Shimano Alfine 11 IGH Oil Change…

15 05 2013

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.

Alfine 11 cleaned and oiled...

Alfine 11 cleaned and oiled…

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.

Rohloff Bulk oil and syringe...

Rohloff Bulk oil and syringe…

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! ūüėČ

BTW – the Rohloff syringe and injection tube fitting work on the Alfine 11 perfectly.

Here is my Alfine 11 oil change process:

  1. clean outside of hub shell
  2. open hub via oil plug
  3. inject 25 ml of Rohloff cleaning solution
  4. pedal hub through all gear combos for 5 mins
  5. let drain for 30 mins
  6. suck out any remaining cleaning fluid and old oil with syringe
  7. inject 25 ml of Rohloff hub oil
  8. seal up Alfine and ride
  9. 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.

Dirty oil...

Dirty oil…

Tip – there is a tiny o-ring on the Alfine 11 oil plug. Don’t lose it! ūüėČ

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

Blessed Silence!

5 04 2013
What noise?

What noise?

As I was pounding along last weekend I suddenly realized something was missing from my usual ride experience – noise! My MTB has a Hope hub that sounds like angry bees making love when I coast. It used to make a lot of noise from chainslap as well, but I cured that with a clutch derailleur – although I still get various shifting noises when changing up gears on the Nomad.

My 29er bikepacking bike has an Alfine 11 IGH in it and horizontal dropouts. That means the chain is tight all the time and can’t really move around or make any noise. The A11 coasts and pedals silently. Even the shifts are accompanied by only a very soft click.

I’m so used to my bikes making a lot of noise that it’s a bit of a surprise to experience the peacefulness of a silent drivetrain.

That silence leaves more room for me to hear what’s going on around me and let’s me get lost deeper in my own thoughts.

There are times when making noise to give bears notice I’m coming through is a smart move. However, I’d rather attach a $4 bear bell to my bike when needed. It makes noise anytime I am moving – rather than just when I am coasting and I can take it off when I don’t want to make a racket.

There are loads of good reasons to use an IGH and specifically an Alfine 11, but at the moment silence is what I am appreciating the most.

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! ūüôā

Gravel Pimp – Dead End Recon…

23 06 2012

Enjoying a ride along the coast…

If you haven’t read the Extreme Recon chapter of the Gravel Pimp Saga than click here and read it so you know what’s shaking.

Our last attempt to pioneer a dirt route between Lake Cowichan and Victoria BC failed when we were diverted by a security zone around the Victoria Water Supply Area [aka The DMZ]. Not to be deterred we retreated back to Gravel Pimp HQ and reviewed our maps then plotted a new route.

Pink is the new route – click for larger…

The map above shows our planned route in pink. The green route is what we had hoped to ride last time when we were stopped. As you can see the new route is a significant detour, but better a few extra KMs of dirt than riding pavement home. Where the pink and green tracks meet at the bottom of the map is Leectown and the top of the Galloping Goose MUP.

Our bikes ready to roll…

Trying to schedule a ride between everyone’s work obligations and weather was a challenge, but finally we found a window that worked. A-Man couldn’t make this edition of Gravel Pimping, but he has a sweet Moots 29er ready for next time!


We had a¬† few beers to adequately prepare for the rigors of the ride….;)

Scott enjoying some sunshine…

Rolling down the Goose MUP was pleasant as always.

My trusty steed got a new frame bag that actually fits!…=)

Our first night’s goal was modest since we didn’t want to try any of the hard route finding until the AM. So in true Gravel Pimp style we detoured to a pub and enjoyed some additional beers as well as some burgers.

Home sweet home…

We took advantage of the Barnes Station Shelter, but threw up the mesh tents as bug nets. You can tell spring is here when you can snack just by riding with your mouth open!

Is it morning already?

Scott was super keen to get rolling so he kicked me out of my sleeping bag at 5am. Breakfast was a variety of cold snacks I had stuffed into my front pouch [aka the Feed Bag].

You can’t bitch about the scenery – Sooke River…

Our first goal was finding Leechtown – an old mining settlement that would mark the start of the hard route finding.

Scott finds Leechtown…

Finding Leechtown was just an easy few km spin up the Goose MUP to its end. Although we realized we were on the wrong side of the Sooke River so we needed to do some ‘schwacking!

It’s all gone green…

We followed some forest tracks to the river.

