Wide-Body SON Delux Generator Hub

Wide-Body SON Delux Generator Hub

I am excited about the new Wide-Body SON Delux generator hub. It allows you to enjoy a super-strong wheel, yet roll along with the less resistance than other generator hubs. It is available now in limited quantities with 32 or 36 holes.
When Schmidt Maschinenbau developed the standard SON Delux generator hubs, they optimized the hub’s performance in every way. The Delux is the lightest generator hub, with the lowest resistance, ever made.
To minimize both the weight and the internal air volume,* the hub shell closely hugs the generator inside. The hub flanges are spaced just 50 mm apart, rather than the 60-70 mm of most front hubs. While the resulting wheel is strong enough for most applications, the hub looks slightly odd in standard bicycle forks with 100 mm dropout spacing.
In September, Schmidt introduced their new SON28 hub with wider flange spacing and a more powerful generator. While I was excited about the wider flange spacing, I don’t need (or want) the more powerful generator, which has more resistance than the Delux hub. Modern LED lights powered by the Delux hub are plenty bright even at low speeds. The SON28 may be useful if you ride slowly, and need to charge electronic devices like cell phones or GPS systems while you have your lights on.
Following the introduction of the SON28, I asked Schmidt whether they could make a wide-flange version of the Delux. My dream hub would combine the strength of the SON28 with the low resistance of the Delux. The nice thing when dealing with a small company is that things can happen quickly. In today’s mail, we got a few of the new Wide-Body Delux hubs (below on the left, with a standard Delux hub on the right).

The new hubs are even nicer than I expected. Schmidt managed to increase the flange spacing to 68 mm. This not only is 18 mm wider than the standard Delux hub (above left), but even 6 mm wider than the SON28.
Schmidt designed the “Wide-Body” hub shell so it fits tightly around the generator. There appears to be less air volume inside than in the SON28.* Not only does this improve the longevity of the hub, but I find the resulting gentle curves of the new hubshell very attractive. As usual with Schmidt, the aluminum hub shell is polished to a mirror finish. For the first time, a generator hub not only is functional, but beautiful. This is the generator hub I always wanted to have!
The features that distinguish the “Wide-Body” from the standard Delux hub (in parentheses) are:

  • Wider flange spacing: 68 mm (50 mm)
  • Stainless steel axle (aluminum with stainless steel endcaps)
  • Weight: 412 g (386 g)
  • Cost: $ 305 ($ 285)

All other specifications (power output, resistance) are exactly the same. For me, the very slight increase in weight and cost are a small price to pay for a much stronger wheel. (The steel axle also will provide peace of mind, even though none of the aluminum axles have failed so far.) Most of all, I prefer the appearance of the wider flange spacing, which makes the wheel fill out the front forks of my bicycle.
I cannot wait to build a wheel with the new Wide-Body Delux hub for my new René Herse. (I intended to have two wheelsets for this bike: one with 28/32 spokes for events, and one with 32/36 spokes for all other rides. Now I’m glad that I never got around to building the second wheelset with an old SON20 hub.)
Compass Bicycles has a few “Wide Body” hubs available right now, with more on the way. In a few weeks, we also should have Edelux lights for “upside-down” mounting, so they can hang from a front rack.
In other “bright” news, we now have the standard SON Delux with 28 holes (in addition to 32 and 36 holes), as well as the B&M IQ Cyo without sensors. The latter is the least expensive generator-powered headlight that uses the superb “IQ” optics and high-output LEDs. Click here for more information.
* The internal air volume contracts when the hub cools, sucking outside air (and moisture) into the hub. SON generator hubs feature a pressure compensation system that prevents moisture from being sucked through the bearings; most other hubs do not have this system.

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Comments (24)

  • Stephen Reed

    Hello Jan,
    That’s a beautiful looking hub! Do you know if Schmidt have any plans to bring out a connectorless SL version?

    December 30, 2011 at 9:38 am
    • Jan Heine, Editor, Bicycle Quarterly

      For now, these hubs are made as “special models” for the North American market. If there is enough demand, there will be a connectorless SL version.

      December 30, 2011 at 11:05 am
  • rob hawks

    I have several schmidt hubs including the narrow flange version. I knew there were questions raised about the strength of the resulting wheel with the narrow flanges. I went with it any way and have not noticed any problems with wheel strength. Did the narrow flange version in fact present issues? I know a lot of riders with that model and haven’t heard of a single problem. Short of total wheel collapse, how would a strength issue manifest itself?

