Hub Gears

j_mcd
j_mcd Posts: 473
edited May 2016 in Commuting chat
After spending ages last night cleaning the muck and grime off my chain I'm considering getting one of these for a winter commuter/wet weather bike:

http://www.fatbirds.co.uk/665293/produc ... AjMc8P8HAQ

Anyone have any thoughts about them, horror stories etc etc.
Giant Defy Advanced 0 - Best
Planet X London Road - Wet
Montague Fit - Foldy thing that rarely gets used these days
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Comments

  • veronese68
    veronese68 Posts: 27,435
    Why is it only for a Rohloff hub? They are nearly as much as that frame. Belt drive and hub gears would be very low maintenance, like the idea of that.
  • The Rookie
    The Rookie Posts: 27,812
    £1400 for a winter bike!

    Hub gears are like marmite, some love them, some hate them, of course with a chain you still have to clean and lubricate it!

    Belt drive is a nice idea, but the longevity has been nowhere near what was originally being claimed, in some cases I've seen no better than a chain.
    Currently riding a Whyte T130C, X0 drivetrain, Magura Trail brakes converted to mixed wheel size (homebuilt wheels) with 140mm Fox 34 Rhythm and RP23 suspension. 12.2Kg.
  • j_mcd
    j_mcd Posts: 473
    The Rookie wrote:
    £1400 for a winter bike!

    You made the same mistake as I did, that's just for the frame! The whole bike is well over 3 grand.

    1400 would be affordable, 3.5k just isn't!
    Giant Defy Advanced 0 - Best
    Planet X London Road - Wet
    Montague Fit - Foldy thing that rarely gets used these days
  • A guy who I used to work with got sent an 11-speed Alfine hub by mistake. That thing must have been pretty much solid metal because it was really, really heavy.
  • j_mcd
    j_mcd Posts: 473
    The more I read about this, the more I think that Hub gears aren't quite there yet. Why hasn't someone developed an enclosed derailleur yet? It can't be that hard and would be fairly light if made from plastic or cf.
    Giant Defy Advanced 0 - Best
    Planet X London Road - Wet
    Montague Fit - Foldy thing that rarely gets used these days
  • imatfaal
    imatfaal Posts: 2,716
    J_MCD wrote:
    The more I read about this, the more I think that Hub gears aren't quite there yet. Why hasn't someone developed an enclosed derailleur yet? It can't be that hard and would be fairly light if made from plastic or cf.

    The chain would carry crud in a leave it there - slowly you would gum it up. You would have to enclose entire chain like a Boris Bike
  • rower63
    rower63 Posts: 1,991
    I also understand that they're not very efficient - quite a lot of energy gets lost in the mechanicals
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  • veronese68
    veronese68 Posts: 27,435
    All gears are a compromise. Different systems have different advantages and disadvantages, you make your choice dependant on your priorities. To most of us a derailleur system is the best compromise most of the time, in bad weather the emphasis shifts and hub gears or single speed may become more advantageous. I can't see me ever getting to the point that a £3.5 k hub geared bike is the best compromise.
  • rower63 wrote:
    I also understand that they're not very efficient - quite a lot of energy gets lost in the mechanicals

    A bloke I used to work with bought a hub gear bike, it became a bit of an obsession for him.
    He researched it over and over again, it took months and months for him to decide on what he wanted.

    When he finally got it he didn't like it.

