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Winter Cycling Don't let snow and ice discourage you this winter. The key element to year-round cycling is proper attire! Check out this winter cycling forum to chat with other ice bike fanatics.

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Old 09-08-08, 08:08 AM   #1
ItsJustMe
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Internal gear hubs in very cold weather?

I'm thinking about buying/building a new commuter, and internal hubs are a possibility.
I ride year round, so far in temps down to -25*F, and in Michigan quite a few weeks are spent right around freezing, so I ride home in slightly above-freezing conditions, getting slush and water and dampness in everything, then the bike sits in the garage while the temps go down to 15*F and all that water freezes solid.
Several times a year my rear derailler will be frozen into one gear. Sometimes I can work it loose, sometimes I wind up going all the way to work in one gear which adds significant time to my already-longer winter commute time.

My question: How do internally geared hubs do in very cold temps, like down well below zero? I've searched here and people say most of the trouble is with the cables themselves freezing up, but I'm not sure I've read messages from people who have used the IGH in REALLY cold temps; most people are saying 10 or 20 degrees F, which isn't really cold.

So, do IGH do well or not? Also, how about Shimano vs SRAM since Shimano uses grease and apparently SRAM uses oil; does the thinner lube help SRAM work better in the cold?

Just to save time, single speed isn't an option, so don't bother suggesting it.
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Old 09-08-08, 08:24 AM   #2
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An oil lubricated IGH will work really well in the winter if you use synthetic or semi synthetic oil as it can withstand brutal temps and keep the hub spinning smoothly.

Cables should also be generously lubed in the winter to prevent moisture from building up and causing freeze up.

I rode a 3 speed Shimano last winter in temps as low as -46 and had no issues and am looking to build up a an SA 3 speed for the upcoming winter.
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Old 09-08-08, 08:24 AM   #3
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I've heard that Shimano hubs don't perform well in cold and Rohloff are unaffected (at that price...), but nothing about Sram bits.
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Old 09-08-08, 12:13 PM   #4
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I've heard that Shimano hubs don't perform well in cold and Rohloff are unaffected (at that price...), but nothing about Sram bits.
Winterizing a Rohloff
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Old 10-08-08, 02:17 PM   #5
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I'm curious to - I need a winter and "can leave locked up outside" bike, and was thinking of buying a bike with an Shimano Alfine hub...
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Old 10-08-08, 04:37 PM   #6
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I just built a new commuter and it's built up on a Shimano Alfine hub. So far it has been riding great, but it hasn't been very cold yet. Remind me and I'll post again when the snow starts flying.

In my research before hand, I heard that the Shimano's were better then the SRams, but that was mostly due to better oil. I heard that most mechanics would take out the SRam oil and replace it with Shimano oil and then they worked quite similarily to the Shimanos.

I think there's a few posts about this in the commuters forum.

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Old 10-15-08, 06:35 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ItsJustMe View Post
My question: How do internally geared hubs do in very cold temps, like down well below zero? I've searched here and people say most of the trouble is with the cables themselves freezing up, but I'm not sure I've read messages from people who have used the IGH in REALLY cold temps; most people are saying 10 or 20 degrees F, which isn't really cold.

So, do IGH do well or not? Also, how about Shimano vs SRAM since Shimano uses grease and apparently SRAM uses oil; does the thinner lube help SRAM work better in the cold?

Just to save time, single speed isn't an option, so don't bother suggesting it.
I've been using my Sachs/SRAM Spectro 7 for the last 6 winters under similar conditions to yours (coldest ride to work was at -4°F) and no thawing out for months at a time. Not a bit of problems with the shifting or running mechanism due to ice, snow or cold. Previously I used a Sachs Torpedo 3 speed for 5 winters in Germany with no problems and have used S-A TCW 3 speeds and S-5 5 speeds for several decades in the states with no cold weather problems with the hubs. I rode the S-5 in Western Illinois 9 miles to work at -15° in 1976. In addition all the hubs, except for the S-5, have coaster brakes which were also unaffected by cold or ice buildup on the exterior of the wheel. The S-5's rim brakes weren't worth a dang when snow or ice accumulated on the wheel but on the rural ride I hardly needed them.

