Alfine Hub: 8 speed vs 11 speed


Senior Member
The other pressing question in the design of the new CX bike is which internal hub gears to use. The chap in the LBS recommended the 11 speed Alfine, having just fitted this to his own bike. A scan through the archives suggests some concerns about reliability of the 11 speed, and that perhaps the 8 speed is a better choice.

I'm not wildly concerned about a high top gear - I'm happy to spin, and a gear range of 28-90 inches is fine, and readily achievable with the 8 speed.

Any thoughts? Any alternatives to consider?


Naturist Smurf
I've only tried the eight speed, which is supposed to be a lot less fussy to adjust than the eleven. Also, 5th gear on the eight is direct drive*, so if you're used to single speed, you'll be able to set it up at a comfortable ratio, and spin away at very high efficiency.

* Eleven speed has NO direct drive gear


Naturist Smurf
Thanks Tim - very useful. I'm used to single speed, and spinning, so direct drive sounds like it could be quite comfortable.
The only thing to watch out for is if you set 5th gear correctly for spinning, and then find 1st gear is not low enough for hills of 20-25%, or loaded up touring.

If you know what gear inches you use and when, the Sheldon Brown gear calculator is great, as it has Alfine 8 built in.

Of course if you have cash to burn, just get a Rohloff.


Senior Member
Had a go on the Genesis Day One, which uses the Alfine 8. Felt very nice indeed. Good positive feeling in 5th, and reasonable variation from top to bottom. Didn't get a chance to push it on hills or ride it offroad, but generally impressed.


Rollin' along
Manchester way
I like my 8 speed the only notchy shift is 4 to 5, the rest is smooth and predictable. I switched to an 18T rear cog from the standard 20 mine came with and haven't really noticed any problems climbing


Senior Member
Yep I noticed the 4-5 change was a bit of a clunk, but I took that to be because 5 is effectively direct. I read elsewhere on the forums that a ratio of 1:1.9 is desirable. 40/18 would be 2.22. 40/21 would be 1.90. Not sure whether the bigger ratio exerts more or less torque, though. Encouraging that even with 40/18 you have no hill problems.


Über Member
Hello All,

Following the thoughts above about the Alfine hub can I ask a question about how best to go about making a change. I apologise in advance if the following is a stupid question but I'm not very technically minded.

I'm saving up for a new commuting bike and as pert of my shortlist I'd like to get a bike with an Alfine 8 speed hub. I have tried a Genesis Day One Alfine 8 on my 20 mile roundtrip commute which being in East Anglia is, bar the odd undulation, pretty much dead flat. I also tried the bike slightly off my usual commuting route just to run it up what passes for a hill around here, although it would rank as barley a change in incline compared to lots of places in the rest of the country.

Anyway I found that I didn't really have any need for 1st, 2nd & 3rd and could climb okay with 4th. However on the downhill in top gear, 8th (if top is the right way around to describe it), I was just spinning out without really really producing any drive (I'm not sure if this is the best technical way of describing it but I hope that you can get the idea). To be honest this isn't a major problem because the gear ratio as it is would pretty much mean it's set up to avoid mashing and will spin happily.

However if in theory I didn't mind having a harder 1st gear and subsequently a harder 8th gear what would be the best way to go about it?

Is it as simple as either:-
  1. Getting a larger front chainring with more teeth, or;
  2. Getting a smaller rear cog with less teeth?
If either of the above are practical solutions is it best to do option 1 or 2 and how much work and other related changes are required in order to make these changes?

For reference the 2014 model Genesis Day One Alfine 8 that I tried had a front chaining with 40 teeth (at least that's what I'm assuming the T stands for) and the rear cog had 20 teeth.

Thanks in advance to anyone for any thoughts/advice and as I mentioned I'm really sorry if this is a stupid question!

The Alfine 11 is alright for lowland and very very light touring possibly better than derailleur gears but from personal experience I can not recommend it for any real hill work or touring carrying any sort of weight. (I ride a Dawes Nomad)


Über Member
Hi Cush,

Thanks for your message I should have said more about what I’d be using a bike with an Alfine 8 hub gear for.

Because of where I live the bike won’t be used for any real hill climbing because I’m in East Anglia and it’s pretty much flat as a pancake apart from a few undulations. Also the bike won’t be doing any heavy touring at all.

For the vast majority of the time the bike will be used on my 20 mile roundtrip commute which is almost completely flat on a mixture of rural and urban roads. I use a rack top bag on top of a pannier rack but it’s not that big or heavy.

Thanks in advance to anyone for any thoughts/advice on making changes to the chainset or rear cog to change the gearing so that everything is a bit harder.