There was a bit of walking…

A little hike-a-bike never hurt anyone.

Even Scott had to walk…

The nice thing about finding your way next to a river is that you can’t get lost!

Crossing the river part 1…

Although the Sooke River is pretty intense further downstream it was broken up into a few manageable creeks where we were trying to cross.

The might Sooke River has been tamed!

The ‘schwacking continued after the water crossing.

Need any spare parts…

We started to see derelict machinery, but we never did see any old buildings.

Denied by the DMZ again!

As we scouted out route options we encountered the first dead end at the Evil Red DMZ Gate. These gates are all around the water supply area. Happily the guards didn’t notice us and Scott wasn’t beaten half to death this time.

Checking out some equipment we may need later!

Denied by the DMZ we tried some of the logging roads that ran west along the Leech River.

Scott is thinking about a kickstand for the Hunter…

But, before we did anything hasty it was time for a snack break.

I like snack breaks!

I streamlined my food supply – leaving three elements at home – fruit, sandwiches and M&Ms. Mistake! Next time I will have all three with me. Recon work is tough and I got hungrier than I thought I would. I didn’t run out of food, but what I was putting in my mouth just didn’t seem to satisfy me as well as it should.

Steep loose gravel…

After the DMZ gate our first attempt was a rough double track that was clearly made with a bulldozer and never improved for frequent vehicle traffic. The big chunky rocks were hard to ride up and scary to ride down. It was fairly “climby”, but it had a nice remote feel that would have made for a great bikepacking route.

It was good – until it ended!

Sadly the road just ended. We don’t mind a hike-a-bike, but not 30kms of it over a mountain range!

Guess what?

As we backtracked we tried a side trail that had some potential, but it ended as well.

Clear cut…

We ended up back at Leechtown and headed west on a well used logging road on the south side of the Leech River. This was shown on our map as connecting up with the other logging roads we needed to get to further north.

Yup…it’s true….denied again!

But as we found out that was a lie. The road just stopped at a scree slope that was hard to walk across let alone carry a bike across.

Overgrown double track…

Although it didn’t go anywhere this section of the ride had some super fun overgrown double track to pedal. Life could be worse than riding your bike in the forest looking for promising bikepacking routes….;)

Hmmm….why is Scott walking back?

There was a turn off from the main road that went higher and we hoped got around the rock slide. So we cranked uphill and found that it did go a bit further, but it also dead ended despite being shown on our map as continuing onwards.

Scott immersion testing his Rohloff!

So defeated yet again we rode back to Leechtown to regroup. Our time and energy levels were running low as we still had a few hours of riding back home to Victoria. The most promising option was straight up a mountain north of Leechtown and neither of us could handle the thought of 15kms of grinding uphill only to be denied. So we decided it was time to roll for home.

Nearly road kill…

Scott bunny hopped over a snake on the Galloping Goose so we stopped and herded him off the trail so he could live to slither another day!

Another snack stop…

The roll home was pleasant, but to be honest we’re over the Goose MUP. It’s a convenient way to get out of town on dirt, but after you’ve ridden it 12 times in a year you want to load a movie on the iPhone just to stay awake! Don’t get me wrong it’s far better than hoovering exhaust fumes on the side of Hwy 14 while dodging trucks. I’m just a spoiled whiner!

Pink was the theoretical route – dark red the actual GPS track…

All told the ride was ~145kms long with ~1200m elevation gain. Progress was slower and harder than those stats would indicate with a lot of walking & talking to workout what to do next. While it wasn’t successful in finding a route north to Lake Cowichan we did expand our knowledge of the area and confirm that the maps we have are “optimistic” when it comes to the logging roads. You can click on either map to enlarge them.

Our full route – click for larger…

So what’s next?

  • Craig Main is a logging road up a mountain north of Leechtown that connects through based on our maps. It would provide the most direct route so it’s the next priority for recon effort.
  • Butler Main is a logging road that heads west, but offers the potential of then branching north where we want to go. It’s not very direct, but if Craig Main doesn’t go it’s next.
  • After those two options are explored if we aren’t successful I think our next move is to go back to the north side of the route and explore south as far as we can. Eventually we’ll have GPS tracks for everything reasonably close we can ride and we can figure out if an extreme bushwack is possible to connect the route.