Last edited by I-Like-To-Bike; 10-15-08 at 08:52 PM.
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Old 10-15-08, 06:53 PM   #8
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I rode my Nexus hub all last winter with zero problemos.
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Old 10-16-08, 07:16 AM   #9
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3-Shimano here... worked fine during a cold winter with over 100 inches of snow in MAdison. The linkage did freeze up on a couple mornings, but once I reached around and yanked it, it would work find the rest of the morning.
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Old 10-19-08, 10:10 AM   #10
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the S A 3 speed is a durable beast, never had any trouble and looking forward to this winter. keep well oiled and dont even think about derailleurs!
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Old 01-07-09, 11:02 AM   #11
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I just built a new commuter and it's built up on a Shimano Alfine hub. So far it has been riding great, but it hasn't been very cold yet. Remind me and I'll post again when the snow starts flying.

In my research before hand, I heard that the Shimano's were better then the SRams, but that was mostly due to better oil. I heard that most mechanics would take out the SRam oil and replace it with Shimano oil and then they worked quite similarily to the Shimanos.

I think there's a few posts about this in the commuters forum.

mikE
So "tswg", how's it worked? :-)
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Old 01-07-09, 02:00 PM   #12
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Src3

My Sun-Race Sturmey-Archer SRC3 hub has been working well in the worst winter conditions. I've been using it for two winters with temps as low as -20F, and it stays outdoors nearly all the time. Its coaster brake has never failed me - something that cannot be said for rim brakes, which are terribly affected by the weather.

I've had to replace the control cable housing once because it broke, and getting the shifting adjustment just right after removing the wheel can be annoying, but otherwise the hub has been trouble-free.

The worst pain is removing and installing the rear wheel - much more work than with a derailleur system - and you've got to get the chain tension right. Maybe my chain is a little loose, but it works great as it is.



I've had to add a strip of velcro around the indicator chain cover (black thing on the chainstay) because otherwise I kept kicking it loose with my big winter boots.



The SRC3 is inexpensive and works well in all weather conditions. It doesn't have the gear range of a derailleur, and the three gears are spaced apart widely. It's reliable and requires much less maintenance and cleaning than a derailleur system.
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Old 01-12-09, 03:31 AM   #13
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Thanks Hernick for the explanation.

I remember those from my first bike probably 40 years ago. How are they weight wise? They seem like they would be lighter with less chain and deraileur stuff
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Old 01-12-09, 03:35 PM   #14
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Update: I've been riding my Alfine hub in temperatures down to about -20C, no significant problems. The shifting is a bit slower and you have to ease off a bit more to let it shift properly. When it was really cold, I think it may have not been shifting into the granny gear, but it was hard to tell. That may have been a cable tension thing though too.

I can't really comment on resistance from the hub in colder temps as I've mostly been riding with my tires at less than 10 psi (Surly Endo's), so there's so much rolling resistance already that it's hard to comment on hub performance.

Mike
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Old 01-12-09, 07:47 PM   #15
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Thanks Hernick for the explanation.

I remember those from my first bike probably 40 years ago. How are they weight wise? They seem like they would be lighter with less chain and deraileur stuff
The SA 3 speeds are kind of heavy but they are reported to be nearly bomb proof. I bought one this year to built up as a winter bike but I haven't got around to it yet so I have the hub unlaced sitting in my closet. I have been having all the fun I need on my 3 x 3 single speed. If you need to go as light as possible you might need to go with a SRAM or Shimano internal hub. My understanding is that they are quit a bit lighter.
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Old 01-13-09, 09:08 AM   #16
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The SA 3 speeds are kind of heavy but they are reported to be nearly bomb proof. I bought one this year to built up as a winter bike but I haven't got around to it yet so I have the hub unlaced sitting in my closet. I have been having all the fun I need on my 3 x 3 single speed. If you need to go as light as possible you might need to go with a SRAM or Shimano internal hub. My understanding is that they are quit a bit lighter.
But if you eliminate the rear derailleur and the rear chain sprocket set (proper name ?) set then do you probably come up even?

Do they wear out at the same rate as a rear chain sprocket set and the derailleur?

Seems like the rear wheel should come off easier than the gunky mess you get when you take off a regular roadie wheel. I put mine and my girlfriends in the back of the Rav4 and if I'm not careful I get a mess over the seats.

