Amazing Alfine? Or not?

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  • Amazing Alfine? Or not?
  • Premier Icon nickc

    I’d like a 3/4 speed wide range hub as well.

    Tried a Rolhoff, never tried an Alfine, things that put me off in no particular order ; weight, price, noise, serviceability, crap shifter. I guess I could used to the weight, price of the thing was unbelievable, I think I worked out that I could get ten years of normal gears before I’d break even. Rolhoff want it back to do a service, that’s sending a hefty bit of kit back to Germany….and no trigger shifter and a really shit quality twist grip thing that was an embarrassment given how much the thing cost.

    I can see the appeal if you’re a frequent destroyer of normal gears. In 15 years + I’ve never smashed a mech or been unable to set up gears so they work properly and noiselessly. For me it’s solving a problem I don’t have.

    Premier Icon ir_bandito

    a really shit quality twist grip thing

    I thought mine was, until I replaced the cables. Bingo, super-smooth and easy now πŸ™‚

    Jagwire brake-outers (with lining), and standrad gear inners FTW. I’m just looking into using some V-Brake noodles to tidy up cable bends into the shifter and click-box.


    I can’t see a 3 speed hub being much lighter than an 8 or 11

    Premier Icon gofasterstripes

    The Grip Shift on a Rohloff is a bit industrial, but it’s made from Aluminum, Nylon and Steel with a thick bonded Rubber grip and so-far has proved in my case extremely hard wearing [4 years, maybe 50% worn]

    According to my copy of the Bodyspace textbook [Ergonomics and such], three sided grips provides more purchase than round ones, and the diameter is 38mm which should provide approx 70% of peak torque about the axis of rotation [Max @ approx 70mm which is a bit big for a bike gripshifter].

    While it is rather heavy and rough looking I find it delivers a nice mixture of fast block shifts with the thumb and finger grip and single fingertip and thumb shifts when cruising.

    Lastly, having just serviced mine, I can say that a smear of teflon-grease on the mated surfaces and new inners and outers really makes a difference. I use a tiny wipe of Lumpys Crack Wax on the gear inners too, and then thread them into spiral-wound lined brake outer.

    Premier Icon gofasterstripes

    On the Alfine, I am using the Nexus 8-speed gripshift, as I understand the trigger shifter is limited to single shifts.


    My Rohloff shifter is still running the original cables after 7 years with no adjustments required. It is a bit basic but I can live with that for something so easy to live with.

    what is a fakie – sounds impressive on a bike if its anything like the snowboarding equivalent!

    A fakie is rolling backwards, still trying to work out if the one at 2:05 in this vid is real:



    I have an Alfine 8 which has run flawlessly for a few years. It’s simplicity makes it fun to ride and I have it on a 29er which I commute to work on etc. On longer rides I feel there is mechanical loss but this is probably just my fitness. Changing tube when you get a flat is a bit of a faff.

    The 3 speed would be interesting but it would need to be a wide ratio 3 speed as the current offerings appear to be approx. 185% range (see I ran a ‘singlespeed’ with a triple on the front for a while which worked quite well, just gives 3 very widely spaced gears.

    Premier Icon epicyclo

    boblo – Member
    It’s not ancillaries like the nut/cable that are a concern, it’s the magic inside. If the spell wears off, how would you fix it when out and about?…

    Most hub gears are stone axe reliable. Problems are usually down to cable maladjustment. The Alfine 11 has been the exception and is seen as fragile. The 8 speed Alfine is robust.

    Three speed Sturmey-Archers were good for at least 50,000 miles 100 years ago. They’re probably one of the last non-consumable working parts on a bike. No magic, just plain simple good design properly built.

    thepodge – Member
    I can’t see a 3 speed hub being much lighter than an 8 or 11

    S-A 3 speed is 1,040gms, a S-A 8 speed 1,800gms.


    Three speed Sturmey-Archers were good for at least 50,000 miles 100 years ago.

