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Old 08-04-09, 12:04 PM   #1
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Novatron Dynamo Hub from Velo Orange

Any experience or opinions on this?

http://www.velo-orange.com/nodyhub.html

The cheap price caught my eye. I'm liking the idea of a dynamo front wheel for my LeMond. My Kona Dew has a Shimano (3N71?) wheel I built, but it's on a disc specific rim, so I can't use it on a conventional road bike with rim brakes. Aside from the Novatron's resistence, it might be kind of goofy to have a 36 spoke front wheel and 32h rear

I can get another Shimano hub for $77 from JensonUSA.

I've read all about SON hubs from Peter White - and honestly, if I ever get into serious Brevets I'll consider throwing down hundreds of dollars. For now I just like the idea of uninterrupted light on my "go fast" bike and I hate recharging batteries.

What's really attractive is that for ~$100 + spokes, I can build a reliable dynamo wheel.
Thoughts?
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Old 08-04-09, 12:19 PM   #2
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I have the Shimano 3N80 and it's actually lighter than the SON hubs.. and waaaay cheaper too. More bang for the buck if ya ask me.

From what I can tell (some?) people buy the SON hub just because it's "the best" thing out there, at least based on price.. I guess if you're throwing your retirement dough into a bike, why not get the SON... but for the rest of us working stiffs, we gotta save sometimes.

As for the dyno on VO, I would avoid it as it looks like it's got more drag, as it's made for shorter commutes & city rides. And the whole 36 spoke thing too of course..

Anyway I vote strongly for the 3n80.
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Old 08-04-09, 01:10 PM   #3
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I recommend dynamo hubs in general.

I have a Sanyo dynamo hub and E3 supernova lights on the bike I use for long-distance riding. It's nice to have a lot of light any time I want it; I am told it's pretty visible even in daylight. On Sunday's ride in under grey skies and hours of drenching rain, I was especially glad not to have batteries that could run down or short out.

I can't speculate on the respective drag of the VO dynamo, the Shimano, and other hubs. Remember the drag is always deceptive; what feels like friction when you turn the axle is a push followed by a pull, so where it's taking your energy one moment, its giving most of it back the next.

Remember, if you don't like 36 spokes, you can easily enough lace that hub up with 24 spokes. 28 or 32 are perfectly doable, just not as easy:they require fancier math and multiple spoke lengths.
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Old 08-04-09, 01:18 PM   #4
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Remember, if you don't like 36 spokes, you can easily enough lace that hub up with 24 spokes. 28 or 32 are perfectly doable, just not as easy:they require fancier math and multiple spoke lengths.
While I'm not an expert wheel builder, I've laced about 7 wheels. On one occasion I ordered my spokes too short and had to devise a 2x pattern for a front wheel. I have read that you don't want to goof around with alternative patterns for dynamos, as the rotational torque can cause "wind-up" if you don't cross properly. Similar concept as disc brake hubs. For that reason I'd hesitate to lace a "crows foot" style with a dynamo hub.
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Old 08-04-09, 01:20 PM   #5
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I second mattm's opinion on the 3N80: They're lighter and cheaper than the SON28 without any discernable difference in resistance.

I have a SON28 on my brevet bike, and I got it for 2 reasons; 1) the 3N80 wasn't available yet, 2) It's sooooo shiny! Yes, bling factor was an influence for this purchase.

