have just realised they still make these things and new versions have 8 and 11 gears,who has one and what do they think of it,does the gearing stack up to a derailler system,I am after a hybrid that would have a gear range of 4.4-1.2 is this possible with a hub system.
Well we ordered a bike yesterday with hub gears - apparently (I didn't try it but Mr Summerdays did), there are bit jumps between the gears if you are used to the much smaller jumps on a normal bike, and the weight of the bike is shifted backwards a bit. But he seemed to find them ok - I'll try it once we have the bike here.
They are supoosed to be more reliable (or at least require less maintenance) which is probably true, however should something go wrong then it's back to the maker for repair (and if the warranty has expired then that's going to cost big time) so I'm not keen myself. It also means no chance of a quick fix on the roadside either.
I ride a MTB with an Alfine 8 speed rear hub. Weight isn't really an issue, its a little rear heavy, but not noticeable. Its maintenance free, and its still running the same chain/sprockets i fitted two years ago, with no stretch.
Only issue, and its the only thing that i think is a consideration with any gear hub; is the range of gears enough for you? IME depending on what sprockets i run, its either a bit high or a bit low. I don't think this will be a real serious problem on a road hybrid, but its the only issue i can think of mentioning.
It has the Alfine 8spd hub and a 45T chainring. He just rode 100 miles on it yesterday which included a fair few steep hills, and was already making excuses about why he might need to walk up some of them the day before. In the event, he was able to cycle up without getting off and came back tired but well pleased with his new bike. He did think the ratios were a bit gappy though, and thought that he might get a slightly smaller chainring cos the gearing was a tad high. Rohloff make the daddy of these hubs if your pockets are deep enough, but by all accounts the Alfine is all fine. (SCNR!) He also thought it made the back a bit heavy, but the Seek isn't exactly light in the first place, and didn't present a problem.
He's also got a carbon race bike with Campag Record or Super Record. I think he was worried about doing that sort of distance on a race bike (being over 50), but I know which one I'd have taken!!!
I think maintenance is practically zero on these, apart from lubing the chain, and the chain should last a long time cos it hasn't got to jump up and down and left and right. That said, he did say that on the Seek, because of how they mount the chainring, the chain isn't quite in line with the sprocket. Not sure how much of a big deal that is though in the scheme of things.
The new Shimano 11 speed alfine is just starting to appear. This has a range of 410% compared to around 310% of an Alfine 8 and 540% of an MTB/Touring triple. Acording to the reviews of the Alfine 11 the gaps between 1-2 and 10-11 are quite big, the rest are around 13% which is about the same as you'd get with a MTB triple and the same as a Rohloff. Hub gears are becoming more mainstream in the UK, they've always been an option on commuter bikes in other parts of Europe. The Alfine 8 was the first hub gear that Shimano considered fit for MTB use, which shows how they've developed. When I started looking at hub geared bikes around 10 years ago it was either a heavy hybrid or expensive custom, now there's loads of choice with more models out each year. The next big thing is belt drive, with many frames and hubs being designed specifically for it. All three of the recent round the world record attempts have been done on Rohloff hub gears, one with belt drive. In a recent Cycle article, two of the riders liked them the other would have preferred derailleurs.
I have a Rohloff in a touring bike and an Alfine 8 in a folder, both perfect for what they do. Which IMO is anything other than fast road riding, where the derailleurs lighter weight and closer gears are an advantage.