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Why are all internal gear hub bikes so darn heavy?

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Why are all internal gear hub bikes so darn heavy?

Old 06-05-14, 01:16 PM
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Why are all internal gear hub bikes so darn heavy?

Is there such a thing as as a reasonably lightweight IGH bike? Say, 25-30 pounds? If not, what is it about IGH bikes that makes them so heavy? Is the hub itself really that heavy?

Many people like IGH bikes because they require very little maintenance. Another benefit is that you can change gears when stopped. However, for anyone who has to carry a bike up stairs or lift a bike onto a car bike rack, heavy bikes are not very appealing. Are lightweight IGH bikes an untapped market? I hope so!
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Old 06-05-14, 01:25 PM
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Old 06-05-14, 01:44 PM
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Originally Posted by CompleteStreets View Post
Is there such a thing as as a reasonably lightweight IGH bike? Say, 25-30 pounds? If not, what is it about IGH bikes that makes them so heavy? Is the hub itself really that heavy?

Many people like IGH bikes because they require very little maintenance. Another benefit is that you can change gears when stopped. However, for anyone who has to carry a bike up stairs or lift a bike onto a car bike rack, heavy bikes are not very appealing. Are lightweight IGH bikes an untapped market? I hope so!
most bikes that come from the factory with an igh
are designed for commuting or casual riding
and usually have fenders and racks and kickstands
which add weight

also
bikes meant for these purposes
are most often equipped with less expensive components
and wheels
than lighter weight bikes meant for recreational riding

the hubs do add weight
but generally only about a pound or two
maybe a bit more for the heavyweight champ of being heavy
the nuvinci cvt igh
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Old 06-05-14, 01:46 PM
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Originally Posted by CompleteStreets View Post
Is the hub itself really that heavy?
Yep, 1160G for a Sturmey AW hub w/ control: Sturmey Archer
At 353G w/ QR for a 105 rear hub that's a quite a deficit to incur, but for town bike use I've run IGH for decades.
With a careful build a pleasant reasonably light machine results, but don't expect anything else.

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Old 06-05-14, 01:50 PM
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My Van Nicholas is around 28 pounds \ 13 kg and I have the Rohloff 14 speed hub with the Gates carbon fiber belt.

I didn't plan on buying that bike initially. I had ordered a Koga with the same hub and belt but they couldn't deliver the frame I wanted. The dealer suggested the Van Nicholas. This isn't a super light bike but I really appreciate how much lighter is is than my previous bike.

As far as maintenance goes, Rohloff recommends changing the oil once a year or 5,000 km, which ever comes first. My dealer in so many words suggested every two years is adequate. It's a simple enough procedure and I'll probably do it myself. I don't have a garage or a basement like I had in the US so maintenance for me is more of a hassle.

Shimano makes an 11 speed hub that I considered. I can imagine the weight of that is even lighter than my Rohloff.
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Old 06-05-14, 01:59 PM
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High quality tempered steel is not light. as D H above did you shave the weight elsewhere .. a lot of it is in components you don't need ..

and a Titanium Frame ..

single planetary 3 speed is of course lighter, than what it takes to do the 3_3speeds times 2, of the R'off hub..


FWIW as all the oil change stuff is done with Plastic syringes , oil changes in Rohloffs are pretty tidy .


Untapped market? Sturmey Archer hubs are over 100 years old. the Dutch have streets named after those Guys ..

what market did you have in mind tapping ?

Last edited by fietsbob; 06-05-14 at 02:37 PM.
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Old 06-05-14, 02:00 PM
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Is maintenance on a regular geared bike really that hard?
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Old 06-05-14, 02:04 PM
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Originally Posted by Wilfred Laurier View Post
most bikes that come from the factory with an igh
are designed for commuting or casual riding
and usually have fenders and racks and kickstands
which add weight
I would argue that a significant proportion of people that commute by bike are storing their bikes indoors AND have to contend with stairs. This is especially true in cities. In the end, what I see people riding during commuting hours are lightweight derailleur bikes with fenders and racks added on. Why don't bike manufacturers just make lightweight IGH bikes for commuters that prefer IGH over derailleur? Another benefit to IGH is that they generally have full chain cases. If I'm commuting to work, one thing I'd like is a chain case so I don't have to bother with strapping my pant leg.
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Old 06-05-14, 02:09 PM
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Originally Posted by RPK79 View Post
Is maintenance on a regular geared bike really that hard?
Yes. It requires lubing the chain frequently, as opposed to once every year or two for IGH bikes. Also, on derailleur bikes the chains and components wear out faster because they are exposed to the grit that kicks up from the road.

