11 Speed Shimano Alfine

2 02 2010

11 Speed Alfine SG-S700

Shimano has shaken up their internal geared hub lineup with a new 11 speed Alfine hub.  I’m super stoked to see the gear range gap close with the Rohloff.  I’ve really enjoyed the Alfine in my Pugsley and the Nexus 8 hubs in my Bike Fridays.  They shift great, are reasonably priced and offer a really low maintenance drivetrain for your bike. The one downside is their gear range was too narrow for some riders.  With the new 11 speed Alfine many more riders will be able to use one of these IGHs.

11 Speed Alfine IGH Specs:

  • gear range 409% vs. 307% for the 8 speed Alfine and 526% for the Rohloff
  • jumps: 2 x 17% and 8 x 13%
  • weight 1.6kg
  • oil bath lubrication
  • trigger shifter
  • only available in silver initially
  • $419USD

So far I haven’t seen a firm release date for this IGH, but it is supposed to be a 2010 product so let’s keep our fingers crossed that we see them in North America in the not too distant future.

11 Speed Trigger Shifter


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46 responses

2 02 2010
Aaron Goss

If this is real, you can bet we will be stocking them!

3 02 2010
Champs

At this price point, and assuming the same rules of abuse apply to this hub as the rest of the line, i.e. no DH riding, it’s hard to think of anybody else doing worse off just carrying a spare mech, chain, and tools on the bike at this weight and price point.

That said, this may be perfect for Ute/Dummy-type bikes with extra-long chain and slightly fussier shifting.

3 02 2010
mikE

Cool!

What I find most interesting is that it is an oil bath lubrication, which is similar to the Rohloff. This should make maintenance easier. The 8 spd alfine is a grease based lubrification and is pretty tough to re-grease.

mikE

3 02 2010
jamesmallon

Shimano brifter, or barcon/downtube-shifter a la the new Sturmey Archer hubs! $450US is pretty spendy. What is the 8? $300? 11 gears and 409%? That’s 25″ to 102″, or 23″ to 94″. The present 8 is about 30″ to 95″. Not sure the bottom/top ends get $150, and another half kg of use.

“Good enough” is a singlespeed. Any other gears are gravy.

3 02 2010
HayesT

This is VERY good news for me. I’d been debating another Alfine 8-speed (not enough range) vs. Rohloff (very high cost) for a steel touring bike. I wonder, could this 11-speed unit be swapped into a bike that comes with the Shimano Alfine 8-speed, i.e. The Civia Bryant belt Alfine?

3 02 2010
Shimano Alfine Internally Geared 11 Speed | Commute by Bike

[...] the fellow, Vik’s, blog [...]

3 02 2010
gareth

I think this is a great development, although we may have to wait. As I understand it Shimano are pitching this product to bike makers for their 2011 ranges, so it might be a while before they are available to retrofit

3 02 2010
Cold, slow and frustrating | Combing my hair....

[...] the cycling web is abuzz with news of a new Shimano Alfine 11 speed hub. Most [...]

3 02 2010
Dwainedibbly

I like it. My wife’s bike has a Nexus-8 Red Band hub. I have an iMotion-9 on my commuter. The Alfine-8 is really popular but has really lousy gear jumps. (There, I said it!) The iMotion-9 has evenly spaced gears, but is 2.4kg. As for prices, Harris has the Alfine-8 for $280, the iMotion-9 is $350-380. The Alfine-11 is $419, suggested. It’ll be interesting to see where the street price lands for this new hub.

I’m really interested is seeing how the oil bath lubrication affects efficiency. I have a feeling that I may be building a couple of new rear wheels next year.

3 02 2010
BaronBicycles Geoff

I’ll definitely be putting this on our donwtown bikes once you can get it in black. I love my Alfine 8, though the brake are lacking a bit for hydros.

4 02 2010
James

another shifter for J-tek to develop!

