I'm such a Newb! What's an Alfine Hub?

Discussion in 'Commuting' started by NigC, 29 Apr 2010.

  1. NigC

    NigC New Member

    OK, so after some googling, I'm a bit more clued up now, but until the recent thread, I never even knew these hubs existed - apart from an ageing memory (must be 25 years!) of my mums 3-speed jobby!

    So I'm after a bit more info and advice about whether it's worthwhile changing.

    I have a Trek 3.5, which is a nice bike and suits my needs pretty well :evil: But when I bought it, I really didn't want 3 sprockets at the front - 8 at the back, OK, yes, sounds good. I only ever keep it in the top at the front, which gives me all I need for my commute. Maybe it was the price range I was shopping in? but I never saw a bike with one of these hubs when I was looking.

    So now I'm wondering if it's worth thinking about upgrading my trusty Trek or stick with what I have been happy with so far. Bear in mind I only do around 20 or 30 miles a week, so justifying a large price tag might be difficult.

    Also, the thread title says "Alfine", but I'm sure there are other options too. So other suggestions are welcome.

    Many thanks :biggrin:
  2. That's a Shimano hub gear Nig.
    Sram is another make, and Rolhoff is the recognised 'big daddy'.
    A commuter bike with a hub gear is no bad thing, given the distances and gear positions you use.
    No expense is best - just maintain what you have. A bit more ambitious is a single speed bike - they are available with a 3 speed hub funnily enough - ~Pearson and Condor being two...
    For a bit more ruggedness, there are similar hub geared bikes with fatter tyres - Cannondale Bad Boy 8 for example (Shimano hub gear I think) ...google around and perhaps post this in 'know how' when you have got a closer idea of what you might use.
    That's where the n+1 equation kicks in - when you need something for... :evil:
  3. Arch

    Arch Married to Night Train

    Salford, UK
    I was parking my 8 speed hub geared bike outside the supermarket when an old chap came up and said he saw I had a hub gear, and he'd been thinking about it and worked out a way to get 5 speeds intp one...

    I had to break it gently to him.

    I never mentioned the Rohloff... (14 speeds!)

    If the Trek suits you and you get on with derailleurs, stick with it for now. But when/if you fancy uprading, or doing more miles, think about a hub.

    The classic N+1 scenario would be to get a hub geared commuter, and use the Trek for longer road rides, perhaps...:evil:

    Hub geared bikes are good for the winter - less worry about salt and crud getting in your mech... And always good in stop start traffic, due to being able to change while stationary.
  4. MacB

    MacB Lover of things that come in 3's

    Few gears work well, I originally bought a 9 speed hub gear but now know that I could do most commutes, in my area, with a max of 3 gears. It really does depend on what your priorities are and how much you want to spend. Everyones priorities vary, mine would focus on low maintenance, comfort, reliability, puncture resistance and versatility.
  5. OP

    NigC New Member

    Many thanks for the input guys :smile:

    I think it's safe to say I'm happy enough with what I've got. But it was an eye-opener when I googled Alfine and discovered that these hubs had progressed somewhat from my mum's old and ultra-unreliable 3-speed from (probably) the 1960s :smile:

    My only annoyance at the moment is a certain reluctance to change up from 4th to 5th - I often have to force it into 6th and then drop down again (5th is my flat road cruising gear).

    Now I know they exist, I'll certainly be paying attention to that fact when the time comes to spend some money on the bike.

    How are these hubs at changeing under heavy load? I don't think mine is too happy when I'm standing up, climbing a hill and I decide I need a lower gear - I daren't stop pedalling as I'll never build up the speed again, but changeing gear in this situation makes quite a "clonk" :rofl:
  6. TheDoctor

    TheDoctor Resistance is futile! Moderator

    Well, no gears are great at changing under a heavy load. Most hub gears I've come across need you to...not stop pedalling, exactly, but certainly ease off the pressure for a moment.
  7. OP

    NigC New Member

    I kinda suspected that. Usually I'm OK, it's only when I decide to prove how manly I am and take the hill in a higher gear than normal that I have problems :bravo::wacko:
  8. I was asking a similar question the other day (after having adulterous thoughts about the trek solo).

    I understood from the responces I recieved, that the hub required a little "slack" in the pedals before changing, and this kinda put me off.

    but, I took a look at my own riding style and now notice that i allow a little slack (a momentary release of maximum pedal pressure) when changing gear already, I just hadn't noticed.
  9. Theseus

    Theseus .

    NigC, if you do go for a hub gear, it will probably need to be on a frame with horizontal dropouts or track ends. This will be to allow you to get the chain to the correct tension. Your Trek probably has vertical dropouts, this is not a showstopper as you can get chain tensioners (a bit like jockey wheels) to take up any slack. Also on fixed/single/hub gear bikes it is worth trying to get a nice chainline.
  10. ... and exactly the same as a derailleur system.
  11. MacB

    MacB Lover of things that come in 3's

    That's where less is more, my next purchase is a Genesis Day One Cross which comes with a single speed/fixed rear wheel. I will immediately butcher it to add on the cabling for my Sturmey Archer 3 speed rear wheel. I'm hoping to get it setup so that chain lengths are the same etc and I can just swap out rear wheels as desired.

    Less gears will also ensure that you're less likely to be caught out in the wrong one:evil:
  12. Howard

    Howard Senior Member

    Which hubs have you tried? I'm guessing this isn't a problem for the Rohloff (well, it shouldn't be given you'd have spent £1000 on the damn thing!) and it *certaintly isn't a problem on my Alfine* wich shifts better than my brand new 105 on my road bike. I'm guessing it's also not a problem on the SRAM i-motion either (but I'm happy to be corrected).
  13. MacB

    MacB Lover of things that come in 3's

    The Alfine is the best at shifting under load, Rohloff and I-9 will do it but I'd always ease off to shift with them. My biggest problem is I find easing to shift gear very natural, can be a pain when on the derailler bike.
  14. lindleyjoe

    lindleyjoe New Member

    I've just bought a Specialized Globe San Francisco 2 on the cycle to work scheme. It has got a 3 speed Shimano hub and so far I love it. I have a pretty flat commute and generally only use top gear, will change down at the lights and roundabouts into middle and the difference in pedal 'resistance' takes some getting used to but overall it is great. I reckon the lowest gear would be fine for all but really steep inclines providing your fairly fit and are prepared to work up a sweat.
  15. Jezston

    Jezston Über Member


    1. What is the difference between the three stages on a SA 3-speed? Just the only time I've ever ridden a three speed was on a Paris Velib hire bike and there didn't seem to be much difference - about the same as changing between three gears on a 8-speed derailleur. I don't mind having less gears, but I still want a fair range.

    2. How heavy is an alfine hub compared to a regular cassette and derailleur?

    3. Alfine hubs are quite large and when I had a lift of a Charge Mixer with Alfine and it's single-speed equivalent, the Alfine-equipped version seemed a lot heavier. 9 gears also seems like more than I might need on my commute - are there any good, compact, lightweight 5-speed hub gears on the market, or easily available second hand?
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