A few of the fast randos with our club run the SON20R, which is smaller and lighter, but because it's designed for 20" wheels it won't reach full brightness on a 700c until you hit a higher speed. (OK, for the fast randos who climb like they have rockets in their chainstays. Not so much for heavy, slow Sasquatches like me.)
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Old 08-04-09, 01:40 PM   #6
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... I have read that you don't want to goof around with alternative patterns for dynamos, as the rotational torque can cause "wind-up" if you don't cross properly. Similar concept as disc brake hubs. For that reason I'd hesitate to lace a "crows foot" style with a dynamo hub.
Well, I can see how a "crows foot" might be a problem; but that's not what I'm talking about. Lacing a 24H rim to a 36H hub would be a perfectly conventional pattern, while 28H and 32H would be only very slightly off-- a spoke might be a mm longer or shorter than you'd expect, but the spokes would all cross the usual way and would meet the rim at the normal angle. Done properly, they'd have even tension and there would be no problem.
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Old 08-04-09, 04:03 PM   #7
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I have the Shimano 3N70. I built my headlight light in a hurry, so it has a voltage doubler but no switching. It's on all the time. I really don't notice the drag or the weight. I probably would try to find a deal on the 3N80. Even for commuting, I'm not sure the VO is that great of a deal.
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Old 08-04-09, 05:27 PM   #8
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A few of the fast randos with our club run the SON20R, which is smaller and lighter, but because it's designed for 20" wheels it won't reach full brightness on a 700c until you hit a higher speed.
Hi Clifton. I heard this wasn't as big a deal if you're using an LED light. Do you know if this is so? Just wondering as I'm considering the 20R. Thanks.
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Old 08-04-09, 07:15 PM   #9
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Hi Clifton. I heard this wasn't as big a deal if you're using an LED light. Do you know if this is so? Just wondering as I'm considering the 20R. Thanks.
I've heard that too - the SON20 with halogen doesn't come on until 10 km/h or so (15 maybe??), whereas with an LED it will come on at 5-ish km/h. Something like that.

Peter White's site would probably say exactly.
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Old 08-04-09, 10:18 PM   #10
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I've heard that too - the SON20 with halogen doesn't come on until 10 km/h or so (15 maybe??), whereas with an LED it will come on at 5-ish km/h. Something like that.

Peter White's site would probably say exactly.
It's faster than 5kmh with an LED light. My SON28 with an E3 "lights up" at about 2mph as I'm walking my bike out the front door, but it's a snazzy disco-strobe effect.
The SON28/LED combo isn't lit solid until I'm rolling around 4mph (6.4kph) and it's not fully bright. I'd venture a guess that the SON20R is lit solid around 6mph (9.7kph) and fully bright around 8mph (13kph).

Slowroller,
Most of the lights I've seen have been LED. A couple E3s, a handful of Edeluxes. I haven't seen anyone with the new IQ Cyo yet, but I'd like to check one of those out some time.
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Old 08-04-09, 11:16 PM   #11
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Slowroller,
Most of the lights I've seen have been LED. A couple E3s, a handful of Edeluxes. I haven't seen anyone with the new IQ Cyo yet, but I'd like to check one of those out some time.
Thanks, Clifton. I appreciate the info. Also, I'm finally down to the last replacement bulb for my B&M Lumotec halogen light. I promised myself I'd make it all the way through them before I bought an LED replacement. I have my eye on the Cyo. I love the housing of the Edelux, but I'm also trying to curb my tendency to indulge in pretty shiny things for my bikes. It's a tough battle.
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Old 08-05-09, 03:29 AM   #12
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From what I can tell (some?) people buy the SON hub just because it's "the best" thing out there, at least based on price.. I guess if you're throwing your retirement dough into a bike, why not get the SON... but for the rest of us working stiffs, we gotta save sometimes.
You'd make a larger impact on your retirement account by not riding at all... especially to the start of those far away events... and all those races. Think of all the hours you could be working a second job instead of foraging at the minimart, hanging with lots of middle aged guys on expensive bikes, and climbing mountains..

