Author Topic: Biking, internal hub (Shimano alfine)  (Read 580 times)

nereo

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Biking, internal hub (Shimano alfine)
« on: June 14, 2020, 03:40:18 PM »
Whatís your take on internal hubs, specifically the Shinano Alfine 500 (8 speed cassette)

Asking because until recently I only tangentially was aware they evenexisted and now Iím considering a bike thatís got them (Craigís list). Wondering about performance, longevity and Ease of maintenance. This would be for my all-around commuter bike on surface streets and very occasional packed dirt, gravel. Current (and longtime) ride has tiagra groupset, and Iíve learned How to service it all myself.

FWIW it also comes with the Alfine hydraulic breaks, which I really want for their increased stopping power and less adjusting.

@waltworks @GuitarStv

mspym

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Re: Biking, internal hub (Shimano alfine)
« Reply #1 on: June 14, 2020, 08:22:39 PM »
That is the internal hub I had put on my bike when I converted it from a road bike to more of a porteur-style commuter. It's great! My 8 gears cover the range that my 3-front, 9-back chain gears covered, and much easier to change gears. It's been 3 years so far and no maintenance has been required.

GuitarStv

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Re: Biking, internal hub (Shimano alfine)
« Reply #2 on: June 14, 2020, 08:36:44 PM »
Hydraulic disc brakes are pretty top shelf.


There are pros and cons to IGHs. 

- They're heavier
- They're more expensive
- You won't have as many gears as typical derailleur systems
- They usually don't have as much gear range so won't have as easy or as hard a gear to shift into.  With a regular derailleur you can always just swap out the cassette to change gearing ratios.  Can't do that with an IGH.
- They're less efficient because of their design, (the internal gears aren't as efficient as the open/bigger derailleur gears) so you have to pedal a bit harder to go as far and as fast as a regular derailleur system
- It might be trickier to change a flat tire because you've got to worry a bit about re-tensioning the chain afterwards with an IGH.


- There is much less regular maintenance (you just need to change the oil in your hub every 5-6000 kms and oil the chain) and there's definitely less worry about riding in rain and gritty stuff as the whole shifting system is covered and kept out of the water.
- Because you don't need to dish the rear wheel as much when building one up, you should get stronger rear wheels with them.
- Chains should last a bit longer because the chain is never being ridden at an angle (never need to worry about chainline/cross chaining)
- You can shift gears while stopped at a light.


The only big concern I'd have with the IGH on a commuter bike is the gearing range . . . and that's probably only a problem if you're in a really hilly area.  If that's not an issue it can make a great 'less maintenance' bike (if really want gearing rather than the cheaper and simpler single speed/fixie option).  Performance as far as actual shifting should be on par with a well maintained derailleur system.  Performance as far as efficiency will be worse than a regular derailleur though, so don't expect to be racing with it . . . and the lack of gearing options might be less than ideal (you won't be able to always find the perfect gear to maintain a particular cadence) if you want to spend long hours in the saddle.

The_Big_H

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Re: Biking, internal hub (Shimano alfine)
« Reply #3 on: June 14, 2020, 09:10:45 PM »
I liken IGH vs Derailleur as automatic vs manual:
the inside of an IGH is planet and sun gears, pawls and clutches, bathed in oil, not unlike an automatic transmission.
Derailleurs are harder to use because you have to be pedaling and plan ahead what gear you want to be in (especially when nearing a stop).
IGH: select a gear and that's it
IGH is a lot a lot easier to clean and less likely to be damaged.  With an IGH you can install a full chain case and basically have nothing exposed to the elements in your drive train (think dutch city bikes, which even have roller or coaster brakes to complete the low-maintenance / sealed away design)
Derailleurs are more efficient and lighter (like a manual, If you know what you are doing)

