Bicycle hub dynamos are a convenient and durable way to power accessories like lights and computers. Hub dynamos are small electrical generators housed within the hub that generate electricity through the spinning of the wheel. Multiple high quality options are available for hub dynamos, and most retailers will build the whole wheel if that's what you want. Most bicycle stores will charge a minimal fee for installation and wiring of the dynamo to the light or lights that it will power.
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SON generator hubs, short for Schmidt Original Nabendynamo, are considered the best dynamo hubs made today. The German brand has consistently tested as the most efficient, most powerful, and least resistant generator on the market. As the most efficient, SON hubs will provide the most light at lower speeds, and having the lowest resistance, the wheel will be the easiest to spin. They are also probably the lightest and most durable hubs. They are, however, rather expensive.
Shimano Dynamo Hubs
Shimano, the largest bicycle parts manufacturer in the world, also makes several high quality hubs. Their higher end hubs are very good, but not quite as efficient as the SON. They are, however, considerably less expensive and easier to find in the United States. Shimano also offers a number of options, including quick release models and disc brake models.
Sturmey Archer pioneered the dynamo hub in the 1930s and controlled the market until the 1980s. Its hubs, however, were large and heavy and not particularly efficient. Sturmey Archer has recently come out with newly designed generator hub with a drum brake. This hub doesn't really compete with the SON in terms of quality, but the drum brake is a durable all weather braking option that appeals to those who ride in poor weather where rim brakes tend to perform poorly. This is also an inexpensive option compared to the Shimano and SON hubs.
SRAM has recently come out with a hub called the i-Light that competes with the SRAM in terms of efficiency. This hub is available in both disc and rim brake options, and weighs slightly more than the SON hubs. As a relatively new product and company this product hasn't gained much of a reputation, but at a significantly lower price point than the SON and Shimano offerings, it's positioned to compete.
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