I bought a used wheel with a Sturmey-Archer XRF8 8-speed hub earlier this year. The hub was one of the earlier models that were not as durable as the later models. After riding with the hub out of adjustment (at least I assume that's what caused the problem), a couple of the gears gave out. Fourth gear skipped intermittently, and sixth gear was unusable. The folks at Sturmey-Archer were kind enough to send me a brand new hub free of charge.
I got around to building my first wheel last week with the new XRF8 hub and a Mavic A719 rim. But after turning the cranks on my proud new creation the first time mounted on a bike, I found that some of the gears on the new hub are really noisy. Specifically gears 4, 6, 7 and 8 sound like a playing card has been clothespinned in the spokes, or something akin to that level of noise. I imagine that along with an increased potential for failure, there is more friction being produced when in these gears.
I posted a video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sTu6Std8O7s to demonstrate the difference in sound between the gears.
Anyone out there have a newer XRF8 hub, and is it also very noisy in some gears?