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Any experience with lower end internally geared hubs?

This topic contains 47 replies, has 18 voices, and was last updated by  Drewbacca 9 mos.

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byogman

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Oct 28 2013 at 1:43pm #

My chain is very stretched, my shifter cables rusted, the shifter itself is in bad shape, the cassette in bad shape.

Basically, my bike is limping along and will be dead before long. I hope it’s after another 3-4 months not before so I can delay the decision (a nicer fair weather bike is on the list for spring anyway). But I kind of doubt it. I want something that handles rain and upcoming frozen slop with less fuss. I want to cover the whole thing with a chainguard, get a more or less bulletproof set of wheels built, and basically forget about things except for an occasional chain lube.

I’m not really looking to go fixie or single speed. I don’t use many of my gears, but I do use some, and I’d miss them if they were totally gone, especially since I’d plan to use the same bike for some towing duty in squirrel hill and more occasional towing duty back up from the waterfront. I’m ok if the towing is hard as long as regular hill riding is ok. I don’t need this bike to do DD hills.

I was thinking an internally geared 3 speed hub might do the trick. Am wondering if anyone here has experience with them and can make recommendations in choosing them, and in the wheel-building to follow.


jonawebb

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Oct 28 2013 at 1:55pm #

If you’re really just looking for the winter, why not just go to Freeride and pick up something that works, and keep it lubricated? Whether IGH or not, it should be able to hold up for a few months. And if its extra heavy, so much better for your fitness in spring!


byogman

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Oct 28 2013 at 2:17pm #

I’m looking for something to ride a lot. Basically, any time I’m more lazy (don’t want to check the forecast, tuck my pant leg, change my shoes, or would worry about it gettting stolen (hence “low end” in the description)) than I am thirsting for speed.


rice rocket

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Oct 28 2013 at 3:18pm #

If you treat your bike like shit, you’ll get shit performance in return. IGHs won’t solve that.


jonawebb

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Oct 28 2013 at 3:31pm #

BTW, Sturmey-Archer IGH hubs (which I think is the model for all low-end hubs) don’t have a wide range (like -25% to +33%), and you might not be happy with them in the ‘burgh. You’d do better with a cheap derailleur bike, which will hold up better than you’d expect if you keep it oiled and clean it now and then.


edmonds59

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Oct 28 2013 at 3:32pm #

I love old 3 spds, but the gear range is normally so narrow as to be useless around here. As they come, they are geared WAY too high for Pgh riding. You can buy a new sprocket to gear them down, but then you’re spinning at 12 mph on the flat. Rims are typically steel, and braking will be non-existent in the wet. For what you would pay to have decent wheels built, there are much more cost effective things you can do.
I would suggest finding a cheap used women’s mountain bike, and dolling it up for commuting. Women’s frames go for dirt on CL, or just watch for one on the curb on trash day. Vee-brakes on alloy rims are “adequate” in winter slop. The other benefit of women’s frames is, without the top tube, a slip of the foot on slippery surfaces is much less painful for the gents.


Jacob McCrea

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Oct 28 2013 at 3:42pm #

Ben, I would not be as blunt as RR with my comments, but I have to say that he is 100% correct. There simply isn’t a bike out there that you can constantly ride in the salt, snow, rain, etc. and put away wet without having mechanical problems or accelerating the normal rate of wear and tear.


cburch

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Oct 28 2013 at 4:00pm #

if you want to beat the hell out of your bike and do minimal maintenance its time to think seriously about a fixed commuter.


Pierce

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Oct 28 2013 at 4:09pm #

“My chain is very stretched, my shifter cables rusted, the shifter itself is in bad shape, the cassette in bad shape.”

Even if you have an internally geared hub, there’s still going to be a cable running to it and a chain that’s turning it

Best solution is to have a spare chain or two on hand so you can change it when it starts slipping. Some people recommend changing the cassette at the same time, I can’t quite remember if I follow that recommendation or not

You should be able to get a cassette, chain, cable and housing for $50 easy, and should only have to replace it say once a year

The cassette should last two or three years

Once I let my bike get so bad it was mostly slipping on flat terrain and I finally made the connection that stretched chain + worn cassette = crappy riding experience. Just recently my chain broke on my bike and when fixing it I noticed it was also stretched out and not sitting over the chainring snugly

Once your replace those parts, the bike will feel like butter. Maybe higher end components last longer, but I’ve never tried them


StuInMcCandless

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Oct 28 2013 at 4:25pm #

I bought a $20 bike with a 3-speed Shimano IGH in 2008, and rode it quite a while. Even climbed Federal St once on it. My son rode it for a long time, replacing the IGH itself once, I think spending about $50 for it. He’d be riding it today except for a badly kinked wheel which is on my I’ll-get-to-it-someday list.

