Inspecting my Shimano Alfine 8 IGH…

12 02 2013
My Alfine 8...4yrs old and never maintained...

My Alfine 8 IGH…4yrs old and never maintained…

With some new Surly Rolling Darryl rims ready to be built up for my Pugsley I couldn’t put off inspecting my Alfine 8 IGH any longer. I bought it new over 4yrs ago and have never opened it up. To be honest I was a little worried what I would find inside and I was prepared to buy a new hub rather then spend the $$ building up a wheel set with compromised parts

A filthy Pugsley ready for some love after 9000kms on the back of my truck...

A filthy Pugsley ready for some love after 9000kms on the back of my truck…

Here is an outline of what my Alfine 8 has been through:

  • 6 months on the beach in Baja
  • 2 Canadian winters
  • bikepacking
  • winter mountain biking on Vancouver Island
  • 1 trip to burning man
  • 5 chains
  • 1 set of trashed Phil Woods BB bearings
Disc side of Alfine...

Disc side of Alfine…

My plan was to inspect the hub myself at home and then take it to the Fairfield Bike Shop for any maintenance it needed. If the hub was not worth a new rim I’d keep it built up with the Large Marge as a spare for our Pugsleys and buy a new hub.

I found the following useful guides for overhauling an Alfine 8 IGH:

Ready for surgery...

Ready for surgery…

Taking the IGH apart is straightforward – about a 15 min job taking your time. You’ll find the instructions in the links above.

This video will also walk you through it.

My Alfine 8 internals...

My Alfine 8 internals…

I was ready for all kinds of badness when I pulled the internals out. This hub has been used hard and didn’t owe my anything. So you can imagine my shock when the damn thing looked perfect.

Looking good...

Looking good…

And I’m not kidding about that when I say perfect. No rust. No dirt. No water. The factory grease was still clearly in place.

The empty hub shell...

The empty hub shell…

I was very impressed and changed my plans. I didn’t see any point in going through the cleaning and relubing process when the original grease was in such good shape. The oil lube promised even better hub efficiency, but when I thought about it ease of maintenance and reliability was more important to me than slightly easier rolling. Plus I can always strip the grease and relube with oil later now that I see how easy opening the hub is.

Non-driveside bearing race/inner lock nut...

Non-driveside bearing race/inner lock nut…

I cleaned the cones on both sides and made sure they were looking good. Everything was running great so I didn’t see the point in trying to break the hub down further. With my luck I would screw up a perfectly good hub trying to make it “better”!

Time to grease and reassemble...

Time to grease and reassemble…

I should have cleaned the driveside of the IGH before I cracked it open. Since I didn’t I was careful I didn’t contaminate the internals.

Alfine porn...

Alfine porn…

The only lubing I did was adding some grease to both outboard bearings to help keep water out of the hub.

Dropping the internals back in...

Dropping the internals back in…

I sealed the Alfine 8 IGH back up and ensured the locknuts weren’t too tight.

Time to deal with the external bits...

Time to deal with the external bits…

Next up was a quick clean up of the external parts of the hub.

Just a little bit dirty...

Just a little bit dirty…

Baja wasn’t kind to the drivetrain.

Time for chain #6...

Time for chain #6…

The cog and the chainring show some wear, but I figured I’ll get another year out of them. The chain on the other hand is trashed – another year – another $16!

Chain KIA - the rest is fine with some love..

Chain KIA – the rest is fine with some love..

I didn’t bother reassembling the hub 100% as its next move will be to a truing stand for the Rolling Darryl rim swap. Once clean I bagged all the small parts so they wouldn’t get lost.

The disc rotor looks good...

The disc rotor looks good…

For a final test I threw the rear wheel back in the frame and gave it a spin. It rotated for a long time confirming the axle wasn’t overly tight and that the new grease didn’t cause any significant drag. I also checked the hub for lateral play- loose is bad.

Back whens he was new...

Back when she was new…

I expected this mission to end with some saddness and possibly some $$ being spent on a new hub. I’m still amazed the internals are in such good shape. Perhaps not good as new, but certainly worth transfering over to the rebuilt wheels.

Nice one Shimano! 🙂



20 responses

12 02 2013

Nice looking internals, i am amazed how much grease is there! When i first looked at the photo i was sure it has been serviced already. Both of my Alfine8 had nearly zero grease when I bought them (new).

12 02 2013
Doug M.

Amazing. If I ever do a fatbike build, I know what I’m using for my drivetrain!

12 02 2013

that is really nice…. 🙂 you know I had just ordered my fatbike stuff when 9:zero:7 came out with a belt drive fatty! d’oh

13 02 2013
Eric Dahl

It might still be a good idea to regrease the internals. I don’t know what yours looked like at the beginning, but it definitely looks like there’s less grease in there compared to the one I popped open shortly after purchasing. And after 4 years of use, there’s got to be some grit from wear inside that could otherwise speed impressively slow deterioration.

13 02 2013
Micheal Blue

Vik, I went through this in December, after 6,000 km. Though I soaked it in synthetic motor oil and then applied huge amount of Shimano hub grease.
The assembly was more tricky, because with so much grease/oil it was slippery and very shiny (reflecting the light into my eyes). I had to put in the C clip that attached the inside of the hub to the outside (notice the technical terms) and that took perhaps 20 minutes to do. Bloody slippery and shiny grease :-).
BTW, I’ve seen three other Tikits in Toronto so far.

13 02 2013
Doug Robertson (@upnorthdoug)

I’ve been using Shimnao Nexus IGH’s on my daily commuter for 5 or 6 years. The Nexus Hub is not supposed to be as water tight as the Alfines. I ride through some horrible conditions throughout the winter. Salty water and sandy grit for 6 months out of the year. Winters are long here in Northeast Minnesota. Even after all that, I rarely find it has penetrated the internals of my internally geared hub.

