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Old 05-25-08, 01:01 PM   #1
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Internally Geared Hubs

I saw that someone resurrected a thread about touring on a shimano nexus 8 speed internally geared hub from a couple of years ago. The reviewer had a generally positive attitude towards the performance of this hub over a couple of thousand miles of touring, which is somewhat surprising to me. I've been doing a bit of research into similar products. Almost all of the documentation for commercially available geared hubs (including all of the shimano nexus geared hubs) specifically caution against using them on mountain bikes, tandems or for hauling large loads. The only exceptions that I know of are the Rohloff, and a specific model of SRAM 5 speed hubs that has a very narrow gear range, but which is specifically designed for heavy loads.

I'm in the market for a new rear wheel, and I really want an internally geared hub. I like the look of the relatively new SRAM 9 speed hub. It has a good gear range, and they claim that it can be mated to a double crankset, which would allow for a wide enough range to tackle mountains and perform well on the flats. But they caution against using it for heavy loads, which should rule out touring.

I'm so set on the idea of internally geared hubs, that I'm willing to shell out major cash to purchase the Rohloff at this point. But I don't like the idea of purchasing a wheel that is worth more than my entire bike. If I could use the SRAM 9 speed or one of the shimano nexus products, and save myself a grand, I would happily do so. But I just don't feel like I can trust the less expensive products based on the information that I have. So I want to know if anyone else has toured on a geared hub, and what kind of longevity they've gotten from them.

Do you tour on a geared hub? Are SRAM and Shimano just being excessively cautious in steering customers away from their products for touring purposes?
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Old 05-25-08, 01:52 PM   #2
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My Nexus 8 Premium has been used numerous times to haul loads. Total loads (me180+bike37+cargo&trailer) were probably of 325 pounds. I have used my bike as a taxi and beer getter (both at the same time), and these loads came up at about 400 pounds, but that's just crazy and I would not do it normally. Care must be taken not to go hectic on the wheel and you should not try to do fast starts (is it of any concern in touring anyway). I would also take hill climbing slowly and walk it with extreme loads and hills (both combined).

I have been using the Nexus for about a year now, and it doesn't seem to be too much in pain. I need to regrease the bearings (winter riding), but that's pretty much it. I have done long distance biking with it and I would trust the Nexus over any derailleur I've ever had.

I cannot speak from experience with the SRAM, but I believe max recommended load should be around 100kg (plus some occasional stresses). The technical docs say only this in regards to load:
Tandem: Not suitable for tandems, trademen’s delivery bicycles and similar
Of course, Shimano and SRAM are just trying to keep you from putting too much stress on the system. I would NOT use it everyday under heavy loads, and as I said earlier, you should be gentle on it when you are heavily loaded (250+ pounds).

There is also the SRAM P5 Cargo that is rated by them at 120kg and is accepted by them as a tandem hub.
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Old 05-25-08, 03:31 PM   #3
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I just finished a tough tour of the Blue Ridge Parkway last week on a Shimano Alfine hub. No problems. You may like more of a gear range, but it will do fine, it did for me. I love my Alfine hubs (Internal gear and dynamo).
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Old 05-25-08, 03:45 PM   #4
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You can tour on an IGH, IMHO if you don't abuse them they will last just as long or longer than the dérailleur system. Most of the ones that I have seen are not intended for 500# cargo carts, because the extremely low gearing required will toast the internals by putting too much strain on them. The Dutch use the Shimano 8 speed on a Bakfiets and they aren't a lightweight machine by any stretch of the imagination.

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Old 05-25-08, 09:58 PM   #5
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I`ve had a Nexus 8 on my commuter/grocery/bikepath bike for 10 months (2000 mi?) and I love it for that- mostly for being kinda different and for the under-rated ability to downshift after an unexpected stop. For me, I don`t think it would cut it on a "serious" bike because of the gear range. I have mine geared pretty low with 42t ring and 21t sprocket to 26 x 1.5 tires, and it`s enough granny that I RARELY wish for lower, but I spin out somewhere around 20-25 MPH (no speedometer, so I`m guessing here) and my gearing is spaced out more between gears than with a modern derailer/cassette system. Anyway, I`d check the gear inch calculator on Harris to make sure it`s in line with what you`d consider touring on. The mulit-sprocket setup on some SRAMs (what do they call that?) seems like maybe a good idea, but it seems silly to me to drive an IG hub with a double or tripple crankset because you end up needing two derailers and two shifters anyway (RD to take up slack). What would be the point?

EDIT: I`ve skimmed the thread you`re talking about and found it interresting. If it works for that guy, maybe it`ll work for you. For me, I think I`ll just leave my Nexus on my `round town bike and count my blessings.

Last edited by rodar y rodar; 05-25-08 at 10:03 PM.
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