Yeah, low-end stuff, you’ll be OK, just don’t expect it to last all that long. If you can hose it off often and tear it apart a couple times a year, you might get an extra season out of it.

Ideally, we all would have $1,000 bikes, but I’m all for picking up POS BSOs and making them last forever.


Drewbacca

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Oct 28 2013 at 4:42pm #

Pierce wrote:
Even if you have an internally geared hub, there’s still going to be a cable running to it and a chain that’s turning it

Best solution is to have a spare chain or two on hand so you can change it when it starts slipping. Some people recommend changing the cassette at the same time, I can’t quite remember if I follow that recommendation or not

Only the low-end ones. Some of the better ones out there have a good gear range and a belt drive. Low maintenance can be had, but not on a budget. It’s definitely cheaper to just swap chains regularly as you suggest.

No reason to change a cassette unless it is shot… a worn cassette won’t hurt a new chain. A new chain on a worn cassette will jump and shift poorly. If anyone insists on a new cassette without first trying a new chain, they are likely a poor mechanic (although, it could be an excessively worn cassette which would be obvious to the naked eye). Either way, I agree, 2-3 years is about right for most people.

The best and cheapest approach is to change the chain once a year (more or less depending on miles, frequency of cleaning/lubrication, etc.).

So yeah, pretty much, what Pierce said.


Drewbacca

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Oct 28 2013 at 4:47pm #

What shifters do you need? I have some 8-speed shifters laying around, but they are the annoying (to me) grip-shift that I pulled off of a bike.

How do you know the cassette is in bad shape?

Shifter cable/housing isn’t super expensive. You can get a cheap replacement at REI under their Novara brand (made by jagwire). Avoid the Bell stuff sold at walmart (not made for indexed shifting).


Pierce

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Oct 28 2013 at 5:49pm #

@Drewbacca

I assumed he meant the derailleur was in bad shape, not the shifter

I’ve only had to change my shifter after I kind of ripped the plastic cover off from gripping it too hard, and that was only a cosmetic issue (and went from brake/shifter combo to independent brakes and shifters)


byogman

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Oct 28 2013 at 8:29pm #

OK, to answer some prior questions , yes, shifter is bad. Heard from a couple different bike shops starting months ago. The chain being significantly stretched I think I first heard last February? Lotta miles since then. I’ve heard complaint about the deraileurs too but that’s less consistent.

I’m attracted to the idea of simplicity, and nothing personifies like a fixie (well, ok, a unicycle, then a penny farthing, then a fixie). The idea of being one with the bike, a sort of centaur, a bike-taur shall we call it, is amusing. But the performance characteristics don’t look real attractive, slight loss of speed on the flat, the significant loss of speed downhill, the significant increase in pain going uphill. In my case, what probably seals the deal (other than the towing things up from the waterfront, which is an infrequent as so far mostly speculative need), is the fact that my driveway is absurdly steep.

I know, Sheldon Brown seemed to think them excellent and there’s purportedly a sort of spiritual experience to it all but just thinking about walking my bike up my driveway every freaking day pisses me off.

That said, I do use a pretty limited set of gears in the vast majority of my solo riding. If I exclude one probably not too important gear at the top and come in with a little more momentum and gut it out a little harder up my absurdly steep driveway, something I do sometimes anyway, I can narrow things to between 38:13 and 38:22. I think that should allow a 3 speed to work.

Now, should I? I’ve heard a lot of advisement against here, but other than Stu, who seemed to say it worked pretty well, and edmonds59 who said he loved them but warned about applicability of the gearing, which I think works out in my case, albeit barely, who all has actually used them?


