It’s been over a year since I started running an Alfine 11 IGH. First off in my On One Scandal 29er MTB and now in my Surly Krampus. Shimano wants you to do an oil change after the first 1000kms and every year or 5000kms after that. I was putting off my first oil change since I hadn’t acquired the supplies I needed and I know oil change intervals are conservative.
On my last tour I made a poor decision to ride across a washed out trail which submerged my Alfine 11 at least partially. IGH seals are not designed to keep water out when the hub goes under so I assumed I had at least a little water in the hub. While I might push the limits of bike maintenance sometimes I also know when I am fooling with an expensive repair. Leaving water inside an IGH for any length of time can lead to a hub failure that could necessitate a total factory rebuild.
So I got my lazy ass in gear and figured out an oil change plan. Since I own a couple Rohloffs I have used several of that brand’s oil change kits. I kept all the old parts for re-use and they conveniently fit my Alfine 11. Stocking two separate sets of expensive IGH maintenance supplies seemed like too much of a PITA. So I decided to stick with Rohloff products.
The Fairfield Bicycle Shop kindly sold me 300ml of bulk Rohloff cleaning solution and Rohloff hub oil. You need 25ml of each fluid for an oil change so I’m good for 12 IGH services. That’s a lot of years of IGH maintenance.
Just for the IGH Geeks here is why Rohloff says you should use their oil:
“The SPEEDHUB requires a pressure resistant oil with the correct viscosity so as to ensure this works over a vast temperature range (making the SPEEDHUB suitable in all climates) whilst not increasing friction/decreasing transmission efficiency or escaping under the special seals. For this reason we insist that only original Rohloff oils be used.
It is incredibly important that the oil does not react with the hard-nylon components within the gear-unit. Our early tests proved that various different oils reacted with hard-nylon components within the gear-unit. These components would sometimes swell and increase friction to the point where the SPEEDHUB failed to operate correctly. The sheer number of different percentages and types of additives used in oils is so vast, that we were forced to produce our own oil so that we can safely offer and uphold a warranty on our products.
The use of non-original oils is easy to detect after opening a SPEEDHUB transmission and in every service case where this is apparent, we are unable to offer warranty repairs.”
Now it would be legitimate to ask why a Rohloff product would be good for a Shimano IGH? I don’t know that it is for sure, but I’m willing to take the chance that an oil safe for a Rohloff is safe for a Shimano hub. If something bad happens I’ll let you know!
BTW – the Rohloff syringe and injection tube fitting work on the Alfine 11 perfectly.
Here is my Alfine 11 oil change process:
- clean outside of hub shell
- open hub via oil plug
- inject 25 ml of Rohloff cleaning solution
- pedal hub through all gear combos for 5 mins
- let drain for 30 mins
- suck out any remaining cleaning fluid and old oil with syringe
- inject 25 ml of Rohloff hub oil
- seal up Alfine and ride
- dispose of dirty oil/cleaning fluid responsibly
The oil change went without a hitch and took about 45 mins including the 30 mins of draining time for the old oil.
Tip – there is a tiny o-ring on the Alfine 11 oil plug. Don’t lose it!
Here is what you need for an Alfine 11 oil change:
- Rohloff 25 ml cleaning solution & 25 ml Rohloff oil
- or 50 ml Shimano hub oil
- syringe with injection tube and hub fitting
- 3 mm allen key
- paper towels
- ziplock bag to collect dirty oil
- electrical tape to attach ziplock to tube while it drains
- 2 cold beers