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Old bloke seeks relationship with IGH hybrid

chazzochazzo Posts: 8
edited May 2016 in Commuting general
Greetings, experts and enthusiasts

I'm looking for a versatile bike with a hub gear, probably in the £800–1000 range, and I'd appreciate any advice. I'm not a commuter, but guessed that I should be posting here rather than in the road part of the forum.

My aim is to carry groceries back from the shops, do evening road rides of 15–20 miles, and be OK on gravel railway track with maybe a few muddy bits (specifically, the excellent 28-mile Marriott's Way into Norwich). I'll be using SPD pedals.

Hydraulic discs seem a nice idea, and I'll need room for a rear rack and mudguards. So far I've considered three Alfine 8 models:
  1. Cube Hyde Race
  2. Charge Grater 3
  3. Ridgeback Flight 4.0

Suggestions for other bikes would be welcome, but my main reason for asking is to get an idea of what these three might be like to ride. I live in north Norfolk (not quite as flat as you might imagine), where dealers willing to offer a test ride are in short supply.

The Cube in particular seems a rare beast, but I am quite taken with the idea of a belt drive now that some of the original flaws seem to have been ironed out. Since I'm sure the belt itself is expensive, though, I'm wondering what Cube might have left out to achieve the £800 price point. I've not been able to find any proper reviews that mention how it feels to ride.

The other two seem to get good reviews. The Grater 3 probably has more relaxed handling and will be easier to get hold of than the Cube.

The Ridgeback is a bit sportier, and significantly more expensive than the others. It's the only one with carbon forks -- are they worth paying for on a bike like this? I have found what looks like a very good small local shop -- Black Bikes in Sheringham -- that deals with Ridgeback, and am thinking that this might swing it.

I cut my cycling teeth on a classic Raleigh tourer, and I still have a road bike: a 1986 Dawes Stratos. All this hybrid stuff is new to me (as is having more than seven cogs). I suspect I will miss the Dawes, but I haven't ridden it for a whole season and at the age of 55 I'm looking forward to something a bit gentler. I don't want to do rough stuff, but I need a bike that will ride comfortably on gravel while not feeling sluggish on the road. Will the Ridgeback be too demanding now that I'm beginning to creak at the seams? Will the others feel like mountain bikes? What other gems have I missed? Should I lower the budget and go for the 13 Intuitive Gamma from Halfords just up the road (who had a really good bike mechanic last time I was in)?

Sorry for the length of all this, but thanks for staying with me. All suggestions welcome.


  • The RookieThe Rookie Posts: 27,811
    I'm not sure why you want a hub geared bike for that usage?

    For me the 13 is a better bike than the Charge and cube - its not so much lowering the budget as getting better value, nicely specced, carbon fork, triple butted frame. The Ridgeback is close but I think for your stated usage I'd take the wider tyres of the 13.

    55 isn't old by the way......I do regular off road rides with a chap who's 64.
    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.
  • N0bodyOfTheGoatN0bodyOfTheGoat Posts: 5,781
    ~£560 for the 13 looks a no-brainer, using Topcashback discount code and cashback (until tomorrow).
    2020 Voodoo Marasa
    2017 Cube Attain GTC Pro Disc 2016
    2016 Voodoo Wazoo
  • DanielCoffeyDanielCoffey Posts: 142
    IGH can be a little fiddly if you get a rear flat by the way although it is usually the front that gets those from glass. For me the only flat I ever got on the rear was a pinch from hitting some debris while cornering.

    I found the Alfine-8 to be a nice casual commuter / shopping hub. The ability to change down while stationary is a godsend and I didn't really feel the weight at the back.
  • chazzochazzo Posts: 8
    Many thanks for the comments. I'm interested that two of you rate the Halfords bike, so I'll definitely take a look. I thought folks here might be a bit sniffy about Halfords, but I guess a lot depends on the quality of the people in the shop. Last time I was at the King's Lynn store their main bike man was both helpful and knowledgeable.

    @The Rookie: I don't need hub gears, and I certainly don't need belt drive. But I'm all for lower maintenance if it can be had without too many compromises. I've cleaned a lot of chains and derailleurs in my time. My car, on the other hand, is about to get its first oil change -- at 19,000 miles.

    Enough people seem to be pleased with the Alfine 8 that it has to be worth a try. And there are a lot of bike companies offering belt drive now, though perhaps you'd say that some are on the posy side -- and many are beyond my budget.

    @DanielCoffey: yes, I know that changing the rear wheel can be a challenge, though some of the YouTube videos don't make it look too bad. Some people say it's easier to patch the tube in place -- I've never tried that. I haven't figured out what happens with a belt drive. The Gates video makes it all look very easy, but belt tension seems to be critical. No doubt it depends a lot on the design of the dropouts and whatever adjustment mechanism is fitted.

    @The Rookie: age is a state of mind. In my twenties I was regularly out-ridden by a couple in their late fifties -- grizzled old tourists with peaked caps, leather saddles and ancient Carradice canvas panniers. What I meant was that in cycling terms I'm feeling old and creaky. A few months' riding on the right new bike will fix that, I'm sure.

    Thanks again. I'll follow up in due course in case anyone in the future is facing a similar choice.
  • DanielCoffeyDanielCoffey Posts: 142
    The Soma Wolverine frame is well suited to belt drive and if you unexpectedly win the lottery there is always the Shand Stoater to go and drool over at...
  • chazzochazzo Posts: 8
    … if you unexpectedly win the lottery there is always the Shand Stoater to go and drool over at...

    Very nice I'm sure. Two friends of mine rode to Mongolia with Rohloffs and as far as I know they performed flawlessly. As you'd hope for the money :-)
  • chazzochazzo Posts: 8
    Just for the record, I now have a Scott Sub Speed 10. I had a hard time locating anything with a hub gear that I could try out, then found this belt-drive bike for £700, which seems to be about £200 less than the standard price.

    The chunky front end and the matt grey colour put me in mind of something the Wehrmacht might have used. Bulletproof metal mudguards. But it fits me well and is comfortable, and since I'm even less fit than I thought, I'm glad I didn't go for anything more sporty.

    No complaints about the gear range or the intervals. Not sure about efficiency though. With the bike on a stand, the freewheel is not very free, while turning the cranks needs quite a push. Belt tension is correct. Perhaps the hub will loosen up a bit when I've done a few miles.
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