Of course my hope is that there is a nice logging road through to Lake Cowichan, but so far such a beast has been elusive. Time will tell!

Drivetrain Efficiency…

11 12 2010


This interesting article was posted over at BROL.  It discusses some measurements of various drivetrain efficiencies.   Click on the image to read the PDF Рarticle starts at pg 3.

One question I have is that they note that efficiencies are worst at lower input power. ¬†Since cyclists have a short peak of power twice per crank revolution followed by 2 lows and the majority of the power stroke is between the low and high values I wonder what the measured efficiencies would be with a variable power input that simulated how a cyclist’s legs worked?

When do IGHs make sense?

8 12 2010

The Gold Standard for IGHs...

I’m a fan of IGHs.¬† I’ve got 2 Rohloffs, 2 Nexus 8s and an Alfine 8 in service in addition to a number of derailleur equipped bikes.

There are a lot of things to like about IGHs:

  • low maintenance
  • hard to break in¬†accident¬†or during shipping/transport
  • clean looking drivetrain
  • easy to use sequential gearing
  • builds up into a strong dishless rear wheel
  • easy to adjust shifting when needed
  • IGH wheel can be shared easily between multiple bikes
  • can shift when stopped [say on a steep hill]
  • will work on almost any frame

There are also some things not to like about IGHs:

  • internals are not field serviceable
  • cost is higher than comparable quality derailleur setup
  • greater power loss than derailleurs
  • greater weight than derailleurs
  • gear range usually lower than a 3 x 9 setup
  • can’t tell what conditions internal mechanism is in without a tear down
  • limited selection of stock bikes sold with IGHs so you have to replace a stock derailleur setup or build custom from frame in most cases
  • drivetrain is in hub so if you have two wheel sets for a frame each needs its own IGH
  • limited shifter options for drop bars

When you consider these points it becomes clear that there is no slam dunk in favour of derailleurs or IGHs.¬† The optimal choice depends on what’s important to you.

Here are some things to consider:

  • a quality derailleur drivetrain that has been setup properly shouldn’t need a lot of attention if used on paved roads – especially if it doesn’t see much rain.¬† As you start to ride more in the rain and move onto mud, snow & sand derailleurs get messed up and need lots of love. This is where the IGH’s low maintenance can be a considerable benefit.¬† However, for a lot of people who ride for pleasure or are fair weather commuters they won’t see a lot of benefit, in terms of maintenance, between a derailleur and an IGH, but they will have to deal with the extra weight, extra cost and power loss of the IGH.
  • if you are having problems with your derailleurs and they are low end units replacing them with some middle of the road will probably solve your problems with less cost than an IGH and with less weight and power loss.
  • derailleur setup are more efficient in the larger cogs of the cassette which correspond to low gears.¬† A Rohloff is less efficient in the lower gears than the upper gears due to the way its planetary gears are setup. This means you’ll experience the most inefficiency with a Rohloff vs. a derailleur on a steep climb where a weaker rider can afford least to give up power.
  • An IGH can be shifted at a stop. For a cargo bike or some recumbents this can be a real benefit since unweighting the back wheel to shift to a lower gear isn’t easy.
  • An IGH rear wheel is very strong since there is little or no dish to the spokes and the resulting equal tension and wide base makes the wheel very robust.¬† Having said that a well tensioned cassette wheel is strong enough for adult men to use mtn biking so for many applications it’s more than adequate.¬† If you are not a clydesdale and/or you are not riding an overloaded bike, but still have wheel problems talk to an expert wheel builder – there is something wrong with your wheels.
  • I use a 3 x 9 derailleur setup in a simple way.¬† I ride in the middle ring 90% of the time and use the 9 cogs as a sequential gear box.¬† I use the bottom 3 gears and top 3 gears 10% of the time when I need them.¬† This is easy to do and doesn’t require a lot of thinking to get the right gear.
  • The only satisfactory drop bar IGH shifter I have come across is the JTek bar end shifter for the Nexus 8 /Alfine 8 hubs.¬† It’s a pleasure to use. JTek will be coming out with a bar end shifter for the Alfine 11, but it might be the end of 2011 before it hits the market. You can mount twist shifters and trigger shifters on or around drop bars and they work, but I have found them to be so poor to use that I won’t bother using such a setup.

Surly Cross Check in lovely Robin's Egg Blue...