Drewbacca

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Oct 28 2013 at 10:15pm #

byogman wrote:Now, should I? I’ve heard a lot of advisement against here, but other than Stu, who seemed to say it worked pretty well, and edmonds59 who said he loved them but warned about applicability of the gearing, which I think works out in my case, albeit barely, who all has actually used them?

I have a bike with an old three speed, it’s fine for Illinois but I’d never want to use it in Pgh. I’ve taken the newer types for a test ride (shimano 8) and thought the range was good; I’d still rather have a derailleur setup, but I’d consider the shimano 8 internal for commuting in pgh for the sake of using a belt and making the bike more work-clothes friendly. From a budget perspective, the cheapest is fixed/single and the second cheapest is a derailleur setup (unless you make a large initial investment into a good modern internal hub).

If I had to make the choice between an old 3-speed or a single-speed, I’d just go with the single speed and be done with it. The three-speed doesn’t offer enough of an advantage to be bothered, in my opinion.


Drewbacca

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Oct 28 2013 at 10:33pm #

StuInMcCandless wrote:Yeah, low-end stuff, you’ll be OK, just don’t expect it to last all that long. If you can hose it off often and tear it apart a couple times a year, you might get an extra season out of it.
Ideally, we all would have $1,000 bikes, but I’m all for picking up POS BSOs and making them last forever.

That’s your choice. I feel the same way about cars, but I’m not going to take the POS BSO out of state. The advantage to staying in the city is that you have the option to bail and grab a bus if something happens… and granted, that is what byogman is looking for, a city commuting option.

My prime bike is used and I got a good price on it, but I’ve still ended up paying just short of $1000 by the time all was said and done and I made appropriate upgrades. It’s what I need for traveling 100+ miles at a time without a public transit option to get my home if something goes wrong. I actually swap out some of the not-as-good parts when I’m riding closer to home, to maximize usable life and not contribute to a disposable economy. Anyways, I don’t think it is fair to imply that because someone rides a $1000 bike that they are somehow living in luxury. I think we all need to take a look at our riding style and needs and then determine if we are willing to pay for those needs. On the other hand, I only paid $200 for my hybrid-winter-commuter and I’ve put next to nothing into it and it has served me well… sometimes, you get lucky and a good find just falls into your lap.

In the case of this thread, I really don’t think that byogman is benefiting by going to an unreliable old three speed setup over a derailleur… you can get a lot of life out of a cassette if you clean and lube your chain; you will still need to clean and lube the chain with a derailleur or with a three speed… so, no advantage.

Most of the three speeds stuff I’ve seen is junk. It’s old and unreliable. The newer stuff runs $300+ for the hub alone and then you still need to buy shifters. You can buy another bike with a brand new drivetrain for that much… so if the argument is that we want to be thrifty, an internal setup is again no advantage (if you get new stock).

It’s one thing if someone offers you a bike that is already set up this way. It’s another to go out and actively seek parts to make this conversion. It just seems like a bad idea to me. It’s too involved. Just fix what is broken. If you want a new bike, consider a new bike… conversions are never simple and they aren’t cost effective unless you already have all the parts laying around. I saw a used Trek hybrid on the Pgh CL a few months ago for $200 and it had the 8speed internal setup. Watch for that sort of deal and then either use the new bike or swap all the parts over. If you really want to go through with an internal hub conversion, this is the best approach.


Mikhail

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Oct 29 2013 at 7:01am #

I believe we already discussed cheap vs high level components. My experience shows that making cheap bike to last forever with cheap components costs more than buying more expensive quality stuff and putting some minimal efforts into servicing those components.

Just an old tooth brush, two=three pieces of dry towel, a lube, a little of warm water, 10 minutes of your time to water chain, chain ring, derailleur, and sprockets/brush them/dry them/lube them/wipe extra lube and your bike will serve you for many thousand miles. If you wipe rims and break pads then you will have those in nice working conditions for many7-many miles also.


cburch

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Oct 29 2013 at 7:33am #

^^^^^^^^^DING DING DING^^^^^^^^^^^^^


ericf

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Oct 29 2013 at 8:38am #

I have been running a Shimano Alfine 8 on my commuter for 3 years, before that I ran a Sturmey Archer 5 Speed for 1 season. Alfine is much better than Sturmey IMO.
That said, I will try and give some constructive advice about IGH’s based on real world experience, instead of BS from people who have obviously never used them but insist on posting anyway.

