Overview of SON Generator Hubs

Overview of SON Generator Hubs

When “Schmidt’s Originaler Nabendynamo” (SON) was introduced more than a decade ago, the choice was easy: There was only one model. Today, Schmidt offers three models of their revolutionary generator hubs. Here is what distinguishes them:
SON Delux:

  • Weight: 386 g.
  • Lightest generator hub available today.
  • Least resistance of all generator hubs.
  • Narrow flanges.
  • Aluminum axle, with stainless steel end caps to create a solid interface with the dropout.
  • Small generator, power output at low speeds is reduced.
  • Power is sufficient for running LED light system even at low speeds.

Choose the SON Delux if light weight is your utmost concern.
SON Delux Wide-Body:

  • Weight: 412 g.
  • Same generator as the Delux.
  • Wider flange spacing for a stronger front wheel.
  • Stainless steel axle.

Choose the SON Delux Wide-Body if you want the lowest resistance, but prefer the strength and aesthetics of wider flanges.

  • Weight: 440 g.
  • Stainless steel axle.
  • Larger generator.
  • More power at low and moderate speeds.
  • Higher resistance at low and moderate speeds.
  • Same resistance as Delux model at high speeds.

Use the SON28 if you plan to run other electronics (cell phone, GPS, etc.) and power your lights simultaneously while riding at moderate speeds.
The lower resistance of the Delux models is a benefit especially at low and moderate speeds. At high speeds, all current SON hubs have the same ultra-low resistance.
All SON hubs are available for the connector-less SL system.
All SON hubs feature the pressure-compensation system that prevents moisture from being sucked through the bearings when the hub cools down. This greatly increases the longevity of the bearings. (There is a lot of air in a generator hub, and when the hub cools, that air volume contracts. On all other hubs, the only way more air can enter the hub is through the bearings.) The 5-year warranty includes the bearings.
Click here for more information or to order your SON generator hub.
In other lighting news, we now stock a variety of light mounts for generator-powered headlights.
Further reading: The resistance of current generator hubs, Bicycle Quarterly Autumn 2012 (Vol. 11, No. 1).

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Comments (18)

  • David

    I know the eDelux light is designed to be mounted higher, but is the performance of a skewer-mounted eDelux very poor, or OK? Have you tried this? I’m thinking a SON generator wheel with a skewer-mounted light would be handy for occasional night rides on my road racing and cyclocross bikes.
    – David

    December 13, 2012 at 1:17 pm
    • Jan Heine, Editor, Bicycle Quarterly

      I don’t see a problem with mounting an Edelux headlight on the skewer. The skewer mounting came about by accident: In PBP 1999, I used a German sidewall generator and halogen headlight. The light mount broke after 800 km on the road, of course, in the middle of the night. After scratching my head for a minute or two, I twisted the remains into a shape that I then could clamp underneath the front skewer. It worked! I actually liked the low light position, as it showed potholes much more clearly – a big advantage with the feeble halogen headlights. This type of mounting them caught on with other randonneurs in Seattle, and then Nitto made a part so you could install the light on your skewer…
      From a technical perspective, you get a shadow from your front tire, which means you’ll ride into a dark spot when you corner. You also have to aim your light even more carefully to avoid blinding oncoming traffic, but beyond that, it should be fine. My friend Ryan used that setup for years until he got a randonneur bike.

      December 13, 2012 at 1:59 pm
  • Andrew

    If we’re counting grams, I thought the lightest dynamo hubs on the market currently were the Shutter Precision SV-8 series?

    December 13, 2012 at 4:45 pm
    • Jan Heine, Editor, Bicycle Quarterly

      It’s about the same weight as the Delux. The only independent tests I have seen had it a few grams heavier.

      December 13, 2012 at 5:51 pm
      • Andrew

        The PV8 weighed 1g under spec here: http://ride-or-pie.blogspot.com.au/2011/12/first-impressions-sp-hub-generators-pd.html, so 20g lighter if the SV8 does meet spec.
        I’d like to see the SV8 go up against the SONdelux in an independent and also a long term test, IIRC the PV8 was in the recent BQ roundup, but not the SV8? A bunch of MTB enduro racers are stoked on their SPs, although the through axle SON has them salivating.

        December 13, 2012 at 6:01 pm
        • Jan Heine, Editor, Bicycle Quarterly

          The test was done in Germany, and the SV8 isn’t available there, because it doesn’t meet German specs. So it couldn’t be included in the test.
          Long-term, it’s unlikely that the SV8 will last as well as a Schmidt. Not only does it lack the pressure compensation system, but its seals are very rudimentary. SP-Dynamo now is making some hubs for Supernova with better seals, it will be interesting to see how those perform.

          December 13, 2012 at 6:39 pm
      • Andrew

        “The test was done in Germany, and the SV8 isn’t available there, because it doesn’t meet German specs. So it couldn’t be included in the test.”
        The SONDelux is only certified for all wheel sizes in conjunction with the eDelux, so presumably the SV8 would also pass if it was submitted with an LED headlight. The test doesn’t have to be done in Germany, I & most others could care less about StVZO power output requirements at low speeds.
        Yes, the SON bearings will likely last longer due to the pressure comp system, but the SP dynos appear to be user serviceable instead of sending it back to a service agent.
        I have a SON20R, a 3N80, 3N72 and a novatec on various bikes, it’s highly likely that the next time I need to buy a dynamo I’ll try the SV8 unless the long term reports are poor.