Once I attempted taking it apart two years ago and found out it’s not that difficult, I now pull it apart twice a year. I give mine a bath in synthetic automatic transmission fluid, let it drip drain and then give it a LIGHT coating of Shimano grease for internally geared hubs.

@Micheal Blue I’ve heard a large amount of grease can impede the hubs ability to shift smoothly and efficiently. There is such a thing as too much grease. It shouldn’t be like packing wheel bearings. A light coating is all that’s needed.

14 02 2013

There has been some good discussion about this topic over on the IGH Forums. I’ll probably dip my Alfine in heavier weight motor oil to rinse out any debris and lube the internals. I’m not in any rush though. I’ll get on it later in the summer. My main concern was to ensure the hub was in good shape before I rebuild the wheels.

14 02 2013

I just did the ATF soak on my wife’s Nexus hub. It had about 6k commuting miles on it and was just starting to show some signs of rust/leakage when I opened up. After the soak and some Shimano grease on the roller bearings and repacked cones with reg grease it runs fine/better. I think will do an annual on it from now on as not sure if the ATF will hang in there as well as the excellent original lube… Love your blog! Thanks for all the great info!

16 05 2013
Peter MacDonald

Hello Vik,

I asked you recently about your view on Alfine 11 speed.
I would like to ask you now please, if you think the 8 speed version would be suitable for trekking duties?
I’m tempted to just use my Rolhoff, relaced to a 26″ wheel. But, the ease of maintenance on the 8speed, and the fact it is not overly expensive seems like a solid option.
Thank mate.

16 05 2013

@Peter – Well I can say that the two A8’s I’ve used for the last 4yrs+ doing this:

Pug first ride

Have survived without a single issue. I’ve read lots of other people’ reports and they are happy with A8’s as well in MTBs and touring bikes.

That said I still have more confidence in a Rohloff and the Rohloff will give you a bigger gear range.

The A8 is a great value and seems to hold up very well to hard use.

How to decide between a Rohloff and a A8?

– if you need the big gear range = Rohloff
– if money is not much of an object = Rohloff
– if you can see yourself racking up 50,000kms+ on the hub = Rohloff
– if reliability is critical to you = Rohloff
– if cost is important = A8
– if you are not going to ride crazy mileage = A8
– if you want a trigger shifter = A8
– if want to equip multiple bikes/wheelsets with IGHs = A8
– prefer a lighter shifter feel & simpler shift cable setup = A8

I think where the I would always go with a Rohloff is for really high milage applications like RTW trips. For most people that tour a month or less a year I don’t think the kind of miles you will accumulate are a problem for the A8.

One nice thing about an A8 is the whole internals slide out of the hub shell easily for maintenance or repair. So even if you had a problem you could literally slide some new internals in your existing wheel in 5 mins and keep rolling while the old internals were repaired off line. Two A8’s are still far cheaper than a single Rohloff.

16 05 2013
Peter Mac

Dear Vik,

good on you mate. A wealth of knowledge as usual.
As I have the Rolhoff I will make use of it, rather than leave it sitting in the shed. 2 x 8 should = 16 but, I take the $$$ reference with great glee.
Take it easy man and best wishes.

21 12 2014

You just convinced me to open my Alfine 8. It has about the same age as yours in this post. I used it in my Surly LHT and now use it in my old Orbea Spectrum. My hub also had no TLC what so ever and I used it a lot. Same result: the inside was nice and clean, just like on your pics. I’ll try the ATF and lube it again.

26 12 2014

What crank are you using with your Alfine hub? I’m building a Pug and have an Sram double mountain crank designed for 10 speed. Any idea if this combo would work?

11 06 2015
Alain Aw

hi. my alfine hub suddenly is loose. when on the repair stand shake it front and back facing my chest, it has play, looks like something is loose inside. Do you have any idea what it is? im afraid to dismantle it as I might not put it back together.

11 06 2015

Have you tried adjusting the bearings? Sounds like they are loose.

17 10 2015
Steven Williams

Well thank goodness for a tidy website ,great article I am currently building a 26 er up as a winter general use do it all bike ,what would l like to ask is 8 speed or 11 speed alfine is the 11 speed worth that much more because the 11 speed is double the price atvb Steve

17 10 2015

Steven – if I was building a new bike with a Shimano IGH I’d get the A8.It’s proven more robust for people and the price is right. The extra gears are at the top of the range where they are less important to me. I think the A8 is fine for most people as long as you can spin at a decent RPM. If you want to race roadies at 50KPH downhill it won’t have enough range, but for most uses it will be fine.

24 10 2015
Steven Williams

Well my local bike shop has given me a great price for both , but also he has the di2 version ,would this be a option that you would consider or stay away from as I live in the mountains ,rain ,mud snow ,would it be less reliable that the cable alfine ,thanks for the help atvb Steve

24 10 2015

@Steve – I have no desire for a bike that needs batteries to operate so I’m not interested in di2. Beyond that I have never used it so I can’t speak to its reliability in service.

5 12 2015
Steven Williams

Well I popped down my local bike shop ,the guy there Martin makes his own frames steel of course he has a do it all 26 er aluminium,the same one ,he’s building up for he has Alfine 11 speed on it ,he gave me a ride on it now I have never ridden Alfine can’t believe how smooth and noise free it is ,I had a real shock well he gave the Alfine 11 speed for what he buys it for me being a good customer for the last twenty plus yrs atvb Steve

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