If you don’t care much for Alfine hub gears you’d better hit your back button and go and look at something more interesting.
Right then, I built this
gas pipe Inbred 29er with 30 speed SLX a few months ago with a view to switching to Alfine 11 speed when it came out. Now having put 2 or 3 hundred miles on it and never once leaving the middle ring I decided that the 8 speed Alfine would actually fit the bill coupled with the fact that I just couldn’t be bothered to wait any longer for the delayed 11.
Now as there has been much talk and opinion, informed or otherwise, about the extra weight of an Alfine set-up over conventional gearing I wanted to get a direct weight and weight shift comparison between derailleurs and Alfine so decided to utilise as many existing parts on the bike as possible.
So, to start, the weight of the bike with the 30 speed SLX gears was
Then I removed;
XT rear hub, XT skewer, 32 x 290mm spokes and stainless nipples, 11-34 10 speed cassette, 10 speed chain, SLX rear mech, SLX front mech, standard SLX chainrings, left and right SLX 10 speed shifters and cables and 2 zip ties.
Alfine 8 speed hub with 20T Alfine Sprocket and fitting kit, 32 x 285mm spokes and stainless nipples, Alfine 8 speed trigger shifter and cable, BETD Goldtec 32T chainring, 4 x 5mm spacers (to get chain line and utilise standard chainring bolts) and SRAM PC7X Chain.
Weight of bike with Alfine was
However, that was all done at my mates (weighed with the gear cable wrapped round the handle bars), next day at home I came to set the gears up and found the gear cable was way too long, shortened it by 480mm and weighed in (at the post office) what I removed at 19 grams which converts to 0.04 lbs and brings the total bike weight down to
So to summarise, my bike with 8 speed Alfine is 0.01 lbs (0.008 lbs or 0.13 oz or 3.68 grams to be exact) heavier than the when it was equipped with 30 speed SLX which I think you’ll agree is diddly squat.
Surprised? Yeah me too. On reflection, you pick up an Alfine hub for the first time and you’re shocked at the weight and immediately start wondering if you’re doing the right thing but that’s because almost all of the complete system is there in your hands. As you’re removing your conventional components they weigh very little but put them in one box to carry to your van and viola, there’s all your weight!
And yes, you could argue that compared to XTR the Alfine is heavy and rightly so but you’re in a different market altogether, Alfine was designed for a shopping bike not to win World Cup MTB races and costs accordingly.
Anyway, now the weight shift. Suspended the SLX equipped bike from the garage ceiling like this
with a single tie to the top tube adjusted to find the point at which the bike was balanced horizontally, this was measured along the top tube at 190mm from the front of the seat tube.
Did the same with the Alfine equipped bike
this time the balance point is 157mm from the front of the seat tube.
Not terribly scientific but showed a rearward shift in the balance point of 33mm. Again, because of all the previous talk this was a bit of a surprise too but in actual fact if you put an innertube and a few tools in a wedge pack under your seat you’ll get the same result!
Actually, while I’m here I might as well talk about gear ratios. Fitted 32T chainring and 20T rear sprocket, this gives me the same range as a middle ring x 1-9 + granny ring x 2 on my previous SLX set-up. Though I’ve never used granny on the SLX I’ve erred on the side of caution just in case. If I find I’m not using the lowest ratio I’ll switch to 32:18 which will give me the full middle ring range equivalent albeit with 2 less ratios (i.e. larger gaps) which will suit me fine.
So there you go, I’m gonna go and ride the thing now and let you lot digest and discuss.
Oh, and here is the finished article.