Example #1 Sharon’s Cross Check

I’m going to build Sharon a Surly Cross Check using parts from her city bike.¬† The goal is to have a more efficient ride for her since she is not a powerful rider.¬† I considered whether or not to use the Nexus 8 IGH from her city bike or build her a custom 700c cassette wheel and use derailleurs.

I decided to use the Nexus 8:

  • the main benefits of the Nexus 8 for Sharon are 1) it’s paid for 2) it’s easy to use/maintain.
  • Sharon’s current commuter MTB has a cheap derailleur which needs monthly adjustment and she’d rather put a nail through her hand than learn how to tweak a derailleur [I don’t blame her!].¬† The Nexus 8 is dead easy to adjust since you simply align two yellow marks are you are done. Plus it doesn’t need frequent adjustment – maybe twice a year.
  • I am concerned that the extra weight and power loss are not ideal for Sharon since she isn’t a speed demon.
  • I think Sharon will like the simple aesthetic of the IGH chainline and how quiet it is.
  • for the initial build we’ll use swept back riser bars from her city bike and a twist shifter as well as the city bike’s v-brake levers – they are all paid for!

Looking forward I think when the Nexus 8 dies we’ll try a quality derailleur 1 x 9 or 2 x 9 setup:

  • I have lots of derailleur parts in my spares bin so cost will be low.
  • she can benefit from extra efficiency and lower weight.
  • a quality derailleur [LX,XT, 105 or Ultegra] won’t need lots of maintenance or adjustment given she rides only paved roads.
  • she would benefit from the aerodynamic position and multiple hand positions of a drop bar so we’ll use a bar end shifter.
  • she doesn’t need an uber strong back wheel since she is light and doesn’t carry lots of cargo.
  • with another few years of cycling under her belt she will figure out how to adjust a derailleur by ossmosis and it won’t be a big deal.
  • we’ll need drop bar v-brake levers, but by that time her current ones will be old and it makes sense to replace them.

If I was starting from scratch I’d build her bike with drop bars¬† and 1 x 9 derailleur setup mainly because as a weaker rider getting as much power to the road is a benefit she will realize every pedal stroke whereas the difference in maintenance is a smaller benefit realized only occasionally.¬† The drop bar aero position is a benefit when she wants to get more aggressive and increase her sped.

The muddy Dempster Highway...

Example #2 my Surly Big Dummy

My Surly Big Dummy was initially built up with a Rohloff hub and it’s a setup I continue to ride today.¬† If I was starting again I’d use the same hub:

  • having an uber strong rear wheel on the Dummy is critical.
  • this is a heavy bike so the incremental weight of the IGH isn’t a big penalty.
  • I use wide stiff tires [Marathon XRs] on this bike which cause a bigger performance hit than the Rohloff.
  • I generally ride this bike short distances at moderate speeds.
  • A lot of the folks I ride with regularly are weaker riders than me so the Dummy helps equalize things while being very useful if we run errands on the ride.
  • being able to shift while stopped is a big benefit when you stop in a high gear at the bottom of a hill and you have a passenger on the back.
  • I wanted to use Titec H-bars for this bike which work fine with the Rohloff twist shifter.
  • I have used this bike for dirt road/muddy road tours and the Rohloff’s imperiousness to mud was a major benefit.

Besides being a cargo bike this bike is my dirt road/expedition touring rig. The Rohloff’s strength and low maintenance are benefits in this role that out weigh the weight and power loss. I would not ride this bike across Canada on paved roads – it would be painful compared to my Surly LHT.

Trucking on the Bow Valley Parkway, Alberta...

Example #3 my Surly Long Haul Trucker

I built up this touring bike from parts using a 3 x 9 derailleur setup.¬† After several thousands of kms of touring and errand riding I’m on the same cassette/chainrings/derailleurs, but I have swapped in new chains as needed.¬† I love riding this bike.¬† If I were to start again I’d go with a similar build although I might simplify it by skipping the front derailleur and going with a 1 x 9 setup.

  • all my riding has been on paved roads [wet and dry, but mostly dry].
  • I haven’t had much maintenance hassle with this bike.
  • I really enjoy how the Shimano bar end shifters work and love using drop bars on this bike.
  • by touring standards by 32H wheels are light to medium duty yet I have had zero problems and they have not needed adjustment since built up.¬† I attribute this to sensible component selection and the skill of an expert wheel builder who tensioned the wheels.
  • this bike is fast and efficient by the standards of a touring bike and can still haul enough gear to cross the continent while camping/cooking my own meals.