        December 13, 2012 at 6:57 pm
        • Jan Heine, Editor, Bicycle Quarterly

          We’ll try to get a test sample from SP-Dynamo and report back after a while.
          Yes, the SV8 probably could pass the German tests, if it was submitted with a dedicated light. The legal situation regarding lights in Germany is in flux anyhow – not that it concerns us in North America, except that most makers try to develop generators that can be sold in the largest market for generator lights – Germany.
          Testing the resistance of generators requires a complex setup, and since there are two such setups in Germany, one at Schmidt and one at Olaf Schulz’ lab, that is where the Bicycle Quarterly tests were done. We collaborated with the German magazine Fahrradzukunft on these tests.

          December 13, 2012 at 7:33 pm
  • Andrew Squirrel

    Not to be nit-picky but isn’t “Schmidt offers three models” is slightly inaccurate? I believe they offer 2 other versions of their dynamo hubs for disc brake equipped bicycles and even some extra narrow versions for folding bicycles.

    December 13, 2012 at 5:14 pm
    • Jan Heine, Editor, Bicycle Quarterly

      There are many different versions of these three basic models – disc brakes, different colors, etc. – plus some specialty hubs. This overview is meant to provide some guidance to distinguish between three models that may seem similar at first sight.

      December 13, 2012 at 5:52 pm
    • Andrew Priest

      I agree with you. I think the statement on models needs correcting. Even taking into consideration the issue of versions of the these models listed there is also the SON XS for smaller wheeled bikes, so at least four models if one excludes the SON Klassik. SON provide a PDF listing their current range which I find is a handy guide to the product range.

      December 21, 2012 at 1:03 am
      • Jan Heine, Editor, Bicycle Quarterly

        The goal of this post was not to provide a complete listing of the various special-purpose hubs that SON makes, but to compare the three hubs that riders can use interchangeably. I tried to illuminate which hub is best for a “standard” bicycle, based on the rider’s preferences and riding style.

        December 27, 2012 at 5:48 am
  • Rod Bruckdorfer

    I read the article “The Efficiency of Generator Hubs” in Bicycle Quarterly, Vol. 11, No.1, Autumn 2012. Chart 1. shows power output with lights ON at 20 km/h, is 3.15 W for the Son 28 and 3.25 W for the Son Delux. Based on Chart 2. the resistance of the Son 28 and the Delux with light OFF is essentially the same at 0.8 W at 20 km/h. Chart 3. shows night-time resistance with lights ON at 20 km/h is 5.3 W for the Son 28 and 5.0 W for the Son Delux. Although these differences are small, based on the charts in the article, the Son Delux performance is slightly better than the Son 28. From a cyclist point off view, I suspect the rider can not detect any difference between the performance of the Son 28 and the Delux version of the hub.

    December 14, 2012 at 1:39 pm
    • Jan Heine, Editor, Bicycle Quarterly

      You are right. The performance differences are small, even at slow speeds of 10-15 km/h. I think the biggest difference is the resonance you get at some speeds. The SON28 has a little more of that. In the end, you’ll be happy with any of these hubs.

      December 14, 2012 at 6:03 pm
  • Willem

    I noted that performance wise the new edelux and 28 are a bit more similar to each other than the old 20 and 28. The edelux output at lower speeds is a bit higher than for the SON20 before, and the new 28 has slightly less resistance than the old. Performance at slow speeds is important for off road riders and loaded tourers, but not really for rando riders. For them performance while simultaneously charging a gps or telephone with gps would be, however. I know like me Jan still holds out against gps, but I am wavering now that I have ridden with friends on loaded tours. Are there people with experiences of simultaneously charging an edelux and a gps/phone?

    December 15, 2012 at 2:59 am
    • Jan Heine, Editor, Bicycle Quarterly

      You are right, the new SON28 and the Edelux are more similar on performance than the older models. In fact, the old SON20 still has the very lowest resistance, but also less light output at lower speeds.
      According to Schmidt, you can charge electronics while running your headlight with all generator hubs if you ride at a brisk pace. However, the SON28 provides you an added margin, so that may not be a bad idea for that application.

      December 15, 2012 at 7:31 am
  • Kelly Sleeper

    I thought I read somewhere that the new SON hubs could be run as left side mounts now. Is that true? I know it probably makes little difference but I like mounting my lights out on the left mid fork mount which leaves me running the wire up and over. Just curious if you’ve heard anything.

    December 16, 2012 at 2:19 pm
    • Jan Heine, Editor, Bicycle Quarterly

      Yes, you can run the latest SON hubs with the connectors on either side.
      The older ones (but not the very first generation) had a screw cover for the generator, which could unscrew by itself if you ran the hubs in the wrong orientation. Thanks to the pressure compensation system, SON hubs need overhauling so rarely now that there no longer needs to be an easy way to remove the generator. Now the hubs disassemble in the center, which means that the wheel needs to be disassembled before you can take them apart. But as mentioned above, that should not be necessary as the hubs should be maintenance-free for many years.

      December 16, 2012 at 3:06 pm

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