    He left soon after (not related to the bike though!) and I never heard what he did with it.
  • rolf_f
    rolf_f Posts: 16,015
    Friend I cycled to North Cape last year had Rohloff with belt drive. Downsides - for a good thousand miles it squeaked like anything. Turned out to be metal abraded from the edges of the sprockets and eventually it disappeared. If we hadn't been on tour it would have probably been quick to fix. In the low gears, there is an extra reduction gear which renders the transmission notably louder and less efficient sounding just when you don't need it (ie on climbs!). I think that is something you just get used to. Bike more back heavy than mine but that doesn't make much difference when touring. Otherwise all was good. Operationally not really much to distinguish between it and my 9 speed 1987 Raleigh Randonneur but, at the end of the trip, my cassette and chainrings had lost a lot of life and there was no wear at all on Peters drivetrain. (his bike was also cleaner than mine thanks to his bikes Rigida carbide rims which didn't wear at all so didn't coat everything in alloy/brakeblock/oil/grime mush).
    Ultimately, nothing mechanical could have happened to my bike that wouldn't have been reasonably easily fixable whereas the Rohloff could theoretically strand you for days but it showed no signs of doing so. Peter would not have swapped for my bike but then I wouldn't have swapped for his!
    Faster than a tent.......
  • andrewc3142
    andrewc3142 Posts: 906
    Some touring types swear by Rohloff gears and accounts suggest they very rarely go wrong.

    But, expensive and on the outside chance of a mechanical I'd rather deal with a derailleur. And I've never really seen a need for anything more expensive/complicated.

    For commuting, however, a simpler solution to your problem is a fixed gear (or failing that a single speed). Even if your commute involves some hills you'd be surprised at how well a fixed will handle them.
  • rolf_f
    rolf_f Posts: 16,015
    Some touring types swear by Rohloff gears and accounts suggest they very rarely go wrong.

    But, expensive and on the outside chance of a mechanical I'd rather deal with a derailleur. And I've never really seen a need for anything more expensive/complicated.

    For commuting, however, a simpler solution to your problem is a fixed gear (or failing that a single speed). Even if your commute involves some hills you'd be surprised at how well a fixed will handle them.

    What - like a seven mile near continuous climb or a 100ft climb at 10 percent? I'll pass thanks! :lol:

    I don't really get the point of fixed bikes for commuting unless the route is pan flat (and hopefully windless) - it's not as though derailleurs need to be that demanding - an old fashioned five speed (5 at the back, one at the front) and a dt shifter isn't going to eat up much of your time in maintenance and is a far more useful machine than a fixed. Shame you can't actually buy such things......
    Faster than a tent.......
  • rick_chasey
    rick_chasey Posts: 73,216
    As someone who has used his mother's imported Dutch bike for about 10 years, with its obligatory 3 gear hub my advice:

    English bike mechanics are simply not up to the task of maintaining them properly.

    It's not worth the grief.


    I know you'll get all shirty but I've taken that bike to literally 9 different shops and each one was a balls up. They just can't do it. They don't get it.
  • Big_Paul
    Big_Paul Posts: 277
    As someone who has used his mother's imported Dutch bike for about 10 years, with its obligatory 3 gear hub my advice:

    English bike mechanics are simply not up to the task of maintaining them properly.

    It's not worth the grief.

    Dunno about that, there's really not much to go wrong, biggest problem I've seen with them is that when you adjust them "by the book" they can sometimes need a wee tweak on the adjuster, I do it until it changes nicely.

    I commuted for a few 1000 miles on a bike with an 8-speed Nexus hub, it didn't do anything better than a derailleur set up, in fact when the sprocket popped off when I gave it too hard a pedal, it was a major faff to put back on.

    The damn things also weigh a ton.

    All those little pawls and planetary gears whizzing around don't inspire confidence in me.
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  • asprilla
    asprilla Posts: 8,440
    I had a belt driven 8 speed Afine for a while. In my opinion it was overly heavy, the gearing is uneven and the mechanical losses appear to be very large in comparison to a standard chain and mech.