    I’ve seen a few pre 50s ones still going strong in the past year. The date is on the hub if anyone is curious of the age of one. They did buy the contents of the factory and move it to Asia in recent years so they aren’t quite the same as they used to be, at least its still going though.

    Premier Icon mick_r

    I’ve got one of the new SA 3 speed hubs with disc mount and 135mm axle spacing. It takes a single cassette sprocket (not the old 3 spline sprocket) but still has the axle-end shifter cable.

    Pros –

    A bit lighter than an Alfine setup.
    1:1 is true direct drive and very efficient (unlike Alfine which spins loads of cogs for 1:1).
    The other two gears also feel very efficient and drag free.
    Quite direct feeling (pawls instead of the roller clutches in Alfine so feels less mushy on power take-up)
    Very nice thumbshifter
    Cheapish (Β£100 all in)
    Gear range is OK if used to singlespeed (one extra gear each side of ss for road and big hills).
    Silent in gear 1 so not annoying when climbing really steep stuff.


    Still a bit heavy.
    No sealing whatsoever.
    Cassette sprocket is still held on by a circlip, so need to fiddle with spacers to stop it being wobbly if using other manufacturer’s sprockets.
    135mm spacing is achieved by a longer axle + piles of spacer nuts – bearings a long way inboard so axle might bend with heavier riders.
    Due to axle spacing, chainline is a long way inboard – awful alignment with a regular ss chainring setup (e.g. Middleburn UNO). Alignment is bad enough to burst open half links or ss chain springlinks.
    Nuts and anti-turn washers are nasty and low quality compared to Alfine.
    Axle end cable roller thing is huge, heavy and might clip your heels – I went back to an old style Sturmey hollow nut.
    Setting indexing is a bit of a guess.
    If using old style hollow cable nut, it needs a cable stop in just the right spot on your rear stay.
    Floppy slack cable in 3rd gear rattled against frame off road and could work loose.
    Gear range not wide enough for big steep long hills (I tried and failed in Austria last summer….).
    Incessant tick tick tick in gears 2 and 3 just like childhood memories πŸ™‚

    So I’d say 50% of the way there, but needs improvement.

    Premier Icon epicyclo

    mick_r – Member
    I’ve got one of the new SA 3 speed hubs…

    Agree with most of that.

    When you say setting indexing, are you referring to adjusting the chain toggle to the mark? If so, no guesswork needed.

    I got round the slack cable rattle by running the cable down the seatstay as in the pic. I rigged up a clamp on cable stop and adjuster from an old brake adjuster. You may be able to make it out in this pic:

    There used to be a cog with 2 sets of ratios you could get for the hub. That way in Alpine terrain or when doing loaded touring you could slip the wheel forward and use the larger of the rear cogs – obviously you had to stop to do this. πŸ™‚

    My 60+ year old Humber has a 3 speed on it, still with the original cog in the oilbath chaincase. Its first owner had it 30 years and commuted on it. The next owner had it for a similar period before I bought it and he used it regularly. The mileage it must have knocked up is pretty big, and yet the gear change is still clean and precise.


    When you say poor sealing, just how bad are we talking? Re-grease every ride bad?

    I’ve completely had it with rear mechs. They just dangle there attracting the attention of every rock and root like a dripping nipple to a hungry angry baby.

    God help you if you bend the rear mech hanger and try to shit into 1st gear a bit quickly. Fecked mech, wheel, and if you’re unlucky fecked frame.

    As far as I can tell the options are Alfine, SA, Rohloff, and Sram. So far I’m 90% certain I’m going with an Alfine 8. Some good deals around at the moment.


    Rolhoff want it back to do a service, that’s sending a hefty bit of kit back to Germany

    I’ve done hundred and hundreds of Rohloffs almost since they started making them – first one I sold was number 300-odd – and I can count on one hand the number I’ve had to send back to Germany.

