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Old 02-15-12, 10:00 AM   #1
Ranko Kohime
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Internal Gear Hubs: experiences?

I'm pretty much set on an IGH for my next bike (or trike), but which one is something I still haven't figured out.

My primary consideration is torque capacity; based on my calculations, I will need a hub that can stand up to about 100Nm of torque at the cog, based upon my weight, chosen crank length and sprocket ratio. Since it seems as if none of the manufacturers are willing to provide this information, I'm asking for your personal experiences with low gearing, and which transmission you have.

And as much as I love the specs on the Rohloff, sadly, it is out of my price range.

Last edited by Ranko Kohime; 02-15-12 at 10:49 AM.
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Old 02-15-12, 12:14 PM   #2
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First and foremost: what kind of gear range are you in need of? There are everything from 3-speeds to the Rholoff, and lots of choices in between.
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Old 02-15-12, 12:32 PM   #3
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Hub gears are great for riders that don't like the fussiness of derailers. I prefer hub gear 100% over any other method of bike gearing.

Note: the whole hub gear package can be adjusted up or down by swapping front and rear rings/sprockets so if the range isn't what you want throw on a different chain ring!
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Old 02-15-12, 06:48 PM   #4
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3 bikes with classic gearing. Recently, a brand new 4th I built with a 11-sp Shimano Alfine with gear choice of 39/22.
155 lbs rider weight, capable of quite a decent sustained power output.
I don't race, feel too old for that, but I still ride hard.
Net torque at hub is close to 60 Nm sustained, 100 Nm peak.
All holding up well, ~300 mi thus far on the Alfine, besides a completely new technique in changing gears.

And, you are wrong about "none of the manufacturers are willing to provide this information" - both Rohloff and Shimano do, mostly to cover ar$e from liability standpoint, merely as "recommended gear ratios".

Your "hub that can stand up to about 100Nm of torque at the cog" is fine about a peak value, but the real question is what is your sustained torque?
If it is close to mine, both Rohloff and Shimano Alfine willl do, moreso - the NuVinci 360, but you won't like the latter due to low efficiency.
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Old 02-15-12, 07:18 PM   #5
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I use an Alfine 8 speed hub on my primary bike...

I weigh ~1160N, and on 175mm cranks with a 2:1 ratio I figure I put about 101Nm into the hub (peak), and it is rock solid.
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Old 02-15-12, 07:31 PM   #6
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Haven't broken any of my hubs yet...

My go to for most of my bikes is the Sturmey Archer AW. I have one with somewhere over 30,000 miles on it. Out of 30+ bikes I have nearly 2/3rds are IGH.

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Old 02-15-12, 08:06 PM   #7
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First and foremost: what kind of gear range are you in need of? There are everything from 3-speeds to the Rholoff, and lots of choices in between.
I'm trying to get down under 20GI. How many speeds I have isn't critical, but more is better, of course.

I'm leaning towards a bicycle at the present moment (though my caprice blows in the wind, that may change), and the specific bicycle I'm looking at has 26" wheels, which, assuming that the hub has a 1-to-0.5xx ratio in first gear, demands a ratio lower than 1.5 at the crank, which dives right into warranty-voiding territory on nearly every hub I've seen.

For top end I'm not very concerned, as I'm figuring on adding a Metropolis Patterson drive (similar to the Schlumpf HSD, just different ratios, and, much cheaper). I could deal with a 3-speed, IF it had the torque handling and a low enough 1st gear to drop below 20GI
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Old 02-15-12, 08:07 PM   #8
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If you live in Europe, you can get a SRAM 5-speed with beefed-up internals They see a lot of use on ice-cream bikes and the like. They are sporadically available here in the US, but not with any regularity. Otherwise, I read a lot about MTBers using the Alfine 8-speed, offroad, with no complaints. Early returns on the 11-speed are mixed. The Rohloff is said to be bombproof but it's also as much as a very nice frameset, so there's that.
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Old 02-15-12, 08:17 PM   #9
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And, you are wrong about "none of the manufacturers are willing to provide this information" - both Rohloff and Shimano do, mostly to cover ar$e from liability standpoint, merely as "recommended gear ratios".
I have read a quoted number for Rohloff, but only on Sheldon Brown's site, not Rohloff's. (Though, I would be tempted into believing Sheldon, he seemed to know his stuff) Shimano's spec I have not found, but I'd be interested in reading it if you know where I might find it.