    I felt as if I was dragging a tyre and that I had to get out of the saddle to avoid pulling wheelies on hills.
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  • DrLex
    DrLex Posts: 2,142
    I have an Alfine 11-geared pompetamine which I use as my winter/foul weather bike. The weight of the hub is noticeable even on an already heavy bike, It's been very reliable, but it is a faff to remove the rear wheel - mudguard, gear cable, wheel nut and is sensitive to cable tension. As noted above, I think it's a bit of a marmite option and probably better for tourers, esp. in Rohloff form.
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  • My thoughts on my Alfine equipped Saracen Pylon8, in use from 2008 to 2013 are quite mixed. It was amazing value at £300 new, the hub gears suited it's job as a commuter, but I really noticed the extra weight towards the end of my ascent back home. Just a damn shame the frame is terminally cracked, it was a fun bike when speed was not of the essence.
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  • jamesco
    jamesco Posts: 687
    I had a Ridgeback Flight 04 with the Alfine 8 hub for a few months and can echo a few of the points already made.

    The step between a few of the gears was uncomfortably wide; the 11 speed widens the overall range rather than narrowing/evening the gaps. The Rohloff looks much better in that regard but is bloody expensive.

    The weight was only noticeable when lifting the bike up and down stairs because it's far from the centre of gravity. On the road it was no problem.

    Shifting-while-stationary never worked for me - it just resulted in a big crunch when taking off, the same as with a derailleur.

    Not worrying about the chain or (non-existent) derailleur & cassette was great. If I'd had the bike longer I'm sure it would have meant less maintenance.

    As RC says, shop mechanics have no idea about them. The first ride out the shop door was awful with the gears slipping and changing by themselves - the mechanics hadn't bothered to align the dots and when I stopped and took it into another branch, they didn't have a mechanic willing to touch a hub. The second time it came out of the shop, the mechanic left the shift-cable outside the groove so it couldn't change gear at all. Just hopeless.

    If it's a good price and you're comfortable with the compromises of a hub (derailleurs have them too, of course!) then they're worth looking at. They're not a magic bullet, unfortunately. Here's a Stack Exchange thread on the pros & cons.
  • father_jack
    father_jack Posts: 3,509
    How about single speed? No issues with wearing out chainrings, cassettes, extra wear on chain due to changing gear. No shifters either (those are bloody expensive)

    I have a SS, FG and may replace the tourer with a SS Cyclocross.
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  • ugo.santalucia
    ugo.santalucia Posts: 28,289
    I have built a few rear wheels with a hub gear, mainly Shimano Alfine and Nexus. The hub alone weighs nearly 2 Kg... whether that is a concern to you ro not... it is a significant anchor that you are carrying around. If you then puncture, the procedure to remove the wheel and disengage the hub is quite tedious, so best to ue impenetrable tyres, something like the Marathon plus, which add another 700 grams or so. You begin to abandon the "lightweight" territory, where by lightweight we include anything that weighs 12 kg or less
    left the forum March 2023
  • davis
    davis Posts: 2,506
    I've got both an Alfine 8 (Roadrat) and Alfine 11 (Pompetamine).

    In both cases the hub entirely sucks the joy out of riding the back (the frames are lovely and fun without). In particular the Versa shifter on the Pompetamine is a hateful thing.

    I'd go single-speed, or 8 speed with a big strong chain. Wipe the chain with an oily rag after every ride in crap weather and that's 80% of the maintenance worries gone for 10% of the cost of going down the hub route.

    Sure a Rohloff might make sense for a RTW tourer or someone, but they're too much money for a commuter. As revolting as they are aesthetically, a chain case would solve so many problems.... Depressing, innit?
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  • j_mcd
    j_mcd Posts: 473
    I've considered the single speed option but appreciate my gears too much. I think that an 11x1 chainset could be a frame where I can put some decent mudguards might be the way forward.
    Giant Defy Advanced 0 - Best
    Planet X London Road - Wet
    Montague Fit - Foldy thing that rarely gets used these days
  • father_jack
    father_jack Posts: 3,509
    J_MCD wrote:
    I've considered the single speed option but appreciate my gears too much. I think that an 11x1 chainset could be a frame where I can put some decent mudguards might be the way forward.

    Try staying in the same gear for a week, you'll be surprised.

