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Which of the four makes the best internally geared hub?

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Which of the four makes the best internally geared hub?

Old 10-15-17, 03:13 PM
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Which of the four makes the best internally geared hubs?

Of the four, (SRAM, Shimano, SA, and Rohloff) who makes the best? In terms of quality, longevity, ease of maintenance, pros & cons, etc. Does anyone have personal experience with their products that they could share? Thanks!
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Old 10-15-17, 03:14 PM
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Rohloff hubs are in a class of their own. But then again, so is their price
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Old 10-15-17, 03:55 PM
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Sturmey Archer AW has been in production for 8 decades. I own three of them, each around 50 years old, and I've never seen one that was not either 100% functional, or trivially repairable. Huge numbers were made. The current production AW models are very close to the historical design. Spare parts are readily available, and are interchangeable across the decades. Its gear range is sufficient for a pretty wide range of riding conditions, yet it's simple enough for a layperson to service.

So it's also in a class of its own.
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Old 10-15-17, 03:57 PM
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Originally Posted by alcjphil View Post
Rohloff hubs are in a class of their own. But then again, so is their price
I was thinking on not including them, but they are a IGH and there's likely people that own them that I would hope to hear from.
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Old 10-15-17, 03:59 PM
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i think rohloff can't be compared at the moment, they are much more expensive.
i have a old nexus 7 on my gazelle, the base lineof shimano. i think the bike has around 17-20.000 miles and only recently i started to notice some signs of wear. i don't know if it's the hub or just need new cables and calibration.
on an older bike i have the venerable SA 3 but isn't working.
nexus 7 has not huge spread in gear ratios, i probably use 5. gear changes are not superfast but i saw no difference at all when tested bikes with more modern and expensive hubs. i have no idea about maintenance, i'll study because isn't worth asking to the shop.
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Old 10-15-17, 04:01 PM
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Originally Posted by Gresp15C View Post
Sturmey Archer AW has been in production for 8 decades. I own three of them, each around 50 years old, and I've never seen one that was not either 100% functional, or trivially repairable. Huge numbers were made. The current production AW models are very close to the historical design. Spare parts are readily available, and are interchangeable across the decades. Its gear range is sufficient for a pretty wide range of riding conditions, yet it's simple enough for a layperson to service.

So it's also in a class of its own.
Agree, my 1956 AW soldiers on for decade after decade of service.

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Old 10-15-17, 04:10 PM
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Originally Posted by Gresp15C View Post
Sturmey Archer AW has been in production for 8 decades. I own three of them, each around 50 years old, and I've never seen one that was not either 100% functional, or trivially repairable. Huge numbers were made. The current production AW models are very close to the historical design. Spare parts are readily available, and are interchangeable across the decades. Its gear range is sufficient for a pretty wide range of riding conditions, yet it's simple enough for a layperson to service.

So it's also in a class of its own.
I semi recently picked up a Hercules English 3-speed at a garage sale ($20), and it's equipped with a SA AW hub. I'm currently truing the wheels, and after that I set up the brakes and she's ready! I'm really looking forward to trying the SA hub out.

Overhauling the hub was pretty simple and straight forward aside from having to replace a locknut and buy a new cable. Sheldon Brown makes finding part numbers (and thereby helping replace the part) a breeze!
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Old 10-15-17, 04:32 PM
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You might also look at Nuvinci which seems to have a growing following, with some reports that they have excellent strength and durability.

I thought I read earlier that SRAM was discontinuing at least some of their IGH offerings. Their future in the market might have me scared of taking the plunge with them if I felt there were other alternatives.

Overall, I'd encourage you to choose a hub based on the features you want.
  • Nuvinci: Continuously variable transmission.
  • Rholoff: 14 speed
  • Alfine: 7, 8, or 11 speed, good price points
    Shimano also has a Di2 option with some of their hubs, allowing adaptability to road bikes and other platforms.
  • SRAM: Dual Drive. I think Sturmey Archer also has a Dual Drive verison available today.
  • Sturmey Archer: 3 speed fixed, also some good 3 to 8 speed hubs. Also the Dual Drive option.
    I think Sturmey Archer also may have the best support for bar end shifters.
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Old 10-15-17, 04:38 PM
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Originally Posted by CliffordK View Post
You might also look at Nuvinci which seems to have a growing following, with some reports that they have excellent strength and durability.

I thought I read earlier that SRAM was discontinuing at least some of their IGH offerings. Their future in the market might have me scared of taking the plunge with them if I felt there were other alternatives.