    December 30, 2011 at 11:41 am
    • Jan Heine, Editor, Bicycle Quarterly

      There is no reason for concerns about the safety of your standard SON Delux hub. I have used mine on some pretty rough roads without problems. However, if you are getting a new hub, I recommend the “wide-body” version for reasons of both strength and aesthetics. I feel that if I am going to run a hub with 50 mm flange spacing, I might as well reduce the front dropout spacing accordingly. Having a standard fork with narrow hub look like an odd mis-match to me.
      The strength issue is only a problem when the wheel collapses. The narrow flanges give the wheel less lateral strength, so it will collapse with smaller sideloads. This isn’t a problem in most riding, but if you ride on bumpy gravel or cobblestones, the front wheel can slip as you turn, putting large sideloads on it. The more bracing you have on your wheel, the less likely it is to “taco.” Obviously, this is an issue especially for tandems. For that reason, classic French tandems used front forks with 110 mm spacing, so they could increase the flange spacing of their special tandem hubs by 10 mm.
      I once had a wheel collapse in cyclocross when a rider crashed in front of me. Trying to avoid him, I turned the handlebars too far as I was going into a dip. The front wheel slipped, then caught at the bottom of the dip, and collapsed. My only other wheel collapse occurred when I lost traction on the rear going around a corner. I caught the slide, but the sudden sideforce was enough to collapse the rear wheel. In most riding, there are only minimal side forces on your wheels and bike. (For that reason, lateral stiffness of your frame and/or fork does not significantly affect the handling of your bike.)

      December 30, 2011 at 11:55 am
  • Willem

    This I am sure is the wide flange hub that Schmidt designed at the request of Idworx.

    December 30, 2011 at 1:50 pm
    • Jan Heine, Editor, Bicycle Quarterly

      It’s similar, but they refined it in a few details. When I asked about a Delux with wider flange spacing just after the model came out (then called 20R), Schmidt told me that they were making it for the bike maker Idworx, who had an exclusive on the design for a year or two. So I asked again this year, and Schmidt finally agreed, but they wanted to refine the design in a few details. The new “Wide-Body” is the result.

      December 30, 2011 at 2:08 pm
  • David G

    I would also like to buy a sans-connector SL version of the Wide-Body SON Delux. The SL system seems like a natural choice for custom bikes intended for any purpose other than conventional (daytime) racing.

    December 30, 2011 at 2:27 pm
    • Jan Heine, Editor, Bicycle Quarterly

      I agree that the connector-less SL hub is a great idea for custom bikes. I wish my René Herse was so equipped, but the frame was made before the system was available.

      December 30, 2011 at 2:35 pm
  • John

    And where are you planning to get a 28-hole 650B rim?

    December 30, 2011 at 5:05 pm
    • Jan Heine, Editor, Bicycle Quarterly

      Grand Bois doesn’t offer them at the moment, but Velocity used to make them… We’ll see about offering them. For a 650B wheel with a cushy 42 mm tire, 28 spokes are plenty for most uses.

      December 30, 2011 at 5:53 pm
      • John

        It would be even nicer to get ultralight 650B rims in a range from 24-36 holes. For example the Stan’s rims are 350 g but are not intended for rim brakes. Right now there are few options available for those of us who want to build light 650B wheels. Stan’s 650B rims are 380 g, but fully black anodized.

        December 31, 2011 at 1:36 pm
        • Jan Heine, Editor, Bicycle Quarterly

          I do agree that it would be nice to get rims with 40 and 28 holes. (24 holes seems a little skimpy.) However, I don’t see how the weight can go down.
          Rim weight isn’t magic. The only way to make a rim lighter is to make it less durable. If you use disc brakes, you don’t need to account for sidewall wear, and you save weight, but that is more than made up by the extra weight of the brake disc. I don’t see how you can make a rim that is lighter than the Grand Bois and Velocity without compromising durability.
          I recall when I worked as a translator with Syncros, their brand-new “superlight” rims exploded when the tires were inflated to 80 psi.

          December 31, 2011 at 4:31 pm
      • Elton

        Harris Cyclery has a good supply of the discontinued 28h Velocity Synergy rims.

        January 5, 2012 at 11:20 am
  • Tom

    What prevents retro-fitting the connector-less dropout fittings to an existing fork? Looks like “drill three carefully placed holes in the dropout, insert insulator and contact”.

    December 30, 2011 at 5:43 pm
    • Jan Heine, Editor, Bicycle Quarterly

      You need to recess the plastic insulator plate and stainless connector into the dropout, otherwise, you’ll tend to rip them off every time you insert the wheel. There are tools to mill out the recess in the dropout, but you also need a slightly larger dropout than most. It might be easier to have a new fork built…

      December 30, 2011 at 5:52 pm
  • Harald

    Just a quick note: the SP PV-8 generator is just as light as the SON delux, at least if you take the 390g stated on Schmidt’s web site and not the 386g that you state. (There is also a 2.4 W version that comes in at only 367g.) I haven’t seen any credible tests comparing the rolling resistance yet. The flange diameter of the SP is, however, is only 46mm. I’ve posted some initial impressions of the hub on my blog.

    December 31, 2011 at 3:06 pm
    • Jan Heine, Editor, Bicycle Quarterly

      The weight we state is an actual measured weight on our precision scale… Like you, I am skeptical of Taiwanese knock-offs, but it’ll be interesting to see actual measurements of resistance, and of long-term durability.
      That Taiwanese companies can make good products – our René Herse cranks are made in Taiwan. However, quality has a price, no matter where you make it. So if something is significantly less expensive, it’s unlikely to offer similar quality.