On a scale of 1-10 for maintenance annoyance factor, a derailleur bike is a 5 if you're lucky, and more like a 7 or 8 if things go wrong. An IGH bike is a 2. That's why I want an IGH bike.
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Old 06-05-14, 02:09 PM
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Don't Cheat on this analysis, by not using a reasonable comparison. compare the whole drivetrain weight .

of the things replaced by simplifying that to 1 cog 1 chainring and the Hub itself.
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Old 06-05-14, 02:14 PM
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No. But as utilitarian bicycles, they're unmatched for strength and robust reliability.

You're not looking to race, so the weight of the IGH is an acceptable trade-off. There are times when you want a bicycle with a clean look to it and an IGH bicycle is the ticket.
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Old 06-05-14, 02:17 PM
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Originally Posted by CompleteStreets View Post
I would argue that a significant proportion of people that commute by bike are storing their bikes indoors AND have to contend with stairs. This is especially true in cities. In the end, what I see people riding during commuting hours are lightweight derailleur bikes with fenders and racks added on. Why don't bike manufacturers just make lightweight IGH bikes for commuters that prefer IGH over derailleur? Another benefit to IGH is that they generally have full chain cases. If I'm commuting to work, one thing I'd like is a chain case so I don't have to bother with strapping my pant leg.
first
any bike with a chain case and fenders and a rack
is going to be a bit of a chunky monkey
so if you select a bare hybrid because it is lighter
then add a chaincase rack and fenders
its going to be a heavy bike

second
there are a handful of lightweight igh bikes made
but they are the ones that dont include
a chaincase rack and fenders

for instance
MEC Chance Bicycle (Unisex) - Mountain Equipment Co-op. Free Shipping Available
this one has a claimed weight of 11.8 kg or 23.6 lbs

there are others
but I dont know about availability in your area
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Old 06-05-14, 02:18 PM
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Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
Untapped market? Sturmey Archer hubs are over 100 years old. the Dutch have streets named after those Guys ..

what market did you have in mind tapping ?
If the hub itself on an IGH bike only weighs 3 pounds (1 to 1 1/2 kilo), then it should be possible to build an IGH bike that only weighs 3 pounds more than an equivalent derailleur bike. It seems that derailleur bikes weigh 20-30 pounds whereas most IGH bikes weigh 40+ pounds, with perhaps some 3-speeds being slightly lighter.

What I want: an IGH bike having at least 8 gears and weighing no more than 30 pounds fully equipped with full chain case, rear rack and fenders. Reason for wanting a light weight bike: carrying up stairs for indoor storage.

Yes, the Dutch mainly ride IGH bikes, but they weigh a ton. They also get stored outdoors or in ground level storage units that have been mandated by zoning codes. In the US, people in cities generally don't have good ground level storage options.

Last edited by CompleteStreets; 06-05-14 at 02:22 PM. Reason: Added info on Dutch comment.
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Old 06-05-14, 02:19 PM
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Originally Posted by CompleteStreets View Post
Yes. It requires lubing the chain frequently, as opposed to once every year or two for IGH bikes. Also, on derailleur bikes the chains and components wear out faster because they are exposed to the grit that kicks up from the road.

On a scale of 1-10 for maintenance annoyance factor, a derailleur bike is a 5 if you're lucky, and more like a 7 or 8 if things go wrong. An IGH bike is a 2. That's why I want an IGH bike.
Unless we're talking belt driven I'm pretty sure you still have to lube the chain more than once or twice a year.
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Old 06-05-14, 02:20 PM
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Originally Posted by CompleteStreets View Post
Are lightweight IGH bikes an untapped market? I hope so!
Either untapped or too small to be worthwhile. Sure the hubs are much heavier, but only by a couple pounds. And you save about a pound by dropping the derailleurs and having only a single cog instead of a whole cassette. So the penalty should only be about a pound.