I’m happy with my 8sp on the commuter / tourer, tis could be interesting for offroad to replace a 2×9 setup though, loads of folks in the UK are using the 8sp for a winter set-up as it’s so mud resistant. The weight penalty still stands in its way, as does the fact that the spread still doesn’t quite manage a 22/36 & 11-34 equivalent, which is becoming common on trail bikes.

definitely a big step in the right direction though, now … how to get 500 gr off this thing and frame mount it?

4 02 2010
thelazyrando

James – what do you mean frame mount it?

I’m happy with the 1.6kg weight. None of my bikes are svelte enough to notice it.

4 02 2010
James

rather than in the hub, the gearbox could be frame mounted with 2 bands transferring drive from crank to g-box to singlespeed rear hub. There are a couple of companies working on this kind of idea (Nicholai is one) but only on big DH rigs atm I think.

4 02 2010
Bow Cycle | Vik’s Picks » 11 Speed Shimano Alfine Hub

[...] More info ad specs here. [...]

5 02 2010
Rich Wood

I note that a couple of posters mention weight penalty. Compared to what? Weight listed is slightly LIGHTER than the current Alfine which according to one poster on the Yahoo Geared Hub Bikes group is 1680 grams. IIRC the Shimano web site does not mention weight at all.

There may be a weight penalty but it should be slight compared to a derailleur drivetrain. You are eliminating two derailleurs, one front shifter and one or two chainrings as well as replacing the rear hub and casette in a normal installation. Also running a lighter chain. I would expect that on anything but a road racing bike with light components or a SS/FG bike the weight penalty will be minimal.

5 02 2010
thelazyrando

Weight isn’t an issue in my mind, but I don’t ride a racing bike. I’d use one of these on any bike I own without a second thought.

5 02 2010
james

RE; the wight Penalty,

If you compare with Shimano XT, even assuming you’re replacing front and rear ratios, which for MTB/touring ratios 409% doesn’t make it, you end up with a balance of around +500gr weight penalty. What bike you ride (and perhaps your state of mind!) will determine whether this is significant for you.

It is interesting that they seem to have shaved weight compared to the 8sp, I wonder if we will see a lighter 8sp model aswell this year?

6 02 2010
Doug D

The real question in my mind is did they add the gears at the bottom end? I would be fine with an IGH but the only one that I can have really low gears on and haul groceries and kids up the hill with is the Rohloff.
Realistically, if I spin out in 8th gear on an Alfine, I can just coast.

6 02 2010
james

the range has been increased from 300 to 400% (rolly is north of 500%), whether you take the difference as extra gears at the low end or at the top end (or somewhere between) is up to you and the cog/chainring you use.

6 02 2010
Vik

Just some thoughts on Alfine gear range:

- with the 8spd of my Pug loaded with 4 panniers on dirt forest service roads in the mtns I was able to ride almost everything as well as pedal at 30kph+. The few times Kurt or I did get off to walk the other guy was not able to pedal any faster than walking pace.

- I recall [although I can't locate my source] that Shimano puts a 1:2 ratio as the minimum between the rear cog and the front ring to protect the hub from excessive torque. So that would put a limit on how low a gear you could get if you wanted to maintain your warranty. Of course on my Pug the rear cog is 21T and the front ring is 32T…well below the permitted size of 42T using the 1:2 ratio. So far no problem, but you takes your chances if you ignore the manufacturer.

15 02 2010
sthomper

Weight listed is slightly LIGHTER than the current Alfine….

11 gears and 409%? That’s 25″ to 102″, or 23″ to 94″. The present 8 is about 30″ to 95″

if this was one a touring bike it would seem maybe to create a more hassle free drivetrain with easier/more flexible shifts under load? 3 more speeds to select form over varying terrain may me desirable over long distances considering some efficiency loss.

15 02 2010
thelazyrando

I could tour on the gear range of an 11 speed Alfine for sure…even off paved roads. The only question is how robust is it compared to a Rohloff??? A question we’ll only be able to answer with a lot of pedal strokes!

