Bicycle dynamos

First of all, if you want to understand my review criteria and why I review the way I review, have a look in the analysis section:

Direct links to full reviews

For summaries of all reviews see further on this page.

Summaries of reviews

3.1.1 Union: 8601 roller dynamo (bottom bracket dynamo)

Tested: From April 2007 to end of 2007 (when it was worn out).

Very poor generator, will perhaps last one winter.

More details: Union 8601 roller dynamo (bottom bracket dynamo)

3.1.2 Schmidt: SON 28 hub dynamo

Tested: Autumn 2008

Too much vibration in the handlebar, even noticeable with lights off (on asphalt, you won't notice vibrations on poor roads such as tile paths, gravel, and very much worn unmaintened asphalt). Fairly expensive (ca. € 170,- to 220,- depending on colour and rim- or disc brake version).

More details: Schmidt SON 28 hub dynamo

3.1.3 Shimano: DH-3N80 hub dynamo

Tested: From October 2008 to October 2010 (more than 15,000 km, of which at least 5000 km with lights on).

Looks nice, cup and cone bearings. Less vibration in the handlebar than the SON 28. After 2 years having been used in all weather conditions (mostly bad as is usual in the Netherlands :) ) on a bike I use all year round, and that's usually outside, it still runs as if new.

More details: Shimano DH-3N80 hub dynamo

3.1.4 Sanyo: NH-H27 hub dynamo

Tested: From August 2010

Looks nice, sealed cartridge bearings. Vibration in the handlebar at lower speeds than the Shimano DH-3N80 (19-25 km/h instead of ca. 22-28 km/h), for me makes this hub nicer to use. The power output is lower than StVZO approved 3W dynamos which you don't notice with just using it for standard 3W lighting, but it can make a big difference with lighting that extracts more power from the dynamo and for gadgets that use the dynamo as a power source for e.g. USB power output.

More details: Sanyo NH-H27 hub dynamo

3.1.5 SP: Switchable hub PD-7 (previous designations: HB015 & 63D)

Tested: From 8 June 2011 (used regularly up to 2013)

This was the nicest dynamo hub I had tested with regard to vibrations until I tested the PD-8x. It has nearly no vibrations in the handlebar (using the Edelux headlamp as always). The Edelux is the worst headlamp w.r.t. producing vibrations which is why it's the headlamp I always use to test dynamos with (note that the headlamp's electronics is a big factor in causing vibrations from the dynamo hub, see also the section on experiments with LEDs in which I describe my experiences with a modified headlamp (frankenlamp) with and without smoothing capacitor which makes a big difference). It's also nice that this hub doesn't have earth on the axle and it looks nice.

More details: SP switchable hub dynamo PD-7 (=HB015) (this includes information about vibrations from dynamo hubs and how SP considered this in their designs)

3.1.6 SP: Small hubdynamo: PD-8/PV-8 and SD-8/SV-8

Tested: From 12 August 2011 (used regularly up to 2014)

PD-8/PV-8 (3W version): The smallest, lightest and most efficient 3W dynamo hub. It looks nice and has no earth on the axle which is good. The vibrations in the handlebar are a bit stronger than with the PD-7 (HB015), which means the PD-7 (HB015) remained my favourite dynamo hub for some time after testing the PD-8.
SD-8/SV-8 (2.4W/small wheel version comparable to the SONdelux, though really it is more a 1.8W dynamo, not 2.4 as SP says, lower power than the SONdelux): The smallest, lightest and most efficient dynamo hub you can buy. And I feel no vibrations in the handlebar... However, a problem with using such a dynamo in a large wheel (559mm or 622mm rim) is that light only comes on at higher speeds than 5km/h, or after a while at 5km/h. For future use to power USB devices as well as lighting (especially at the same time) the low power output is also a problem. The best option for bikes with small wheels, the only competition could have been the SON-20R but that is no longer made.