      December 31, 2011 at 4:27 pm
  • Willem

    The easiest way to save weight on a 650B wheel would be if Schwalbe could be persuaded to produce an xxlight innertube in that size. I use Schwalbe xxlight innertubes in my 26 inch loaded tourer, and they are as robust as other Schwalbe inner tubes. The weight saving is considerable, however: 95 grams instead of 190 grams.
    Saving weight on rims is indeed tricky. I think the only feasible route would be to differentiate more between front and rear rims, and thus optimize the design. For the front rims, the braking surface will wear a bit more, so the rear rims could be relatively lighter here. And 28 spokes is probably enough on anything other than a loaded tourer with front panniers, or a tandem. On the other hand, the load on a rear rim is considerably heavier, so a taller (and asymmetric) profile might be the best way to use the material.in that case.And with 36 spokes. Personally, and with my rather heavier weight, I prefer to err on the safe side.

    January 2, 2012 at 2:02 am
    • Jan Heine, Editor, Bicycle Quarterly

      We have been using Maxxis superlight tubes with Hetre tires with good success. (However, superlight tubes leak air quicker, so you have to top up your tires every other week or so.)
      Different rims for front and rear are an interesting idea.
      Unfortunately, too many people still use their rear brake, and thus wear out rear rims faster than front ones, so a thinner braking surface would not work well. Asymmetric rear rims also may not be a good idea – bicycle wheels are designed for radial, not lateral loads. Offsetting the spokes to one side puts a twisting load on the rim with each wheel revolution. To do it right, you’d have to beef up the rim to take those loads, making it heavier, not lighter. (We never have determined whether the offset rear rims are one of the causes of the many Velocity rims that have cracked around the spoke eyelets.)

      January 2, 2012 at 5:34 am
      • John

        You can also use the magic Eclipse 50 g 26″ tubes in 650B tires. I have had the same set for the last 2500 miles, no punctures.

        January 3, 2012 at 4:51 pm
    • Charlie

      QBP has house brand superlight tubes labeled ’26×1.5-1.75″ ISO 40/47-559/584′. They are listed as 124g vs 152g for the standard version. If your local shop doesn’t stock these, ask them to order TU6652.

      January 2, 2012 at 12:19 pm
  • msrw

    Jan, re hub flange width, if memory serves, I believe that the rear hub flange width on my tandem is around 50 mm or so on a Phil Wood tandem hub. That wheel has undergone aggressive descending and cornering at fairly high speed on rough roads in the mountains and has been perfectly reliable.
    Of course the lateral loads on front and rear wheels aren’t the same, but just curious if Schmidt (or Bicycle Quarterly) has quantified just how much stronger a front wheel with 68 mm flange widths would be over one with 50 mm flange widths, and whether that additional strength is meaningful in road riding.
    Definintely agree that the narrow flange width of the Sondelux looks a bit odd on a standard width fork.

    January 2, 2012 at 3:58 pm
    • Jan Heine, Editor, Bicycle Quarterly

      Wheel strength does not matter when you descend and corner. In those cases, the forces are almost entirely in line with the wheel. That is how even a highly dished 11-speed wheel is perfectly safe during fast descents. When you look at how close the driveside flange is to the centerline of the wheel – it’s much closer than the 25 mm of the standard SON Delux.
      The problem occurs when you have side loads on your wheel. This happens when the wheel is turned sideways, slips and then catches. Imagine riding over wet cobblestones at low speeds. You are on the crest of the stone, the bike pushes forward, and the tire slips off the crest of the cobble. It slides for 4 inches until it gets into the groove, where it stops. The bike continues to push, and the wheel is still pointed sideways. A wheel with narrow flanges is more likely to collapse now than one with wider flanges. Similar situations can occur on gravel roads, etc.
      Overall, it isn’t a big concern, but there is little disadvantage to making the flanges wider. And as mentioned, the 50 mm flange spacing with 100 mm dropout spacing looks odd. We probably could reduce the dropout spacing of most forks to 80 mm with few ill effects (although you’d lose some triangulation in the process)…
      I am not advocating that anybody throw out their standard Delux hubs. (In fact, Schmidt wouldn’t make them that way if there was a problem.) But if you are buying a new hub, the “Wide-Body” will make a stronger and better-looking wheel.

      January 2, 2012 at 4:18 pm
  • Bubba

    I’d say the chances are excellent that the next generator hub I buy will be this one. I’ve never been worried by the strength of the Son Deluxe I run now, but wider is better, of that I’m sure. The minor annoyances of my Son Deluxe are aesthetics and the fact that I had to fabricate a spacer to get my cyclometer pickup close enough to the spoke magnet to register.

    January 3, 2012 at 11:31 am

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