If they don't come off easily it looks like it would be a no brainer to design a system that would quickly disconnect.
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Old 01-13-09, 09:54 AM   #17
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I have been using a nexus premium (redband?) 8sp hub this winter and have been riding regularly around 0F since I got the bike around Christmas. Coldest has been -4F, but I've had no issues. It does take a bit longer for the shift to happen, but its not a big deal from my perspective. I leave the bike outside locked up during the day, and in an unheated garage by night. It's supposed to be a deep freeze here for the rest of the week. If I have any problems I'll report back.
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Old 01-14-09, 04:52 PM   #18
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A couple more rides down into the -8F realm with no issues. Tomorrow and Friday will be the real test, as the temps are supposed to be in the -15 to -20F (-26 to -29C) range in the morning, with the high temp for tomorrow still below 0 F (-18C).
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Old 01-15-09, 07:53 PM   #19
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I've used an Alfine this winter in temps from -30 to -40 deg C for 45 - 90mins at a time with the bike indoors in between rides. So far I haven't had an issues at all.
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Old 11-19-15, 12:32 AM   #20
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Is there any experience with the NuVinci n360 hub in cold (0 > temp < 20) weather? i'm just about to buy a Novara Gotham commuter bike and one question i have is how the CVT will perform/survive cold weather.
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Old 11-26-15, 07:08 PM   #21
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Is there any experience with the NuVinci n360 hub in cold (0 > temp < 20) weather? i'm just about to buy a Novara Gotham commuter bike and one question i have is how the CVT will perform/survive cold weather.

I commute daily on a Novara Gotham and am in Kansas, I suspect that the temperatures are similar to your specified range. I have had no trouble with the N360 hub
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Old 11-26-15, 07:25 PM   #22
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Old thread but worth an update...

My wife moved here from Portland where winter temps rarely drop more than a few points below freezing, her Nexus 8 is on it's second winter here and has not had any problems save for developing some condensation / moisture in the cables.

I just swapped those cables and housings out and don't expect any more issues.
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Old 04-19-16, 11:42 PM   #23
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My Alfine Experience

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Update: I've been riding my Alfine hub in temperatures down to about -20C, no significant problems. The shifting is a bit slower and you have to ease off a bit more to let it shift properly. When it was really cold, I think it may have not been shifting into the granny gear, but it was hard to tell. That may have been a cable tension thing though too.

I can't really comment on resistance from the hub in colder temps as I've mostly been riding with my tires at less than 10 psi (Surly Endo's), so there's so much rolling resistance already that it's hard to comment on hub performance.

Mike
I bought a Brodie Commuter bike about 5 years ago that came with an Alfine hub. Even though I live in Winnipeg (which is about as Arctic as it gets for a major city in the Winter), I never tried in temps past -10C, as I intended it as my Summer Commuter. I have a single-speed Kona Unit that I use for Winter commutes.

The problem I have with it is that after working good for about a year, the first hub disintegrated. My LBS sent it back to Shimano and they sent us a new replacement. The new one worked good for a season and then stopped shifting. We gave it an oil bath and it worked okay for the rest of the season but the next year it stopped shifting again. We sent it back to Shimano again. I owned two Shimano Nexus hubs on previous bikes and they seemed to be decent hubs but I am very disappointed with the Alfine. I'm not really sure what I'm going to do with the hub/bike but I might just try to sell it after I get it back from Shimano.

I find it ironic though, that considering all the trouble I have with it in the pleasant seasons, the Alfine might be a good Winter hub. While I did not ride it in the worst weather Winnipeg has to offer, I have to concur with the posts in this blog that it did shift well up to -10C, the couple times I tried it.

I stumbled on this blog because I was researching Rohloffs. While I might sell the Brodie, my Kona Unit also has sliding dropouts, making it suitable for a Rohloff. My thoughts were to turn it into a year round Commuter. But I'm kind of disappointed from my research that Rohloff does not recommend running their hubs in Arctic conditions and that some of the posters here have had some issues with their Rohloffs in extreme cold. Also, a friend of mine in Winnipeg, who services Rohloffs, recommended that I not run one in the Winter because he fears the salt will ruin it.
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