For want of a lockring…

The Portland’s new wheels are all built. But we need a lockring for the front brake rotor. So I can’t pick them up until after work on Monday. Drat!

Meanwhile, here are all the drooly particulars.

Front dynamo hub

Shimano Alfine Dynamo Hub in black
Shimano Alfine Dynamo Hub in black.

I chose the Shimano Alfine dynamo hub for the front. This will power the lights. It is what needs the lockring for Shimano’s proprietary centerlock disk rotor mounting system.

I simply could not afford the Schmidt SON dynamo hub. The Schmidt is supposed to have a little less rolling resistance, and be a few percent more efficient. The electrical specs are all set by German law, so there’s no difference in output between it and the Alfine. The Alfine is Shimano’s most expensive dynamo hub, yet it’s about a third of the price of the Schmidt.

Within Shimano’s line, there are several choices. Word is that most of them use the same internals, so it’s simply a matter of choosing your brake type, axle style, color and price point. The Alfine can be used with disc brakes or traditional brakes, and it comes in black. General consensus is that road salt is less likely to ruin the finish of the black. Plus the rear hub is black, so it had to match.

Rear road disk hub

Velocity Road Rear Disc Hub for Shimano
Velocity Road Rear Disc Hub for Shimano (also available for Campy).

Finding a rear hub was challenge. The Portland uses standard 130mm road spacing between the rear dropouts.

Most disc hubs are made for mountain bike spacing, or 135mm. Aluminum doesn’t bend like steel, so cold-setting (spreading) the frame to 135mm is not an option. And I didn’t want to have to deal with any chainline issues that might be involved.

The only, real, affordable 130mm road disk hub we could find is from Velocity. And even so, it costs the same as the front dyno hub. Until I have a few miles with it, there’s not much to say about it.

Except that the hub page on Velocity’s web site is the easiest place to see the part of the disc brake weight penalty due to heavier hubs. Compare the weights of the various front and rear rim brake hubs with their disc brake counterparts.


Avid G3 Centerlock
Avid G3 ISO
Avid G3 Cleansweep rotor comes in Centerlock (top) and ISO (bottom) mountings.

I thought rotors would be a special challenge. First, for winter use I want stainless-steel. Second, I wanted the rotors to match, despite one being Shimano centerlock and the other being standard ISO six-bolt. And I wanted to avoid using a Centerlock-to-ISO adaptor if I could.

It seems that Avid, makers of the very same BB7 disk brakes on the Portland, make a stainless-steel rotor that comes in Centerlock or ISO. They charge dearly for the things—over twice what I paid for the Delta stainless-steel rotors on my current winter wheelset. But despite different mounting systems, the rotors will match.


There are only two real choices in disc-specific hoops. Either the Mavic A317 Disc, or the Velocity VXC. The Mavic comes in only black or silver, and weighs more than the Velocity. And I’ve been pleased with the Velocity rims on Yellow Bike. They seem to hit the sweet spot between lightness and strength.

Velocity Spangled Silver
Velocity hoop in Spangled Silver.

The hardest part of buying Velocity rims is choosing a color. The Portland is burnt orange metallic. Rims in pink, yellow, blue, red, gold, purple or Celeste, just wouldn’t work. What I really wanted, titanium grey, isn’t offered on the VXC. That left black, white or silver. I wasn’t enthused over any of those either.

In a call to Velocity we learned that Spangled Silver is available in the 700C size, although it’s not listed on the web site. Depending on if you look at the USA or Australian web sites, Spangled Silver could be sort of a silver metal flake over black, or a black sputtering on silver. Either way, it would be unique and will probably hide the salt better than any other choice. So Spangled Silver it is.


There was no question in my mind. Spokes would be DT Swiss Competition—double-butted, stainless-steel. I can never remember the model name, Competition, so I just specified 14/15 (2.0mm/1.8mm for you metric folks).