The rest merely post recommended crank-to-cog ratios, which tells nothing, as there is quite a difference between someone my size standing on the pedals, and someone twice my size standing on the pedals.

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Your "hub that can stand up to about 100Nm of torque at the cog" is fine about a peak value, but the real question is what is your sustained torque?
Undoubtedly less than 100Nm. But, even if I'm going to be voiding the warranty, it'd be nice to know the hub can still take everything I can dish with some margin for error.
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Old 02-15-12, 08:40 PM   #10
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If you live in Europe, you can get a SRAM 5-speed with beefed-up internals They see a lot of use on ice-cream bikes and the like. They are sporadically available here in the US, but not with any regularity. Otherwise, I read a lot about MTBers using the Alfine 8-speed, offroad, with no complaints. Early returns on the 11-speed are mixed. The Rohloff is said to be bombproof but it's also as much as a very nice frameset, so there's that.
Yeah, the Rohloff is shelved to the "Fantasy Wishlist", I'm afraid.

As for the SRAM, I'm in the U.S., so the 5-speed may not be an option. A brief search turned up no purchasing options.
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Old 02-15-12, 08:51 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by Ranko Kohime View Post
I'm pretty much set on an IGH for my next bike (or trike), but which one is something I still haven't figured out.

My primary consideration is torque capacity; based on my calculations, I will need a hub that can stand up to about 100Nm of torque at the cog, based upon my weight, chosen crank length and sprocket ratio. Since it seems as if none of the manufacturers are willing to provide this information, I'm asking for your personal experiences with low gearing, and which transmission you have.

And as much as I love the specs on the Rohloff, sadly, it is out of my price range.
Internal hub gears in general do not agree with mashers. This was expecially true with the old Sturmey Archer 3 speed. You don't have to baby the Nexus 8 but you really can't treat it like a single speed fixed hub.
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Old 02-16-12, 07:30 AM   #12
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When you say masher, are you referring to someone who jumps on the pedals, or just puts their full weight into it? I would be among the latter category, if it matters.
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Old 02-16-12, 08:29 AM   #13
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It's always better to spin than to mash, particularly with an IGH. That said, you can of course vary the entire gear range to your needs by changing the chainring/sprocket ratio. My housemate has a bike fitted with an Alfine 8. This is basically a 7-speed with an extra low first gear, using the same idea as a 'megarange' cassette. I use a 3-speed sturmey archer hub, which, having seen the internals, will probably take almost anything you throw at it.
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Old 02-16-12, 11:31 AM   #14
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most IGH deal with the internal torque, by a keyed anti rotation grip washer.

R'off has a lever attached to the left side of the hub.

in both cases the minimum gear ratio specification is about over-torque.

SA 8 speed is 7 overdrive gears, so less torque is applied, 1:1 cog and chainring, works
and the low gear in the hub is 1:1 also.then low-gear-inch is the wheel diameter.
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Old 02-16-12, 11:49 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by Ranko Kohime View Post
I have read a quoted number for Rohloff, but only on Sheldon Brown's site, not Rohloff's. (Though, I would be tempted into believing Sheldon, he seemed to know his stuff) Shimano's spec I have not found, but I'd be interested in reading it if you know where I might find it.

The rest merely post recommended crank-to-cog ratios, which tells nothing, as there is quite a difference between someone my size standing on the pedals, and someone twice my size standing on the pedals.
Both Shimano and Rohloff do exactly the same - provide a suggested "do not exceed" cog/crank ratio. Not a torque value.
I am unaware of documented cases of Shimano voiding warrany if that ratio was exceeded. As a reference, read up a bit on the IGH forum at mtbr.com
On the other hand, repeated downshifts under decent torque almost guarantee to ruin the Alfine (the pawls) - mostly the 11 than the 8-speed, which has been documented on numerous occasions.
I have heard anecdotes of Rohloff refusing warranty work if the recommended ratio was exceeded, but never anything substantiated.
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Old 02-16-12, 11:52 AM   #16
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It's always better to spin than to mash, particularly with an IGH. That said, you can of course vary the entire gear range to your needs by changing the chainring/sprocket ratio.
This I'm aware of. My problem comes from my potential gear ratio. With a 1-to-0.5xx ratio, I'd like to have a chainrig/cog set of 28/20. (The Metropolis Patterson has a 28T chainring standard).
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Old 02-16-12, 11:56 AM   #17
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I use a Reduction gear Schlumpf MD on the AW3, on my Brompton
for Rohloff they say the overdrive version SD, HSD, is a must,
as 10 of the 14 gears in the hub are already a reduction gear,
1-7 a second reduction gear stage.