But the IGH bikes don't appear to be targeted toward folks who are willing to pay a premium for a bike that's a little lighter. Instead of focusing on lighter (but more expensive) components the upscale models tend to be equipped with additional accessories that add more weight (fenders, racks, lights, dynamos, kickstands, etc.).
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Old 06-05-14, 02:29 PM
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Originally Posted by Wilfred Laurier View Post
first
any bike with a chain case and fenders and a rack
is going to be a bit of a chunky monkey
so if you select a bare hybrid because it is lighter
then add a chaincase rack and fenders
its going to be a heavy bike
False. *Heavy duty* racks, fenders and chain cases weigh a lot, but there are light weight options. Commuters opt for light weight rack and fenders for this reason. How light? 1 or 1 1/2 pounds for a rear rack and under 1 pound for plastic or aluminum fenders. I'm sure a decent chain case can be built for approximately 1 pound.
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Old 06-05-14, 02:34 PM
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If the hub itself on an IGH bike only weighs 3 pounds (1 to 1 1/2 kilo), then it should be possible to build an IGH bike that only weighs 3 pounds more than an equivalent derailleur bike. It seems that derailleur bikes weigh 20-30 pounds whereas most IGH bikes weigh 40+ pounds, with perhaps some 3-speeds being slightly lighter.
You are missing the whole Nothing weighs less than a part not installed , part of the comparison, so an invalid math.
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Old 06-05-14, 02:39 PM
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fietsbob, I'm not sure I understand this ... single planetary 3 speed is of course lighter, than what it takes to do the 3_3speeds times 2, of the R'off hub

From what I understand the Rohloff is 2 x 7 ... or have I completely misunderstood what you wrote.
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Old 06-05-14, 02:50 PM
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3 x 3 speeds =9 minus the 2 middle gears that are the same on all 3, narrow, medium, and wide ratio 3 speeds =7.
11th is the one direct gear used.

then the 7~8 change is running thru those 7 again. ..
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Old 06-05-14, 03:06 PM
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Originally Posted by CompleteStreets View Post

What I want: an IGH bike having at least 8 gears and weighing no more than 30 pounds fully equipped with full chain case, rear rack and fenders. Reason for wanting a light weight bike: carrying up stairs for indoor storage.
Bromptons have IGHs with six gears instead of 8, but the range of gears is as wide as a Nexus 8. You can get one of those for around 26 pounds.
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Old 06-05-14, 03:06 PM
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Got it, sorry.
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Old 06-05-14, 03:19 PM
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First, I'm not into weighing components. I would think that by replacing the metal chain with a carbon fiber belt, you'd dropped some weight ... and you wouldn't need a chain guard either.
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Old 06-05-14, 06:35 PM
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I actually have that Oxford 3 speed and it's 28 lbs if you remove the fenders and rear rack.
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Old 06-05-14, 06:47 PM
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Originally Posted by CompleteStreets View Post
False. *Heavy duty* racks, fenders and chain cases weigh a lot, but there are light weight options. Commuters opt for light weight rack and fenders for this reason. How light? 1 or 1 1/2 pounds for a rear rack and under 1 pound for plastic or aluminum fenders. I'm sure a decent chain case can be built for approximately 1 pound.
The Oxford 3 speed listed above is 28 lbs without rack and fenders. I have one and just weighted it moments ago. If you put on fenders and full chain case and rear rack, you're going to be at 30 - 32 lbs.

However, you want to use a heavy Nexus 8 speed hub thats 5 lbs right there!! At best, this bike is going to be 35 - 37lbs
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Old 06-05-14, 06:53 PM
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Originally Posted by Dahon.Steve View Post
I actually have that Oxford 3 speed and it's 28 lbs if you remove the fenders and rear rack.
And how useful would that be for commuting where a bit of carrying capacity & wet weather capability is required?
By their requirements town bikes weight a bit more than machines designed for competition w/ mudguards, lighting and other bits & bobs.
A well thought out town bike build w/ IGH won't be a penance to ride in all weathers and will be pleasant to operate in urban environments as intended. One must cycle enough that a few pounds don't matter over a few decades of operation.

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