PROS:
Low maintenance
Ease of use (shift while stopped)
Cleaner look
CONS:
Weight
Cost
Chain adjustment (depending on your frame)
Less overall gear range than a derailleur system

You can buy a 700c Velocity Dyad with a Shimano Alfine 8 from Amazon for $338.70. On top of that you will need a shifter ($65) and Alfine Small Patrts kit ($20), for a total just under $425.

I like the Alfine setup very much for commuting, and will probably put one on my Straggler (if it ever gets here). They are truly low maintenance, Chris at Thick has a Torker with the Sturmey 5spd that he never maintains at all. Ask him about it. I just had a wheel built for my Pugsley with an Alfine 8, and I love it! Geared it real low, it will be the hot setup for crawling through snow.


mjacobPGH

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Oct 29 2013 at 9:00am #

I also have an 8-Speed IGH on my Raleigh. I would say the biggest drawback is the weight and how it’s all, of course, distributed to the back of the bike. However, being able to shift gears while stopped is pretty great and it’s definitely low maintenance(which is not to say no maintenance). But sometimes I do wish I went with a lighter bike to get around quicker.


WillB

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Oct 29 2013 at 9:19am #

I’ve got that same Torker 5-speed Sturmey Archer for my winter bike, and it’s pretty good (after one season), though with the stock gearing, it doesn’t quite get low enough for my taste. The thing I like about that bike even more is actually the drum brakes, which are great in sloppy weather.


Mikhail

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Oct 29 2013 at 9:33am #

ericf wrote:I have been running a Shimano Alfine 8 on my commuter for 3 years, before that I ran a Sturmey Archer 5 Speed for 1 season. Alfine is much better than Sturmey IMO.
That said, I will try and give some constructive advice about IGH’s based on real world experience, instead of BS from people who have obviously never used them but insist on posting anyway.

I had old 3 speed Sturmey Archer with coast brakes on a bike I bought for my older daughter back in 1996. I end up using this bike mostly. And I had someone’s else bike with Shimano Alfine 8 with rim brakes for a season. Not that I put a lot of miles on any of them. At least much less than I put on my current bikes. Something around 300-400 miles per year. And Alfine is much better.

Nevertheless…

PROS:
Low maintenance
Ease of use (shift while stopped)
Cleaner look

Maintenance could be nightmare if you got salty water into a hub. Otherwise it’s much easier. But it still requires cleaning of chain, chain ring and sprocket. In this sense there is no difference between IGH and fix/single speed. Chain is thicker as well as sprocket/chain ring than on 8-11 speed derailleurs but still maintenance is a must.

Changing a tire is a little bit more complex on a rear. But it’s similar to fix or single speed.

Shifting under big load is a problem. IMHO, my current 105 allows me to shift while I am going up hill let say on Henderson without a problem (rear derailleur). Alfine required to ease load. SA required to ease it to the level that I almost stopped many times. My impression is that shifting under load killing Alfine much faster than 105.

CONS:
Weight
Cost
Chain adjustment (depending on your frame)
Less overall gear range than a derailleur system

Weight is not a problem for a commuter. So I would not put it as a disadvantage. But don’t consider coast brakes — it’s no-no in hily area. Way to easy to overheat them.

You can buy a 700c Velocity Dyad with a Shimano Alfine 8 from Amazon for $338.70. On top of that you will need a shifter ($65) and Alfine Small Patrts kit ($20), for a total just under $425.

I like the Alfine setup very much for commuting, and will probably put one on my Straggler (if it ever gets here). They are truly low maintenance, Chris at Thick has a Torker with the Sturmey 5spd that he never maintains at all. Ask him about it. I just had a wheel built for my Pugsley with an Alfine 8, and I love it! Geared it real low, it will be the hot setup for crawling through snow.

