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  1. #1
    Tuck Fexas SoonerLater's Avatar
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    GEARS: Rear Derailer vs. Internal Hub

    It seems that the vast majority of folding bikes with gears ship with rear derailers.

    The advantages of derailers are (1) generally less expensive than internally geared hubs; (2) you can inexpensively replace a cassette and change your gearing, but if you don't like the gearing of your hub, you have to replace the whole hub.

    The advantages of the internal hubs are (1) much luss vulnerable to abuse or damage, whereas it's not hard to bend the cable jockey arm on a derailer, (2) requires less maintenance; (3) you can change gears while stopped.

    My road and mountain bikes have derailers, of course, but I'm worried about having a derailer on a folder. I'm concerned that the constant folding/unfolding/storing, etc., will result in tearing up the derailer. Am I paranoid? Who on this forum has damaged their derailer? Or knocked it out of aligment so that it required maintenance? There are sure lots more choices if one is wililng to buy a folder with derailer.

  2. #2
    Senior Member Fear&Trembling's Avatar
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    I have never damaged the derailleur when folding or unfolding my Birdy. I have also not had to adjust the indexing after a knock - others may have though...

  3. #3
    All ur bike r belong Enki james_swift's Avatar
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    My derailer got knocked-out of alignment, not so much from the folding, but from the daily rigors of commuting on the train. Being that the derailer hangs lower on a folder, it's susceptible to being whacked by the wheels of other bikes as all frantically jocky for position on a crowded commuter train. I recall on several occasions having to stop an bend my derailer back after deboarding the train. Sucked.

    I obviously don't have that problem anymore.

  4. #4
    Professional Fuss-Budget Bacciagalupe's Avatar
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    Yes, you're paranoid.

    You forgot to mention that derailleurs are lighter, quieter and more efficient, by the way. Also, while internal hubs are generally more robust and need less maintenance, you're pretty much SOL if it does break, 10x if it breaks on the road / on tour.

    Also, internal hubs are better for inclement weather and muddy environments, as the transmission will stay much cleaner.

    Internal hubs are best for commuting and some people like them for touring. But I wouldn't worry at all about using a derailleur on a folder. If they really didn't work for folders, you wouldn't see them offered on so many folding bikes.

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    RD or internal?, that was the burning question I faced when I decided to buy a used Swift from Peter. I felt (perceived) more comfortable with a RD since I planned to travel with my folder overseas. Regarding damage after folding, I think in general, you have to be pretty careful where and how you store the bike.

  6. #6
    too many bikes
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    The Sunrace M50 on my DT FS met its gritty end in a right-side fall in wet roots on a corner on a woods trail. I got scratched up but the RD got mangled. I was thinking, what fun, good speed, then wham, the bike and I are on the deck (that was the start of my search for a better fork). If you ride off-road on a 20", a gear hub is better.

  7. #7
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    My vote is for the hub on a smaller folder for mixed mode commuting and trunk use.

  8. #8
    Member, Schmember DaFriMon's Avatar
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    I have never damaged the rear derailleurs on any of my folders. The front derailleur on my BF got damaged once when it was packed in the suitcase for airline travel, but that isn't within the scope of the original question.

    Hub gears are a good choice if you can get the range of gears that you want (not necessarily what someone else thinks you should want).
    You're right, I do have more bikes than I need.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by SoonerLater
    It seems that the vast majority of folding bikes with gears ship with rear derailers.

    The advantages of derailers are (1) generally less expensive than internally geared hubs; (2) you can inexpensively replace a cassette and change your gearing, but if you don't like the gearing of your hub, you have to replace the whole hub.

    The advantages of the internal hubs are (1) much luss vulnerable to abuse or damage, whereas it's not hard to bend the cable jockey arm on a derailer, (2) requires less maintenance; (3) you can change gears while stopped.

    My road and mountain bikes have derailers, of course, but I'm worried about having a derailer on a folder. I'm concerned that the constant folding/unfolding/storing, etc., will result in tearing up the derailer. Am I paranoid? Who on this forum has damaged their derailer? Or knocked it out of aligment so that it required maintenance? There are sure lots more choices if one is wililng to buy a folder with derailer.
    Advantages: Internal hubs --- usually higher geared but this can be fixed by installing a much larger cog but you lose the high gears. Usually less expensive if you're planning to use a Sturmey Archer AW-3 or Nexus 8, Sram 7 etc. The only really expensive hub is the German Speed hub.

    Advantages: Derailluers ---- You can get the lower gears that an internal hub owner can dream. Less expensive to fix on the road. Can stand on the pedals.