    And if I discount hubs that had to go back because someone at another bike shop did something stupid*, that number drops so low I can count it on one finger πŸ˜‰

    *A favourite was trying to bodge the sprocket removal tool and stripping the teeth on the sprocket carrier.

    Premier Icon mick_r

    I love the description Bruce!

    SA sealing is non-existent – just pressed steel labarynth washers – you can almost see some of the balls. I’ve only run it in the dry as convinced it wouldn’t last a UK winter off road.

    Did an oil bath soak on an original Alfine 8 and it was still very clean inside.

    Epi – the long axle means I’m using a very long toggle chain (that came with the axle end roller thing) with a very old tube nut I had lying around – so toggle chain does not line up with anything on the nut.

    The thumbshifter is like a regular derraileur one rather than old style toggle shifter that had a funny overshift feature. The cable has to be quite slack in 3rd gear to be able to get the thumbie to go into first. If it is only slightly slack in 3rd, then there is too much cable tension to click lever into detent for 1st gear (if that makes any sense).

    I’ve made 2 frames with a cable stop silver soldered in just that position on the seatstay πŸ™‚

    Will try and post some hub pics tonight.


    Just orded an Alfine 8. It should get a fairly heavy workout since my plan is to fit it on my Dialled Alpine and then take it to Γ…re bike park for some red and black run fun πŸ™‚

    Premier Icon ir_bandito

    Rolhoff want it back to do a service, that’s sending a hefty bit of kit back to Germany.

    When the bearings in my Rohloff started to go a bit slack (ie felt like the cones needed tightening, if it were a cup-and-cone hub), I took it to my LBS.
    They sent the wheel to Ison in Cambridge.
    Ison sent it back to Rohloff
    Rohloff fixed it and sent it back to Ison, who sent it back to my LBS.

    Bear in mind it was bought second-hand and I had no proof of purchase or warranty.

    It cost me nothing. Took about a week start to finish. and Rohloff included a letter apologising for the fast that their product had failed.

    Can’t say fairer than that really.


    I notice that a huge chunk of the hire bikes at llandegla are now running alfine setups

    Premier Icon paul4stones

    When the bearings in my Rohloff started to go a bit slack (ie felt like the cones needed tightening, if it were a cup-and-cone hub), I took it to my LBS.

    Shame there’s no LBS any more πŸ™

    Premier Icon mick_r

    For the Sturmey curious, I took a few (bad) photos last night. Apologies that everything is a bit dirty / garage is a mess πŸ™‚

    I also mocked up the Sturmey cable run I use with the tube nut (couldn’t be bothered changing wheels for the photo). My 29er has 16″ chainstays, so the big lump of Sturmey guide roller, bracket, plastic cover etc would clip heels.


    Premier Icon epicyclo

    mick_r – Member
    For the Sturmey curious…

    Maybe you should get a new indicator chain to match your axle length and the nut you are going to use. Then it will be easy to adjust your hub. It’s important to get it right because it the teeth aren’t fully meshed you risk damaging the internals.

    Try SJS Cycles if your lbs can’t help/doesn’t know.

    Or get your lbs to put you on the phone to the distributors for S-A. There’s a guy there who knows what fits what.

    Edit: BTW there is now a shifter which attaches to your seatpost. Ideal for singlespeeders who don’t like cables dangling all over their bikes. πŸ™‚ (SLS30-P or HSJ993, 27.2mm post)


    Edit: BTW there is now a shifter which attaches to your seatpost. Ideal for singlespeeders who don’t like cables dangling all over their bikes. (SLS30-P or HSJ993, 27.2mm post)

    πŸ˜€ 😯

    But then it wouldn’t be singlespeed πŸ˜€ 😯

    But I get what you mean

    If anyone is buying an Alfine 8 (or you want to upgrade your existing set-up, I’d recommend the newer shifter

    Fair bit sleeker than the original chunky beast and has dual release (2 way action) on the finger trigger. Still the reverse of a conventional shifter though.

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