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Does it have to be a colossal pain to change a rear tire on a geared hub bike?

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Does it have to be a colossal pain to change a rear tire on a geared hub bike?

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Old 11-29-17, 12:14 PM
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reidconti
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Does it have to be a colossal pain to change a rear tire on a geared hub bike?

... or is it just my bike?

My commuter is a Ghost Square Urban 6 (REI is the exclusive distributor of Ghost (a German brand) in the US so I'm sure plenty of folks have never heard of them).

It's got Conti belt drive and an 8 speed alfine hub and disc brakes.

Holy hell. I had to change a flat on the rear finally about a week ago, and I swore I'd do anything to avoid having to ever do it again. I even put in those tire liners. Next up is Slime tubes. Last time was a bit of glass straight into the middle of the tire in the rain. This time, TBD. Fortunately I was only a half mile from work so I walked it in.

To remove the rear you need to:

Loosen the bolts holding the wheel on, 15mm I think

Do that insanely stupid geared hub thing. Put it in 4th, find some really really thin but incredibly stout wire to put in the little hole in the hub, pivot the gear selector thing forward, grab the cable's little nub with some needle nose pliers, wiggle it around, pray, do an incantation, hope for the best (and wish the frame wasn't in the way), and EVENTUALLY that damn thing comes out, and you're never quite sure why or how.

Take a 5mm (?) allen wrench, unbolt the brake caliper from the bracket, because the @#$^$ disc runs into the caliper when you try to slide the wheel forward and off.

Slide wheel forward, most of the way off, use your third hand to detach the shift cable from the little helper bracket.

Then you change the tire as normal, installation is the reverse of removal except with the added fun of trying to get the belt tension right and trying to line up the cable helper bracket with the direction the shift cable comes from as you tighten the wheel bolts down and keep tension on belt and hold wheel in the air.

Am I insane, or is the geared hub thing solving a problem that never actually existed? I'm seriously wishing I just had a good 'ol chain and rear derailleur. And disc brakes, well, it seems they could be designed so you can remove the rear without unbolting the caliper, so it WOULD have been okay on a better bike design.
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Old 11-29-17, 12:29 PM
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There is no benefit without a cost. Belt drive is quiet and clean but requires attention to belt tension. Internal hubs are protected from weather and very sturdy, but must be detached and reattached/adjusted with wheel removal. Disc brakes stop well but can be more complex to deal with. So yes, under your particular circumstances tire maintenance will be more of a pain.
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Old 11-29-17, 12:40 PM
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Originally Posted by cny-bikeman View Post
Disc brakes stop well but can be more complex to deal with.
My rear wheel removes by sliding forward and down in a track parallel with the mounting bracket for my brake caliper.
However, the caliper itself is mounted slightly rotated so it impedes forward travel of the wheel. This doesn't seem necessary -- I'm guessing it's a design/packaging issue/decision made by the manufacturer.

There isn't a reason that a rear disc *has* to interfere with rear wheel removal is there? If the caliper was parallel to the direction of wheel 'slide', the wheel could move in and out without interference, just like the front does. Correct?
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Old 11-29-17, 12:46 PM
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There is a way. But it takes an enlightened manufacturer to create a bike where it can be done. Build the bike with only right chain and seat stays. The the tire can be taken off with the wheel in place. It can be done. TiCycles has made a few single sided both stays and fork bikes.

Seems to me the ideal commuter/utility bike might be a single right stayed, right fork bladed bike with a front disc and caliper rear (rear brakes being far less critical and far less power needed). Straight handlebars or drops/levers set up so the bike is stable upside down. Then you have access to both tires from the same side and no chains/belts or discs to mess with. (Another plus - putting the same caliper on the right means it is in front of the fork. Now braking forces act to push the axle further into the dropout instead of trying to lift the fork off the hub. Yes, the caliper is a little more prone to bumping things, but we are talking a utility bike, not a mountain bike.

Edit: to cny-bikeman - the "cost" here is that someone has to think, do real design work, and manufacture a different bike. There is little downside to the finished bike outside looking quite different.