  10. #10
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    I only owned 1 folding bicycle so far, but I like the 5-speed internal hub gear on Dahon Vitesse D5. I chose this model rather than Speed or some others, because I wanted to avoid derailluer and its associated problems discussed above. It has good gear range for city and bike paths. No problem with bridges, pedestrian overpasses with ramps, etc. I could use higher gears to ride faster on flat road, but that's not very esseintial.

  11. #11
    jur
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bacciagalupe
    You forgot to mention that derailleurs are <snip> more efficient...
    I saw a paper on an investigation on the *total* efficiency of drive trains, and it turns out a Sturmey Archer AW is as efficient as a good derailer system, and more efficient in 2nd gear. In general, the efficiencies of both systems are very similar. Derailer systems are lighter. So it counts a tiny bit going uphill.
    My folding bike photo essays www.dekter.net/

  12. #12
    34x25 FTW! oboeguy's Avatar
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    Our Dahon SpeedPro folders have both, a rear derrailleur AND hub gearing (so no front derailleur). The RD on the older SP is shot, funny you should post this thread, so I'm replacing it. I'm not sure what caused it to wear out the way it did. I suppose when I do the replacement could try to disassemble it for a better understanding (search in the Mechanics thread if you want the details).
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  13. #13
    Folding bike junkie! Wavshrdr's Avatar
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    I am solidly in the camp of the internal hubs at this point especially on the smaller wheeled bikes. On the 20" wheels my choice would be the Nexus 8 spd premium hub I have on a few bikes as it is very efficient and it shifts better than any other hub under load. Shifter to lower gear is amazingly quick and easy. I love being able to shift when stopped. I have a good gear range too.

    For 16" wheels the hands down favorite for me is the Sturmey Archer 8 spd. It the best usable gear spread using normal sprockets of any internal hub on this wheel. It 1st gear is a 1:1 ratio so I don't have to use huge or tiny sprockets to get the gear range I need.

    Efficiency on the latest internal hubs is so close to RD as to probably be an almost moot point. One BIG plus for me is no rear derailleur hanging down being a dirt magnet. Riding on the beach and on unpaved trails with my RD setup collected dirt, sand, twigs, etc.

    I only have one folder left with a rear derailleur and it will soon be gone.

  14. #14
    Professional Fuss-Budget Bacciagalupe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wavshrdr
    Efficiency on the latest internal hubs is so close to RD as to probably be an almost moot point....
    With all due respect, I'll believe that when I start seeing internal hubs on road bikes.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wavshrdr

    Efficiency on the latest internal hubs is so close to RD as to probably be an almost moot point.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bacciagalupe
    With all due respect, I'll believe that when I start seeing internal hubs on road bikes.

    I believe you would start to see internal hubs on road bikes if the wheel weights were comparable... there is no getting around the the newest 8 and now 9spd hubs make up a much heavier wheel than one fitted with a lightweight cluster... to me, that is the biggest difference.. I have retrofitted 2 8spd hubs into 406 d/r bikes and would never convert back as the benefit on those bikes offset any spinning weight issues.

    Bruce

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    Some roadsters like to have extra rear wheels to mount, so internal hubs would make these a lot more expensive.

  17. #17
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    Fixing flats can also be an issue. A friend of mine went to solid rubber tires with a gear hub. Her neighborhood is a road debris showcase.

  18. #18
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    I'm thinking about removing the derailleurs on my folder and installing an 8 speed Nexus hub with a Schlumpf speed drive crank. The weight and small efficiency loss is not a factor for me.
    But one question i have is, how reliable is the Nexus Hub? Would you take it on short tours in distant remote lands, where there is little or no hope of getting a repair?

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by bokes
    I'm thinking about removing the derailleurs on my folder and installing an 8 speed Nexus hub with a Schlumpf speed drive crank. The weight and small efficiency loss is not a factor for me.
    But one question i have is, how reliable is the Nexus Hub? Would you take it on short tours in distant remote lands, where there is little or no hope of getting a repair?
    I did that exact thing with my JetXp.. I wouldn't hesitate to take my Dahon just about anyplace... if the cable snapped or the hub gear shift arm somehow broke, the hub would automatically revert to it's lowest gear ratio... with the addition of the Schlumpf, you would at least have two speeds, low and 1.65 overdrive... I've never heard of a catastrophic failure with the new Shimano hub, others may have though...I'd contact someone who sells a lot of them, like Sheldon Brown.. or even Joe Breeze Breezer Bikes.

