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Thoughts on internally geared hubs?

Old 03-23-13, 08:36 AM
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Thoughts on internally geared hubs?

Anyone here have experience with internally geared hubs. I am considering an internally geared hub for my SE Stout 29er. It currently has a 1x9 setup. I feel that an 8 or 11 speed would be sufficient and clean up the look a bit. Thoughts on durability for MTB? Ease of maintenance? These are things that attract me to the thought of one.
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Old 03-23-13, 08:39 AM
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I've had one for just over a year of being car-free. I like it for commuting: weather-resistant, reliable, nice to be able to shift the full range of gears while at a stop. Can't speak for its off-road usability, though.
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Old 03-23-13, 08:54 AM
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I have thought very hard about trying one for DH. I have been told that Alfines may be robust enough for Mtn and have been very tempted to try a Sturmey-Archer XRK-8, just because of the attractive price for a disc hub.

I'm relying on someone like you to finally bite the bullet and try it, then give us a full report .
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Old 03-23-13, 12:51 PM
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Well, I recently drank the IGH Kool-Aid (Big Gulp sized - i.e. Rohloff).

This is my first such hub, I've been on derailleur based bikes since I was a kid. Here are some thoughts based on 600 miles of winter use:

- I put this hub on a Surly Ogre frame that was set up specifically for Rohloff so it integrated well
- The overall cost difference compared with a buying a similar high end group was about +$400.
- The additional weight has been negligible. It is not an apples to apples comparison, but the fat tire Ogre with Rohloff is only 1.5 pounds heavier than a LHT with 27mm tires and Shimano XT (same seats and same racks) 36.5 vs 35lbs.
- I've actually noticed that the single speed chain requires some getting used to, horizontal dropouts make changing tires (with fenders) a challenge. I end up tightening up my chain every couple of hundred miles (maybe I'm not tightening axle nuts tight enough). When chain is tight I seem to notice occasional "clunks: I attribute to picking up a chunk of twig or pebble into the chain
- People describe "inefficiency" in the Rohloff, probably because it does things like making the pedals spin when you are walking the bike. Based upon my speed and ride times (I do the same commute every day), I am only a few minutes slower on this Ogre (and it has 50mm tires vs 27 on old bike). The Rohloff takes no more effort to pedal that a regular drive train.
- The ability to shift while standing still is growing on me. I didn't care that much at first, but now realize it is quite nice to have.
- The Rohloff was stiff and noisy for the first few hundred miles, but now that it is broken in it is great, mostly silent except a whirring in gears 7 and 6, When it coasts there is a very distinctive "click, click, click" that some have describes as "agricultural" like a tractor. That is oddly accurate
- Having 14 evenly spaced gears is wonderful. I have old knees (as opposed to my young heart and I shift constantly. The Rohloff is always there with the right gear. That has been the biggest benefit to me. You will also develop the muscles in your right hand because it get's a a real workout
- Some folks have described the Rohloff as being "indexed", but that isn't the right description. It is a bit more like a friction shift... you can (and often do) miss a gear and either get a clicking or get blocked in no mans land between gears.
- Everyone talks about the "lack of maintenance", but honestly my derailleur drivetrain needed very little maintenance in the last 5000 miles.
- The IGH gives you nice, clean lines and it looks good

Overall, I like it, it's a good piece of bike gear and worth the additional cost.
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Old 03-23-13, 01:22 PM
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I think if you are just buying the hub and replacing your current hub, you're going to have to compensate for the difference in spoke length. In my thinking, your current hub is probably smaller than the internally geared hub and a shorter hub-to-nipple distance will leave about 1/2" (+/-1/4") or so sticking out of the nipple. If you dont have double walled rims, that could pose a problem for your inner tube.

At least that's my thinking...

As far as internally gearedhubs in general I think they're pretty frickin' cool. I've always been a sucker for using car-like objects on bikes. Such as disc brakes, coaster brakes (like drum brakes on a car), hydraulics, tubeless tires, certain suspension systems, automatic shifting (I think Shimano made one), etc.

Josh
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Old 03-23-13, 04:40 PM
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Thanks all for the input. dminor, I will let you know I bite the bullet on this venture.
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