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Old 08-05-09, 03:50 AM   #13
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Hi Clifton. I heard this wasn't as big a deal if you're using an LED light. Do you know if this is so? Just wondering as I'm considering the 20R. Thanks.
get the 20R. Have used my supernova e3 set with a 28 and a 20r, there is no reason not to get the 20r- even for a loaded touring bike.
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Old 08-05-09, 06:06 AM   #14
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...
Most of the lights I've seen have been LED. A couple E3s, a handful of Edeluxes. I haven't seen anyone with the new IQ Cyo yet, but I'd like to check one of those out some time.
I have both the Cyo models....they are great lights. The R unit is great for commuting. For a time I ran both with out a problem....
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Old 08-05-09, 09:21 AM   #15
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I've had the Lumotech Oval (Senseo?) which is halogen with an LED standlight. It's worked out pretty well for winter commuting. I considered briefly the E6, but this was 1/2 the cost, could be switched on/off/auto (light sensor activated for tunnels etc.) and has a wide beam at the bottom which was handy for slow speed technical situations.

Unfortunately navigating around potholes and train tracks while riding 12mph is a pretty likely scenario for winter commuting in Seattle. For the dynamo hub I'm asking about in this thread, I'd more likely match that up with a longer distance beam for higher speeds on open roads.
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Old 08-05-09, 11:06 AM   #16
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I've had the Lumotech Oval (Senseo?) which is halogen with an LED standlight. It's worked out pretty well for winter commuting. I considered briefly the E6, but this was 1/2 the cost, could be switched on/off/auto (light sensor activated for tunnels etc.) and has a wide beam at the bottom which was handy for slow speed technical situations.

Unfortunately navigating around potholes and train tracks while riding 12mph is a pretty likely scenario for winter commuting in Seattle. For the dynamo hub I'm asking about in this thread, I'd more likely match that up with a longer distance beam for higher speeds on open roads.
You could just buy a dynamo wheel already built from VO for $160:

http://www.velo-orange.com/shdyhubwh.html

I have one of these on my commute bike and the rolling resistance is the same as my SON28 on my brevet bike. There are some reports of a more-limited lifetime on the Shimano hubs, but as cheap as this is, it's well worth the risk that it dies a little sooner.

I think the only difference between the 3N72 and the 3N80 is that the former has disk brake mounts (which I am not using) while the latter does not. The disk brake mounts mean that the wheel is slightly dished, but this is not a big deal.
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Old 08-05-09, 11:48 AM   #17
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@thebulls

For the same $$$ I can lace a better wheel (using better components). Assuming I stuck with a 3N72 as VO does:

$75 - Shimano 3N72 dynamo hub
$55 - rim of my choice (Deep V, open pro, etc.) Many sub $60 rims of equal or lesser weight and as durable as a CR-18 in my opinion
$20 - 32 butted DT swiss spokes+nipples

I'm not saying the VO wheel is a bad value, but since I'm able to build my own, it's not as compelling.
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Old 08-07-09, 11:00 AM   #18
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@thebulls

For the same $$$ I can lace a better wheel (using better components). Assuming I stuck with a 3N72 as VO does:

$75 - Shimano 3N72 dynamo hub
$55 - rim of my choice (Deep V, open pro, etc.) Many sub $60 rims of equal or lesser weight and as durable as a CR-18 in my opinion
$20 - 32 butted DT swiss spokes+nipples

I'm not saying the VO wheel is a bad value, but since I'm able to build my own, it's not as compelling.
Plus at least an hour of your time to save $10 (plus whatever savings on shipping). Hey, go for it, then. I generally build all my own wheels, not because it is necessarily cost effective, but because when I've bought wheels from LBS or Performance/Nashbar, they haven't lasted very well because they always need significant retensioning/retruing. Buying from someone who knows what they're doing would be a good alternative, but bumps the price enough that I'd rather just build the wheel myself while watching a DVD with my family :-)

The core point is that based on all of the comments above, and on my experience, the 3N72 is probably a better choice than the Novatron. To me, the biggest cost of building a wheel is the time it takes me to do it. So saving $25 on a lower-quality dnamo hub that I might have to replace sooner is not worth the while.