Overall, I'd encourage you to choose a hub based on the features you want.
  • Nuvinci: Continuously variable transmission.
  • Rholoff: 14 speed
  • Alfine: 7, 8, or 11 speed, good price points
    Shimano also has a Di2 option with some of their hubs, allowing adaptability to road bikes and other platforms.
  • SRAM: Dual Drive. I think Sturmey Archer also has a Dual Drive verison available today.
  • Sturmey Archer: 3 speed fixed, also some good 3 to 8 speed hubs. Also the Dual Drive option.
    I think Sturmey Archer also may have the best support for bar end shifters.
Continuously variable transmission? Sounds cool!
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Old 10-15-17, 04:40 PM
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Originally Posted by Coasterbrakefan View Post
Overhauling the hub was pretty simple and straight forward aside from having to replace a locknut and buy a new cable. Sheldon Brown makes finding part numbers (and thereby helping replace the part) a breeze!
I have cleaned and oiled a SACHS dual drive hub (predecessor to SRAM?). It seemed to be a pretty straight forward process.

However, I have a SRAM Dual Drive that needs an overhaul, and as far as I can tell, SRAM only sells the complete hub, or the complete internal mechanism (plus the click-box). Individual subcomponents don't seem to be readily available.

Shimano seems to have a pretty complete parts breakdown for their hubs, and hopefully one can still acquire the parts, although there is no guarantee that Shimano will continue to support their current product line fifty years into the future, and finding someone with warehouse stock can even be difficult.
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Old 10-15-17, 04:51 PM
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How the NuVinci hub works.



Last edited by Coasterbrakefan; 10-15-17 at 04:57 PM.
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Old 10-15-17, 05:17 PM
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Originally Posted by CliffordK View Post
I have cleaned and oiled a SACHS dual drive hub (predecessor to SRAM?). It seemed to be a pretty straight forward process.

However, I have a SRAM Dual Drive that needs an overhaul, and as far as I can tell, SRAM only sells the complete hub, or the complete internal mechanism (plus the click-box). Individual subcomponents don't seem to be readily available.

Shimano seems to have a pretty complete parts breakdown for their hubs, and hopefully one can still acquire the parts, although there is no guarantee that Shimano will continue to support their current product line fifty years into the future, and finding someone with warehouse stock can even be difficult.
It definitely seems that SA parts are more widely available.
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Old 10-15-17, 05:20 PM
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I have a Shinamo Nexus 8 speed on my everyday bike. It's model number SG-8R31, that's important since there are a lot of variations check Shimano online docs for details. Into my fourth year now still runs great. The manual says grease and clean every two years and I did that the first time, even ordered the special Shimano grease for it. I will probably regrease this winter not because I am worried about it, but I'm afraid I will lose the little tube. The special grease is for the shift pawls the bearings can take anything. Too thick grease on the pawls and they will stick. Other models use oil lubrication.

But then again my Schwinn Spitfire, circa 1960 has a SA three speed and still runs great. I think I took it apart once in the 70's when I was working at the LBS and had the manual available, like just to see.

I am very happy with the Nexus. Once adjusted no issues. Some people complain that it's hard to take the wheel off but I don't think so. It just runs and runs.
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Old 10-15-17, 05:39 PM
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SRAM ends sales of internal gear hubs | Bicycle Retailer and Industry News

It is true that SRAM has ended the sale of internal hubs early this year. I guess they could not compete with Shimano or the more expensive hub makers. It is also true that SRAM was one of the worst companies to deal with for repair parts. Their attitude was "too bad, just buy a new one" and that was what eventually soured me on the SRAM dual-drive. Too few places would even attempt to fix them and the one I contacted wanted about the same cost as for a new hub to repair an older dual-drive. You can still find the occasional new-old-stock hub but why bother when you know parts are unavailable.
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Old 10-15-17, 06:31 PM
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Originally Posted by VegasTriker View Post
SRAM ends sales of internal gear hubs | Bicycle Retailer and Industry News

It is true that SRAM has ended the sale of internal hubs early this year. I guess they could not compete with Shimano or the more expensive hub makers. It is also true that SRAM was one of the worst companies to deal with for repair parts. Their attitude was "too bad, just buy a new one" and that was what eventually soured me on the SRAM dual-drive. Too few places would even attempt to fix them and the one I contacted wanted about the same cost as for a new hub to repair an older dual-drive. You can still find the occasional new-old-stock hub but why bother when you know parts are unavailable.
OK, so forget SRAM!
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Old 10-15-17, 07:29 PM
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Have used a 3 spd SA for some time, it just keeps going. Often it seems, these hubs have their chainring to rear cog too high. SA suggests a greater than 2:1 ratio, my set up is less than that so I have gear indexes approx 36, 48 and 64.
A few years ago, got a so called red band 8 spd Nexus hub, as I wanted a broader range. It too has been reliable and shifts well in cold weather.
I've ridden bikes with Rohlof and NuVinci hub, slightly different end uses, both were good. For overall effectiveness and reliability, prefer the SA.
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Old 10-15-17, 07:31 PM
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Originally Posted by Gresp15C View Post
Sturmey Archer AW has been in production for 8 decades. I own three of them, each around 50 years old, and I've never seen one that was not either 100% functional, or trivially repairable. Huge numbers were made. The current production AW models are very close to the historical design. Spare parts are readily available, and are interchangeable across the decades. Its gear range is sufficient for a pretty wide range of riding conditions, yet it's simple enough for a layperson to service.

