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  1. #1
    W.W.DZ.D? cedricbosch's Avatar
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    Interally geared hub- slower?

    I'm looking at getting a commuter bike for my five-mile trek to work. I'm used to riding road bikes so I'd like something fast. I was looking at some internally-geared bikes, mostly because I like the clean look. Is there any loss of efficiency with these things?
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  2. #2
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    An internally geared hub is slightly less efficient than a derailler system, on the order of 1-3%. A filthy chain on a derailler based bike can add far more inefficiency. The main advantages of an internally geared hub are shifting at stops (which is a godsend if you ever have an emergency stop with 40lbs of groceries), and the ease of protecting the chain from the elements (which is primarily of interest in a wet or snowy climate). The latter advantage probably isn't in AZ.

    If you're not looking to use the bike as a car and still want the clean look, I suspect you might be better off with a singlespeed or fixed gear bike, geared so you can work on your spin. That eliminates the inefficiency of a shifting system, lightens up the bike, and should net you helpful gains for racing. There are a fair number of road focused bikes along those lines that should work well for you.

    If you're the sort of rider who really focuses on a consistent cadence, IGH and singlespeed are unlikely to be fun for you tho... both styles of bikes have a *lot* of cadence variation.

  3. #3
    Cold Rain and Snow Hot Potato's Avatar
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    If you took an old road bike and converted it into an IGH bike, it would be heavier but I don't know about slower. Its hard to find an IGH road bike new from a manufacturer. You can get IGH flat bar bikes on Mountain bike or hybrid frames with slick tires on them. I have a Giant Seek1, bought it for its IGh and hydraulic disc brakes. Its a great foul weather bike, but if the weather is nice I would prefer my road bike every time. The Alfine hub gear spacing is noticably uneven. Not enough to make me hate it, but it is noticable. The hydro brakes are awesome, so much better than road bike brakes, v-brakes, and canti brakes that I would choose my Seek everytime it was wet out for rides up to 10-15 miles. I doubt I would go much further if the weather stunk.

    So, I scratched my IGH itch with a Seek1, I won't be doing it again unless I run across an old road frame I turn into a project bike. There are brifters for the Alfine coming to the market.
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  4. #4
    Drops small screws noteon's Avatar
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    I have a SRAM Dual Drive on my commuting bike and the usual derailleur system on my brevet/century/weekend fun road bike.

    I never want another commuter bike without an IGH. In addition to shifting when stopped and protection from the elements, my setup is also very difficult to damage from falling, colliding, being stacked, kicked, etc. (no exposed parts) and allows access to all 24 ratios, since cross-chaining is not an issue.

    Given unlimited funds, it would be a tossup for the road bike. I might prefer an IGH there too, because the time I save on not dealing with derailleur issues could compensate for any miniscule energy loss. If I were a serious racer, I'd skip it, but I'm not.
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  5. #5
    South Denver Commuter Leiniesred's Avatar
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    Little bit slower in my opinion. But are you racing people to work? So, does it REALLY matter? Sure it might be a bit more fun riding with less drag, but wind direction makes a lot more of a difference than my IGH.

    5th gear on my IGH is straight through. I can tell when I am in the indirect gears, except the highest gear. 6 and 7 are quite noisy on my bike. The amount of noise hasn't really changed over the miles. I suppose the REDLINE version of the Nexus 8 would be smoother and quieter.
    I have >10,000 miles on my Nexus8 IGH. I do nearly no maintenance on this bike. OK, maybe oil the chain a couple of times a year. I have steel sprockets. The only work I've done on my glorified beach cruiser Bianchi Milano is a change of tires, handful of tubes and infrequent chain lubrication. I LOVE the no maintenance aspect of this bike and the IGH has a lot to do with that. I also have a rear roller brake that isn't as powerful as a regular rim brakes, but it works the same in rain, snow or shine. I rarely pull the front rim brake on this bike. I imagine the roller brake will last about forever too.

