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Internal gear hubs

Old 02-26-13, 10:12 PM
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I have a great fascination to find out what IGH are like. Right now I have Deore derailleurs on my Troll and that works great for me. I plan to keep them for five years before upgrading to either a Rohloff or a Shimano Alfine 11 speed and put the derailleurs on another bike. I like the idea of low maintenance, less hassle, a cleaner look that IGH offers.
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Old 02-26-13, 11:58 PM
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Originally Posted by harshbarj
I beg to differ here. I have run the same chain / cog setup on my bike for about 5 years and feel they are likely the originals to the bike (about a 1995 city bike). Though I run a full chaincase, so the entire drivetrain is sealed.
It's quite possible to run a single cog, ring, and chain together until they actually fall apart. That doesn't mean they aren't worn, though. It just means they're worn together. A full chaincase, of course, dramatically changes the equation. It's dirt that causes the huge majority of wear. Seal out the dirt, you seal out the wear. It has absolutely nothing to do with internally geared hubs.

Originally Posted by harshbarj
I also have to argue here. I have had 2 derailleur based bicycles and they required constant adjusting. Seemed every week or so the system needed adjusting to keep it from skipping gears. I also had to replace on average a chain every 2 - 3 months and a rear cog every 6. I ride an average of 300-400 miles a month in the winter and much much more in the summer.
Not the first time I have heard such things, but it always leaves me scratching my head. Let's just say that your experience is outside the norm (way, way outside the norm) for the average cycling enthusiast. Try that schtick over on one of the road forums and you'll quickly learn just how far off the wall it really is.
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Old 02-27-13, 12:39 AM
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Originally Posted by harshbarj
I have had 2 derailleur based bicycles and they required constant adjusting. Seemed every week or so the system needed adjusting to keep it from skipping gears. I also had to replace on average a chain every 2 - 3 months and a rear cog every 6. I ride an average of 300-400 miles a month in the winter and much much more in the summer.
I have been using derailleur systems for decades and they have seldom given me trouble. Mine need minor adjustments or cable tightening once or twice a year. The only exceptions have been if I have ridden a bike hard on snowy roads or on muddy loose surface roads. Even there, it takes quite a lot of riding before the drivetrain gives me trouble. I don't understand why your bikes need such frequent attention.
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Old 02-27-13, 04:01 AM
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Originally Posted by Six jours
It's quite possible to run a single cog, ring, and chain together until they actually fall apart. That doesn't mean they aren't worn, though. It just means they're worn together. A full chaincase, of course, dramatically changes the equation. It's dirt that causes the huge majority of wear. Seal out the dirt, you seal out the wear. It has absolutely nothing to do with internally geared hubs.
I don't have experience with IGH hubs but I use fixed gear and singlespeed bikes for all my riding needs. I thought that most IGH bikes use 1/8 drivetrain components like SS/FG bikes. One thing I've noticed about SS/FG drivetrain is that the chainrings, cogs and chains last much longer then on a 9 speed drivetrain, I also don't have a chaincase and my drivetrain is constantly getting exposed to the dirt and elements... Maybe it's because of a straight chainline and 1/8 drivetrain.. all of my drivetrain components such as chainrings, rear cogs and chain are 1/8 instead of the more common 3/32.