New Member
Hi John, - this is my first ever post so if I get things wrong, forgive me.
First a quick background then I'll get to the point,
I'm in my seventies, and last year I bought my first bike since I was a teenager - a second hand - 'Charge Duster 11' - 2012.
which as the name implies has a Shimano Alfine 11 IGH.
Hence ever since I have taken to looking on various forums to see what's to learn about these new fangled gears,
and that's how I came across your question - 'Alfine 8 for commute in East Anglia'.
You began with 'I hope it's not a stupid question' just as I must start with 'I hope it's not a stupid answer' but here goes:-
The first thing I noticed with the Duster was a complete waste of time gears 1 - 5 were here in Leicestershire,
and we're not as flat as you're in East Anglia
Even with the few 'inclines I 'negotiated' on my exercise rides I rarely dropped below 6th.gear. (and that's at my age)
I soon realised I'd got myself a mountain bike to do a road bike job, so I decided to change the gear ratios, I 'upped' the front cog from 32t to 36t.
and the rear down from 20t to 18t. This upped the overall gear ratio by 25%, even so, I still don't use 1 + 2 and occasionally feel I need a higher gear going downhill.
Two reasons I didn't go for even higher ratios :- 1) I didn't want to fork out for a larger chain guard that was required if I was to fit an even larger chain wheel,
and 2) If I was able to go any quicker downhill, I'd probably kill myself!
Unless you do something drastic, like fitting cogs to give a 2 : 2.5 ratio (18/45), I think you will soon get very frustrated with an Alfine 8 on East Anglian roads.
I realise my comments are based on my experience on the '11' but bare in mind, (if you weren't already) that bottom gear in the '8' is the same as the '11' -
= 0.527 and that up to gear 5 there's not much difference - (gear 5 on the '8' = 1.00 /on the '11' = .995) - it's just that my top gear, - now at 112 gear inch,
would be 25% higher than say a 'standard' 8 on a 28" wheel, at 90 gear inch.
However, if you go ahead with a new purchase, bare in mind, the warranty of the gears may come into question if you go as far as I'm suggesting.
Finally,now that I feel that I've got the Duster to my liking, I think it's a great bike, and love the gear changes while at a standstill, and happy to recommend the 'Alfines',
(with the right cogs).
I hope that doesn't read too 'stupid, - I've gone on a bit for my first, I hope it's of some help/ food for thought.
Regards, momo


Über Member
Hi Momo,

Many thanks for your post which is really helpful!

No need for you to apologise for it being your first post and I'm a pretty new member to the forum as well but I've found it a really useful place to get helpful tips & information from people with more knowledge & experience than me.

It's impossible to test or try everything out there and so getting real world feedback from people who use bikes on a daily basis is invaluable. Therefore thank you very much for taking the time to reply and for informing me about how you've gone about changing the gear ratios on your Afline IGH bike.

I'm glad that you've now got your bike to your liking and hope that you're enjoying riding it.


Shimano publishes a recommended cog/chain ring tooth range for the Alfine hubs.

The implication being that over or under gearing them could void the warranty.

From the linked tech document for the Alfine 11:

It is recommended that the gear ratio of the front chain ring be set to approx. 1.9.

Example: F34T – R18T, F39T – R20T, F45T – R23T

I have one on a 29er trekking bike and found the gearing a bit too high.

Spinning first at a moderate cadence gave me 7/8mph.

I sorted it with some sprocket/ring tinkering.

The hub became faulty after about 18 months.

To be fair to Maddison/Shimano, they fixed it free of charge, when they could easily have played the 'out of warranty' card.

I do like the hub, but have the impression it's a bit 'light duty'.

Maybe trying to pack in 11 gears is asking too much of the internals.

The Alfine 8 seems to be regarded as more reliable, and I reckon is a better prospect as a commuter.


also available in orange
Interesting you mention the recommended ratios, my 2014 Day One Alfine 8 had a F-20/R20 setup and being pretty flat round here I find it's relatively easy to spin out so I was looking the easy/chickens way out by changing the front to a 42T which the 2015 version already has. As the bike is still fairly new, I'm still in the process of the cables settling down (still getting the odd slip on the hub) but all in all it makes for a different (and nice) riding experience.

Interesting you mention the recommended ratios, my 2014 Day One Alfine 8 had a F-20/R20 setup and being pretty flat round here I find it's relatively easy to spin out so I was looking the easy/chickens way out by changing the front to a 42T which the 2015 version already has. As the bike is still fairly new, I'm still in the process of the cables settling down (still getting the odd slip on the hub) but all in all it makes for a different (and nice) riding experience.


I can't see a problem with what you intend to do.

As i mentioned, it seems to me the Alfine 8 is strong to the point of being bomb proof, while the Alfine 11 is not quite so reliable.
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