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SP Dynamo Hub Fail: I became a statistic

Old 09-11-23, 07:19 PM
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SP Dynamo Hub Fail: I became a statistic

I probably put 10,000km (6,000 miles) on the hub in 2.5 years. I really wanted a 28h rim brake wheel for my randonneur bike so that meant SP or SON (Shimano only in 32 and 36 as far as I've ever seen). The complete build was already adding up for my budget so I opted for SP. It started seizing up on a bike tour in Spain this summer.
SP hubs are warrantied for 2 years. I know SON have a 5 year warranty and I'm sure some of them have failed too. I am also aware that they will service hubs to an extent. I know that no bearing and no electrical component lasts for ever, but 2.5 years? And yes, technically the hub can be taken apart, bearings extracted and replaced, and hub reassembled. But you have to de-lace and then rebuild the wheel to do that. You can't pay anyone to do that. The labor rate would cost more than a SON hub. And none of that is happening on a bike tour, unless maybe you're in a country with much cheaper labor rates than in Europe and more adventuresome bike mechanics with nothing else to do all morning or day.
Also, years prior I had a SRAM dynamo hub. You'd think I'd have learned my lesson after that one failed in probably 4-5 years. At least the bearings just started developing play, not seizing up on me. And I rode significantly less during those 4-5 years.
Now I'm salvaging a Shimano hub from a 700c wheel and building it up for this 650b bike on a 32h rim. My next dynamo is going to be on a gravel and touring/bike packing bike so I figure I'll go with the SON given that it'll be put to hard use.
I've heard stories of other riders doing way more and difficult miles per year than me, so I don't think it's me or my riding style. They're on SON hubs now that I think of it. I think the problem is me being a cheapskate.
Any other SP statistics out there? Anybody have experience with failed Shimano or SON hubs? Does anyone preemptively replace or send their SON hub in every 5 years of heavy riding?

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Old 09-11-23, 08:00 PM
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I have a Shimano with failed bearings. You can take them apart, but the way it feels I think the races are probably gone. I feel like that lasted a lot longer than 6000 miles. My most recent dynohub purchase was an SP. So far I have been lucky with mine. It is a little concerning to hear of early failures
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Old 09-12-23, 08:49 AM
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Originally Posted by ROT_01
Does anyone preemptively replace or send their SON hub in every 5 years of heavy riding?
(giggles)

Ahem, excuse me. Near as I can figure, I've got about 45,000 miles on a Shimano, and 20,000 miles on the SON on my rain bike. No service or issues on either.
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Old 09-13-23, 10:03 AM
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So how many times have you replaced brake pads at $15 a time, 5? 10? ?? LOL
ZERO on mine. My SA XL-FDD pads have 32,000 miles and are good for another 5,000 I guess. I did have to make a longer pull arm this year.
The elec side sealed bearing went dry at 17,000 miles. 4 of the 10 balls got crunched and sucked into the magnets. Was still rideable.
Took it apart myself, no problem. My lights are always on.
There is ZERO chance of it failing and it's 1/3 the cost of the SON.
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Old 09-13-23, 01:24 PM
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I have an older SoN that seems to have failed bearings. I bought it used from someone that also thinks it needs to be repaired. My LBS sent it to Peter White to have the bearings replaced and he sent it back unrepaired. Said it was fine. I'm not sure why he didn't just replace the bearings, maybe too much schnapps? So I never used the hub and it definitely left a bad taste. The more recent hubs seem to be much better from what other randonneurs report. Maybe someday I'll try to replace the bearings on that hub myself. If PW can do it, I'm sure it's not that difficult. Don't know if SoN will replace bearings, but shipping starts to add up.

I keep hoping some of these brands come to realize that Peter White is costing them sales. But I'm sure they like having a repair center in the U.S. so they don't have to deal with a lot of issues.