17 02 2010
gault

Agreed on your last response: the range is at least adequate for loaded road touring. This new 11 speed IGH offers reason enough for planning a new bike around it – IF – on its eventual arrival in Canada it is even close to the described specs and price. I’ll watch with interest to see how much more Canadians are beat-up on price in spite of near parity between our currency and that of the US.

20 02 2010
Shimano Alfine 11-speed | Road Biking Info

[...] had the market cornered for internally geared hubs with a wide range of gearing. According to the Lazy Randonneur, this new 11-speed Alfine has a gear range of 409%, compared to 307% for the current 8-speed [...]

26 02 2010
Shimano Alfine 11-speed | Bicycle Design

[...] had the market cornered for internally geared hubs with a wide range of gearing. According to the Lazy Randonneur, this new 11-speed Alfine has a gear range of 409%, compared to 307% for the current 8-speed [...]

7 04 2010
Martin Hartley

I have a Fuji Touring frameset which is waiting for this hub. 22 to 90 gear inches is plenty enough for me. The three highest gears I ever use on my current trekking bicycle (converted MTB) 75, 83 and 95 gear inches. However, I am currently debating with myself over whether to get the 11-speed or just use the 8-speed hub with coaster brake on my Raleigh Twenty. The 8 speed would give me 28 to 87 gear inches – not a bad spread, but missing those granny gears I would get with the 11 speed. DECISIONS, DECISIONS!

28 06 2010
Tom

Hi – way late to the party here , but intrigued nonetheless.

I know some of the Nexus hubs can be spaced from like 120-135mm. I wonder if you will be able to do the same with the Alfine 11….

1 07 2010
thelazyrando

Sorry I have no idea about respacing a Alfine 11….maybe ask over at hubstripping?

3 07 2010
Recumbent Bicycle Source

I’m sure Shimano could care less about the Recumbent Community, but this is great news. As Rohloff is already embraced by people who don’t mind spending car money for bikes… but for the rest of us it would be nice to lose the derailleurs which are already problematic with such long chains.

20 07 2010
Fergie348

I’m excited about this for a couple of reasons:

1. Oil bath lubrication. This is much easier to maintain and should provide smooth and relatively maintenance free operation for decades.

2. 409% gear range means not only commute friendly but tour friendly. No longer any need to have separate bikes for those functions.

Assuming that someone will be making STI or Barcon shifters for this setup. Has anyone heard of a drop bar solution for the Alfine 11?

My dream commuter/tourer is close to realizable with this. I still need to figure out my frame options but I would like to eventually have a bike that has:
Alfine 11 drivetrain with disc brakes and a generator ft hub.
Gates belt drive
Steel frame
Fender and rack mounts
Lights.

Fully enclosed and sealed 11 speed drivetrain, disc brakes, fenders and lights. Under 27 lbs unloaded. I’m ready..

6 08 2010
robert

I hope they improved the quality as well. I had three shimano nexus hubs changed in three years. They are not designed to be run outdoors :-)
A couple of weeks in rainy conditions and the hubs were practically eaten by rust from the inside. Pity, because they are easy to use, not so heavy and the price is right. So this time I did not wait for the 11 speed, I’ve chosen the rohloff. I am a touring biker and the 1-2 year lifespan of the shimano hubs bothers me a bit (although I could have a brand new hub every second year and still come out cheaper then with rohloff )

7 08 2010
thelazyrando

@ Robert – I’ve used the bike [Surly Pugsley with Alfine] in the photos below extensively in the snow, slush, road salty winter, in the desert, beach and saltwater ocean, at Burning Man with its fine corrosive dust…I’ve run it with a gear ratio too low to be approved by Shimano and loaded that bike up for a week long offroad tour.

Basically I’ve abused the hell out of it [as has my buddy with the same hub/bike] and we’ve had zero problems.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/vikapproved/sets/72157610461277546/

9 08 2010
Fergie348

The clincher is that the 11 will be lubricated in an oil bath. If the seals are good enough to keep oil in, they should be good enough to keep water out..

