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  1. #1
    Senior Member MulliganAl's Avatar
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    Thinking about building a Cross Check with a Nexus hub

    Is there anything major I'd be giving up in going with a Nexus hub over a traditional setup?

    Will the hub work well for general urban commuting with a few good size hills?

    Is the Nexus one of the better hubs on the market?

    What speed hub do you have (or want) on your commuter bike?

    Can I really torque this thing without tearing it up?
    Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving. -Albert Einstein

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    if you want drops you'd be giving them up but most reviews are good for IGHs. For me I like drops so am going to wait for the alfine brifters, before I consider IGHs.

  3. #3
    Gear Hub fan
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    Quote Originally Posted by MulliganAl View Post
    Is there anything major I'd be giving up in going with a Nexus hub over a traditional setup?

    Will the hub work well for general urban commuting with a few good size hills?

    Is the Nexus one of the better hubs on the market?

    What speed hub do you have (or want) on your commuter bike?

    Can I really torque this thing without tearing it up?
    Giving up gear range compared to a triple derailleur setup or a wide range double. The Nexus 8/Alfine hub range is about 305% or about the same as a 11-34 casette on a single front chainring derailleur bike.

    How well it works on the hills is dependent on overall gearing you choose and your own physical condition. What gear inches is the lowest gear that you use on your derailleur bike for your hills?

    The current Nexus hubs are supposed to be quite good though the bike I am building currently will be using the Alfine hub. This is supposed to be the top of the line Shimno gear hub and have better sealing than the Nexus hubs.

    I am retired and do not commute. I currently have bikes with Rohloff, SRAM 9 speed, NuVinci, SRAM P5 and older Sachs Torpedo 3 speed hubs. On a commuter I would want the Nexus 8/Alfine, SRAM iMotion9 or Rohloff hubs, depending on the commute. The NuVinci is good but IMO too heavy for most riders.

    Torque the hub is subjected to is very dependent on input gear ratio. Rohloff hubs list as minimum input ratio of 2.35 to 1 for riders under 100Kg weight and 2.5 to 1 for riders over 100Kg or tandem use. The manual states that the hub should survive even world class athletes if the guidelines are followed. The Rohloff is the only current hub listed as approved for tandem use. NuVinci lists a 2 to 1 imput ratio low limit. SRAM hubs vary from a listed limit of 1.73 to 1 to about 2 to 1 depending on hub. I personally favor a limit of 2 to 1 or higher for all my gear hubs. The Rohloff is geared well above the factory specified minimum and still provides a 21" gear inch low. I do not like to possibly overstress equipment.

    Shimano allows gearing as low as about 1.6 to 1 based on their offered sprockets and front IGH crank sets. IMO that provides too low a high gear for most active riders. If you are a strong rider I would go with at least a 2 to 1 ratio. The Geared Hub Bikes Yahoo group has one member using an Alfine hub on a MTB w/o any reported problems so far. I am not sure of his gearing. A link to the group is in my signature block below if you are interested.

    Only Rohloff and NuVinci list maximum input torque limits and by reputation these are the strongest hubs available. Also the widest gear range hubs on the market but the Rohloff is expensive and the NuVinci is very heavy.
    Last edited by tatfiend; 04-23-09 at 06:09 PM. Reason: typo correction
    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.
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  4. #4
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    Uh...I'm just going to copy and paste the response I just wrote in another thread.

    The one thing I'll add is that I preferred the Alfine over the Nexus judging from several different test rides. The Nexus had "noise" you could feel in certain gears and the difference in efficiency between the 4th and 5th gear was so large as to be noticeable. Shifts on the Alfine are smooth, I don't think they were as smooth (or maybe they made noise?) on the Nexus.

    Someone on the forums claimed the Nexus and Alfine are identical inside except the Alfine has mounts for disc brakes. There's no doubt in my mind that there were solid, noticeable difference between the Nexus's I rode and the Alfine I have. They claimed the Nexus has gone through like 25 different revisions, so the Nexus I rode was a different revision. Not sure what to think - haven't ridden a newer Nexus.

    http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...788781#8788781



    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.