    For a commuter? I think IGH is the way to go. No maintenance. Inconsequential sprocket and chain wear means more time riding and less time wrenching. Add a roller brake for all weather braking without maintenance too.
    If you are like RickyBobby and wanna go fast, IGH isn't the best. IGH is heavier, has more drag, and doesn't cost less than a traditional multigear set-up. Roller brakes are too heavy for racers too.
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  6. #6
    Gears? CliftonGK1's Avatar
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    They're no worse than adding a generator hub. Heck, I've seen plenty of people with an IGH and a generator front hub, and they don't look like they're fighting an uphill battle to keep rolling.
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  7. #7
    Senior Member neilfein's Avatar
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    IGH is simpler, cleaner, and (I find) nearly as efficient as my one deraileur bike. The only non-IGH I ride is my touring bike, for ease of on-the-road repairs. It's easy to unjam a deraileur, and changing the rear tire is less of an ordeal. If the IGH on my my commuter died, I'd calling a cab. If my shopping bike hub went belly-up, I'm a ten minute walk from home.

    Has anyone had one of these hubs fail on them?
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  8. #8
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    Think of any loss of efficiency as increasing your strength for racing by trying to commute at the same speed as on the derailleur bike.

    I have 5 IGH bikes currently from a Sachs 3 speed Torpedo hub converted Kona cruiser to a Rohloff equipped bike and like them all. Currently assembling a Shimano Alfine hub equipped old Peugeot PX-10 road frame which will have drop bars and use the Jtek bar end shifter.
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  9. #9
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    You also have to factor in the time spent cleaning and maintaining a derailleur system. During a cold, wet winter that can be very unpleasant way to spend a sunday morning.
    I really love my Alfine for a 2x5 mile commute. Ive got the hub generator as well but I dont feel slow.

  10. #10
    n00b M. Rhoten's Avatar
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    I am just about done building up an old 80s Peugeot MTB around one of these hubs (the "red line" hub, not the Alfine). Conditions here are wet and gritty much of the year, so I seem to go through cassettes and chains like nobody's business. I am hoping to recoup some time there.

    The results so far are good, but I don't have my handlebars yet so I can't report how it rides. It certainly is easy to build a wheel with one of those hubs though, and the look is exceptionally clean.

  11. #11
    Raptobike Rider djwid's Avatar
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    My latest bike has a Rohloff. It is performing very well and in the process ruining me for derailleurs. A Rohloff isn't an inexpensive IGH but wow, it is amazing. I don't notice any real loss, but I didn't with my SON hub for my last bike either.

    Shifting at will is really addicting. I love my Rohloff.
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  12. #12
    kipuka explorer bkrownd's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by djwid View Post
    Shifting at will is really addicting. I love my Rohloff.
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  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Torrilin View Post
    An internally geared hub is slightly less efficient than a derailler system, on the order of 1-3%. A filthy chain on a derailler based bike can add far more inefficiency. The main advantages of an internally geared hub are shifting at stops (which is a godsend if you ever have an emergency stop with 40lbs of groceries), and the ease of protecting the chain from the elements (which is primarily of interest in a wet or snowy climate). The latter advantage probably isn't in AZ.

    If you're not looking to use the bike as a car and still want the clean look, I suspect you might be better off with a singlespeed or fixed gear bike, geared so you can work on your spin. That eliminates the inefficiency of a shifting system, lightens up the bike, and should net you helpful gains for racing. There are a fair number of road focused bikes along those lines that should work well for you.

    If you're the sort of rider who really focuses on a consistent cadence, IGH and singlespeed are unlikely to be fun for you tho... both styles of bikes have a *lot* of cadence variation.
    I generally agree, though I would add that the chain on the IGH gets dirty to.

    An IGH allows you to easily add a chainguard to protect your legs/pants (though those simple rings on the outside of the gears seem to work just as well.

    An IGH gives you the possibility of adding a full chaincase to protect the chain, your clothing, and anything you lay your bike on (like in your car). However, the only one I've actually seen on a decent bike is on the latest Breezer Uptown. Would have liked one to protect my chain, to...

    On my Alfine the gears are, as someone mentioned, spaced fairly far apart and in at somewhat inconsistent spacing. However, after riding the bike for a while it hasn't been a big deal to me.

    An IGH is heavier than a derailler, and it puts that weight into the hub on the wheel.

    The advantage, of course, is that as the IGH is sealed it's very difficult for water or contaminants to get in or out (though my LBS tells me water still gets in sometimes and mucks stuff up, so it may not be 100% maintenance free).