However, here is where IGH really starts to break down:
derailleurs are a lot easier to work on, easy enough to be done at home with simple tools.  For DIY Mustachian types, this is very appealing. 
But if you DONT want to work on your bike, any bike shop in the world can fix a derailleur problem, and for very little.
IGH are much more expensive to start with
IGH do in fact wear out, and when they do often the repair is not worth it (only some bike shops CAN work on them).  You can wear out an IGH faster by shifting while pedaling
When your IGH does fail or have problems, not only is it more $ to fix but consider the hub is part of your wheel, so new IGH = rebuild the wheel = more $$$;   Fixing or replacing a derailleur or cassette does not involve rebuilding your wheel.  (perhaps in Europe where IGH are a lot more popular this is less a problem, but in the USA derailleurs rule supreme)
IGH requires horizontal dropouts (because you must use the position of the wheel to tension the chain) which means no quick releases, which means getting your rear tire off and back on a PITA to fix a flat.  Derailleurs can use simple vertical dropouts with QR so popping the tire off and on to fix a flat is easy.
You can take one look at a derailleur and determine its condition.  An IGH can hide serious problems

Personally, if I was to use an IGH it would be because I was building the ultimate "dont have to think about it" town bike, think 10-12mph / 10-12 miles max per day
1) The most basic of 3 speed (pick a chainring that puts the gears where you want them for your terrain)
2) full chain case
3) either the most basic of rim brakes, or a coaster back / roller front
4) tannus airless tires (yes, they are slow, and rough, but remember we are talking 10mph / 10 miles max or some sort of bombproof tire (Schwalbe marathon plus) and or tire armor (tannus armor)
5) heavy steel step through frame with rear rack, panniers
6) upright swept back handlebars
7) flat pedals.

Basically, an omafiets!
« Last Edit: June 14, 2020, 09:15:33 PM by The_Big_H »

nereo

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Re: Biking, internal hub (Shimano alfine)
« Reply #4 on: June 15, 2020, 08:41:42 AM »
Thanks for the input.  Exactly what I was hoping for.

It seems like the IGH could work for my purposes.  I'm keeping my 'long-ride/fast' road bike (a CAAD5 with shimano 105 that I've had for well over a decade); this one is to replace my daily commuter and run-about that is falling apart on me from 8+ years of riding through rain/salt/grime to get to/from school & work..  I'm not going terribly far (1-3 mile trips are the norm) and it comes with fenders, a pannier and Schwalbe marathon tires, which is how I want it.  Less worried about finding the exact gearing for maximum efficiency/velocity because this bike wouldn't be about maximum speed.  We have some hills but nothing severe.  The majority of the terrain is pretty flat here (grades of <2%).

The changing of a tire gives me pause, but hopefully it won't be too tough.  I mean, I replaced my rear-derailleur and shifters so I have some familiarity with bike maintenence and repair.

GuitarStv

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Re: Biking, internal hub (Shimano alfine)
« Reply #5 on: June 15, 2020, 09:42:34 AM »
If they're marathons, you probably don't have to worry about changing the tires.  They may well outlast the rims.  :P

dogboyslim

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Re: Biking, internal hub (Shimano alfine)
« Reply #6 on: June 15, 2020, 09:56:12 AM »
Thanks for the input.  Exactly what I was hoping for.

It seems like the IGH could work for my purposes.  I'm keeping my 'long-ride/fast' road bike (a CAAD5 with shimano 105 that I've had for well over a decade); this one is to replace my daily commuter and run-about that is falling apart on me from 8+ years of riding through rain/salt/grime to get to/from school & work..  I'm not going terribly far (1-3 mile trips are the norm) and it comes with fenders, a pannier and Schwalbe marathon tires, which is how I want it.  Less worried about finding the exact gearing for maximum efficiency/velocity because this bike wouldn't be about maximum speed.  We have some hills but nothing severe.  The majority of the terrain is pretty flat here (grades of <2%).

The changing of a tire gives me pause, but hopefully it won't be too tough.  I mean, I replaced my rear-derailleur and shifters so I have some familiarity with bike maintenence and repair.