  5. #5
    cyclopath vik's Avatar
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    I have 2 Rohloffs, 2 Nexus 8s and 1 Alfine as well as 2 or 3 derailleur bikes. I use them all interchangeably. I pretty much won't buy a non-IGH bike unless its for a performance application like fast hard road rides.
    safe riding - Vik
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  6. #6
    Senior Member MulliganAl's Avatar
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    Thanks guys, this is all outstanding information and will help me make my decision.

    One last question though, if the IGH hubs are so good why don't I see more people using them. Is it because they are more expensive, or are people just beginning to catch on to them, or have the IGH hubs just recently become reliable enough gain a following, or are there other reasons?
    Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving. -Albert Einstein

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    Quote Originally Posted by daven1986 View Post
    if you want drops you'd be giving them up but most reviews are good for IGHs. For me I like drops so am going to wait for the alfine brifters, before I consider IGHs.
    If you're outfitted with a Shimano Nexus/Alfine 8, Nexus 7, or SA 8, you can use Jtek's bar-end shifter:

    http://www.jtekengineering.com/jtek_bar-end_shifter.htm

    I think it's a little cleaner solution than the hub-bub adapter when combining an IGH with drop bars.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by MulliganAl View Post
    Thanks guys, this is all outstanding information and will help me make my decision.

    One last question though, if the IGH hubs are so good why don't I see more people using them. Is it because they are more expensive, or are people just beginning to catch on to them, or have the IGH hubs just recently become reliable enough gain a following, or are there other reasons?
    IGHs have always been common in Europe, primarily on commuter and city type bikes though apparently relatively common on some British performance bikes up till about 1960 or so. Sturmey Archer made some close ratio 3 and 4 speed hubs aimed at British time trialists from the late 1930s till the early 60s or so. Many European imports had 3 speed gear hubs until about 1970 or so. Mostly utility bikes though.

    Only in the last 15 years or so have IGH versions with more than 5 speeds and relatively wide gear ranges been available. In the U.S. market the derailleur has dominated since the 70s import bike boom as a bike advertised with 10 speeds or more sounds superior to one with 3, 4 or 5 speeds even though the derailleur bike usually has several duplicate gears. Marketing and advertising driven. For the weight weenies the derailleur gear train is lighter too, a consideration for some.

    The IGH does cost more to produce due to the complexity of the internal gearing and the machining needed to make it. Look at an inexpensive derailleur and it is very simple in comparison.

    IMO the current 5 through 9 speed gear hubs would be better for most casual and commuter riders than most derailleur bikes. Unlikely to happen though as few if any are available on bikes offered by the WalMart and Target type stores which instead sell so called bikes with the cheapest and junkiest derailleur gear trains available.

    IGH popularity is not helped by the fact that few bike shops have mechanics who are trained in their service either. Like anything mechanical they do need occasional service.
    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.
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  9. #9
    Decrepit Member Abacus's Avatar
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    As I said in the other thread, and tatfiend noted above, the main drawback is smaller range of ratios as compared to a convential setup with a wide range of sprackets and/or chainrings. Its an issue for me. YMMV.

  10. #10
    Senior Member MulliganAl's Avatar
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    tatfiend, you're just a wealth of information. Thanks for the great information and history. I enjoy reading and knowing the history of things I have an interest in.
    Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving. -Albert Einstein

    When I see an adult on a bicycle, I do not despair for the future of the human race. -H.G. Wells

    The best rides are the ones where you bite off much more than you can chew--and live through it. -Doug Bradbury

  11. #11
    Senior Member bkbrouwer's Avatar
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    "Giving up gear range compared to a triple derailleur setup or a wide range double. The Nexus 8/Alfine hub range is about 305% or about the same as a 11-34 casette on a single front chainring derailleur bike."


    I'll have to beg to differ on this. Using Sheldon's gear inch calculator my triple ring commuter has a range of 30.6 inches - 107.0 inches. My Nexus 8 has a range of 33.5 inches - 102.6 inches. The Nexus has a lot more range than a single chainring/derailleur set up.