I have considered using an IGH with this bike, but upon further thought it seems I have nothing to gain by that change and I would end up with a heavier less efficient bike.

Who needs gears?

Why not just fix the problem?

Many cyclists who are thinking of IGHs to get low maintenance trouble free drivetrains should take a close look at using a fixed gear bike.  By doing away with gears entirely a FG bike is lighter and more efficient than a derailleur bike while also being lower maintenance and more bombproof than an IGH.

There is this myth that FGs are slow and they are hard to climb.¬† Neither are true for even an average cyclists as long as you aren’t medically compromised and you don’t live in San Fran!¬† For a commuter, pleasure cyclist and even for light errands a FG offers a lot of benefits.

If the lack of coasting ability freaks you out a single speed setup adds a slight bit of weight and complexity, but lets you cost on the downhills.

Naturally for some applications [cargo biking, touring, recumbents, etc..] a FG or SS may not work, but that still leaves the majority of cyclists who could use one.

Sharon has checked out a FG/SS bike and expressed interest. What I may do for her CC is get her some 700c FG/SS wheels that she can swap in to see what she thinks. If she likes them we might skip gears entirely and go simple and light which would be to her advantage in many ways.

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

Nexus/Alfine Brifter!

25 05 2009 is reviewing a new road bike by Dynamic Bicycles which features the cunning Nexus/Alfine brifter shown above….awesome!¬† So finally you can use one of these hubs and enjoy the brifter experience.¬† Between this shifter and the JTEK bar end shifter I reported about earlier the options for Shimano IGH setups has just increased dramatically.

It seems that at this early prototype stage Dynamic has not confirmed it will sell these components separately from their bikes, but given the potential demand I have to believe that will happen.

Read the post here.

Update [from Austin on Two Wheels]:

“Well, good news if you want to convert your old road bike with horizontal dropouts or track bike to Shimano internally geared hubs. Dynamic sent us an e-mail this week letting us know they will be the U.S. distributor for the Versa shifters as well as the Versa cranksets. The shifters will retail for $229 and the cranksets will come in two versions, the¬†VCS46-EX with external bottom bracket included ($139) and the¬†VCS46-SQ for square tapered BB ($39). Both cranks come with a single 46T chain ring.

Beginning in mid June, you should be able to order these through your local bike shop. In the meantime, Dynamic is offering a limited number of shifters and cranksets directly to the public at the introductory price of $199 for the shifters, $109 for the crank with external BB, and $29 for the standard crank. Anyone wanting to order these directly for this limited time can call Dynamic at¬†1-800-935-9553 to place an order.”

Gareth’s 100mile Tikit Review

28 03 2009
The first 100 miles down...

The first 100 miles down...

Gareth posted a review of his first 100 miles on his lovely new Alfine Tikit with disc brakes.

Pugsley H-bar Detail

13 02 2009
Alfine shifter and Avid lever

Alfine shifter and Avid lever on a Titec H Bar

Chris asked me about my Pugsley control setup so here is a close up of the right side of the Titec H-bar.

Bar End Shifter for Nexus/Alfine IGH

17 01 2009
JTEK Engineering

all photos: JTEK Engineering

I’m a fan of the Nexus 8 and Alfine IGHs.¬† They work well and are relatively inexpensive.¬† One issue is that up until now your choice of shifter was a twist shifter or a trigger shifter.¬† I have both and they work well, but for a drop bar bike a bar end shifter is a much nicer solution.

Alan posted on EcoVelo about a new JTEK bar end shifter that is compatible with these IGHs. – sweet!

from JTEK:

“Jtek Bar-end Shifter for 8-speed
Shimano Alfine & Nexus Internal Hubs

  • Super light weight only 64 grams making it the lightest bar-end shifter on the market!
  • 24mm clamp-on design. Easy installation eliminates the need for disassembly to install
  • High quality CNC precision machined parts, 100% made in Hugo, MN.
  • 8-speed indexing

Finally a shifting solution for people who want to use Shimano internal hubs with drop-bar, road bike style handle bars. This shifters is compatible with Shimano 8-speed Alfine & Nexus hubs. It features a clamp-on mounting design which will fit standard diameter 24mm handle bars.”

jtek_bar-end-3Cost is $80.00 + shipping.¬† I’ll probably get one of these to try out.¬† It looks like an elegant solution.