Still just for shifters and hub it’s already $425. For the whole bike it’s going to be close to $800+. :) Something Stu considered as a part of ideal world. :)

I know someone in Moscow who commutes year around and putting about 10,000 miles per year on his bike. He hates IGH even Moscow is much flatter than Pittsburgh. And the reason is that they started to use a special liquid to thaw snow and during winter he rides through liquid mess. IGH got those mess inside on a pretty stable basis and gets rusted fast. Plus, if temperature is about 0F or lower IGH refuses to switch — oil gets too thick.


edmonds59

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Oct 29 2013 at 10:25am #

What are you riding now anyway?
Whatever it is, it might be less to put a few bucks into it and get something worthwhile in the spring.
A couple things come to mind. You could get a new chain and cassette, shitcan the front derailleur, put the chain on the small (middle?) front ring and run it as a 1 X 6/7/8/whatever and get an old chainguard from Kraynicks and kludge it on, for your pants. You don’t say what kind of shifter you have that is failing, but you could get an old timey stem mount friction shifter for dirt cheap, to run the rear derailleur.
A bit of a Frankenbike, but it would work for winter. And I do love Frankenbikes.


Marko82

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Oct 29 2013 at 10:51am #

+1 on edmonds suggestion. A chain, cassette, thumb shifter & cable would probably be less than $70 at Kraynicks. Save the rest of your money to put toward a nicer summer bike.

Edit: And buy a quart of 30wt motor oil for the chain & use it frequently. Cheap oil used frequently is way better than expensive oil that’s never applied.


JaySherman5000

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Oct 29 2013 at 11:17am #

If you’ll notice, my avatar is my old, sexy Scwhinn 3-speed. It was officially my first commuter/city bike in Pittsburgh. Teaching myself to disassemble, clean, and rebuild that hub was one of the most gratifying projects I’ve ever completed. I even built a second 3-speed wheel for that bike to sort out the old 37-597 vs 37-590 conundrum, but I digress.

If you aren’t afraid to geek out, get dirty, and spend a few hours in the shop, then by all means, get an old 3-speed as a winter bike. I lube my Sturmey Archer with 10W30 based on knowledge I acquired from countless hours of internet searching. When I was riding 60 miles a week on my 3-speed, I would add about 5-10 drops of oil into the hub per week, and I never experienced slipping or grinding.

As far as gearing goes, I customized my 3-speed to have a low gear just under 40 gear inches. That was enough for me to ride from Regent Square to the strip, buy upwards of 40 lbs worth of groceries, and then ride back via Penn Ave. The top gear is around 75 gear inches though, but top speed on the flats is a sacrifice you should be willing to make when you build a cargo bike.

When I get home, I’ll post some more links and knowledge & junk. Old 3-speeds can require some lovin, but if you do it right, you’ll have the bomb-proof winter/cargo/city bike you’re looking for.


reddan

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Oct 29 2013 at 11:26am #

A lot of this discussion has focused on cost-effectiveness, but I think @JaySherman5000 makes a really good point…learning how to work with new-to-you technology can be very gratifying.

If it were me, and I just wanted to get to spring, I’d hit the parts bin at Kraynick’s, keep the current beater rolling, and save my pennies for something better next year. If I wanted to get to spring AND learn something new, I’d take the financial/time hit and go with an IGH.

Saving a few bucks is saving a few bucks, and not to be disregarded…but adding new skills to the toolbox has intrinsic value too…


ericf

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Oct 29 2013 at 12:10pm #

@mikhail,
Just to clarify, that’s $425 for a complete rear wheel (with hub and other necessary bits) and a shifter. As far as salt brine is concerned, that stuff will ruin a cassette hub just as quickly.


Drewbacca

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Oct 29 2013 at 3:08pm #

JaySherman5000 wrote:If you’ll notice, my avatar is my old, sexy Scwhinn 3-speed. It was officially my first commuter/city bike in Pittsburgh. Teaching myself to disassemble, clean, and rebuild that hub was one of the most gratifying projects I’ve ever completed. I even built a second 3-speed wheel for that bike to sort out the old 37-597 vs 37-590 conundrum, but I digress.

You know, it never crossed my mind to rebuild the thing… playing with components is always a thrill, especially if they still work afterwords! ;) Glad it worked out!

How often do you shift? I still think fixed/single-speed is a better option then the limited range of the 3speed. You prefer the 3speed then? I would only consider another internal hub with a newer 8speed (unless someone gave me another bike with the 3speed).