More details: SP: Small hubdynamo: PD-8 and SD-8

3.1.7 Sunup: DS generator

Tested: Test sample received on 4 May 2011, tests delayed due to circumstances, started late July 2011.

Doesn't make noise, works only on cassette rear hubs for use with rim brakes, no vibrations, a very nice alternative to a dynamo hub. It's a bit heavy and headlamps give about the same brightness as with a dynamo hub only from ca. 22-25 km/h. The main disadvantage is the low power at low speeds of ca. 5-10 km/h.

More details: Sunup ds generator

By the way, a new version with more power and USB output (8 W total), the Maxidyn, will probably be available in Autumn 2013. See

3.1.8 Acxing: Go go shine dynamo

Tested: 3 March 2012

I already mentioned the Acxing Go go shine dynamo long ago on my Sunup DS review page. For various reasons I decided to test one. Running it made me think of other sidewall dynamos and the problems I had with those: Noise from running on the tyre, this is annoying. Then if there is a slight unevenness in the tyre or if the wheel has a slight sideways deviation in some place, then the dynamo will slip in that place. I haven't run it in the wet yet. Even if it doesn't slip then hub dynamos are so much nicer to use, I wouldn't want to go back to using a sidewall dynamo, despite possible vibrations in the handlebar. It's also a bit limited in range of angles you can mount it at (see the review) which meant I couldn't install it on the rear fork on my main test bike, and this ended my interest...

More details: Acxing: Go go shine dynamo

3.1.9 Shimano: HB-NX70

Tested: 2010-2012.

I used this dynamo for about a year and half, leaving it outside all the time and thus having it exposed to lots of rain all the time, and I found that its seals are quite clearly not as good as those of the DH-3N80. I needed to overhaul the bearings after this time whereas the DH-3N80 has seen as least as much rain and is still perfect... This dynamo in other respects is typical for all mid to high end Shimano dynamos. The higher end dynamos have better seals but if you put your bikes inside when you get home, then any Shimano hub will work well for many years. Yes, the cheapest ones too. Some of the cheaper ones have a low efficiency, but this is something you will not really notice in use (in loss of speed, you may notice it in how strong the vibrations are).

3.1.10 SP PD-8x

Tested: Got it mid January 2014. Finally spoked in and tested since 2-4-2014.

Best ever dynamo hub with regard to vibrations for hubs that provide StVZO power output level in a 622mm wheel (unlike the SD-8 that I tested). It's meant for 15mm axles, but for normal bikes it can be used with a converter that's supplied with the hub. I had no problem with the hub rotating in the fork so far, despite not having ridges on the hub-end. Pricey, but about PV-7/PD-7 level so I suppose it's not that bad. The only thing I don't like is that with its hubs, SP like Schmidt makes it impossible to do bearing service yourself. Supposedly because of tolerances, but is that really so? And what about bike shop tools?

More details: SP PD-8x

3.1.11 Renak Enparlite

Tested: 2016 and 2017. I tested a standard version and an experimental version (2 gears instead of 3, which gives lower power which is an issue with little light at low speed). The version I used in 2016 had an issue with the then standard clutch, which was later changed to a newer clutch, but already it gave information and impetus to the maker on improving the hub... In 2017 I used the standard power output (3 gear version) that was modified with a better clutch, which gives an easier to operate lever. This clutch gave me problems in 2021, and I was told the design had already been changed with another clutch, but I have not tested that.

Besides my experiences, I have a very useful report from Martin Dupont, his dynamo has been in use for several years. From that: Noise from the gearing which could become annoying, efficiency is almost as good as the best dynamo hubs. Auto on/off is impossible with a mechanical on/off switch unless you simply leave the clutch engaged but that negates the advantages of the clutch and gives gearing noise all the time. Laying a long cable to the handlebar for switch on/off operation gives clutter and added weight (still low compared to most dynamo hubs).

More details: Renak Enparlite

3.1.12 Shimano Alfine hub with centre lock (DH-S501)

Tested: 2016-2018.