    Buying a bike with an IGH is certainly more expensive than a comparative bike with a derailler.

    It's also very different to get the back wheel off than it is on a traditional bike. Depending on the model and mount, it may be harder or may be just as much work but it's definitely different.

    -----------------------------------------------------------------------

    Personally, I have 2 bikes - a high end Specialized Tarmac (road racing bike) and a Civia Highland (straight bar bike). The Tarmac has what you'd expect on a road racing bike. The Civia Highland has an Alfine IGH, disc brakes, front dynamo hub, straight handlebars, fenders, rack, etc.

    On the flat with no wind I go 19-21mph with the Tarmac. Under the same conditions, I go 15-16mph with the Civia (doesn't seem to matter if the hub dymamo is on or off, I've tried it both ways).

    Up hills I really notice that the Tarmac is faster - it's just so much lighter. I don't have hard numbers, though.

    An IGH is great for winter riding where salt and spray get kicked up onto your chain, cassette, derailler, etc etc all winter and just eat your drivetrain. Several different people at several different bike shops where I live who winter commute with a derailler bike say the chain and rear cassette have to be replaced every winter - sometimes the derailler does to. Even if your chain isn't protected at all, with an IGH it's cheaper to buy a new chain and a new single ring on the IGH every year than it is to buy a new chain and new rear cassette every year, not to mention a derailler. And of course, and IGH gives you the option of doing a lot more to protect your chain including a chain guard or a full chain case (well - if they were more available...).

    And an IGH might make sense for a rain bike.

    But if I lived in Arizona where you don't have to worry about snow, ice, salt, and sand constantly on the road, or rain even, I'd stick with a traditional derailler. It's cheaper, less maintenance, and your bike will be lighter.

  14. #14
    Gear Hub fan
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    I would note that the weight difference Paul Rivers mentions is dependent on how an IGH bike is equipped versus the road bike.

    The Civia Hyland includes a hub dynamo, fenders, rear rack, dynamo headlight and chain guard that are not found on road bikes. Also wider and likelier heavier tires than on most road bikes. This does affect weight comparisons. I would expect that the weight differential between identical frames set up with a 8, 9 or 14 speed IGH and a derailleur road bike would be in the neighborhood of 2 pounds more for the IGH bike. I posted asking about this some time ago, asking if anyone had actual measured differences, with no replies.

    The road bike also typically places the rider in a more aerodynamic riding position. As aero drag is one of the largest influences on bicycle speed this can have a major effect on cruising speed.
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  15. #15
    Senior Member chicbicyclist's Avatar
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    It's very, very negligible. Their cleanliness and overall practicality is more than worth the 1 or two percentage loss in efficiency.

    I will never buy a bike without an internal hub gears, ever

    I'm glad that there are more choices when it comes to IGH bikes these days.

    If you get a fully enclosed chain case, which is admittedly harder to come by, then you will have an almost perpetually new looking chains for the rest of your life.

  16. #16
    Super Moderator no1mad's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hot Potato View Post
    If you took an old road bike and converted it into an IGH bike, it would be heavier but I don't know about slower. Its hard to find an IGH road bike new from a manufacturer. You can get IGH flat bar bikes on Mountain bike or hybrid frames with slick tires on them. I have a Giant Seek1, bought it for its IGh and hydraulic disc brakes. Its a great foul weather bike, but if the weather is nice I would prefer my road bike every time. The Alfine hub gear spacing is noticably uneven. Not enough to make me hate it, but it is noticable. The hydro brakes are awesome, so much better than road bike brakes, v-brakes, and canti brakes that I would choose my Seek everytime it was wet out for rides up to 10-15 miles. I doubt I would go much further if the weather stunk.

    So, I scratched my IGH itch with a Seek1, I won't be doing it again unless I run across an old road frame I turn into a project bike. There are brifters for the Alfine coming to the market.
    I'm not shilling, but what about the Dynamic Synergy?
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  17. #17
    W.W.DZ.D? cedricbosch's Avatar
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    Hmm, unfortunately it doesn't seem like anyone has done scientific testing on these things.