I want to clarify what I said above, which is that it’s one thing to pick up an old three speed bike and ride the hell out of it… it’s another to convert a bike which is what byogman is suggesting… i.e. the $425 option that eric suggests or a piecemeal approach ala Kraynick’s. The cheaper 3speed and Kraynick’s approach seems like a nightmare waiting to happen for someone who doesn’t want to do maintenance in the first place. The $425 option can be done for half of that if the OP can score a good used bike off of CL. But hey, if it’s in the budget, I think the 8speed option with modern components is the way to go!


Pierce

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Oct 29 2013 at 4:36pm #

I like Reddan’s idea

Spend the $50/$70 on the commuter and it will last another year

If you want an IGH, get another frame and try to scrap something together; two bikes is always better than one, even if it’s a fancy IGH


Mikhail

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Oct 29 2013 at 5:51pm #

ericf wrote:@mikhail,
As far as salt brine is concerned, that stuff will ruin a cassette hub just as quickly.

Somehow people expect to serve cassette hub and completely sure that IGH would not require it. :( So results are predictable. In addition, my friends have tools to serve Shimano cassette hubs but none of them have tools for Alfine or Nexus. I understand that it my “circle” but nevertheless…


Mikhail

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Oct 29 2013 at 5:58pm #

For those who have problem with IGH chain tensioning:

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Shimano-Alfine-CT-S500-Chain-Tensioner-Silver-/130890359353

http://bike.shimano.com/publish/content/global_cycle/en/us/index/products/0/alfine.html#

So after all you can have a quick release with dropouts that almost instantly adjust your wheel and IGH in one.


Ahlir

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Oct 29 2013 at 7:39pm #

– Weekly (or ~150mi) chain lubing keeps things working, for a long time. I’ve become lazy about chain cleaning, but do it if you spend any time off the pavements.

– Park has a cheap little tool that you can use to gauge chain stretch. If you’re good about the lubing the average chain will last +2k miles. But always replace it when it’s stretched, to protect the cassette.

– Yes, derailleur systems are cheaper (well, at least until you get to the Ultegra’s). But if you want something that can fit a chain guard (and keep the grease off your clothes) then get an IGH. Factor in the cost of n pairs of pants for a fair price comparison. Word has it that the recent crop of S-A’s are poor quality. Go for the Shimano.


byogman

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Oct 29 2013 at 7:47pm #

OK so here’s my takeaway. Sounds like a bomb proof bicycle requiring negligible maintainance, with some gears AND quite cheap probably ain’t happening, though I might find a worthy experiment on CL and I might get lucky. People’s impressions of and experience with these vary. In the meantime, I’d do well to learn s’more basic
maintenance skills and get myself ready to scrounge a bit. A 1 x N setup might make sense. Or suck it up and abandon gears if I’m too lazy to take care of them.

Not what I was hoping to hear since I don’t see myself getting any less lazy or enough fitter to climb my driveway in a gear that’s even marginally OK on the flat. But I may wind up experimenting with the single speed approach involuntarily as things break down further and who knows.

It still seems intuitively like a sealed environment just has to allow something vastly better functioning at equivalent levels of neglect and casual Googling suggests some high end pricey hubs offer that, but that would make my bike a theft magnet, so no dice.


Drewbacca

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Oct 29 2013 at 10:01pm #

I’ll let you know if I see anything meeting the criteria. I think the IGH bike would be awesome for you, I just don’t want to see you get in over your head or otherwise regret a decision. Opportunity will find you, I don’t doubt that for a moment.


JaySherman5000

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Oct 30 2013 at 12:01am #

@byogman: I was going to clog the thread with links and pictures related to SA 3-speeds, but based on your latest post, I’ll restrain myself (I get all kinds of excited when someone brings up 3-speed IGHs (if you couldn’t already tell)). I’ll instead leave you with this tale/shameless plug: I got the bike in my avatar for virtually no cash. I got lucky and found the (more or less) complete bike hanging on the wall at Free Ride. Thanks to my (at that point) ample free time and their generous policy, I earned the bike mostly through volunteer time.

If you are bike-curious about old school, Sturmey Archer 3-speeds, and you have some free time, you might want to head over to Free Ride and look around. They usually have a few cruisers hanging up, and there are probably are a few SA 3-speed wheels hanging up on the wheel rack on the side that faces the bike wall in the highest section. There might even be a smallish gray bin that looks like an old card catalog on top of the used parts filing cabinets that has 3-speed hub parts and coaster brake hub parts in it, but I digress…

Final thought: A quality IGH could be a new one that you buy or an older one that you refurbish. Either way, once you know your hub is mechanically sound, a fully enclosed chaincase should, by Sheldon’s wisdom, provide a bullet proof drivetrain that seldom needs more than a quick lube.