I have a SoN wireless hub, unfortunately it has Peter White engraved in it in big gaudy letters.
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Old 09-13-23, 04:06 PM
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Originally Posted by GamblerGORD53
So how many times have you replaced brake pads at $15 a time, 5? 10? ?? LOL
ZERO on mine. My SA XL-FDD pads have 32,000 miles and are good for another 5,000 I guess. I did have to make a longer pull arm this year.
The elec side sealed bearing went dry at 17,000 miles. 4 of the 10 balls got crunched and sucked into the magnets. Was still rideable.
Took it apart myself, no problem. My lights are always on.
There is ZERO chance of it failing and it's 1/3 the cost of the SON.
Sturmey Archer definitely makes bombproof stuff, not gonna argue there. But the hub alone weighs 1350g. Maybe I知 more of a weight weenie than I thought cause I知 not ready to haul that much wheel on my rando rig. I just checked and the 32h shimano rim brake replacement wheel I知 building plus centerpull brakes weighs just under 1,300g. SA I could see working on a commuter bike but for hilly and long distance I guess I知 willing to pay more to haul a little less.what kind of bike is your SA hub on?
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Old 09-13-23, 04:08 PM
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Originally Posted by pdlamb
(giggles)

Ahem, excuse me. Near as I can figure, I've got about 45,000 miles on a Shimano, and 20,000 miles on the SON on my rain bike. No service or issues on either.
LOL
I知 salvaging a 32h shimano from a 700c wheel lying around that痴 got to have over 10,000 and no issues.
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Old 09-13-23, 08:54 PM
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I'm not really a randonneur. I go do 90 to 128 mile rides, 11 or 12 hours mostly. Have a big lunch and rest in the middle. Just sightseeing really. Longest ride was 133.6 miles with these 2 wheels on my 73 lb tour bike.
I love my steel IGH roadsters. This Simcoe frame one is 42 lbs plus load. I chucked all the lame alu parts it came with. Just these wheels are 14.5 lb I think.
I never see anybody going my way anymore. I have no interest in cold dark rides unless the days are getting short.


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Old 09-14-23, 11:36 AM
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I have never heard of anyone sending in a hub that is working for a rebuild, and I would never do so. I think probability of getting a bad bearing installed at that time is just as great as one of the existing bearings going bad.

This is the third SP hub problem I recall reading about on this forum. I bought my first one nine years ago, my second one about six years ago, another a couple years ago, all three are working fine. My first one is on my heavy touring bike, often used for heavy loads, sometimes off road with heavy loads. Second one is on my rando bike, light loads and almost always on pavement. Third one has less than a thousand miles on it, on my road bike.

More on SP here:
Shutter Precision hub bearing replacement
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Old 09-15-23, 08:47 PM
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I have an SP that has done 10,000 miles, 2 PBPs, and a bunch of brevets. Still working great.

I did once hear of a firsthand story of an SP failing, but many others I know have had no problem.

On my new bike I got a SON, because life is short etc.
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Old 09-16-23, 04:09 AM
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Originally Posted by samkl
I have an SP that has done 10,000 miles, 2 PBPs, and a bunch of brevets. Still working great.

I did once hear of a firsthand story of an SP failing, but many others I know have had no problem.

On my new bike I got a SON, because life is short etc.
Now that I have heard of a few failures on SP, I might be tempted to use Son in the future for a long distance or a touring bike. I bought my first SP in 2013, at that time nobody in USA sold them so I had to order it from Taiwan, all of my SP are trouble free.

Tour Divide race, looks like about five times as many Son hubs were used as SP when using a word search (best searched with a space in front and after Son or SP). That is a place you do not want to use something that might fail from hard use.
https://bikepacking.com/bikes/2023-t...e-rigs-part-1/
https://bikepacking.com/bikes/rigs-o...divide-part-2/
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Old 09-16-23, 08:09 PM
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Is there a reason not to use shimano?
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Old 09-16-23, 10:21 PM
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I've bought four SP hubs, for four bikes.

One with about 15k miles, mostly brevets, flawless. One with about 5k commuter miles when I sold it, flawless. Many of the above miles were in the rainy PNW.

On a recent bike build, the new SP hub vibrated and made a growling noise from day one. They warranted it, but of course i had to rebuild the wheel. About 11k brevet miles later, many of those in the rain, it's flawless.