JTEK’s Website.

Flatboarder’s New Look

26 12 2008

Flatboarder's Surly Big Dummy

Flatboarder's Surly Big Dummy

Flatboarder has been putting his Surly Big Dummy through its paces this year in the mountains of Austria. His blog has a new look [all the cool kids are switching to WordPress…lol..=-)].¬† Even if you are not a Big Dummy fan you should check out his posts as he tries out gear that’s interesting and useful to many practical cyclists – plus his tour photos are a lot of fun.

Flatboarder has been punishing a Shimano Alfine IGH on his Big Dummy while touring and MTBing in the mountains this season.  His success with this IGH gave me the confidence to fit one on my Pugsley.

It lives!

10 12 2008
First ride...

First ride...

It took a while to put everything together, but I managed to get Minnesota, my Pugsley, out for a ride yesterday.¬† It rides like tractor – slow and purposeful – disregarding anything in its path.¬† I had the tires inflated pretty hard, but still had loads of traction on the packed snow roads and in 3″-5″ of loose snow at the park.¬† I assumed I’d get stuck in the deep loose snow, but as long as I pedaled it kept moving.¬† The gear range feels pretty good.¬† As I was just getting used to how it handled I didn’t try and high speed snow biking.¬† I’ll save that hospital visit for a later date!

The only time I had any issues was when I tried out my disc brakes on a sheet of ice.¬† Reading owner reviews I know the Pugsley is a snow bike – not an ice bike!¬† I felt more confident riding on ice with 3.7″ tires [even with fairly high pressure] than on my Tikit’s 37mm tires, but unless you’ve got a bunch of carbide studs in your rubber even fat tires only have so much traction.

Nice clean Alfine drivetrain

Nice clean Alfine drivetrain

It looks like my chain became pretty slack on the ride.¬† I’m new to horizontal dropouts so I probably didn’t tighten the Alfine’s axle nuts enough.¬† I’ve since remedied that situation. The Alfine shifts so smoothly and so fast it’s in the next gear before you know it.¬† I’m using an Alfine trigger shifter right now, but I’ll eventually switch to a Nexus 8 twist shifter for ease of use with bulky winter gloves.

I’m going to throw some lights on Minnesota so I can take her out in the evenings this week [it gets dark at 4pm!] and see what she can do with less air in the Endomorphs.

My Pugsley Wheels

9 12 2008
I love a fatty!

I love a fatty!

I’ve posted some info on my Pugsley wheel build over at my Bow Cycle Blog.

Darth Pugsley

4 12 2008
Darth Pugsley

Darth Pugsley

I’ve been trolling Flickr for Surly Pugsley build ideas.¬† Just to see what other folks have done and kill some time while I wait for my last few parts to arrive.¬† I stumbled upon this nice Pugsley that is built up similar to what I have in mind.

Tswg2 on Flickr

All photos: Mike McCrank

I’ll be using a Shimano Alfine IGH on the back as well.¬† For all weather shifting.¬† I’ve read encouraging accounts of Alfines used in Northern Canada with success.¬† I’ll have a SS or fixed gear cog up front that I can swap in should the Alfine pack it in when it gets uber cold.¬† I’ve got the Alfine trigger shifter which I’m going to try.¬† Depending how I like it I’ll keep it or try the Nexus 8 twist-shifter instead.¬† I like the ability to dump multiple gears with the twist-shifter, but 1) I have an Alfine trigger shifter so might as well use it and 2) I haven’t really used triggers regularly for years so knows I may fall back in love.

Looks great with "normal" tires.

Looks great with normal rubber.

I’m surprised how nice the Pugsley looks with normal sized tires.¬† I’ll be putting some OMM racks on front & back.¬† I like the bars he used and will be trying some Thorn MK2 comfort bars which are similar. If I don’t love them I’ll swap in a set of MTB risers or a Titec H-bar.

I’ve scored some LX-ish Shimano hydraulic disc brakes which I’ll try.¬† I’ve never used hydraulics discs before, but I thought they might be better due to less maintenance in winter conditions and less likely to freeze up than mechanical discs.¬† If they don’t work out I’ll go with trusty Avid BB7s.

Just a little more waiting….