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Rear Internal Gear Hub + Front Derailleur, Recommended?

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Rear Internal Gear Hub + Front Derailleur, Recommended?

Old 01-29-10, 01:55 PM
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Rear Internal Gear Hub + Front Derailleur, Recommended?

Hello all! I am considering building a new bike in the spring and I though I would ask for some advice about this combination of shifting devices before I go out and spend all my money.

Basically, what I want to do is combine a Shimano Nexus 7 or 8 speed rear internal hub with a front derailleur. I already own the derailleur, so its just a matter of transplantation. from experience, I've had to replace numerous bent rear derailleurs and since I bike through winter (I know, I really should get a beater for this) I've had problems shifting, especially in higher gears.

The reason why I wanted to keep the front derailleur was to maintain reasonable high gear ratios for touring and the low ones for occasional light mountain biking.

I would get around the tensioning problem by installing a spring-loaded chain tensioner.

Here are my questions:

1) Has anyone ever done this before?
2) Its technically possible, but would you recommend it?
3) How well does the Nexus Hub work in cold weather (-20C/0F)?
4) Am I trying to do too much with one bike?
5) Does the Nexus system work with drop handlebars?
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Old 01-29-10, 02:07 PM
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Hello dankalunk, welcome to the forums. I built a bike last summer doing something similar. I had a nice triple I wanted to use and thought it would be a cool idea. however most of what I will use the bike for the 'granny' seems useless. also I have heard some others saying that you need to be careful with small rings in the front as you can overtorque the IGH.

I used an 8spd and I wanted a barend shifter si I had to use a Jtek shifter. otherwise you need an extension to allow you to use a twist shifter.
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Old 01-29-10, 02:58 PM
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I've set up a number of bikes with an Alfine and a double crank, using the Shimano chain tensioner. It's important to use a two pulley tensioner like the Alfine, Rohloff, or Paul, or even an old rear derailleur, and not a single spring loaded tensioner like the Surly Singleator.

I have an almost-new Alfine hub and have ridden it without issue on a couple of stupid cold days. I haven't heard any reports about hubs with more miles on them in colder weather though.

With drop bars you need something like the "Hubbub" adapter which installs into a road bar-end, and gives you an extension the proper diameter so you can mount the twist shifter. Some people like to cut down one side of the handlebar so it looks a little better. Works great, and we've sold a countless number of bikes set up with one. Unfortunately JTek isn't selling their bar end shifter right now.
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Old 01-30-10, 09:18 AM
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Originally Posted by dunkalunk View Post
1) Has anyone ever done this before?
Yep. It's been done since the 1930s. Among a couple of similar current bikes, the Jamis Comuter 4 is set up this way from the factory.

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Old 01-30-10, 09:31 AM
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The problem with combining an internal hub with a front derailleur is that you have to add a chain tensioner, often the double pulley style that's almost like having a rear derailleur. In the end you have a system with the dis-advantages of both systems, and can't capitalize on the advantages of either.

It's not that you can't do it, but that the advantages of internal gearing are that all the works are in a can, and the chain is a closed loop immune to skipping and other derailleur related chain problems. Once you add idlers, and other external machinery, you've moved away from the reasons to go internal in the first place, and might as well go the simple route of a traditional derailleur system.

If you want to use an internal hub, but expand the gear range, consider combining it with a planetary drive crankset like the Hammerschmidt. That'll extend the range while preserving the benefits of using internal gearing.
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Old 01-30-10, 09:46 AM
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Originally Posted by FBinNY View Post
The problem with combining an internal hub with a front derailleur is that you have to add a chain tensioner, often the double pulley style that's almost like having a rear derailleur. In the end you have a system with the dis-advantages of both systems, and can't capitalize on the advantages of either.

It's not that you can't do it, but that the advantages of internal gearing are that all the works are in a can, and the chain is a closed loop immune to skipping and other derailleur related chain problems. Once you add idlers, and other external machinery, you've moved away from the reasons to go internal in the first place, and might as well go the simple route of a traditional derailleur system.

If you want to use an internal hub, but expand the gear range, consider combining it with a planetary drive crankset like the Hammerschmidt. That'll extend the range while preserving the benefits of using internal gearing.
Well, the problem with Hammerschmidt is it requires an IGC mount. An IGC adaptor is not good enough. A Schlumpf would be a better choice.
I'm with you on the first point though. Why negate the benefits of the gearhub. If you're going to need all those derailleurs and tensioners anyway, may as well stick with derailleur gearing.
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Old 01-30-10, 03:36 PM
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The main idea of having the single sprocket tensioner was to keep the chainline straight when I was on the higher sprocket in front, but having the double sprocket kind of negates any aesthetic benefits. Considering I'd mostly be using this newly built bike as a commuter, and where I live has at most only rolling terrain, the extra parts and maintenance really isn't worth the time/effort/money. While the planetary drive crankest idea is intriguing, I'd rather keep it simple.

OK, so if you don't mind, 2 more question: Nexus vs. Alfine; is there any significant difference? What would you recommend for bar end shifters compatible with these hubs?

Last edited by Cyclist7530898; 01-30-10 at 03:51 PM. Reason: added question
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Old 01-30-10, 04:38 PM
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Happy to hear that you're keeping it simple after all.

Nexus vs Alfine, I'd go to Shimano's site and see what they have to say, though it seems that the Alfine is a newer version of the Nexus. I also know that Alfines can take brake discs if that's a consideration for your commuter.

J-tek makes a nifty bar end shifter for these, nice especially if you'll be using drop bars. Otherwise shifter choices are up to you.
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Old 01-30-10, 06:40 PM
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Originally Posted by FBinNY View Post
...Nexus vs Alfine, I'd go to Shimano's site and see what they have to say, though it seems that the Alfine is a newer version of the Nexus....
Here's a link to a Shimano web site that showing the Alfine 501 internals are for the most part the same as the Nexus 8R36:
https://bike.shimano.com/publish/cont...een%20Hubs.pdf

I have a 8R35 (the older version), it's the same design as the Alfine 500, well sealed. Let's me use the lame-o roller brake, not nearly as nice as the SA drum.


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Old 01-30-10, 09:32 PM
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You may be able to find a Jtek bar end shifter but Jtek is not currently shipping them per my understanding. They are still shown on the jtek web site though so I suggest emailing them direct to find out about current availability.

If the Jtek is not available the only other Non Shimano choice for the Nexus 8 and Alfine hubs is the Versa brifter being imported by Dynamic Bicycles.

Sturmey Archer is in the process of introducing bar end shifters for a number of their hubs.
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Old 01-31-10, 01:50 PM
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If you're looking for additional gear range, it may be worthwhile to consider a Sram i-Motion 9 for your application, given that an internal hub with more gears can be a good alternative to a tensioner and front derailleur to go with a hub with fewer gears.
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Old 01-31-10, 02:24 PM
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Originally Posted by K6-III View Post
If you're looking for additional gear range, it may be worthwhile to consider a Sram i-Motion 9 for your application....
That's a good point. Also the Nexus 8/Alfine gear steps are too irregular, there's no way to chose two front chainrings without a 3-4 gears being the same. The Nexus 7 and iM9 have much more consistant steps and allow a half-step set-up.
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