The R'off is geared higher on my 20" wheel, so hub actually less strained,
for the same motion down the road
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Old 02-16-12, 12:29 PM   #18
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most IGH deal with the internal torque, by a keyed anti rotation grip washer.

R'off has a lever attached to the left side of the hub.

in both cases the minimum gear ratio specification is about over-torque.

SA 8 speed is 7 overdrive gears, so less torque is applied, 1:1 cog and chainring, works
and the low gear in the hub is 1:1 also.then low-gear-inch is the wheel diameter.
Am I understanding you correctly, that the torque is more related to the hub's attachment to the bike, rather than to the internal components?

As for the Sturmey, it seems like none of their hubs have a low enough gear for me.
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Old 02-16-12, 01:57 PM   #19
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Am I understanding you correctly, that the torque is more related to the hub's attachment to the bike, rather than to the internal components?

As for the Sturmey, it seems like none of their hubs have a low enough gear for me.
When you figure hub ratios you can also use the numbers from a 32 &/or 23 tooth front chain ring to lower the overall drive ratio. I run a 32T ring on my bike and trike to get very useful ranges in town. The standard 52T ring is just TO MUCH to pull!!
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Old 02-16-12, 05:33 PM   #20
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When you figure hub ratios you can also use the numbers from a 32 &/or 23 tooth front chain ring to lower the overall drive ratio. I run a 32T ring on my bike and trike to get very useful ranges in town. The standard 52T ring is just TO MUCH to pull!!
I'm currently factoring my numbers based on having a 28T on a Metropolis Patterson crank, and I'm not sure that it (the crank) can go lower.
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Old 02-16-12, 06:04 PM   #21
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Under 20GI, is this for a touring bike?

What is your main use for this bike?
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Old 02-16-12, 06:54 PM   #22
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Quote:
Am I understanding you correctly, that the torque is more related to the hub's attachment to the bike, rather than to the internal components?
there needs to be a place to turn the planetary gears against,
Newtonian, laws of motion, .. that torque/reaction.
several combinations inside the hub are actually turning backwards,
the hub shell rotating at a different rate than the axle.
Quote:
As for the Sturmey, it seems like none of their hubs have a low enough gear for me.
Im using an AW3, and a Schlumpf Mountain drive 2 speed crank,
6 speeds the 3 are used twice, double shift between 3&4..
low is about 18", high is just about 80"
Brompton, 16" wheel 15t cog 54t chainring, planetary crank low is like a 21t CR.

Last edited by fietsbob; 02-16-12 at 07:05 PM.
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Old 02-18-12, 10:28 PM   #23
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Under 20GI, is this for a touring bike?

What is your main use for this bike?
Towing, anticipating hills.
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Old 02-19-12, 12:13 PM   #24
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I'm currently factoring my numbers based on having a 28T on a Metropolis Patterson crank, and I'm not sure that it (the crank) can go lower.
Yeah, 28T is about as low as you can go. That low a chainring should help a lot to move the whole hub ratio package down low enough to be really useful.
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Old 02-19-12, 01:55 PM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ranko Kohime View Post
My primary consideration is torque capacity; based on my calculations, I will need a hub that can stand up to about 100Nm of torque at the cog, based upon my weight, chosen crank length and sprocket ratio. Since it seems as if none of the manufacturers are willing to provide this information, I'm asking for your personal experiences with low gearing, and which transmission you have.
Some friends of mine had a Bike Friday triple. It came with a Sachs 3X7 rear hub. They had some other problems with the bike but none that I know of with the IGH.
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