One-Year Review: Shimano DH-3N80 Dynohub

Eventually, no matter how diligent you are about charging your lights or batteries, you’ll experience every after-dark rider’s nightmare–a dead light.  And when that happens one too many times, you’ll start looking for a more reliable alternative.  For me, that alternative turned out to be Shimano’s DH-3N80 dynohub.

For several years, the gold standard in dynohubs has been the German-made SON (aka, Schmidt’s Original Nabendynamo).  Its low drag and light weight made it the choice of randonneurs and gear heads worldwide.  The cost, however, put it out of the reach of many riders.  Shimano’s introduction of their 3N7X and 3N80 units made quality dynohubs affordable for the average or thrifty rider.

Last fall I had Universal Cycles build up a wheel using a 3N80 dynohub and Velocity Dyad rim.  With the exception of the hub, this wheel was identical to my normal front wheel.  This was done purposely to allow for quick swapping of wheels without having to readjust the front brake.  The new wheel would power a 40-LUX Lumotec IQ Cyo R headlight.

GRAVELBIKE.com gravel bike shimano dynahub DH-3N80

When the new wheel arrived, I gave it a quick spin, and was immediately freaked out by the “notchy” feel of the hub. Once I learned that this was entirely normal, I installed the wheel and connected the wiring (an absurdly simple process).  A flick of the Lumotec’s switch confirmed that everything was working correctly.

In the first few months of use, I would swap out the dynohub-equipped wheel with my original wheel.  I could detect the minor weight difference when the wheels were off the bike, but once mounted, I honestly didn’t notice the difference (I used the same tire/tube on both rims, BTW).  In fact, the only difference that I did notice was a very slight vibration that would occur at certain speeds when the light was switched on.

As the title of this post indicates, I’ve been using the dynohub for the past year.  And during that time, the hub has performed flawlessly for thousands of miles.  It’s withstood rain, snow, and even off-road use (loaded with front panniers) without so much as a hiccup.  I turn a switch, and my light comes on, each and every time.  All without charging or swapping batteries.

11 thoughts on “One-Year Review: Shimano DH-3N80 Dynohub

  1. I’ve got an Alfine dynohub, roughly 1 year old (I don’t know how it compares to the 3N80).

    It has worked wonderfully well.

    It sure is nice to have lights — headlight and taillight on my rig — everytime, all the time.

    I”m the only dynohub rider I know, and that surprises me. Work great.

    Anyone who commutes regularly in the dark should consider building up a dynohub. You won’t regret it.

  2. Great info. I just bought a Novara Safari and have been thinking of installing a dyno-hub.

    Now I know I will.

    Thanks,

    Paul

  3. Just found your site. Nice subjects.

    This review cements it for me. My next wheelset will include a dynohub of some sort and lighting to match. Tired of sweating out battery life on multiple day (and subsequent nights) riding.

    Hear my inner rando roar!

  4. Pingback: Dyn-O-Mite | GRAVELBIKE.com

  5. I am considering this hub over the SON28 , primarily because of affordability. You are now 2+ years into the hub. Are you still happy with the hub? How many miles have you put on the hub before maintenance?

    • I sold the bike this past spring, so I’m no longer using that hub. It was going strong when I sold the bike, and I recently purchased another Shimano dynohub. Although the new hub hasn’t been ridden much, I don’t anticipate any issues. Finding a dynamo-powered headlight that’s on par with the Philips SafeRide battery light has been the biggest challenge.

      • That you have another Shimano dyanamo hub is a recommendation.

        Lights are an interesting issue. I may stop by Peter White’s shop to see them in action. I have a good idea of the light from a 600 lumen Nite Rider but can’t relate that to 25 or 40 or whatever lux, which seems to be the units for European generator lights.

        • I’m really curious about the B&M Luxos headlight. It’s supposed to be on par with the Philips SafeRide (but with a better/stronger bracket).

      • Read your article on the Phillips light all looked fine until I saw the price. Can’t see how they can justify $200+ for a battery headlight, I’d want something built for NASA for that price! :)

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