  12. #12
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    I run a cross check as my commuter and its already a pretty heavy setup. Adding a geared hub is just going to add to that weight. Around here I have too many hills to take that kind of weight penalty, but if it works for you more power to you.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Abacus View Post
    As I said in the other thread, and tatfiend noted above, the main drawback is smaller range of ratios as compared to a convential setup with a wide range of sprackets and/or chainrings. Its an issue for me. YMMV.
    Personally, I've found that my IGH has about the same range as my high end curly bar road bike (a Specialized Tarmac). On my road bike I sometimes run out of gears while going uphill. On my IGH, I've never run out of gears going uphill, but have occasionally wished there was another higher gear while going downhill.

    I have spent time wishing there were smaller differences between gears - like gear 4 will leave me spinning to fast, gear 5 will take a lot more effort to pedal at a decent spin rate. It's doesn't happen all the time, and I've kinda of adjusted, just mentioning it.

    Just trying to add my experience to the discussion!

  14. #14
    Decrepit Member Abacus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PaulRivers View Post
    Personally, I've found that my IGH has about the same range as my high end curly bar road bike (a Specialized Tarmac). On my road bike I sometimes run out of gears while going uphill. On my IGH, I've never run out of gears going uphill, but have occasionally wished there was another higher gear while going downhill.

    I have spent time wishing there were smaller differences between gears - like gear 4 will leave me spinning to fast, gear 5 will take a lot more effort to pedal at a decent spin rate. It's doesn't happen all the time, and I've kinda of adjusted, just mentioning it.

    Just trying to add my experience to the discussion!
    Agreed. Your experience is the flip side of what I said in the other thread:

    Quote Originally Posted by Abacus
    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.

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    Senior Member Bolo Grubb's Avatar
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    I love my Nexus hub for commuting. I have drop bars, touring frame and plenty of gears.

    I got the hub built in the wheel from Harris Cyclery and bought a matching front wheel from them as well. This bike had 27" wheels on it before. I was lucky that there was enough adjustment in the brakes for them to work with 700c wheels.

    I put Schwalbe Marathon plus tires on it in the 700 x 32 size and I am pretty happy with the way they feel. I still have the original Brooks team pro saddle on the bike but it is showing the abuse it has had over the years. I may replace it soon with another team pro.

    I still need to consider fenders, but as I live in Arizona, we do not get much rain, so I am in no hurry.


    I got the original bike for $300 a couple of years ago from the original owner. The specs are as follows:

    1984 Trek 720, 22.5 inch frame.
    Nexus 8 speed hubm 36 hole Sun CR18 rimm Schwalbe Marathon plus 32mm Tires
    Matching 36 hole Sun CR18 rim in front
    Original crank 170mm 48th chainring
    19th rear sprocket (35.9-110.2 gear inches)
    Brooks Imperial Saddle
    Original Blackburn Expedition rack
    Nexus twist shifter attached to hubbub adapter for drop bars
    Oval Concept bars 42cm
    Nashbar Threadless stem adapter
    Nashbar 120mm stem with 7 degree rise
    Tektro brake levers

    Bike weight: 35lbs

  16. #16
    rhm
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    multimodal commuter rhm's Avatar
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    I have almost the same setup as Bolo Grubb. Mine is a 1982 Trek 720. Instead of a hubbub adapter, I put a straight bar on it, with drop bar ends to make it like a drop bar. The Nexus twist shifter is on the straight part of the bar, the brake levers are in the curve of the drop like on any road bike. I have a 38T chain ring though, not a 48 (Bolo, are you a masher? ), so I spin out somewhere around 35 mph (I've had it up to 36 once, but I was really spinning).

    I have not done any touring on it since installing the Nexus hub, so I have to admit the possibility the gear range might be a little anemic for really nasty hills, but so far I have not encountered a hill that was problematic for me.

    For comparison, I commute on a Downtube Mini folding bike, which has 16" wheels and the Sturmey Archer 8-sp hub. The gear range is almost the same as the Nexus, but gears 2-7 are evenly spaced, which is a big advantage over the Nexus. The SA hub has some problems, well documented in this forum and elsewhere, but I wouldn't change it. That bike has about 6,000 miles on it.
    Last edited by rhm; 04-24-09 at 09:36 AM.