11 09 2010
Look ma, no grease « foldable walter

[...] us a bit limited on gearing so we are inclined to wait until later in the year when the Shimano Alfine 11 speed hub comes out before [...]

21 09 2010
2wheeler

Hi Vik

The Alfine was suppose to be released in September. have you heard through the grapevine when they might be released? I want one for my winter commuter.

20 12 2010
scott

Am I missing something with the 11 speed Alfine? The lowest gear on the 8 speed is .53 and it is the same with the 11 speed. The 8 speed high gear is 1.62 and 2.153 for the 11 speed Alfine. On my commuter bike I run a 45 front and 22 back. That gives me all I need on the high end. The Alfine 11 speed will give me 30% more high end that I won’t use with a 45/22 combination.

I wanted more low end for touring (climbing) so that means I need a bigger gear in the back. To keep my high ratio the same as my 8 speed I need a 28 or 29 tooth in the back. But Shimano only sells up to a 24.

It seems to me the extra gears (range) on the 11 speed go wasted since you can not recoup them on the low end by adding a smaller front or larger back.

Who needs a trekking bike with a racing bike high gear?

Or am I missing something?

20 12 2010
thelazyrando

@Scott – On my Surly Pugsley which has an Alfine 8 I run a 21T cog with a 32T ring. I’ve toured fully loaded in the mtns on dirt roads with that setup. It’s not a legal input ratio, but I have had no issues with it after several years of hard use. With the Alfine 11 I could still have more useful higher gears as well as the low gears I want.

16 01 2011
Cormac Eason

My Alfine is dead silent, fitted on a sliding dropout bike (No tensioner) it’s almost eerie to hear nothing over the bumps but the tyres. The shifter isn’t bad, but I’m used to XTR on the mountain bike and its rough by comparison to that. It feels like something is catching the lever occasionally while I’m downshifting, so not the sort of quality I’d expect from any Shimano shifters. The ability to shift 2 gears in either direction is excellent though I’d love to be able to mount the shifter outside the brake lever like XT and XTR shifters can do, so I can leave my hand positioned for 1 finger braking and still change gear.

2nd gear feels really spongy, 1st is also quite spongy, but not as bad. All the other gears are nothing short of amazing – instant pick up of drive, way quicker than a Alfine 8, no feeling of poor efficiency in any of them and quieter than a derailleur while pedalling too. I chose the sprocket ratios so that 1st is a bail out gear and most of the steep climbs I ride can be done in 2nd (Part of the reason the sponginess is annoying as this gear will get used a lot). The 24% gap from 2nd to 1st makes using first as part of the normal range of gears a bit messy, so it’s best left as a bailout gear.

The bad news is the hub started to skip intermittently in 9th gear on the way home from the first cycle I took the hub out on today. I can’t replicate the problem on demand, but have seen it only in 9th gear. The hub makes a cracking noise, the pedals jump forward slightly and then the hub continues to provide drive in 9th as if nothing had happened – the indexing is set correctly as per Shimano’s instructions and there’s nothing broken, bent or damaged as far as I can see. I’d live with the spongy 2nd, but any skipping in a hub costing this much is pretty poor.

An unusual feature of the hub is that the gears from 9th to 11th make a clicking noise when you backpedal. Freewheeling in all gears is silent and backpedalling in 1st to 8th is silent too.

Dimensions of the hub for wheelbuilding (I measured these myself as they’re not published anywhere I know of apart from hubstripping.com, where I’ve posted the same message) are:
Chainline 42 mm with sprocket offset inwards or 47.5 mm with sprocket offset outwards (Depending on the sprocket you get you may need to remove the plastic chain guide to offset the sprocket outwards), Dropout spacing 135 mm, Centre to Left (Disk side) Flange: 29.4 mm, Centre to Right (Drive side) Flange: 43.6 mm, Both Flanges have spoke hole centres at a diameter of: 93 mm, Spoke Hole Diameter: 3 mm.

17 01 2011
thelazyrando

@Cormac – thanks for the feedback – let me know how things progress for you with the Alfine 11…I’m abusing the heck out of my Alfine 8 on the beach here in Baja Mexico…still going strong!

