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.
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.