    I have decided against going with an internally geared hub because the conditions here in AZ are always dry. Plus, I have pretty much all the existing parts I need to set up an externally geared bike.
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  18. #18
    Gear Hub fan
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    Quote Originally Posted by cedricbosch View Post
    Hmm, unfortunately it doesn't seem like anyone has done scientific testing on these things.
    Here are a couple of articles on IGH versus derailleur efficiency from the IHPVA Jourmal. The first is by Chester Kyle and Frank Berto. The second is by Rohloff engineers. IMO both are interesting and instructive including the variations in derailleur gear train efficiency depending on gear selection.

    http://www.ihpva.org/HParchive/PDF/hp52-2001.pdf

    http://www.ihpva.org/HParchive/PDF/hp55/hp55p11-15.pdf

    There is also a chapter in the book "Bicycling Science", third edition with additional information. The book is from MIT press and is available on Amazon for under $20 if memory serves.
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  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by tatfiend View Post
    I would note that the weight difference Paul Rivers mentions is dependent on how an IGH bike is equipped versus the road bike.

    The Civia Hyland includes a hub dynamo, fenders, rear rack, dynamo headlight and chain guard that are not found on road bikes. Also wider and likelier heavier tires than on most road bikes. This does affect weight comparisons. I would expect that the weight differential between identical frames set up with a 8, 9 or 14 speed IGH and a derailleur road bike would be in the neighborhood of 2 pounds more for the IGH bike. I posted asking about this some time ago, asking if anyone had actual measured differences, with no replies.

    The road bike also typically places the rider in a more aerodynamic riding position. As aero drag is one of the largest influences on bicycle speed this can have a major effect on cruising speed.
    While comparing the weight of my high end road bike to the weight of my IGH bike with an aluminum frame on all the stuff on it certainly isn't fair, I have found fairer comparisons. I've just never found a bike with an IGH that was light. The Trek Soho, the Giant Trans Send, the Specialized Globe - the versions with the IGH always seem to be heavier. My mother test rode a Specialized Globe with and without an IGH and felt faster on the one without it (she's not in very good shape for biking).

    I think it's the weight - according to hubstripping.com the Alfine weighs 1590 grams, which is about 3.5 pounds. For comparison, my high end racing wheels - BOTH of them, weight around 1500 grams together. A 2,000 gram pair of Mavic Open Pro's cost $250-$400 - not a high end wheelset. So those wheels + internal hub weighs like 3500 grams together. People say that a derailler + cassette weighs something to, which it does, but they weigh less and they aren't rotational weight on the wheel that you have to spin up every time you start and stop.

    I'm not saying IGH's are bad, not by a long shot. I was just trying to provide info from my experience.

    If you want to do the absolute least maintenance possible an IGH makes sense. You trade a little speed and weight for less maintenance. Or if your riding conditions are like mine in the winter and involve salt, slush and sand being thrown up onto the derailler and chain it makes a lot of sense to get an IGH which simply won't require as much maintenance (some people say they clean their chain every time they go out riding in the winter, or at least every week - there's no way I'm spending that kind of time on bike maintenance).

    If it wasn't for issues I've been having with my disc brakes rubbing, I'd say an IGH is wonderfully low maintenance. But an IGH is slightly less efficient, somewhat heavier, and for the reasonable priced versions the gaps between the gears is much larger than with a traditional derailler - not big enough to make biking difficult, but big enough to sometimes not have an "optimal" gear.

    I vastly prefer an IGH for my winter bike, but personally (and this is just my opinion) I'd prefer to stick with a traditional derailler for all my other bikes that aren't subjected to as much grime, salt and sand. It's not any sort of *huge* difference, but having some experience that is my preference.

    Just trying to be helpful.

  20. #20
    Decrepit Member Abacus's Avatar
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    I have a Nexus 8 aluminium flatbar bike, a 27 speed Trek 520, and a couple of older mtbs.

    Of the 4 bikes the Nexus 8 is the bike I enjoy riding least. In fact I haven't taken it out of the garage in about 3 months. It's headed to Fleabay, methinks.

    It isn't the speed that is the issue with the Nexus 8. It's the range of ratios, or lack thereof.