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Old 11-29-17, 12:49 PM
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Back in the day....3 speed SA and Shimano hubs with caliper brakes are easier than derailleur equipped.

Just say NO to disc brakes.
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Old 11-29-17, 12:54 PM
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Your description of the hassle was so well written I started to feel frustrated while I was reading it.
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Old 11-29-17, 01:10 PM
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Old 11-29-17, 01:11 PM
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Originally Posted by reidconti View Post
... or is it just my bike?

My commuter is a Ghost Square Urban 6 (REI is the exclusive distributor of Ghost (a German brand) in the US so I'm sure plenty of folks have never heard of them).

It's got Conti belt drive and an 8 speed alfine hub and disc brakes.

Holy hell. I had to change a flat on the rear finally about a week ago, and I swore I'd do anything to avoid having to ever do it again. I even put in those tire liners. Next up is Slime tubes. Last time was a bit of glass straight into the middle of the tire in the rain. This time, TBD. Fortunately I was only a half mile from work so I walked it in.

To remove the rear you need to:

Loosen the bolts holding the wheel on, 15mm I think

Do that insanely stupid geared hub thing. Put it in 4th, find some really really thin but incredibly stout wire to put in the little hole in the hub, pivot the gear selector thing forward, grab the cable's little nub with some needle nose pliers, wiggle it around, pray, do an incantation, hope for the best (and wish the frame wasn't in the way), and EVENTUALLY that damn thing comes out, and you're never quite sure why or how.

Take a 5mm (?) allen wrench, unbolt the brake caliper from the bracket, because the @#$^$ disc runs into the caliper when you try to slide the wheel forward and off.

Slide wheel forward, most of the way off, use your third hand to detach the shift cable from the little helper bracket.

Then you change the tire as normal, installation is the reverse of removal except with the added fun of trying to get the belt tension right and trying to line up the cable helper bracket with the direction the shift cable comes from as you tighten the wheel bolts down and keep tension on belt and hold wheel in the air.

Am I insane, or is the geared hub thing solving a problem that never actually existed? I'm seriously wishing I just had a good 'ol chain and rear derailleur. And disc brakes, well, it seems they could be designed so you can remove the rear without unbolting the caliper, so it WOULD have been okay on a better bike design.
Well, one thing you did that probably made it a bit harder than it needed to be was shifting to 4th before removing the cable. 4th gear is the one for checking the adjustment marks. To remove the wheel, you want to shift to the gear that fully relaxes the cable. On older models, that is 1st gear. On the more recent 7000 model, it would be 8th.
But, having to remove the brake caliper is a whole level of complication that should no way be designed into an OEM bike.
Still couldn't be worse than some of the Dutch style bikes I've dealt with sporting full chain cases, rack stays and kick stands mounted directly to the axle.

Last edited by Dan Burkhart; 11-29-17 at 01:17 PM.
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Old 11-29-17, 01:16 PM
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Originally Posted by Dan Burkhart View Post
Well, one thing you did that probably made it a bit harder than it needed to be was shifting to 4th before removing the cable. 4th gear is the one for checking the adjustment marks. To remove the wheel, you want to shift to the gear that fully relaxes the cable. On older models, that is 1st gear. On the more recent 7000 model, it would be 8th.
+1. If you shift to 1st you don't even need the "tool" to turn the shifting plate (it's easier if you use it though).
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Old 11-29-17, 01:23 PM
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Originally Posted by Reynolds View Post
+1. If you shift to 1st you don't even need the "tool" to turn the shifting plate (it's easier if you use it though).
I carry a small length of broken spoke in the patch kit to insert and turn the whatever they call it. Very easy. And dump the disc brake, just hassle for style.
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Old 11-29-17, 01:24 PM
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My 3-spd Sturmey Archer drum-brake hub is relatively easy, as I recall. Only had to do it once.