25 01 2011
Dale Christensen

I’ve got a Brodie Once with the Alfine 11 hub and have ridden this hard. While the range is great, I’ve got some concerns about the quality. It seems to be impossible to adjust this thing so it doesn’t slip and click out of gear when you reef on the pedals. No matter how right on the center of the yellow lines you adjust or where you adjust a bit to the right or left of the correct setting, something slips. Some adjustments make it slip in 6, others in 8-9 or 3-4. I’m hoping this is a break in not a break down problem and that I’m not suffering from the earliest pioneers catch the sharpest arrows thing.

Possibly not ready for Prime Time…

dalech@gmail.com

26 01 2011
thelazyrando

@Dale – ya I am holding off until the first run of Alfine 11′s get used and abused so that Shimano can fix any problems. I would make a warranty claim on your so that you are at the top of the que for a replacement should that happen.

26 01 2011
james

@dale. my Alfine 8 has had 2 years’ abuse and skipping gears has been an intermittent problem. The issue is that when the cable ages (sometimes after only a few months depending on the riding conditions) it gets sticky and the return spring in the hub doesn’t pull it back enough. this makes changing down especially inaccurate. the solution has been to change out the cable and housing about every 6 months.

I’m not saying that you definitely have the same problem but if you do it’s likely that it’s worse with 10 gaps than with 7, assuming the total throw is the same then the gaps will be narrower and it’ll be more sensitive to a sticky or stretched cable. swapping out a new cable is cheap-as and may solve your problem entirely

….or not!

27 01 2011
thelazyrando

@James – good tip…the cable on my Alfine 8 is old and definitely getting a bit sticky…no problems so far, but worth doing a complete cable replacement on my Pugsely when I get home.

25 04 2011
Steve Jones

I’m in the process of ordering a Bike Friday Tikit and like a lot of people was looking forward to trying the Alfine 11 but genuine reports are now coming in that there are problems with the shifter, cables and indexing that are resulting in mis-shifts even when the system is correctly set up. Looks like the Nexus 8 premium is more reliable, so it’s either that or pony up for a Rohloff. Reliability wins over those few extra gears for me, especially since they are not at the low end where they need to be, so I’ll probably just get a regular Season Tikit with the Nexus, ride it and enjoy, then save the money for the Rohloff-Lite (that is now in development) and upgrade later.
We all want to think that the latest is the greatest but it seems the Alfine 11 isn’t as good as it’s price tag would suggest.This is like the ten speed mountain bike components that are super expensive but don’t run as smoothly as the eight speed ones.
I bet you could do light touring with a Nexus 8 and just walk up the really steep hills if you have to, then enjoy the coast down and the smooth shifting on the flat…and, well I’ve got twist shifters on my Rohloff equipped bike and I’d like them on the tikit too.
There’s something really enjoyable about using an IGH instead of a bunch of levers and derailleurs that need constant re-adjustment.People who complain about the weight of the hub don’t get it. That only matters if you are carrying the bike. I ride mine and in the case of the Tikit…it rolls!

25 04 2011
thelazyrando

@Steve – I’ve done fully loaded tours with a Nexus 8 – I walked steep dirt climbs a couple times a day. The guy who stayed on his bike didn’t ride much faster than the guy walking so it was no big deal.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/vikapproved/sets/72157620470407905/

I’ve got an Alfine 11 to test here on my desk. Just waiting on figuring out what bike to use it on so I can get the wheel built up.

25 04 2011
Steve

That’s just what I want to hear Vic, and thanks for the link to the photos!
These days I like to keep it simple and after riding with one speed I think 8 is
plenty.
Looks like you guys had a lot of fun MTBing. Hmmmm….One weeks holiday coming up and the weather is perfect so maybe it’s time to give my mountain bike some serious exercise.
Having that Alfine sitting there ‘glowing’ on your desk must be temptation to buy another bike! Would be so nice on a Surly build!!!

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