I used it for quite a while, left it outside most of the time, on a bike with headshok front fork (Cannondale Vintage). I didn't feel any vibrations with this bike (but otherwise it likely performs as the DH-3N80 with a standard steel fork due to Shimano's internal construction, though I haven't tested this), the hub showed no signs of any issues despite being left in the rain often. It looks nice, heavier than the SP hubs but that's not an issue for me. Recommended.

More details: Shimano Alfine DH-S501

3.1.13 Shimano XT hub with centre lock (DH-T8000-3D)

Tested: From July 2017, not that much, then a lot more since Sept. 2018 - Nov 2019.

Works well, I used it in my Cannondale touring bike with headshok fork (with 559mm rims) so far which means the vibrations are not very noticeable as they would be on my older bike with steel fork. I found that vibrations could be felt at about 35+ km/h and sometimes at lower speed, depending on the setting of the front fork (locked out or not) I've not opened it yet, but it should be possible to grease the bearings yourself. So far in use I like it, but I don't like the silver stripe that is milled out from the black anodised shell for no reason other than to have 'a racing stripe'. It detracts from the clean look it would have had, which the DHS-501 does have. This stripe is just for decoration and means that dirt can get stuck there. Not useful, not cool...

Note: 2020-8-11: I heard bearing noise and felt play in the wheel with the T8000. When opening it up I saw on the centre lock side rust from the bearings coming out. I tried to open it further and damaged the hub shell's screwed in part which is fairly weak, it's not a good idea to use a standard spanner here, but instead you need to use Shimano's TL-DH10. Until I get that I can't get at the bearings. All the balls need to be replaced and it needs new grease. This didn't happen with the DH-S501 nor the DH-3N80 so the seals here must be worse. I may try to fix it but I am going to replace this dynamo and I have changed my recommendation to: "Not recommended".

More details: Shimano XT DH-T8000-3D

3.1.14 Spinup F12W-pro spoke mounted front wheel dynamo with light + USB output

Tested: From 2020-6-15.

I used it in my Cannondale touring bike with headshok fork (with 559mm rims) so far. This is a 3 phase generator with gearing mounted on the spokes that gives a lot of power for light+USB at the same time. I can feel slight high frequency vibrations, far less annoying than with most gearless dynamo hubs.

More details: Spinup F12W-pro dynamo with light + USB output

3.1.15 Pedalcell Cadence X, rim generator with high power for USB devices

Tested: From 2020-9-17, experimental version only.

Pedalcell Cadence X, rim generator with high power for USB devices (for mobile phones and USB chargeable lights). My review is of a prototype version that didn't give a high output, some comment I got was that it was an old version they sent me. Why? This didn't make sense as I we talked about tests I would do (and did do, to give them more information) with various devices.
2023-3-21: Apart from a low power prototype I've not seen the final version, they didn't send the me the fix for the mount for Magura rim brakes, and since they haven't replied since 1.5 years, hence I will not recommend it further.

[ (not recommended because of behaviour): Pedalcell Cadencex, 2 x USB output ]

3.1.16 Schmidt: SONdelux hub dynamo

Tested: 2022-6-12 - 2023-2-11

Too much vibration in the handlebar, even noticeable with lights off (on asphalt, you won't notice vibrations on poor roads such as tile paths, gravel, and very much worn unmaintened asphalt). Fairly expensive (ca. € 200,- + depending on colour and rim- or disc brake version).

More details: Schmidt SONdelux hub dynamo

3.1.ii Velogical Sport & Special (& Trekking)

Tested: Since 2014-8-3. Also a few earlier experiences from readers of my site...

Experiences of others: It seems to have the issue of needing very true wheels, and low power at low speeds (but there are several models now with more or less power output). If anyone else has experiences they would like to share, send me an email...

My experiences: Works flawlessly so far, still need to test on a not so true wheel and in snow... Build quality and support are excellent, incomparable with other sidewall dynamos. The only downside so far is noise, as with all sidewall dynamos...

More details: Velogical Sport & Special (& Trekking)

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