I really liked to have a 8spd for the hills...but it sounds like a pita.
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Old 11-29-17, 01:40 PM
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Originally Posted by Dan Burkhart View Post
Well, one thing you did that probably made it a bit harder than it needed to be was shifting to 4th before removing the cable. 4th gear is the one for checking the adjustment marks. To remove the wheel, you want to shift to the gear that fully relaxes the cable. On older models, that is 1st gear. On the more recent 7000 model, it would be 8th.
I was going to say this as well. You don't even need to insert anything in the cassette joint to rotate the gear selector shaft. I have two bikes with these hubs. I just put the hub in the gear that leaves the cable most slack (gear 1 for my Nexus 8-speed, and gear 11 for my Alfine 11) then pull the gear shift cable housing forward from the cassette joint. Once it clears the connector (about one centimeter) the inner cable can be dropped out of the cassette joint through the slot. Now the cable is loose enough to easily remove it from the hub. The whole process takes about 10 seconds, and re-installation is just as easy.

Can't comment on the disc brake though... sounds rough, but I envy you not having a rim brake on the rear. I have had to install a roller brake on my winter bike because I was wearing out rear rims more frequently than I was happy with (and I am a *heavy* front brake user, FWIW).
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Old 11-29-17, 01:44 PM
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My experience with IGHs has been limited to 3-speeds either in the old SA versions or the SRAM combination with a multi-cog & derailleur. Those had slightly more complex wheel changes but only because the cable/chain going into the interior of the hub precluded a regular quick release. But the cable just came apart like with the SRAM click-box or equivalent and reattached with no further complication.

I suspect that there's been far more effort put into designing for quick wheel changes in bicycles that were designed for racing where seconds matter in determining the winner at the end. More mundane derailleur bikes then benefitted from the design planning originally applied to the race bikes. The OP's combination of IGH, belt drive, has never had the time pressure of racing for wheel changes so it's not too surprising that some aspects of the design weren't thought through very well initially. Hopefully that'll change as there's more competition and better designs are developed.
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Old 11-29-17, 01:48 PM
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flip the brake release lever, flip the quick release lever seems a lot easier especially if it is dark and raining
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Old 11-29-17, 01:52 PM
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Just put some super heavy duti tires on it and never ever have to remove the wheel again!
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Old 11-29-17, 02:01 PM
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Originally Posted by squirtdad View Post
flip the brake release lever, flip the quick release lever seems a lot easier especially if it is dark and raining
When my rims wore out I switched to wider ones - now I don't have to flip the brake release anymore. And of course my bikes don't have 'lawyer lips' so a simple flip of the QR lever is sufficient with no fiddling to readjust each time.
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Old 11-29-17, 02:09 PM
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Originally Posted by mtb_addict View Post
Just put some super heavy duti tires on it and never ever have to remove the wheel again!
I did this... Schwalbe Marathon Plus, and haven't had a flat in several years.
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Old 11-29-17, 04:00 PM
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Thanks for the helpful comments, folks. Internet was down at work so I came home early, gonna do the swap again and see what went wrong with my last tube. I've got tube protectors between the tire and inner tube and check my tire pressures FAIRLY religiously, but it had been a couple of days. (I did a squeeze test before riding this AM though).

Trying slime tubes on a recommendation from a friend. Got some kind of Schwalbe tire on there now (whatever it came with, so probably not the most durable).

Looking forward to seeing how much easier it is to unhook the shifter cable in first -- that was the only truly 'hard' part.

I originally saw a how-to that said use 1st, then later one that said 4th-- I tried 1st and had an issue so I moved on to 4th. Can't remember what the original issue was. Having a slack cable makes a hell of a lot of sense, so I'm sure I'll have a much easier go of it this time.
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Old 11-29-17, 04:26 PM
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Originally Posted by reidconti View Post
Thanks for the helpful comments, folks. Internet was down at work so I came home early, gonna do the swap again and see what went wrong with my last tube. I've got tube protectors between the tire and inner tube and check my tire pressures FAIRLY religiously, but it had been a couple of days. (I did a squeeze test before riding this AM though).