Last edited by wolfchild; 02-27-13 at 04:13 AM.
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Old 02-27-13, 08:25 AM
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Originally Posted by wolfchild
I thought that most IGH bikes use 1/8 drivetrain components like SS/FG bikes.
Sachs/SRAM and S-A IGH hubs use 1/8" drivetrain components; don't know about Shimano. Another advantage of 1/8" chain is low cost and availability at any store that sells bike accessories.
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Old 02-27-13, 11:47 AM
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The Rohloff is 3/32". There also are 3/32" cogs available for S-A, which is normally what I use. That's because I generally have found 3/32" chains to run more quietly than 1/8", and because I haven't found a significant difference in how long each size lasts. I still believe that folks claiming extraordinary life for 1/8" chains are simply using components that have worn together, so aren't causing problems.
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Old 02-27-13, 11:52 AM
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Been reading some reviews on the Alfine 11speed and people seem to be liking it. And it is 1/2 the cost of the Rohloff...
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Old 02-27-13, 01:06 PM
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Originally Posted by agent pombero
Been reading some reviews on the Alfine 11speed and people seem to be liking it. And it is 1/2 the cost of the Rohloff...
Ask the reviewers/seller about oil change procedures and frequency before spending any money. I understand that unlike previous IGH hubs, oil changes are necessary, require special tools and oil, must be done frequently, and are not simple.
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Old 02-27-13, 01:51 PM
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Are any of you riding bikes equipped with an internal gear hub? I'm interested in going that route for a bike to use around town, especially in winter conditions,
I have 3 bikes 2 with Rohloff's, one 26" wheel, the other a 20: wheel [same hub cog size, different chainring, so same gearing range]
3rd one is an AW3 or BSR, in a Brompton , the low gear is by the Schlumpf Mountain drive crank,
one made as a plug and play with Bromptons.
low range is a big drop so to start over through the 3 hub gears and have 6 ratios total.

but I'd like to know about the advantages and drawbacks of such a system.
Advantage as a daily commuter year around, is with the R'off all 14 ratios are in a roll of the grip shift,
so when wearing my Cycling Rain cape I cannot , nor do I need to,
see the gear shifters to know what gear is next.
and I can shift at a stop , or bogged down on a hill .

Dis advantage is the initial cost, Swiss and German machines cost more. [ Euro & CHF are not cheap, either ]

but if you don't support a car and big Mortgage and paying for children in college , ..

and dont live in a place that will steal anything even if it is locked down..

Last edited by fietsbob; 02-27-13 at 01:55 PM.
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Old 02-27-13, 01:56 PM
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Originally Posted by Six jours
It's quite possible to run a single cog, ring, and chain together until they actually fall apart. That doesn't mean they aren't worn, though. It just means they're worn together. A full chaincase, of course, dramatically changes the equation. It's dirt that causes the huge majority of wear. Seal out the dirt, you seal out the wear. It has absolutely nothing to do with internally geared hubs.
As derailleur based bikes can't have a full chaincase it is a legitimate thing to add. The hub itself also is a sealed system, so why not do the same with the rest of the drivetrain.

Unlike a derailleur based system, wear really has no bearing on the performance of the system. That is one of it's strengths you are choosing to overlook. There is no good reason to replace a worn chain or cog on an IGH as long as it's not slipping, which is rare. A derailleur system will start to have shifting problems after so much wear. I myself ran the same chain for 15 years on an old 3-speed when I was a kid. Never gave any problems unlike my fathers derailleur based bike at the time that he had to constantly tinker with to get it shifting just right!

Originally Posted by Six jours
Not the first time I have heard such things, but it always leaves me scratching my head. Let's just say that your experience is outside the norm (way, way outside the norm) for the average cycling enthusiast. Try that schtick over on one of the road forums and you'll quickly learn just how far off the wall it really is.
1. I'm not a cycling enthusiast. I'm a utility cyclist like you would find in Amsterdam or Copenhagen. Really, would you call someone who simply drives a car to get from point a to point b a car enthusiast? Seems silly to the extreme .

2. Why would I ever visit the road forums? The way they view a bicycle is about as different from my use as you could possibly get. Also my experience is just that, my experience. It's the reason I no longer use a derailleur system and no longer suggests others do as well.
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Old 02-27-13, 02:16 PM
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Used to be that IGHes were oiled, not greased. They were intended to leak the oil, so if you added a few drops monthly, it changed itself.