You usually don't have to change the tire with a flat.  I had a breezer bike with the alphine 8with fenders, and a full chaincase.  Took me 10 minutes to get the wheel off, then another 20 to get it back on and aligned.  I had 4 flats on that bike (riding through a construction zone to get to work).  All of them were pin-hole flats.    Unseat the rim while still on the bike, pull the tube out the side, find the hole, patch it, stuff it back on the rim, reseat the bead, pump and away you go.  To find the hole, I used a cotton swab run on the inside of the tire, almost always found the problem.  I have 2 points here.  1, avoid riding through construction zones if you can, the staples and other little sharp things do bad things to tires.  2, learn to patch a tube if you ride these types of bikes, and you won't be trying to remove a wheel in the field.  The gearing on the 8spd was fine for most conditions, but if you have steep hills, you will probably struggle more than you would with the expanded gearing on a derailleur bike.  I rode mine through several winters with almost no maintenance, including the chain in the midwest with salted roads.  There are certainly advantages to the IGH and enclosed chaincase, but as mentioned by GuitarStv, a few disadvantages too.

All the above stated, on my derailleur bikes, I just swap for a new tube because it is faster.

The_Big_H

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Re: Biking, internal hub (Shimano alfine)
« Reply #7 on: June 17, 2020, 07:26:56 PM »
Thanks for the input.  Exactly what I was hoping for.

It seems like the IGH could work for my purposes.  I'm keeping my 'long-ride/fast' road bike (a CAAD5 with shimano 105 that I've had for well over a decade); this one is to replace my daily commuter and run-about that is falling apart on me from 8+ years of riding through rain/salt/grime to get to/from school & work..  I'm not going terribly far (1-3 mile trips are the norm) and it comes with fenders, a pannier and Schwalbe marathon tires, which is how I want it.  Less worried about finding the exact gearing for maximum efficiency/velocity because this bike wouldn't be about maximum speed.  We have some hills but nothing severe.  The majority of the terrain is pretty flat here (grades of <2%).

The changing of a tire gives me pause, but hopefully it won't be too tough.  I mean, I replaced my rear-derailleur and shifters so I have some familiarity with bike maintenence and repair.

You usually don't have to change the tire with a flat.  I had a breezer bike with the alphine 8with fenders, and a full chaincase.  Took me 10 minutes to get the wheel off, then another 20 to get it back on and aligned.  I had 4 flats on that bike (riding through a construction zone to get to work).  All of them were pin-hole flats.    Unseat the rim while still on the bike, pull the tube out the side, find the hole, patch it, stuff it back on the rim, reseat the bead, pump and away you go.  To find the hole, I used a cotton swab run on the inside of the tire, almost always found the problem.  I have 2 points here.  1, avoid riding through construction zones if you can, the staples and other little sharp things do bad things to tires.  2, learn to patch a tube if you ride these types of bikes, and you won't be trying to remove a wheel in the field.  The gearing on the 8spd was fine for most conditions, but if you have steep hills, you will probably struggle more than you would with the expanded gearing on a derailleur bike.  I rode mine through several winters with almost no maintenance, including the chain in the midwest with salted roads.  There are certainly advantages to the IGH and enclosed chaincase, but as mentioned by GuitarStv, a few disadvantages too.

All the above stated, on my derailleur bikes, I just swap for a new tube because it is faster.

How about putting slime in your tubes that ought to seal the tiny pin hole punctures?

Ive heard of people doubling up.  a puncture resistant tire + slime in the tubes.  Or those tannus armor inserts

Also, although they are sacrilege in the bike world, airless tires for a short distance bike might be an option...  test one out by riding a bikeshare they are almost all airless

nereo

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Re: Biking, internal hub (Shimano alfine)
« Reply #8 on: June 18, 2020, 04:18:42 AM »
My understanding is that slime only works for a short period to seal pinhole punctures. In other words, it wonít make a tire last any longer if applied when it is brand new. Is that not true?

FINate

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Re: Biking, internal hub (Shimano alfine)
« Reply #9 on: June 18, 2020, 05:11:18 AM »
My understanding is that slime only works for a short period to seal pinhole punctures. In other words, it wonít make a tire last any longer if applied when it is brand new. Is that not true?