The two SN72-based wheels (with Salsa Delgado cross-rims) that I bought last November were $107 apiece and cost less than the parts would have indiviually. I spent a couple of hours re-tensioning and re-truing the two wheels, but since then haven't touched them in about 3500 miles of daily commuting. Rock solid, and the hub has very low resistance when the lights are off.
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Old 08-10-09, 10:06 AM   #19
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@thebulls

I agree when wheel building skimping on parts isn't worth it in the long haul. If the 3N80 comes down in price ($100 or so) I'd probably try it out. Otherwise the 3N72 is pretty solid in my experience.
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Old 01-13-10, 11:42 AM   #20
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@thebulls

For the same $$$ I can lace a better wheel (using better components). Assuming I stuck with a 3N72 as VO does:

$75 - Shimano 3N72 dynamo hub
$55 - rim of my choice (Deep V, open pro, etc.) Many sub $60 rims of equal or lesser weight and as durable as a CR-18 in my opinion
$20 - 32 butted DT swiss spokes+nipples

I'm not saying the VO wheel is a bad value, but since I'm able to build my own, it's not as compelling.
Resurrecting...
Where can you get a 3N72 for $75? The best I've seen has been around $90 from the UK, with places here being about $100-$110.
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Old 01-13-10, 01:35 PM   #21
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Thanks, Clifton. I appreciate the info. Also, I'm finally down to the last replacement bulb for my B&M Lumotec halogen light. I promised myself I'd make it all the way through them before I bought an LED replacement. I have my eye on the Cyo. I love the housing of the Edelux, but I'm also trying to curb my tendency to indulge in pretty shiny things for my bikes. It's a tough battle.
Epic failure. I bought a Cyo for my 3N80, and then an Edelux and a SON20R for another bike.
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Old 01-13-10, 01:39 PM   #22
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Epic failure. I bought a Cyo for my 3N80, and then an Edelux and a SON20R for another bike.

How do you like the Cyo? I'm planning on getting the Cyo R for myself and the wife.
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Old 01-13-10, 02:20 PM   #23
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How do you like the Cyo? I'm planning on getting the Cyo R for myself and the wife.
I have a Cyo on one bike and an Edelux on another. The reflector/optics are the same for both, but the Edelux runs brighter; better cooling and maybe some circuitry differences?
The Cyo-R supposedly eliminates the dim spot near the front wheel by redirecting some of the light, and it incorporates a white reflector into the lens. In talking with the rando gang at the LBS, I was convinced that the additional close lighting was unnecessary at the speeds I ride, and there is more benefit to the longer, wider throw of the regular Cyo optics.
After riding with the Cyo and the Edelux for a few months, I know they were right. There are few conditions where I ever need more close-field lighting; and when I do I can turn on my helmet lamp and spotlight the area for a couple minutes.
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Old 01-13-10, 02:37 PM   #24
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How do you like the Cyo? I'm planning on getting the Cyo R for myself and the wife.
I have the non-R Cyo on my commuter and the dim spot doesn't affect me. Overall, I like the Cyo very much and think it's a great value. The only issue I have with it is the switch can be a little tricky to turn, particularly with full-fingered gloves on. Other than that, the output is great (it's a little blue-ish, which differs from the Edelux), and the pattern is wonderful (again, this is the non-R version).
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Old 01-13-10, 02:45 PM   #25
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Thanks for the info, good to know. I'd like to go with an Edelux based on the good things I've heard about it but the price is a bit prohibitive. The problem is that I can't find any of these lights to be able to compare in person, so I'll be deciding based on other's feedback and online reviews...and pictures.

Some reviews say the Cyo R puts more light closer to the bike (as intended) and there is no appreciable difference in the brightness or length of beam between it and the Cyo, even though the technical numbers say the Cyo is brighter (60 lux vs 40 lux I believe). I tend to agree based on the pictures on Peter White's site, but again, I've never seen them in person. Have you had a chance to see the Cyo R first hand? Where did you get your Cyo?
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