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Old 05-23-12, 02:39 PM   #1
jkimballcook
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Internally geared hub conversion

I have an old (probably year 2000 or so) Giant Rincon MTB frame hanging around not getting any use and I'm thinking of building it up as my winter commuter (Rochester, NY, we usually see a lot of snow and they salt the roads pretty generously). Toying with the idea of putting in an internally geared hub; I'd like to lose the derailer for the sake of simplicity and less salt damage/maintenance, but since my commute does have some hills, the single speed option is not that attractive.

If I were to do this, what is the best way to deal with the chain tension problem? The dropouts are vertical, and I'm pretty sure an eccentric BB is not an option with that frame. Is it possible or advisable to use an an eccentric rear axle with an IGH? Does a chain tensioner present an opportunity for corrosion and mechanical failures and thus somewhat defeat the purpose of losing the derailer? Is it stupid to think I can use a half-link to get the tension right?

If I were to do this, what would be the best IGH to use? I'm not going to spend the dough for a Rohloff, so I'd be looking at the SRAMs, Shimanos and Sturmey-Archers. For a daily winter commuter, would I really benefit that much from going with one of the more expensive Alfine hubs or would it be better to go cheap?

Also, what about braking? I think getting away from rim brakes is probably consistent with the idea of building a winter commuter, but I this frame is not really compatible with disc brakes, and I don't really like the idea of a coaster brake. So is a rollerbrake pretty much the only option? What does that do my options for hubs?
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Old 05-23-12, 02:53 PM   #2
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Jkmballcock- (Interesting name your parents gave you...)- Shimano and others have internal geared hubs with hub brakes built into the hub and not disks. Roller or drums are the choices. Since I like rim brakes and classic SA AW hubs I don't have much personal experience with the more modern choices, I should since I work at your LBS (Full Moon Vista). So do your homework as to the choices that fit the frame's drop out width, axle slot size (and is it a slot or a vertical drop out then also needing a tensioner), brake type (agreed that non disc frames should use other) and (of course) gear range. I will add that the Rochester winters really do a number on components. Between the salt and temperture ranges water and corrosive salt penetration is hard to avoid. The real step to a trouble free winter bike is a lot of frequent service/cleaning/relubing. And I'm not talking about bathing the paint job... Andy.
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Old 05-23-12, 02:55 PM   #3
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If you don't have to deal with monster climbs a Sturmey Archer three speed is one of the best possible choices... oil lubrication offers the flexibility to use synthetic which will keep that hub purring in the coldest weather.

3 speed SA hubs are also the simplest and are relatively easy to service although the service interval could be in excess of 30,000 miles...

With vertical drop outs you could use a road derailleur as a tensioner and even play with setting up a dual drive on an SA hub to expand the gear range.

My Shasta with a dual drive... have never had an issue with rim brakes in our winters.



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Old 05-23-12, 04:11 PM   #4
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if the magic chain length scheme does not work out,
yea any old RD will do, just screw the limit screws in so it centers over your cog.
Maybe washers and longer bolts to hold the pulleys since the 1/8" chains are wider.

there are rigid locking single pulley mechs too
made for those many for single speed conversions..
since the chain tension does not vary.
the slack just needs to be taken out.

Given an option you should go for the black hub, for the anodizing treatment.

Last edited by fietsbob; 05-23-12 at 04:16 PM.
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Old 05-23-12, 07:47 PM   #5
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If you are wanting a new hub, I would go for a Sturmey Archer X-RD3 or X-RD5 with drum brake.
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Old 05-24-12, 04:14 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sixty Fiver View Post
With vertical drop outs you could use a road derailleur as a tensioner and even play with setting up a dual drive on an SA hub to expand the gear range.
Even if the hub you choose can only take a single sprocket, there's the option of achieving the same thing with a front derailleur and a double or triple crankset. You could combine a wide-range hub with carefully selected chainrings to give half-step gearing, or maybe experiment with third-step on a triple crankset
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Old 05-24-12, 07:26 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jkimballcook View Post
If I were to do this, what is the best way to deal with the chain tension problem? The dropouts are vertical, and I'm pretty sure an eccentric BB is not an option with that frame.
There is no 'best way'. Both Forward Components and Phil make an eccentric bottom bracket that will work with your frame. Not cheap. Paul, Surly, Yess & others make purpose-built chain tensioners. For that matter, chain tension with an IGH is not nearly so critical as with a fixed gear, and with a little fiddling with chainrings and cogs and perhaps the use of a half-link you shouldn't have too much trouble getting there.

Without knowing more about your commute and what handlebars (shifter) you want to use, it's hard (for me) to make a specific IGH recommendation.

Here and here is some inspiration.
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Old 05-24-12, 07:33 AM   #8
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To me, the best way is the drop outs, basically a simple SS/Fixed style.

But giving your frame and conditions, the best option is a simple chain tensioner.
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Old 05-24-12, 07:42 AM   #9
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Thanks, everyone for all the info. tcs: My commute is about 7 miles and only really has two steep hills, but they are pretty steep (at least they feel pretty steep when I'm riding my old centurion dave scott with the 52/42 crankset and the 7 speed cassette). As for handlebar choices, I prefer drop bars, or perhaps inverted north road. I'm so used to riding with drop bars that when I rode my brother's hybrid this morning with flat bars (the centurion is all stripped down and the frame is at the powdercoaters until the end of next week), it felt weird, too wide. I understand it's more maneuverable, but to me, that just makes it feel skittish.
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Old 05-24-12, 07:45 AM   #10
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Also wondering if it might be better to just keep an eye out for a used frame with semi-horizontal drop outs, since this frame is on the small side for me anyway. I initially thought I would prefer a winter bike to be a bit smaller to get a shorter standover height since I would want to be able to bail easily, but maybe that's not that big of a deal and I would be better off with something that fits better.
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Old 05-24-12, 07:53 AM   #11
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Finding another frame is not a bad idea - winter can absolutely ruin a bike. Also, cheap bikes have thicker walled steel tubing (takes longer to rust through) and usually horizontal dropouts so make ideal winter conversions.

However, your 12 Y.O. giant is not a museum peice and an old rear derailleur makes an excellent and inexpensive chain tensioner - I prefer 70s and early 80s Suntour derailleurs as they are cheap, plentiful, and look good.
Put some type of rust inhibitor inside the frame tubes and build 'er up! You have 6 months before the snow starts to fall.
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Old 05-24-12, 08:21 AM   #12
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I used a Bianchi 'Cross frame ot make my IGH and it had vertical dropouts. All I needed was the correct anti rotation wahsers and an old Dura Ace RD!





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Old 05-24-12, 09:00 AM   #13
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Anybody have any idea how much I could get (while being fair) for the giant? Would it be better to part it out or sell it as a complete bike?
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Old 05-24-12, 09:03 AM   #14
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The Giant was like $300 when new, I would expect you could ask $150 for it if it is in good shape. Be prepared to accept a little less.
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