I run Schwalbe Big Bens on my cargo bike. Field repairing a flat on a large cargo bike is no fun - I did it once, about a week after getting the bike. After that I added a few ounces of Stan's NoTubes tire sealant to each tube (already had the stuff on hand since I run tubeless on my MTB). 4000 miles later and not a single flat. I know it works because I replace the tubes every year or so, and I can see numerous places where a little bit of the sealant has come out and the tube is stuck to the tire. Often bits of stables are still protruding into the interior of the tire even though the staple has long worn off on the outside. After pulling out the stuck tube and run my hands along the inside of the tire to find and remove all the sharps, install a new tube, then add more sealant.

So, not sure if slime works the same way, but I've had great results with Stan's.

nereo

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Re: Biking, internal hub (Shimano alfine)
« Reply #10 on: June 18, 2020, 06:48:02 AM »
My understanding is that slime only works for a short period to seal pinhole punctures. In other words, it wonít make a tire last any longer if applied when it is brand new. Is that not true?

I run Schwalbe Big Bens on my cargo bike. Field repairing a flat on a large cargo bike is no fun - I did it once, about a week after getting the bike. After that I added a few ounces of Stan's NoTubes tire sealant to each tube (already had the stuff on hand since I run tubeless on my MTB). 4000 miles later and not a single flat. I know it works because I replace the tubes every year or so, and I can see numerous places where a little bit of the sealant has come out and the tube is stuck to the tire. Often bits of stables are still protruding into the interior of the tire even though the staple has long worn off on the outside. After pulling out the stuck tube and run my hands along the inside of the tire to find and remove all the sharps, install a new tube, then add more sealant.

So, not sure if slime works the same way, but I've had great results with Stan's.

Good to know.  A bike mechanic once told me that slime will solidify within a day (actually a lot less) of being injected inside your tube, so it won't do anything to plug leaks that occur weeks or months later.
Maybe that's true, maybe not.  Like a lot of stuff people have their beliefs but it's based largely on anecdotal evidence and conjecture. 


GuitarStv

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Re: Biking, internal hub (Shimano alfine)
« Reply #11 on: June 18, 2020, 07:56:36 AM »
Do you guys really get that many punctures though?

On the road I find myself averaging one every six to eight thousand kilometres with pretty non-flat proof tires (Continental GP4000) on my summer bike.  On my winter bike with cheap, heavy, flat-proof Continental Tour Ride tires that I change every four or five years (the rubber starts to get discoloured and the tread begins to wear out so they don't grip the snow/slush as well) I've never flatted.

This is probably very location dependent . . . but I do a fair amount of cycling through busy city streets as well as rural farm country, including some very badly paved and dirt roads.  Glass on the road, sharp chips of rock, little metal spikey bits . . . none of these are unusual to run across.  I'm careful to make sure my rim tape is on correctly when changing tires and that I fill my tires to the right pressure before every ride, but that's it.

nereo

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Re: Biking, internal hub (Shimano alfine)
« Reply #12 on: June 18, 2020, 09:01:36 AM »
Call it Murphy's Law, but the only time I seem to get flats is when I'm on my longer rides way out of town on my dedicated road bike.  Yeah, I know the tires are skinnier and I run Gatorskins on my commuter... but I've yet to get a single puncture on my commuter despite covering way more miles overall even when I do lots of things that might lead to punctures, like going through construction zones and on crushed-gravel paths where broken beerbottles are not infrequent, etc.

So I always carry a spare tube and leavers and a pump when i ride my road bike, but honestly i rarely bother with my commuter. I'm sure it'll bite me in the ass at some point, but it's 8 years or near-daily use and counting...

FINate

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Re: Biking, internal hub (Shimano alfine)
« Reply #13 on: June 18, 2020, 09:45:34 AM »
Do you guys really get that many punctures though?

Each sealant protected tube has 2-3 punctures when I replace it ~annually. So 4-6 flats per year. But I'm often hauling ~400 lbs of flesh and gear and our roads are crap. Rainy season is 2-3 months with no rain the rest of the year, and our city never sweeps the streets, so debris builds up.

The_Big_H

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Re: Biking, internal hub (Shimano alfine)
« Reply #14 on: June 18, 2020, 06:31:05 PM »
This forum could use a dedicated bike sub forum.

Itís so pivotal to the MMM movement I would love to see what people do for bikes.

Especially as this crowd would be more commuter/utility based than sport/leisure.