The newest one only has 1600 miles, including pbp, no issues.
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Old 09-17-23, 05:57 AM
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Originally Posted by znomit
Is there a reason not to use shimano?
Only reason I can think of is SON and SP have more spoke count options. And with modern carbon rims and higher volume tires, lower spoke counts on anything other than a racing bike are a more viable option than in the past. That's what steered me away from my trusty 32h and 36h shimano hubs (on my town bike, my previous touring bike, and my wife's touring bike). I was trying to shave grams for a more rando specific build so was looking for a 28h hub. After this experience of a hub failing out on a trip and having a heck of a time finding a replacement wheel (how many shops on the planet will just have a 28h 650b rim brake wheel at the ready?) I'm less concerned with the difference in weight between 28h and 32h now. My new touring/gravel bike has disc brakes and carbon rims which is the new standard. Nothing lasts forever, except maybe the bike with SA hubs in the pictures above shared GamblerGORD53

Also, while stressed out on the road trying to fix this problem and being hard on myself for not preventing the problem, I remembered some country wisdom imparted to me by the guys at my local MF Tractor shop, "If something broke, that just means you're using it." Of course that's an oversimplification, but I remembered then there is some truth to that, everything fails eventually, and in 23 years of thousands of miles of distance cycling on really just 3 different bikes this was the biggest problem I've ever had on the road, locally or abroad. Also, the same day this happened, my wife's 15 year old shimano touring pedal bearing started to give out. Luckily in Spain we found a replacement pedal in a neighborhood moped and bike repair shop in the first town we came to that day.
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Old 09-17-23, 11:54 AM
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Originally Posted by znomit
Is there a reason not to use shimano?
Different hubs have different drag. link with lots of tests. I'm not smart enough to understand any of this science.
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Old 09-18-23, 04:08 AM
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Originally Posted by znomit
Is there a reason not to use shimano?
There are better Shimano models and ones that are not so good. I have one of their better models on my light touring bike.



Initially I had an SP on that bike when I built up the bike in 2017.

Later I bought the Shimano on a used wheel. But that used wheel had a rim too narrow for the tires I wanted to use, so I put a different rim on that wheel, the ERD was close enough to the same for both rims that I could reuse the spokes. Thus, I had two wheels with Dyad rims with dynohubs, both 32 spoke. Initially I put the Shimano wheel on my rando bike.

When I give the wheel a spin by hand with the light turned on, the Shimano seems to come to a stop faster than the SP wheel. I decided to put the SP on my rando bike, put the Shimano on the touring bike. I wanted less resistance on my rando bike. This was a much less scientific test than cited in a different post in this thread, but that was good enough for me to make a decision on which wheel had more resistance.

Another benefit of the Shimano on the touring bike is that the flanges on the Shimano are further apart, I think that gives the Shimano wheel additional strength from a side impact, but that was secondary in my decision making. The touring bike which sometimes carries heavy loads is where I would like more strength if I have a choice. And also aesthetics played a part, the SP hub was black and that looks better on my rando bike.
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Old 09-18-23, 10:54 AM
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There is an ultegra level Shimano that's supposedly an upgrade to the 3n72 as well, forget what the model number is. I think the only difference may be that the shape is a little more elegant and it has cutouts in the non-dyno side flange. I have one of them, can't tell the difference from the 3n72 other than looks. And it still looks a little clunky.
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Old 09-19-23, 03:44 AM
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I have close to 46,000 km (about 28,500 mi) on the center lock disk brake SP on my 650B disk brake Elephant NFE, my main bike since 2016.

I also have 39,000 km (about 24,000 mi) on my Bike Friday which currently also has a SP center lock dynamo, but most of the distance was with a Shimano dynamo. I had the front wheel rebuilt for disc brakes when the old rim brake front wheel wore out. The Shimano dynamo I used with the old rim is still fully functional and was reused for a wheel build for another 650B wheel (on my daughter's bike now).

All three dynamos (2x SP, 1x Shimano) are still fully functional, not one issue in 75,000 km!
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