Now, the high-end IGHes are still oiled, and they don't leak except when overfilled or with major pressure changes, so you do have to change it. Alfine 11 is drain all oil, fill with 25 ml, run the hub, drain, and refill with 25 ml after 1000 km, then every 2 years/5000 km thereafter. Rohloff is a fill with 25 ml cleaning oil, run the hub, drain, and refill with 25 ml (but 15 ml is all that's needed, apparently) every 1 year/5000 km.
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Old 02-27-13, 02:50 PM
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As an alternative IGH I recently picked up a SRAM Automatix 2-speed auto shift hub for use on my single speed commuter bike. I built it up on a 36 hole 700c rim and have been favorably impressed with this thing. No cables, no adjustments, no slips, no nothing. Shifts are solid and reliable. It uses the Nexus/Alfine sprokects (cheap) so you can tune in the gear inches you want on the top end. Quite the knee saver on hills, headwinds and bad weather. Plus it still looks like a SS to fool your friends with your sudden climbing prowess!
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Old 02-27-13, 04:14 PM
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Originally Posted by I-Like-To-Bike
Another advantage of 1/8" chain is low cost and availability at any store that sells bike accessories.
That's very true...I buy my 1/8" singlespeed chains at a department store (cheap BMX chains made by KMC), they are just as functional as the more expensive ones found at the local LBS's... I've never broken any of those "cheap" chains as yet.
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Old 02-27-13, 09:35 PM
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Originally Posted by bhtooefr
Now, the high-end IGHes are still oiled, and they don't leak except when overfilled or with major pressure changes, so you do have to change it. Alfine 11 is drain all oil, fill with 25 ml, run the hub, drain, and refill with 25 ml after 1000 km, then every 2 years/5000 km thereafter. Rohloff is a fill with 25 ml cleaning oil, run the hub, drain, and refill with 25 ml (but 15 ml is all that's needed, apparently) every 1 year/5000 km.
What a hassle!! Defeats one of the advantages of an IGH - simplicity and minimal maintenance.

Sounds fine for someone (a cycling enthusiast?) who wants to tinker with a bicycle all the time.
Me? I prefer to ride 'em, and forget 'em until I ride 'em again. "Low-end" IGH's are just the ticket.
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Old 02-28-13, 08:50 PM
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Before I take any more heat re. semantics, do you folks ride unenthusiastically? Is your frequent participation at BF symptomatic of your lack of cycling enthusiasm? No? Then bite me, pedants.
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Old 02-28-13, 11:10 PM
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Originally Posted by Six jours
Before I take any more heat re. semantics, do you folks ride unenthusiastically? Is your frequent participation at BF symptomatic of your lack of cycling enthusiasm? No? Then bite me, pedants.
My enthusiasm for cycling, i.e., liking to bike, does not extend to any enthusiasm for spending any additional time out of the saddle for futzing around fixing, tinkering, or dreaming up the next "build" to keep me biking. That's why I like (am enthusiastic about) my "low-end IGH" equipped bikes that keep on rolling year in, year out with 100% reliability.
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Old 02-28-13, 11:15 PM
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If I'd written that you/we/whoever were fixing enthusiasts, tinkering enthusiasts, or dreaming up the next build enthusiasts, then you'd have a point. But I didn't, so you don't. Cycling enthusiast.
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Old 02-28-13, 11:25 PM
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Originally Posted by I-Like-To-Bike
I prefer to ride 'em, and forget 'em until I ride 'em again. "Low-end" IGH's are just the ticket.
I'm with you. Have an Alfine 8 and so far, trouble free, just as we like it.
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Old 02-28-13, 11:48 PM
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Originally Posted by I-Like-To-Bike
What a hassle!! Defeats one of the advantages of an IGH - simplicity and minimal maintenance.

Sounds fine for someone (a cycling enthusiast?) who wants to tinker with a bicycle all the time.
Me? I prefer to ride 'em, and forget 'em until I ride 'em again. "Low-end" IGH's are just the ticket.
Same here. For me, a derailleur has always been close to trouble-free. But I'm sure the day will come when I get an IGH. They sound great. When i do make the switch to IGH, I'll look back to this thread for its useful advice and information.
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Old 03-06-13, 08:11 PM
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Originally Posted by bhtooefr
Also, I take that back - apparently, the S3X doesn't hold up to how many fixie riders nowadays ride their fixies, so it might actually be a bad 3-speed (for the application). The reviews are certainly mixed - some hubs failing within single digit miles, some hubs lasting a long time.
I have a couple S3X's and have ridden one it for almost 2 winters, the failures are linked to improper shifting. There is a sliding key in the axle that aligns into 3 different slots, but A. it doesn't seem like its very hard B. it is easy to have the key not fully aligned in the proper slot and it will round or break a comer off the key. Once that happens you can have small pieces of metal kicking around in the gears and causing problems. I had to use the second one a month ago as the first just wore out and failed.