So it's also in a class of its own.
I agree with this. In terms of simplicity, durability and longevity, the AW hub cannot be beaten. I taught myself how to take them apart, they are that easy to service. They are the opposite of the Rohlof hub in terms of sophistication, they are also maybe the best choice for commuters who don't have to deal with huge hills
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Old 10-15-17, 07:39 PM
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I have a Nexus SG-8R31 too and it works fine after 31000kms. I drilled and tapped the hub for an oil port at 6000kms and been using ATF since. Never had even the slightest problem with it.
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Old 10-15-17, 09:04 PM
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Originally Posted by Reynolds View Post
I have a Nexus SG-8R31 too and it works fine after 31000kms. I drilled and tapped the hub for an oil port at 6000kms and been using ATF since. Never had even the slightest problem with it.
Nice!
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Old 10-16-17, 12:56 PM
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Are all of these quiet (assuming properly lubricated)? And how quiet are they compared to conventional chained gearing?
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Old 10-16-17, 01:20 PM
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Originally Posted by Payton1221 View Post
Are all of these quiet (assuming properly lubricated)? And how quiet are they compared to conventional chained gearing?
Very few IGH machines will have a belt drive, chain drive is the overwhelming standard.
Since all these IGH hubs freewheel, with the exception of the SA S3X, they are not silent when coasting but my AW w/ a sip of 30W machine oil is as quiet or more so than my Derail freehubs. Since mine is fitted w/ a Cyclo 3-cog Derail conversion it does have the noise of the chain engaging cogs.

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Old 10-16-17, 01:57 PM
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Based on my experience, my vote goes to Shimano for new hubs, SA for old hubs.

I've had 3 Shimano hubs, a Nexus 3, 7, and 8. The 3-speed was quite simple, has an amazing (And kinda loud) sound when coasting, and never gave me trouble, even in winter. The 7-speed was covered in grime and had an extremely worn cog with over half it's teeth broken when I received it. I cleaned it off externally, put a new cog on, and it worked flawlessly through 2 winters. The 8-speed saw winter use as well, and only had issues with the cable and housing rusting out, an issue that could happen to any shifting system. The 3 and 8 speeds had coaster brakes, which also worked great. I'm building a new winter bike for this year, and I'll be using a Nexus 3 on it.

I've had the Sturmey Archer AW on a few bikes, and overhauled a few as well. It's a relatively simple design, has lots of spare parts, and is quite reliable. I have used one in the winter and it did a fine job, though with an exposed indicator chain I suspect it would be easier for water and grit to enter the hub in really bad conditions. It is impressive how many of them sound perfectly happy when given a bit of oil even when they have spent 50 years sitting around in imperfect conditions.

Sturmey Archer's newest offerings haven't left a great impression on me. So far I've worked on 3 coaster brake models, and all 3 have needed the brake assembly replaced for various reasons. They did seem to shift fine at least. But combined with other anecdotal evidence I've heard, I have no plans to acquire any new rear hubs from them.

I've test ridden a bike with a NuVinci N360. It's a cool idea, but felt like it had more resistance than any other IGH I've tried. I like the dual cable idea, and combined with not having to shift to a specific gear I imagine it would be super reliable in winter as long as the hub is well sealed.

Even with a bike shop discount, I still see a Rohloff as outside my price range. I haven't even seen one in person.
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Old 10-16-17, 02:42 PM
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Originally Posted by Payton1221 View Post
Are all of these quiet (assuming properly lubricated)? And how quiet are they compared to conventional chained gearing?
Much quieter. Not to change the subject but newish chain mechanisms are very loud. The pawls or whatever in them are clicking very loudly. I could never stand that. I enjoy and demand a quiet ride.
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Old 10-16-17, 03:05 PM
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Originally Posted by Joe Bikerider View Post
Not to change the subject but newish chain mechanisms are very loud. The pawls or whatever in them are clicking very loudly.
I wouldn't say it's an age thing. Plenty of modern stuff comes very quiet, especially on the lower-end. And the loudest freewheel in my stable is from 1979.

The amount of noise a combination of how they're configured and how they're lubricated. Thicker lube can quiet the mechanism somewhat, reducing the spring tension on the pawls can also do it. You can even reduce the sound by removing pawls from the freehub if you really want to.

But lots of people want a loud freehub. Much in the same way that the hum of high-performance road tires is desirable.
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Old 10-16-17, 03:33 PM
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Originally Posted by Joe Bikerider View Post
Much quieter. Not to change the subject but newish chain mechanisms are very loud. The pawls or whatever in them are clicking very loudly. I could never stand that. I enjoy and demand a quiet ride.
Pawl mechanisms only make noise when you are not pedalling. This has nothing to do with the chain
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