranty on either if one buys through Amazon. They're offered on practically everything these days. That doesn't solve the problem though of what to do with a wheel when only the hub is warranted.

rifraf 02-11-13 04:47 AM

Here in Australia, one of the SA (South Australia) shops has the ability to exchange bearing if what I read in a local forum is correct.
My memory fails me but I've an inkling it was Abbottsford cycles. I'll try to dredge up the old thread and leave a link for those interested.
Like I said, you make up your own mind, but I'll go for the piece of mind that is Son. I'm just about to fork out for a disk Son28 for what I think is going to be a Surly Ogre build at this stage. I'll be getting another Edelux headlight.

dwinks 02-11-13 08:36 AM

I second the recommendation for the Shutter Precision 8 series hubs. Extremely comparable to SON, at less than half the price. They come with a 2 year warranty, which is fine considering the fact that they cost right around 2/5ths the price of a SON, which has a 5 year.

From the few reviews I could find online, and the reviews in BQ (which are to be taken with a grain of salt, as BQ is as much advertisement as reliable information source), they have very much the same resistance both on and off as the SON 28. The SP hubs are a bit higher drag than the SON deluxe, but the deluxe also has significantly lower power output (it can drive a light, but it's not enough to power USB devices, simultaneously). I think SP also has a SON deluxe competitor (i.e. a hub designed for 20" rims), which would likely have very comparable resistance to the SON deluxe, if that's your choice.

I can't honestly recommend a SON to anyone with SP hubs available, as I highly doubt the SON will out-last a SP hub for enough to make up the price difference.

unterhausen 02-11-13 10:42 AM

Did I already mention I wished SP put out a 15mm through axle version? Schmidt has one, but at $400 it's not going to happen.

Hydrated 02-22-13 04:55 PM


Originally Posted by Carcinogent (Post 15238599)
An excellent review can be found on Peter White's site here:
He has Shimano dynohubs as well.

Please please please do not rely on Peter White's site for objective reviews on dynamo hubs or lights.

His site pushes you to buy those shiny bits that only he carries, and his reviews/tests are very biased. Biased to the point that they are almost dishonest.

His comparison of the SON vs. Shimano dyno hubs. He compares the top of the line SON hub to a Shimano hub that was replaced by a superior model 5 or 6 years ago and to another Shimano offering that was always intended to be a bargain level low mileage commuter type hub. But he never tells you that. He encourages the reader to extrapolate for himself that the Shimano hubs are just not as good.

As for the OP's question:

I own both SON and Shimano DH-3N80 hubs. And I challenge anyone to tell the difference between the two while in the saddle. The 3N80 has very high quality bearings and internals.

So why did I buy the SON? Bling. That is a beautiful hub. I bought the SON because I was building up my Kogswell P/R MkII, and I decided to use the best of components on it. Phil Wood BB... Chris King headset... XTR rear hub... Thomson stem and seatpost... Brooks saddle... so the SON just kind of fit the bill. And it probably will outlast my Shimano hub... but at the price differential I could buy three 3N80's and break almost even.

But the Shimano has been a stellar performer. I have been running it on my daily commuter/rain bike for about three years, and it has never so much as burped.

So look at the features that you want when you make your decision... not somebody talking about the superiority of German engineering. Just make sure that when you compare that you're comparing apples to apples... not a SON to some crappy $49 Shimano dynohub like Peter White would have you do.

Taxi Rob 02-22-13 05:10 PM

I just got my new front wheel back from the LBS and it doesn't seem right. I didn't take the bike with me so I didn't test anything out, but while handling I noticed that the axle is REALLY stiff, as it would be on a bike with overtightened bearing cones. Is that normal?

krome 02-22-13 05:45 PM


Originally Posted by OneLessFixie (Post 15238252)

"It costs three times as much, is it three times as good?"

If that is your measure, look at Sanyo hubs. But since you want to get into long-distance riding, the losses from the dynohub will add up and might factor into your decision.

2_i 02-22-13 06:13 PM


Originally Posted by Taxi Rob (Post 15305655)
I just got my new front wheel back from the LBS and it doesn't seem right. I didn't take the bike with me so I didn't test anything out, but while handling I noticed that the axle is REALLY stiff, as it would be on a bike with overtightened bearing cones. Is that normal?

Is that a Shimano dynohub? At least in the past they shipped them with ovetightened cones - just adjust them. Generally, don't pay attention to the fact that the wheel is not spinning as easily as with a regular hub. The latter is an unavoidable effect of presence of the magnets in the hub.

Taxi Rob 02-22-13 10:59 PM

Yeah, it's a Shimano. I found out in another forum that they often feel "notchy" from the magnets, but being new to these things, I'm not sure how much can be attributed to the cones vs. the magnets.

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