    The range of gear ratios more or less approximate the 12/34 sprockets and 42 tooth middle chainring on my 520. In addition to that range the 520 has a 30 tooth granny and a 52 tooth big ring. I don't spend much time on the 52 tooth, but I do need to change down to the granny on any serious hills.

    In fairness, I should point out that I am 48yo, 5'10 and 265lbs. I am not extremely fit.

    In my view the Nexus 8 is fine if you live in a relatively flat or mildly hilly city, and you are reasonably fit, or if you live in a really hilly city, and you are very fit. However, Sydney is a very hilly city, and that issue, combined with my weight and relative lack of fitness makes riding the Nexus 8 a pain for at least some portion of most rides.

    That being said, on the flat I do wind the Nexus 8 up in top gear. For that reason I don't want to put a larger sprocket or smaller chainring on the bike. If I did that I would be spinning out.

    As has been noted above, the Nexus 8 ratios are fairly uneven. This doesn't help, but it isn't the major issue with me. It is simply the lack of range.

    I like the Nexus 8's lack of required maintenance and the ability to change gears at a standstill. However, in my case, they just don't compensate for the lack of ratios.

    I played around with the idea of scrapping the flat bar bike and transplanting the Nexus hub to the 520, whilst keeping the triple chainrings. However this is a rather untested and uncommon setup and I did not want to run the risk of having two disabled bikes while I muck around and try to get it to work. I would be interested to hear of any multiple chainring/Nexus 8 success stories.

    Some people love IGH. Heck, some people love SS/FG. But it's not for me.

  21. #21
    Cold Rain and Snow Hot Potato's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by no1mad View Post
    I'm not shilling, but what about the Dynamic Synergy?
    I got my first look at that bike on the internet about a month AFTER I bought my Seek1. I don't think it was in production yet anyway, and I wanted the bike for last winter. I would try to road-ify my seek1 a bit for trial before I went to a fully road IGH. I like the gear options of a compact double or a triple chain ring with a 9 speed or higher cassette a lot more than I like the Alfine IGH. A Rholoff has potential to sway me (from what I have read), but my stable of bikes is in perfect harmony now - each one has a purpose and gets enough attention to keep it happy - I just have no motivation to go for another IGH.
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  22. #22
    pedalphile
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    You have a 5 mile commute, which, here in the CF, officially is classified as a wussy commute.

    This being the case, you should ride in the most inefficient gear, adjust your brakes for a slight drag and wear a pink kit with "commuter wussy" emblazoned across the back.

    regards,

    bitter, jealous, fat old guy with a somewhat hilly 12 mile commute at either end of a 12 hour work day!

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by no1mad View Post
    I'm not shilling, but what about the Dynamic Synergy?
    Per their site the Synergy is $1399 with an introductory $100 discount to $1299. If correct then it is $200 to $300 more than the new Swobo Baxter with the Alfine hub and disc brakes. $200 to $300 extra for the brifter and drop bars. Both are listed as aluminum frames and CF forks.

    The Synergy does claim to be quite light at 21 pounds but no indication of the frame size this applies to. It sounds like a very light IGH bike. The Swobo is listed as 3 pounds heavier. It also has clearance for fenders, something the Synergy does not appear to offer. The weight difference to me appears to be primarily due to the Swobo's disc brakes and chainguard.

    I would note too that the Swobo has 6 sizes listed versus 4 on the Dynamic and much more detailed frame geometry specs are listed. The sizes listed for the Dynamic frames versus rider height seem to me to be questionable as they list a 55cm frame, with a 57.9cm top tube as the correct size for a rider up to 6'4". Frame sizing appears to be on the small side compared to what I am accustomed to.

    I am not asociated in any way with either company other than owning a Swobo Dixon. I just carried home two full paper sacks of groceries on it using a pair of REI shopping panniers and a Topeak Super Tourist DX rack.
    Gear Hubs Owned: Rohloff disc brake, SRAM iM9 disc brake, SRAM P5 freewheel, Sachs Torpedo 3 speed freewheel, NuVinci CVT, Shimano Alfine SG S-501, Sturmey Archer S5-2 Alloy. Other: 83 Colnago Super Record, Univega Via De Oro

    Visit and join the Yahoo Geared Hub Bikes group for support and links.
    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Geared_hub_bikes/

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