Trying slime tubes on a recommendation from a friend. Got some kind of Schwalbe tire on there now (whatever it came with, so probably not the most durable).

Looking forward to seeing how much easier it is to unhook the shifter cable in first -- that was the only truly 'hard' part.

I originally saw a how-to that said use 1st, then later one that said 4th-- I tried 1st and had an issue so I moved on to 4th. Can't remember what the original issue was. Having a slack cable makes a hell of a lot of sense, so I'm sure I'll have a much easier go of it this time.
Well hold on a minute. Depending on which model Alfine hub you have, it could be 8th gear you want. If the model number is a 500 or 501 series, it's 1st gear. If it's a 7000 series, it's 8th.
The easy way to tell the difference if you have trouble reading the print on the hub shell is, if the cable is routed under the bottom of the cassette joint it's 1st gear, if it goes over the top, you want it in 8th.
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Old 11-29-17, 04:37 PM
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Originally Posted by dedhed View Post
It is even easier than that; 90% of the time you can find location of the leak before doing anything to the tire.
If you don't see an obvious puncture, you may need to add a little air in order to hear/feel the location.
Then just pop the bead off at that location, pull out a few inches of tube, ensure wire/glass/stone is removed from the tire, patch inner tube, push it back in, reseat bead, then inflate tire.
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Old 11-29-17, 04:38 PM
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Rohloff disc, is easy; Sram i-9 not too bad , S-A 3 speed is a little more complicated because of the chain tensioner..
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Old 11-29-17, 07:09 PM
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SA 5sp with drum brakes here. I will patch a tube without removing the wheel (as shown in the video posted by @dedhed) preferentially and only remove the wheel if I absolutely had to (e.g. couldn' find the leak or unpatchable)

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Old 11-29-17, 07:25 PM
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Originally Posted by Dan Burkhart View Post
Well hold on a minute. Depending on which model Alfine hub you have, it could be 8th gear you want. If the model number is a 500 or 501 series, it's 1st gear. If it's a 7000 series, it's 8th.
The easy way to tell the difference if you have trouble reading the print on the hub shell is, if the cable is routed under the bottom of the cassette joint it's 1st gear, if it goes over the top, you want it in 8th.
You're my hero It's 100x easier in 8th. The tension can easily be removed by hand, AND as a bonus, the cable stop (or whatever it's called) is in a position where it can be easily manipulated and removed, it's not blocked by the frame. I used needle-nosed pliers, but I'm sure I could do it just with my fingers.

On top of all that, it makes it a lot easier to remove the cable from the bracket that holds it close to the hub.

Sadly, the old information I had said 1st, then when that was impossible I found another link that said 4th. Hey, third time's a charm!

Now I could do a tube change with just a 5mm for the brake caliper, my fingers for the shifter mechanism, and a 15mm for the axle.

I had stopped patching tubes but given the fact that it can be done without removing the wheel, I might actually start carrying a patch kit. Plus with Slime tubes, I might be able to carry on with just a CO2 cartridge. (I only commute 6mi each way so I always figured I could just take a Lyft if I have a major issue right in the middle of my commute, and walk if I'm closer to one end vs the other. My small company might start storing some tools and supplies to encourage more cycling to work).

I also fitted Schwalbe Marathon Plus tires; the Schwalbes that came on the bike were much thinner and I had a puncture that caused a star-shaped burst in the middle of the tire, I can't trust it anymore.
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Old 11-29-17, 08:24 PM
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Originally Posted by Dan Burkhart View Post
The easy way to tell the difference if you have trouble reading the print on the hub shell is, if the cable is routed under the bottom of the cassette joint it's 1st gear, if it goes over the top, you want it in 8th.
Or... just click the *finger-operated* lever (out in front) at least 7 times!
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Old 11-29-17, 08:47 PM
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Originally Posted by sweeks View Post
Or... just click the *finger-operated* lever (out in front) at least 7 times!
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That's the dumbed down method.
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