With the black hubs and black background of the hoops, black spokes would probably look better, but I chose silver anyway. I’ve learned with the Portland that nobody stocks black spokes—even dealers who sell tons of bikes with black spokes. Every time I broke a spoke, I got a silver replacement. It looks silly.

Yes, I’m going 32-spokes instead of 24, and standard spacing instead of paired, and 3-cross instead of 2—all things that should pretty much eliminate spoke breakage. But I’m never going through the “we only stock silver” thing again. So the spokes are silver. Full stop.

Oh, and brass nipples for strength and corrosion resistance.

In total

I don’t know yet, but I’m hoping the rear wheel will weigh less than the current ones. I really, really want a lighter wheel in back. That’s the one I spin. I know it’ll never come close to Yellow Bike as far as “spinability”, but I’m hoping for better than I have.

When I pick them up Monday, I’ll have them weighed.

And shortly after, I’ll report back, with pics.

3 Responses to “For want of a lockring…”

  1. jodycb Says:

    I keep contemplating the hub powered light system. I guess it’s price that holds me back a bit & that I feel like my bike isn’t fancy enough for such nice accessories. Are you pretty happy with this? Have you found any drawbacks?

  2. brucew Says:

    Bear in mind I’ve been using this for only a week as of this writing. I’ve done no night riding other than commuting this past week, so my experience is far from complete.

    That said, I like the hub-driven lighting system a lot. A friend has dynamo hubs on two of his bikes and likes them, but they’re the older lights with halogen bulbs. I found them anemic at best.

    The Edelux is plenty bright. The hub and light start producing usable light at around 6 or 7 MPH (That’s a guess—it’s hard to read my cyclometer at night.) It seems to get brighter and brighter up to around 17 or 18 MPH.

    What I like best about the Edelux is the very tightly focused beam spread. It projects a rectangular box of light on to the pavement in front of me with very, very little spill to the sides or above into the trees.

    There’s so little spill, in fact, that I would not recommend the Edelux as one’s sole headlight. You need some light shooting out to the sides for cars approaching from the sides (driveways, side streets, etc) to see you.

    Where the light really shines, is runtime. As long as I keep pedaling, I have light. (And the standlight keeps them lit, albeit at reduced brightness, for a few minutes after stopping.) Runtime is not normally an issue with my commutes, unless I lose track and don’t keep my battery lights charged. It’s happened.

    Where I’m looking forward to it is on the TNUA rides. The rides are two to two-and-a-half hours long, plus my ride to the ride and then home again. This exceeds the two hour runtime of my battery lights on high, and due to my night blindness, high is the only useful setting for me.

    There are two main drawbacks. First is cost. The hub I bought is $140. The Edelux, the mount for it, the B&M taillight and the wiring ran roughly $250 at Peter White Cycles. And then you have to have the hub built into a wheel. You can buy a lot of battery lights for the same money.

    There are less expensive dyno headlights too. Peter White has more choices than you can shake a stick at.

    Second is that the light and wiring are attached to the bike. If all your bikes use the same tire size and brakes, you could conceivably move a dynohub wheel from one bike to another. I can’t since the Portland uses disk brakes and Yellow Bike uses rim brakes. Plus the Portland’s 28mm tires (and 38mm studded snow tires) won’t fit on Yellow bike.

    Despite this, I went with the dynohub for two reasons: I dislike proprietary batteries and chargers. I can’t tell you how many devices I’ve had in the past 25 or 30 years where a bad battery or a charger that’s difficult or expensive to replace, has rendered a device useless. I’m tired of the waste.

    Second, bike lighting technology is advancing at a rapid rate. Yet, the one thing that’s remained the same for years and years is the dyno hub. We’re just powering better lights with them now. I’m betting that will continue to be the case. Better still, there’s a blossoming of devices that can be powered by a standard dyno hub.

  3. jodycb Says:

    Thanks for the update. I agree with the proprietary batteries and chargers thing. I probably will end up getting a dynohub in a year or two when I can afford to upgrade to a bike that costs more than the hub. It just feels disproportionate to me to put $300+ into one part of a bike I paid $300 for.