    Bruce
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  20. #20
    Professional Fuss-Budget Bacciagalupe's Avatar
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    Bruce: It was a joke, my friend. I don't think you'll ever see an IH on a road bike. The only place where extra weight will really slow you down is on the wheel, yes? An IH would need to be substantially superior in efficiency and performance before anyone puts it on a bike where performance is the primary objective.


    One thing I noticed about this issue is that Bike Friday, which I think we can all agree is one of the premiere folding bike manufacturers, doesn't configure any of its bikes with any type of IH other than offering the SRAM Dual Drive (which is an IH + derailleurs). I'm actually surprised by this, as I'd imagine their touring customer base would appreciate the reliability of an IH. I'm sure they will build a bike with an IH if you ask (although IIRC they don't like Rohloffs, for several mechanical reasons). But I'd say this is a testament to the reliability of a derailleur on a folder....

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    Bacciagalupe,
    there are actually quite a lot of Fridays with Rohloffs. My Llama has Rohloff specific braze ons, but i don't think i'll install a Rohloff because i didn't like the noise, and the test hub already had 6k miles, so not a big hope of it getting quieter.
    I asked BF for a semi-horizontal dropout, but was disappointed that they won't do them, even on customer request. They said I'd want a tensioner anyways, so the chain doesn't flop off every time I do a quick fold. True, but i'd still like the option of going without a tensioner if i want to.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dahon.Steve
    Advantages: Derailluers ---- You can get the lower gears that an internal hub owner can dream. Less expensive to fix on the road. Can stand on the pedals.
    Umm, so your saying one cannot stand up with hub gears? I don't know which gears you have had the misfortune of trying, but I find that mine work just fine when I stand up and sprint hard...

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  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bacciagalupe
    Bruce: It was a joke, my friend. I don't think you'll ever see an IH on a road bike. The only place where extra weight will really slow you down is on the wheel, yes? An IH would need to be substantially superior in efficiency and performance before anyone puts it on a bike where performance is the primary objective.
    Obviously performance is not the primary objective in doing long brevets. I did Paris-Brest-Paris on a F&S Duomatic hub-geared Moulton (last I heard, it was a road bike). I finished in fine shape and had no problems keeping up. The SA 8sp hubbed Moulton I rode last year didn't seem any slower than my 700C Frezoni (S&S, to keep the obligatory folding bike content).
    Last edited by LWaB; 09-20-06 at 10:20 AM.

  24. #24
    Member, Schmember DaFriMon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bacciagalupe
    . . .One thing I noticed about this issue is that Bike Friday, which I think we can all agree is one of the premiere folding bike manufacturers, doesn't configure any of its bikes with any type of IH other than offering the SRAM Dual Drive (which is an IH + derailleurs). I'm actually surprised by this, as I'd imagine their touring customer base would appreciate the reliability of an IH. I'm sure they will build a bike with an IH if you ask (although IIRC they don't like Rohloffs, for several mechanical reasons). But I'd say this is a testament to the reliability of a derailleur on a folder....
    Not just dual drives and Rohloffs. Bike Friday has actually built bikes with Nexus 7 hubs in the past, and I'm sure will build them with 8 speed hubs. It's not one of the standard sample configurations that they show on their web page, but if you call them with a clear idea of what you want, they'll usually find a way to make it for you.
    You're right, I do have more bikes than I need.

  25. #25
    Bicycling Gnome
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    Quote Originally Posted by jur
    I saw a paper on an investigation on the *total* efficiency of drive trains, and it turns out a Sturmey Archer AW is as efficient as a good derailier system, and more efficient in 2nd gear. In general, the efficiencies of both systems are very similar. Derailer systems are lighter. So it counts a tiny bit going uphill.
    Did you notice that they said it was more efficient when cleaned of grease and lubed with light oil?

    That's what I did and it is still working well and has remained pretty clean. It's nothing really, but I just get a tiny amount of seepage around the driver element which attaches to the 14 tooth sprocket, but apart from that it is dry and clean. When I did this I thought the oil would spew out, but I was wrong. I have about six teaspoonfulls in there, so it's a good amount. I'm using sae 10/40. It is possible that 10/30 might be slightly better. I'll run it like this with the 10/40 for a few months and do a clean out and an oil change with the 10/30 grade oil.

    I'm quite pleased that your paper suggests the sturmey 3 on oil is as efficient as a good derailier. I hate the thought of wasting effort.

    Thanks for that reference by the way Jur. An interesting read.
    Last edited by EvilV; 06-02-07 at 02:07 PM.

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