@Drewbacca: Sadly, after only 1.5 years on that bike, I realized that the frame is too small for me. When it was my only source of transport, I wasn’t shifting too often. I usually coasted downhill, cruised in the highest gear, used the middle gear for mild slopes, and tried to save the lowest gear for the steepest hills. I think that from a maintenance perspective, single speeds and IGHs are practically equal. My SA hub just required a few drops of lube each week and then a brief ride to work the lube into the gears. I think a common misconception about IGHs is that they are prone to shifting problems, but actually, most problems are in the shifter.

Nowadays, my main ride is a steel touring bike (Novara Randonee) with 3×10 MTB gearing. The top gear is around 110 gear inches and the lowest is probably around 20 (it’s so small that you could climb a tree in that gear).

I have considered switching to an 8-speed IGH for the touring bike, since I have read/heard several success stories from people that have toured with them. The biggest reason for not making the switch is that the bike is barely a year old and everything still works well after only a new chain, set of brake pads, and tires. Once I feel that it’s time to replace the cassette and/or chainrings, I’ll probably weigh the pros and cons of doing an IGH conversion.


salty

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Oct 30 2013 at 2:57am #

Another option – I have a bike with a Nuvinci N360 hub. It’s pretty impressive, it shifts well even under load and has a large continuously variable range (360%, vs 307% for the Alfine 8). Nuvinci claims it’s sealed and maintenance free. On the downside, the hub is huge and weighs almost 5lb. But, for a commuter it doesn’t matter that much – it’s probably a little slower than my normal bike but I mean it adds a few percent to my commute time if that.

The bike is an older model Breezer Uptown Infinity. I got it at Thick although I don’t know if he still stocks them. On sale at Performance: http://www.performancebike.com/bikes/Product_10052_10551_1136978_-1_400867__400867 – $800 for an IGH and a dynamo with lights is probably hard to beat.

That being said, I commuted on it for a month but now I hardly ever ride it. it’s hard to say why, I guess I just prefer the LHT, the maintenance for the derailleur doesn’t really bug me. Although I certainly do miss the chain guard and I have a few mangled pairs of pants to prove it. Maybe it’s time to give the Breezer another shot.


edmonds59

Private Message

Oct 30 2013 at 5:16am #

JaySherman5000 wrote:I think that from a maintenance perspective, single speeds and IGHs are practically equal. My SA hub just required a few drops of lube each week and then a brief ride to work the lube into the gears. I think a common misconception about IGHs is that they are prone to shifting problems, but actually, most problems are in the shifter.

Seconded.


byogman

Private Message

Oct 30 2013 at 7:38am #

If someone does spot something or feel like unloading something let me know. Salty, the breezer looks pretty sweet. Just not in my budget at the moment.


Pierce

Private Message

Oct 30 2013 at 3:34pm #

To ericf’s indignant response that none of us know what we’re talking about, here’s a page all about IGH maintenance: (link following from Sheldon Brown)

http://www.rideyourbike.com/shimanoIGH.shtml

Now why would that guy have all these diagrams and photos of disassembled IGH’s if IGH’s were “maintenance free” or “very low maintenance”

Now what’s easier? Lubing and occasionally replacing a cassette and chain, or lubing a somewhat complex mechanical part with a lot of pieces that have to be put back in the right order and still needs to be lubed and maintained?


jonawebb

Private Message

Oct 30 2013 at 3:39pm #

Pierce wrote:Now why would that guy have all these diagrams and photos of disassembled IGH’s if IGH’s were “maintenance free” or “very low maintenance”

Because he was the kind of guy who loved taking things apart and putting them back together, even if he didn’t have to — and because he loved fixing things that had worked for years and years.
I do agree with the idea that IGH require much less maintenance, but the low-end ones have too narrow a gear range for Pittsburgh, IMHO. Equivalent to a five speed with a 14-28 gear range. Sure, you can live with it; people ride fixies; but not the best option for a commuter.

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