    Try something like 42/14 or 42/15.
    Say... That's a nice bike..
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  • ugo.santalucia
    ugo.santalucia Posts: 28,289
    J_MCD wrote:
    I've considered the single speed option but appreciate my gears too much. I think that an 11x1 chainset could be a frame where I can put some decent mudguards might be the way forward.

    Try staying in the same gear for a week, you'll be surprised.

    Try something like 42/14 or 42/15.

    true, I use 2 gears on my commute (46 x18 and 46 x 16) and it's lumpier than most urban ones... could easily do with 46 x 16 only
    left the forum March 2023
  • father_jack
    father_jack Posts: 3,509
    Also with cost of 11 speed cassete...it's absurd.

    All that weight, cost, and at most you'll use three of the sprockets (say smallest, middle, largest) It's stupid.

    I think 5 speed cassettes should come back. Hell even a 3 speed cassette will do.
    Say... That's a nice bike..
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  • j_mcd
    j_mcd Posts: 473
    If I was to go down the Single Speed path, what would be a good few to look at? I'd definitely like a freewheel as I don't want to go fixed. I'd also quite like bullhorns rather than drops.

    Specialized Langster Street perhaps?
    Giant Defy Advanced 0 - Best
    Planet X London Road - Wet
    Montague Fit - Foldy thing that rarely gets used these days
  • ugo.santalucia
    ugo.santalucia Posts: 28,289
    J_MCD wrote:
    If I was to go down the Single Speed path, what would be a good few to look at? I'd definitely like a freewheel as I don't want to go fixed. I'd also quite like bullhorns rather than drops.

    Specialized Langster Street perhaps?

    For a stylish man like yourself, look no further than Condor
    left the forum March 2023
  • dyrlac
    dyrlac Posts: 751
    Charge Plug 0 is cheap and cheerful (see sig, mine's an older Plug 1). Pearsons' now you see me/once more into the breach for something lusher (you can get them to change the bars). As Ugo notes, go with Condor Tempo/Pista for even more spendy. Trying to decide if I'm going down the latter route once I hit 10,000 km on the Plug, or if I succumb to the rule that one's second fixie must be a Cinelli. The other thing about FG/SS is that it's a doddle to just buy the frame(set) and add the bits you need even for the totally ham-fisted home mechanic.
  • father_jack
    father_jack Posts: 3,509
    I ride a Genesis Flyer myself. The problem with SS freewheel is finding a good quality unit, that doesn't cost the earth. The Shimano ones are £15 but apparently made out of soft cheese.

    There's one at £75 but not spending that sort of money on a blinking freewheel. So decided with FG.
    Say... That's a nice bike..
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  • jedster
    jedster Posts: 1,717
    Interesting experiences - I'll add mine although they are a bit different.

    Like Davis I have a pompetamine with and alfine 11 on my commuter (80 miles per week all year round). guess I've had it four years or so.
    1. it is heavy. As someone says, you mainly feel it when you are off the bike. I generally have a rear pannier so the additional weight on the back end isn't that noticeable when I'm riding.
    2. it's been completely bombproof despite slovenly maintenance by me. I oil it every now and again. clean it every couple of months. get it serviced annually. It needed a major overhaul thus year - the hub lube needed changing for the first time, ditto sprocket and chain ring - previously just chains. Occasionally cable stretch means I need to twiddle the adjuster at the shifter but I can do this while riding
    3. I've not had a problem with servicing - but then again, the workshop manager in my LBS is a big fan and has them on all his bikes including MTBs. In his view they are the obvious solution to british mud!
    4. I've had no problems with the versa drop bar shifters. In fact I don't really understand what the problem would be. The shifting is utterly predictable up and down. Perhaps the throw is a bit long on the break lever?
    5. gear ratios are a bit wider spread than on a 2x10 or 11 but I only really notice it at the bottom end where there is a big gap between 1 and 2. One of the gears (4th I think) feels a bit "spongy". No drama.
    All in all I like it - it has been a bit less effort than a derailleur set up but obviously they work very well too. I am thinking of getting alfine 11 di2 on my next commuting bike