I plan on making a key out of A2 at work and maybe flame hardening it so just the surface is hardened a bit, but still retaining some flexibility in the core. and maybe making the key contact area a slight bit smaller to keep the shifting a little easier.

Now I know most people don't have access to Milling equipment, and I would therefore not recommend the hub either. But It is wicked nice for winter commuting, especially where I live in Northern Maine and its icey and snowy from late November to March. But I just purchased a Cargo frame, and after riding that in the snow I don't see the need for fixed anymore, the longer wheelbase is wicked stable!!
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Old 03-31-13, 02:54 PM
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Originally Posted by GamblerGORD53
I used an oil filled SA XL-RD5w drum brake last year for 2800 miles, with long 180mm cranks.
snip

I had it apart for year end service and you would almost need a microscope to find dust or wear on either brakes or gears. After 1500 miles or so it does need to have the brake side opened to look for grease squishing into the drum side. The oil is good for 3 times that.
Did you do anything to seal the drum brake side from the oil?
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Old 04-02-13, 10:25 AM
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Good to know. I, too, seek lower gear-inches. For me, a low gear in the twenty inch range (16" diameter wheel 3-speed) seems right. A high in the low 50's would suit me. Is this doable, do you think, with a single sprocket change on the dahon curve 3? What number of teeth should be needed?

Last edited by dadse; 04-02-13 at 10:26 AM. Reason: error
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Old 04-02-13, 10:48 AM
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Originally Posted by Newspaperguy
Are any of you riding bikes equipped with an internal gear hub? I'm interested in going that route for a bike to use around town, especially in winter conditions, but I'd like to know about the advantages and drawbacks of such a system.
Advantages: can shift while stopped, little to no upkeep, can get coaster brake

Disadvantages: Limited gear ranges available, a bit heavy in weight, can make flat repair a bit of a work. (not all hubs just some)

Tip: the 3 speed hub is the most dependable hub on the planet and always has been.
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Old 04-02-13, 09:56 PM
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Originally Posted by jrecoi
Did you do anything to seal the drum brake side from the oil?
Mostly it is just the grease getting pushed out because I put so much by the bearings.
I just put a wad of extra grease around the axel behind the bearing cone. It is "KRAZY" brand synthetic grease, great stuff for any wheel or BB. I also used 30w non-detergent lawnmower oil with a dab of thickener/conditioner ment for old car motors. It is therefore far less likely to run and coats the parts real nice.

I guess the plastic spring cap part also helps hold the grease and keep the oil inside. It rests right against the cone.

This way it spins over twice as long and shifts far easier to 1st and 2nd.

PS :
How I did it: is :
1 -- Disassembly, not the sun gear assembly or the bearing cage press in retainer fitting. Took photos as I went. Need a spreader plier for the 2 circlips.
2 -- Soak it in solvent to get the original grease off
3 -- Regrease the bearings
4 -- Soak the pinion part in a cup while pushing the inside springy sleeve
5 -- Used a 1/2 inch paint brush to cover all the parts while assembling
6 -- Brush the whole inside of the shell and leave a spoonful of oil to slosh around
7 -- Screw the shell back together
8 -- Adjust the cones and brake arm alignment.

There are other easier ways of doing this, of course.

Last edited by GamblerGORD53; 04-02-13 at 11:18 PM.
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Old 04-02-13, 11:45 PM
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The simpler plain bearing oiled self bushing Sturmey archer Hubs just get a few drops of oil,
I occasionally take the indicator chain out, drip in some Phil tenacious.. oil , and its fine..
took the cones out one at a time, Greased the axle bearings..
it also retains the oil in between them..

Rohloff rewards the rider with a smooth easy spinning feeling
of an all needle bearing planetary and ball bearing internal ..
Reminds me of the BMW motorcycle I used to own..
[1 oil change a year seems minimal]
same time, I replaced the chain, and flipped over the hub cog.
as designed, it doubles the wear life.

AW3 is pretty efficient, its one set of planetaria's never dis engage,
the power flow through them is just reversed.

Last edited by fietsbob; 04-02-13 at 11:54 PM.
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