  17. #17
    Senior Member Bolo Grubb's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rhm View Post
    I have almost the same setup as Bolo Grubb. Mine is a 1982 Trek 720. Instead of a hubbub adapter, I put a straight bar on it, with drop bar ends to make it like a drop bar. The Nexus twist shifter is on the straight part of the bar, the brake levers are in the curve of the drop like on any road bike. I have a 38T chain ring though, not a 48 (Bolo, are you a masher? ), so I spin out somewhere around 35 mph (I've had it up to 36 once, but I was really spinning).
    nope I am not a Masher but my commute is pretty flat with only one short hill. I spend most my time in gear 4 or 5 and between 75 and 95 rpms.

  18. #18
    Senior Member degnaw's Avatar
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    Off topic, but I've always wondered why "mashing" is bad on a geared bike but not on a singlespeed.

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    Quote Originally Posted by daven1986 View Post
    if you want drops you'd be giving them up but most reviews are good for IGHs. For me I like drops so am going to wait for the alfine brifters, before I consider IGHs.
    I didn't feel like spending $90 ($90, honestly? make it crappier, heavier, etc... but make it cheaper!), so I improvised a bit.

    All you need to put a regular Alfine shifter on your drop-bar bike is some older drop bars (mine are a 25.4 clamp, from 2000 or so that came with this bicycle), and one of these (well, and a drill):

    edit: attached image of the shifter on the bars as well. It is surprisingly easy to use in that position, and the tops of the bars are still fully functional unless you for some reason enjoy holding on to the very middle of the bars. I would prefer a brifter, and a bar-end would look better, but the drill bit cost me $3.
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Last edited by lukasz; 04-24-09 at 05:07 PM.

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    Weight is a drawback, especially if you use a roller or drum brake.

    You could actually use a front derailer with a rear IGH as long as you use a springloaded chain tensioner. Then you would still have a large range.

  21. #21
    Gear Hub fan
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    Quote Originally Posted by bkbrouwer View Post
    "Giving up gear range compared to a triple derailleur setup or a wide range double. The Nexus 8/Alfine hub range is about 305% or about the same as a 11-34 casette on a single front chainring derailleur bike."

    I'll have to beg to differ on this. Using Sheldon's gear inch calculator my triple ring commuter has a range of 30.6 inches - 107.0 inches. My Nexus 8 has a range of 33.5 inches - 102.6 inches. The Nexus has a lot more range than a single chainring/derailleur set up.

    Your triple ring commuter has a very narrow range for a triple. Most loaded tourer and mountain bike triple derailleur gear trains have a overall ratio, low to high, in the 500% to 600% range. If you want to spend the money the Rohloff manual lists it as having a 526% range. A neat hub, I have one.

    As I noted, if you do the math, the 11-34 casette has a 309% range with a single chainring. This is close to the Nexus 8 speed or Alfine hub range. Sounds to me like your triple commuter is set up with a so called corncob rear casette and a relatively large inner chainring, restricting overall gear ratio available.
    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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    I was thinking of the same thing for my CrossCheck after seeing a Casserole set up that way but I didn't get the sense that IGH hubs were anymore maintenance free than a cassette and derailleur and that rear wheel removal and readjustment was more problematic for tire repair. I don't need a huge gear range so anything inside 35"-95" is good enough.

  23. #23
    Senior Member Kimmitt's Avatar
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    They're both solid technologies; I like IGH's better for urban riding and commuting due to the ease of shifting while stopped and because IGH's have this nice smooth chainline.

  24. #24
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    On my Alfine 8 speed hub, the gears are not evenly spaced. Definitely noticeable, compared to a cassette/derailleur bike. So for the shimano products, you would be giving up smaller, more consistent gear changes. But do it anyway, you won't regret it.
    Quietly elevating being dropped to an art form

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by bkbrouwer View Post
    I'll have to beg to differ on this. Using Sheldon's gear inch calculator my triple ring commuter has a range of 30.6 inches - 107.0 inches. My Nexus 8 has a range of 33.5 inches - 102.6 inches. The Nexus has a lot more range than a single chainring/derailleur set up.
    Yeah a 300% gear-range is about the same as any double-chainring roadbike.

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